Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence
Issue 2 - Evidence - Meeting of January 27, 2014
OTTAWA, Monday, January 27, 2014
The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day,
at 4:01 p.m., to examine and report on Canada's national security and defence
policies, practices, circumstances and capabilities (topic: follow-up to the
committees report on the reserves).
Senator Daniel Lang (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: I know that a number of our colleagues are en route, and
because of the roads, they are going to be late. I think we should proceed with
the committee since our witnesses are here and we have a set period of time.
I want to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security
and Defence for Monday, January 27, 2014. Before we welcome our witnesses, I
would like to begin by introducing the people around the table. My name is Dan
Lang, senator for Yukon. On my immediate left, is the Clerk of the Committee,
Josée Thérien; and on my right, is our Library of Parliament analyst assigned to
the committee, Wolfgang Koerner.
I would like to go around the table and invite each senator to introduce
themselves and state the region they represent. I would like to start with
Senator Wells and then proceed from there.
Senator Wells: Senator David Wells from Newfoundland and Labrador.
Senator White: Vern White, Ontario.
Senator Day: Senator Joseph Day from New Brunswick.
Senator Mitchell: Grant Mitchell from Alberta.
The Chair: Thank you. Before we begin with our witnesses, I would like
to inform all members that today and at our next meeting on February 3 the
committee will continue to review our previous reports. We will be hearing
shortly from two divisional commanders of the Canadian Forces on an update on
reserves in light of the committee's December 2011 report, Answering the Call:
The Future role of Canada's Primary Reserve, and our recommendations.
Next Monday we are scheduled to hear from Ms. Jill Sinclair, Assistant Deputy
Minister (Policy) Department of National Defence, on the Arctic. Additionally on
that day, we will be hearing from the Director of CSIS, Mr. Michel Coulombe, and
the Chief of the Communications Security Establishment Canada, Mr. John Forster.
On February 10, we will commence our two new studies: one on the Canada
Border Services Agency and a second on ballistic missile defence.
Today, we are pleased to have with us Brigadier-General Jean-Marc Lanthier,
Commander 2nd Canadian Division (Montreal); and Brigadier-General Omer Lavoie,
Commander 4th Canadian Division (Toronto), to discuss our report on reserves and
to take our questions. Commanders, welcome. We are proud of you and the work
that you and those under your command do on our behalf for all Canadians.
I would like to welcome Senator Nolin who just arrived.
I understand that you have an opening statement, if you would like to proceed
Brigadier-General Omer Lavoie, Commander 4th Canadian Division (Toronto),
Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: I'd like to
begin by thanking the committee for its interest in support of Canada's reserve
force and, in particular, its interest in operations at the division level.
I have to say for the record that I started my year as a reservist 31 years
ago and have worked with the reserves at every level of command from platoon to
division. I note with pride that reserve personnel were absolutely critical to
our mission's success in Afghanistan commanding the 1 RCR Battle Group on Task
Force 3-06. During that mission, 15 per cent of my troops regularly engaged in
combat with the enemy were reservists.
As you have heard previously, in this post-Afghanistan era Canadian Armed
Forces is returning to a more traditional model of a predominantly part-time
reserve force, focusing on force generation and sustainment and the
institutionalization of hard-won battlefield skills, experience and knowledge
into reserve units.
Canadians should also be proud of our reserve soldiers. I know that our
Afghan allies are extremely grateful for their sacrifices. However, this
full-time employment of primary reserve personnel came at a cost to the
part-time reserve establishment. In moving forward, we have decreased the number
of full-time primary reserve personnel significantly across the institution.
From a divisional perspective, this is a reasonable, appropriate and manageable
Regardless of where we sit in the Canadian Armed Forces, we subscribe to and
work to execute the Chief of Defence Staff's stated vision, which, as you know
from previous testimony, states clearly that the primary reserve force:
. . . consists predominantly of part-time professional CF members, located
throughout Canada, ready with reasonable notice to conduct or contribute to
domestic and international operations to safeguard the defence and security
From a 4th Canadian Division perspective, this vision confirms what we see
and do on the ground every day: that our reserve force contributes to
operations; connects with Canadians in the communities in which they serve; and
is a critically important resource for the army, the Canadian Armed Forces and
How does this strategic vision translate into the business of the 4th
Canadian Division? In the 4th Canadian Division, 98 per cent of my reserve
forces are concentrated in three reserve Canadian brigade groups or CGBs, with
31 Canadian Brigade Group headquartered in London, 32 Canadian Brigade Group
headquartered in Toronto, and 33 Canadian Brigade Group headquartered in Ottawa.
In total, I command over 6,000 reservists in the Division, which accounts for
over 50 per cent of my strength, both regular and reserve, and the largest
concentration of reservists in the country.
While the vast majority of these personnel are engaged in training for
general purpose combat and response to domestic emergencies, also critical to my
mission's success are the efforts of 3rd Canadian Ranger Patrol Group
headquartered in Borden with over 1,000 Canadian Rangers working in patrols
working throughout northern Ontario in isolated communities. Command and control
for this organization is provided by full-time reservists.
While the 37.5 days of unit level training are crucial to the continued
generation of reserve forces, my vital ground as a commander is the planning and
execution of collective training events. This is where I focus not only the
additional seven training days of funding allocated to me by the army commander
but also some additional resources provided to me by the Commander Canadian
Joint Operations Command. With those resources, 4th Canadian Division is able to
conduct exercises, TRILLIUM RESPONSE and STALWART GUARDIAN, annually.
Senator Nolin: Is it 7 or 37?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It is 37.5 and 7 collective training that I refer
Exercise Trillium Response, conducted during the winter months, focuses on
response to threats domestically and is funded with both army and Canadian Joint
Operation Command funds. Scenarios range from defence of Canada to protection of
critical infrastructure and assistance to major air disaster tasks. Exercise
TRILLIUM RESPONSE links is also how 4th Canadian Division exercises its links
with our civilian first responder partners to include Public Safety Canada, and
the Ontario Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management. Success not
only in these exercises but also in real domestic emergencies in Ontario with
the use of Canadian Armed Forces elements has been approved would be dependent,
in my view, on the existing geographic dispersion and local contacts and
knowledge resident in the units of each of my reserve Canadian brigade groups.
Exercise STALWART GUARDIAN is conducted late in the summer as a culminating
training event following our reserve summer training program. This exercise
focuses on general purpose warfighting skills in an expeditionary operations
scenario and is funded by army resources only.
While primarily reserve exercises, it is these important collective training
events that allow me to validate the capabilities of the three Territorial
Battalion Groups and the Arctic Response Company Group and integrate elements of
the Regular Force, largely in a supporting role.
Aside from annual unit training to include the collective training events I
just mentioned, current efforts in the 4th Canadian Division are also focused on
recruiting, recruit training and infrastructure management of armouries.
Recruiting is clearly the lifeblood of the Reserve Force. At the moment we are
working hard to increase our intake of reserve recruits with a view to filling
as much of our new Army Reserve Establishments as possible. This is not without
Attraction of recruits, timely processing of recruit files and the ability to
train recruits are all areas toward which we are dedicating much energy as we
speak. And as ADM(IE) takes on overall management of infrastructure across the
Canadian Armed Forces, many of the pressing challenges associated with the
upkeep of aging armouries for our reserve units in the 4th Canadian Division
will continue to be addressed.
At this point I would like to thank the committee again for the opportunity
to appear and I look forward to answering your questions.
The Chair: Thank you. Then I understand that Brigadier-General
Lanthier has a statement to make as well.
Brigadier-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Commander 2 Canadian Division
(Montreal) Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: The
mandate of 2nd Canadian Division is to generate military forces capable of
helping to achieve Canada's defence and security objectives.
To fulfill that mandate, 2 Canadian Division depends on three brigades, two
of which consist of reservists. Five divisional units report directly to the
Division. The Division Support Group is responsible for supporting all elements
of the Canadian Armed Forces in the province of Quebec. My team comprises some
14,000 members, including 6,000 in the Reserve.
I should begin by stressing the outstanding role played by reservists in
fulfilling the Division's mandate. Two weeks ago, I was with 35 Canadian Brigade
Group, which had deployed to the Rivière-du-Loup area as part of an exercise
designed as the culmination of the collective training carried out in recent
months. A total of 750 reservists from 35 Brigade, supported by 100 or so
members from the Regular Force, the Naval Reserve and the Air Force, deployed to
the area for 7 days. The results were conclusive: the brigade clearly
demonstrated that it was capable of planning an exercise of this scale,
conducting a deployment under harsh winter conditions, carrying out offensive
operations at the sub-unit level, exercising effective command and control over
its troops while deploying elaborate communications systems in an area spanning
approximately 6,000 square kilometres, and supporting all this. The media
coverage was exceptional, as was the support from the communities where we did
I am using this example because it embodies every aspect of the Reserve's
role in the Division. The operational mandate of the Reserve includes generating
two territorial battalion groups. Each brigade generates a territorial battalion
group at 72 hours' notice in order to carry out national operations. It was this
element that deployed during the flooding in Montérégie in 2011. An Arctic
Response Company Group has 15 days' notice for operations in the north. The
Reserve benefits from an annual individual training regime that culminates in
the summer with the Individual Training Summer Term. And collective training
begins at that time. The two brigades are supported by divisional units,
notably, the Operations Support Element, which generates influence activities
capabilities. This specialty is unique to the Reserve.
The augmentation role of the Reserve is critical. Of the 630 members who
returned from Afghanistan last July, 130 were reservists. The Division's ability
to conduct expeditionary operations undoubtedly depended on the availability and
commitment of the reservists, who deployed overseas but also performed key
support roles here in Quebec. While we were conducting operations in
Afghanistan, almost 1,000 reservists held full-time garrison positions. With the
end of the mission, we reverted to the Reserve's initial mandate, based on
part-time service. We now have 249 full-time reservists, whose main role is
offering direct support to Reserve units and headquarters.
The Commander of the Canadian Army was explicit in assigning his objectives
to the Reserve, and resource allocations have been commensurate with this
mandate. Funding for Reserve pay, which totals nearly $28.5 million, provides
for 37.5 days of training in the unit and 7 days of collective training.
Individual instruction accounts for an additional $12 million.
Funding to cover operational and maintenance costs is not a problem, so all
these training activities are possible. Major efforts are now being made to
streamline individual training, with emphasis on reducing training time. For
example, too much time is needed to earn trade qualifications, up to four years
in some cases. Overly long career courses make career advancement difficult for
our officers and non-commissioned officers, in particular, who are unable to
take time off from their civilian jobs to attend these courses.
There are some major problems within the Reserve. Reserve numbers in Quebec
have been falling in recent years; we have seen decreases of about 2 per cent
annually and we are meeting only about 80 per cent of our recruiting target, or
about 750 new recruits per year. To deal with this attraction problem, we have
placed 19 full-time recruiting sergeants within the Reserve units. On average,
close to 850 reservists leave the Division each year. Students account for 60
per cent of reservists in Quebec. The average length of service for reservists
is seven years.
We could be concerned about this seemingly high attrition level, but allow me
to give you my perspective on this situation. These reservists who leave after
only a few years in uniform are precious commodities. The values of integrity,
courage, loyalty and a sense of duty are universal within Canadian society. The
abilities to lead, to work on a team and to manage are also assets. So our
investment in reservists who leave after only a few years does not represent a
Like the rest of the Canadian Armed Forces, infrastructure maintenance is
also an issue of concern. Although we are able to achieve all of our instruction
and training objectives, maintaining our infrastructure constitutes a major
challenge, especially when it comes to our armouries in the province of Quebec.
There are some positive developments, however, including the construction of
the 35 Combat Engineering Regiment armoury and the renovation of the Voltigeurs
de Quebec armoury. Although I have focused on the traditional elements of the
Reserve, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have on the Rangers
The Chair: Thank you very much. Both your presentations have brought a
fair amount of clarity to the issues that you face today in view of
Senator Nolin, would you like to start?
Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, it is a pleasure to meet you. You are
no doubt aware that we hear all kinds of rumours about the Reserve funding
allocated to you.
Far from timid, the political leadership makes no bones about its view that
the Reserve is an important part of Canada's military presence at home, for a
variety of reasons that I will not go into. The budget issue is what concerns me
You mentioned some numbers. My first question has to do with budget
flexibility. Up until 2010, to ensure greater spending efficiency and
effectiveness, a unit could move money between its operations and maintenance
budget and its pay budget, whether in terms of personnel training or operations.
Are those kinds of transfers still possible? Does that flexibility still
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, it still exists. It is possible to transfer
funds from one account to the other. It requires headquarters approval at
various levels, but the flexibility is still there.
Senator Nolin: Are you satisfied that headquarters is allowing the
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I have not had any problems at the division
level. The good news is I never had to dip into Reserve pay funding or
operational and maintenance, or ONM, funding. I never had to dip into those
budgets to make up shortfalls elsewhere. That was not necessary, although I was
authorized to do so.
Senator Nolin: You talked about your budget for 2014-15. Is it less
than it was in 2013-14 and 2012-13? Has your budget dropped, stayed the same or
kept pace with the rate of inflation?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: The allocation has not been finalized. We are
still working on a notional basis, but we are going to keep implementing the
reduction components flowing from the strategic review and the reduction plan.
The impact of both of those measures, in particular, will continue to be felt
and likely lead to a budgetary decline.
Senator Nolin: That is where we have a problem; the much talked-about
proportion of 24 per cent is troubling us. All the politicians have told us that
there will be no budget cuts, that cuts will be made elsewhere, not to the
Reserve because it is too important. And they engage in fine rhetoric. What I am
hearing when I listen to you, however, is that there will be budget cuts.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Solely from the Reserve perspective, I can tell
you that the 37.5 —
Senator Nolin: I should tell you that my question pertains to the
Regular Force as well. In other words, as far as those 14,000 people go, if we
consider the attrition rate you mentioned, is the budget to your satisfaction?
Have your funding needs increased or remained the same?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In terms of the centre of gravity, the element I
would say is vital, the one I strive to protect, is training, and I am
reasonably comfortable saying that the resources we have are commensurate with
our mandate. We were asked to train combined arms groups and companies for the
Regular Force and to train the Reserve Force using those 37.5 days and 7
additional days. That aspect is well in hand, and I am able to fulfill that
Where risks will be somewhat greater will be at the institutional level, in
terms of procurement, for example, infrastructure maintenance. We will have to
assume risk in that area in order to protect vital ground, in other words,
personnel and training capacity.
Senator Nolin: I will continue my questioning in the second round.
Senator Mitchell: Thank you, generals, for being with us. I'm
interested in pursuing an issue that has arisen in discussions and that is the
problem — at least, the alleged problem — that often reservists commit to a
two-week period in the summer, to a course, to a program elsewhere, in the
summer or at another time, and then it's cancelled at the last minute. So they
make the commitment with their employers. How widespread is that? Is that a
problem, and why is that occurring, if it is?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I'll address that question, senator. The first
thing is that I don't see it as a problem. Training is our centre of gravity. We
both mentioned in our remarks that part of our force-generation role is to train
soldiers, so the absolute last thing we ever want to do is to cancel any type of
training, whether it's an individual course or a collective exercise. We go to
great pains to avoid that. In the cases where a course has to be cancelled, the
next step to try to put those soldiers onto another type of course during that
same time period.
As far as protecting the soldier, if he has taken two weeks off his civilian
job to attend a course or training, our policy in the 4th Division is that we
will pay that soldier regardless of whether he misses any days of training that
he's committed to because it's the fair and right thing to do.
Senator Mitchell: Is that the same in the 2nd division?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: It is mostly the same approach. The one thing
we're getting better at is forecasting. We are trying to give the maximum leave
time, up to a year, so that reservists can actually plan. Some employers,
especially the small businesses, don't have the flexibility of a large workforce
pool to be able to move around employees, so we can literally make money by
Senator Wells: Brigadier-General Lavoie, thank you for your
presentation. One of the recommendations in our report was not to diminish the
size and strength of the primary reserves and to continue to grow in line with
the Canada First Defence Strategy target. You said in your presentation that
recruitment is the lifeblood of the Reserve Force. Yet, we are at 80 per cent of
our recruitment target for reserves?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: In the case of the 4th Canadian Division, we have
met the recruiting targets that we need for the coming fiscal year. That's the
initial part. The challenge is in the processing of those files so that those
files actually make it through the other end and the soldier is enrolled and
then goes on training.
Senator Wells: So it's an administrative issue that is slowing it
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It's largely an issue of processing those files. Of
course, it's based on demographics and geography. In some of the more isolated,
remote regions where I have Reserve forces, in some case, it is an attraction
issue based on pure demographics, but, in most cases, it is processing. We are
putting in a great effort to fix this. This time last week, I had a conversation
with the commander of the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group, specifically looking
at the Reserve issue in terms of how we can actually help to assist in this
processing. We are already doing certain things like taking full-time Reserve
personnel and putting them in Canadian Forces recruiting centres to assist in
the processing from a cradle to grave type of approach so that, when the file
comes in, it continues to push through the system to be processed out the other
Senator Wells: I have a related question for Brigadier-General
Lanthier, if I may. It's related to the recruitment question. Thank you for your
presentation. You say the investment in reservists who leave after only a few
years does not represent a loss. I question that because, if we recruit them,
train them and then lose them, we still have them within Canada but not within
the Reserve Force or the Canadian Armed Forces in general. To me, it does
represent a loss because we have to commit further money to recruitment and
If the average is seven years — I don't know if that's a lot or not much — if
we lose people prior to seven years, do you still not see that as a loss to the
forces? Budgets are not what we would all like them to be. Maximizing not for
training but for further recruitment of people we lose doesn't make sense to me.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Let me amplify that. What I meant is not a total
loss or a net loss. There is a loss because I've got to recruit and to retrain.
That attrition is not dissimilar to the one in the Regular Force. A Regular
Force initial contract will be 3 to 4 years, and a lot of soldiers will join for
that initial term and then leave. We have to be careful to not only recruit
students. That's probably where the challenge lies because, right now, since our
training program focuses on the summertime, that attracts a lot of students. The
reality is that their commitment to life and to work will prevent them from
being actively employed in the Reserve, so there is a net loss. From a
program-architecture-activity point of view, there is a net loss because the
output is not there. You are absolutely right from that perspective, but, in the
larger context, from a taxpayer-dollar perspective, if you want to put it that
way, you are bringing a lot from a general mobilization perspective because you
have a larger pool of people who are familiar with military issues and military
life. Should you ever, God forbid, have to mobilize the population, you have a
larger pool, at a relatively minor cost, within the general population.
Senator Wells: Thank you, Brigadier-General.
Senator Day: General, thank you very much for being here.
Thank you kindly for meeting with the committee.
You are probably aware that this committee has been very interested in
reservists and cadets over a good number of years. We do have our report from a
while back, but there have also been several other reports that we have
generated along the way. In virtually all of those reports, there has been some
discussion of specialization. The U.K., in the last year or so, looked into the
reserves, and they talked about specialization, a role for the reservists. Yet,
I notice that, General Lavoie, in your presentation, you indicate in the second
paragraph that, in the post-Afghanistan era, the Canadian Armed Forces is
returning to a more traditional model of a predominantly part-time reserve
force, focusing on force generation and sustainment and the institutionalization
of hard-won battlefield skills.
I agree that using the experiences gained through our participation in
Afghanistan is important, but what about this other possible role for reservists
of specialization? You make no mention of it here. Has it been decided by the
Canadian Armed Forces that what you have described — institutionalization,
part-time, just being ready to supplement the Regular Force by up to 15 per
cent, as you indicated — is the role? Is that the vision that we have for our
reservists over the coming years?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: To answer your question, the first principle is
that the Canadian Army is a general-purpose combat army. It follows that our
reservists, at this time, would also be trained as general-purpose combat
At the national level, and I think it may have been discussed when Admiral
Bennett and Brigadier-General Woiden were here, there is a review looking at
more of these specialized roles, senator, that you referred to.
I should mention, and it's not in my text, one role that the reserves in the
Canadian Army do specialize in called an IA Task Force, Influence Activity Task
Force. That is a role solely apportioned to the Reserve Force to carry out. As
we speak, I have about 60 soldiers who are part of the management readiness plan
and who are conducting high- readiness training about to augment a Regular Force
Canadian mechanized brigade group on an exercise that will happen next month and
then again for confirmation in May. That is one example of a specialized role
that the reserves actually participate in now and have also conducted throughout
our time in Afghanistan.
Senator Day: Brig.-Gen. Lanthier also referred to influence activities
capability. Could you please explain what that is? You said it was unique to the
Reserve. I would like to know what that is.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Senator, influence activities are twofold:
civil-military relations and psychological operations. The Reserve has been
tasked with this role. Reservists have been performing this function for quite
some time; it is not the responsibility of members of the Regular Force. This
leverages the unique expertise of the reservists, particularly in the arena of
civil-military relations. They are citizen soldiers, so this function is
inherent to who they are and what they do; they have an inherent understanding
of the relationship between the military and the population, as well as the
issues involved. That is why reservists were given that role to play, and they
are exceptional at it.
Senator Day: Thank you for that explanation.
Senator White: Thank you both for being here today and for your
presentations as well.
I have two short questions. First, I understand that there have been some
challenges in recruiting and I appreciate your candor. Am I also to understand
there is a challenge, because I know there is in the Regular Force, around
recruiting the diversity that you are looking for? Are you seeing that same
issue within the reservists? I know post-9/11 there were discussions around
diverse communities. Are you having that same challenge?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I would say that is probably not as much of a
challenge for the Reserve. Within the Division, for instance, the proportion of
female soldiers is 14 per cent. It is likely easier to meet the challenges of
diversity because of the size of the area, the geographic distribution, while
staying within our communities. There is no need to uproot people, unlike in the
Regular Force, where members are assigned to centralized garrisons. So, on our
end, it has not been difficult to bring in a good measure of diversity to the
Senator White: Beyond women and into the other diverse groups?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In all the various categories.
Senator White: Is the situation the same for you, Mr. Lavoie?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I would agree with that.
It's the same thing. It goes back to demographics partially. Certainly with
my units that I have in Toronto, there is little problem to meet the challenges
of diversity. As you go to more isolated communities, further North for
instance, there is more of a challenge in those locations.
Senator White: If I may, the second question I have — and I don't see
it as a negative that you get seven years from a reservist who then moves on to
do whatever else they want to do in life. I do think they bring that experience
with them. Some of them, like Brigadier-General Lavoie, come back to the Regular
Force at some point.
How does that compare to other countries like Australia and New Zealand — a
little less so the U.S. I think the U.S. look at four years in the Marines as a
long-serving marine in some cases. How does that compare with other countries
when looking at their reserve programs that have similar numbers to what we
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Unless Brigadier-General Lanthier has the answer,
this would be one of the questions that we would have to take on notice and come
back. I would only be guessing whether it's the same sort of degree of
transiency and throughput that we have in Canada compared to our allies.
Senator White: Would you mind checking to see over the 10 years post
seven how many return either as a reservist or Regular Forces, if you have those
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, sir.
The Chair: I would like to have a question and to follow up on Senator
Nolin's questions at the beginning. It has to do with the reservists and how it
equates in respect to transformation as we proceed, going forward into 2014,
with respect to your financial capabilities to be able to meet the objectives
that we have asked you to meet in respect to the dollars that are going to be
I want to go back to the 2012 budget that states, for the record, that ``as
the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces transition to a lower
pace of operations following the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan,
Canadian Forces Regular Reserve Force strength will be maintained at 68,000 and
27,000 respectively. This will preserve a balance across the four Canada First
Defence Strategy pillars upon which military capabilities are built, personnel,
equipment, readiness and infrastructure.''
Basically, that agreed with what our report of a year and a half ago
recommended in respect to looking forward back at that time. I want to go back
with respect to your ability to meet those objectives financially and whether or
not there has been a significant reduction in finance, for the financial
commitment to your various divisions, in order to be able to do the work we're
asking you to do. We are hearing some stories from the front lines that there
has been a cut back in some areas. We want to know whether or not that is
occurring and, if it is, what are we able to do to be able to change what we do,
or do we have to go back to see whether there are more financial commitments
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: As already discussed, we can't comment on 2014-15
budget allocations because they have not been allocated to us yet.
Having said that, it is no surprise that we wouldn't be doing our job as
commanders if we weren't already planning for the next fiscal year. As commander
for the Canadian division, from a planning perspective I am confident that all
the tasks and roles and missions that have been assigned to me, which in some
case I assign to our Reserve Forces, I have sufficient resources to meet those
tasks. Specifically what I'm looking at are those fourth generation
responsibilities such as the Territorial Battalion Groups and Arctic Response
Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, one of the challenges for the
francophone units, not just in the Reserve, but also in your regular brigade, is
recruiting enough officers. I believe it has been an ongoing problem. Frankly, I
have not been able to come up with a solution other than reopening the military
college in Saint-Jean. I would like to hear your thoughts on that.
This is a major challenge. Even the Royal 22nd Régiment has trouble finding
French-Canadian officers. I do not have a problem with anglophones, but when a
French-speaking unit has to go and recruit — or poach — anglophone officers to
lead francophones, I see that as a problem. I hope some thought is being given
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: That is indeed a problem that concerns me.
Frankly, though, the issue has not been as acute as it has in the regular
brigade. I say that because it has to do with the community; I have regiments in
Quebec that, for all intents and purposes, basically consist of unilingual
Senator Nolin: Yes, but I am talking primarily about francophones.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, so for the Reserve, that issue has been less
of a concern. As for the regular brigade, however, because recruits are pulled
from a national pool, attracting and recruiting French-speaking officers is a
bit of a bigger problem. It is a problem we are concerned about, and we are
trying to figure out what the current dynamic at play is. We are trying to
understand why, during the course of a normal cycle, up to 20 per cent or so of
the officers who join the forces and who will be transferred to a francophone
unit are anglophones. That is more or less what our data shows right now.
We have not been able to figure that out yet. I have to sit down with General
Mariage and General Bélanger, among others, to examine the problem and possible
solutions. In the meantime, what we are doing is making sure we immediately give
non-French-speaking officer recruits every training tool necessary to ensure
they can lead those men and women in their first language.
Senator Nolin: General Lanthier, you talked a bit about the profile of
your Reserve troops; many are students, and having met a number of them, I can
say they are quick to invest time and resources. They are genuinely dedicated to
the forces. However, we cannot encourage them to study at a military college
when the classes are not available in the language they speak. Perhaps that is
the problem with the Reserve. Perhaps you do not have that problem with the
Regular Force because the whole idea of transfer is more recognized and
accepted. Conversely, when a student in police science decides to enlist in the
Reserve — and there are many such students, whether firefighters or police
officers — because it is the Reserve, you are not there to uproot them and take
them away from their civilian activities, so to speak. That is where the
challenge lies, I think, for a number of francophone units. The issue is trying
to identify candidates and convincing them to rise through the ranks to become
officers. It is a problem you have yet to understand.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: We have not gotten a grip on the problem; we have
not been able to pinpoint the reason why military service is not appealing to
people. We could look to history for an explanation, the world wars, for
example, and the situation in Quebec, but since the problem did not exist in the
1990s or early 2000s, that probably is not the best avenue to explore. In order
to ensure the future of the French fact, it is absolutely critical to really
examine the issue. Formed in 1968, 5th Brigade was established to support the
French fact, and its viability and continuity are paramount.
Senator Nolin: Precisely. That was my point. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Senator Mitchell: At least in the middle of last year, and maybe
before that and maybe since, there's been some controversy over waiting times
for severance pay to reservists, and that was highlighted by the ombudsman. Can
you give us an update on that, whether that's being processed better now? The
waits were as much as a year or 17 months, I think the ombudsman actually
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: That's something I'm not familiar with so, unless
Jean Lanthier is, I'll also take that on notice, if that's the right term to
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Same here, I'm not familiar with that issue, sir.
Senator Mitchell: Could you get back to us on that?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Yes, sir.
Senator Mitchell: The other question that hasn't really been discussed
too much, Brigadier-General Lanthier you mentioned in your presentation your
responsibility for cadets, and I expect you have as well, General Lavoie, a
responsibility for cadets. I'm interested in numbers, what's the relationship
between a cadet becoming a reservist, becoming a full-time Regular Force member
perhaps, what are the objectives of the cadets?
As an aside, because I spent summers with my grandparents in Vernon, how is
that camp doing?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: In Quebec, 12 000 air, sea and army cadets are
supported by an instructors cadre and full-time personnel, and that is quite
significant. The first thing I would like to point out is that the cadet program
is not meant to train people for the military; the program is run by the
Department of National Defence, but it is a program for youth. The cadet program
is the largest youth program in the country precisely because the Canadian Armed
Forces has enough personnel to coach the cadets. The concepts we try to instill
in them are leadership, service, the pursuit of excellence and citizenship.
Ultimately, that is the goal of the cadet program. The reality is that, after
being exposed to what I would call a regimental style of coaching, many cadets
enjoy it and decide to join the Reserve or the Regular Force. First and
foremost, however, it is a program for Canadian youth.
Senator Mitchell: I should say that my father was training at that
base during the war when he met my mother. It was regular force in those days.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I'm not aware of the status of the Vernon camp.
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I have the same answer as General Lanthier. I'm
responsible for about 15,000 cadets from all: army, air and sea cadets across
the province. I have a regional cadet support unit that is responsible to me in
administering the program.
As General Lanthier said, it's not a military program. It's administered by
the Canadian Forces in conjunction with our cadet league partners who oversee
the program. But, as has been stated many times before, the Canadian Forces
simply see this as being a strategic investment in the youth of Canada. I think
it's probably the best youth program that's out there.
The Chair: I have to agree. I think it is one of the best youth
programs out there. Looking at the numbers you have today and looking into the
future, do you see that program expanding not only in your areas but across the
country as well, as far as numbers are concerned?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Again, sir, it's not really our purview to comment
on it. Right now, as Admiral Bennett mentioned, there is a review on the program
that's in the works, but it's very much at the national level.
Senator Day: Just as an adjunct to your last question, there was an
article, December 27, I think it was in The Globe and Mail, ``Cadet
program has become bloated and bureaucratic, DND report warns.''
I just thought we should go on record as letting you know that there is a
Department of National Defence report that suggests the cadet program needs some
We're certainly very interested in that attention being paid to that program,
and since it falls under your purview, each of you, I hope you will be able to
reassure us the next time you're here that things are moving along well in the
My question is in relation to infrastructure, and each of you mentioned
infrastructure. I understand maintenance, and I do not know if you've included
in infrastructure maintenance of the equipment that you use for training. I
think of infrastructure in terms of the buildings, the armouries, and you've
made absolutely the right point that the footprint by the reservists in cities
and towns is critically important in that contact between the civilian and the
military side, much more so than large bases like Valcartier and Saint-Jean that
are outside the downtown core.
General Lavoie, could you comment on the ADM, assistant deputy minister IE
infrastructure? What's the E for?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: It's infrastructure and environment, sir.
Senator Day: ADMIE taking over overall management of infrastructure
across the Canadian Armed Forces. What impact will that have on your
responsibilities, each of you? You've each made a point of talking about the
infrastructure aspect of your responsibilities.
When we see a budget, when we see the Main Estimates, we don't get a
breakdown between reservists and the regular force. We just see vote 5 that has
all the infrastructure and capital requirements. So unless there's another
separate article, like there was about the armoury in Quebec City, we don't know
who is looking after that and just what responsibilities you, as a tenant in
those armouries, have. What change will ADMIE have in regard to your
responsibilities? Could you each comment on that?
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: I will make the point that that transition to the
Assistant Deputy Minister (Infrastructure & Environment), is planned to happen
in the future. I think it's still a few years off, so I can't get into a lot of
details. I'll say that certainly the intent of that transition is to make the
oversight of infrastructure more efficient and effective.
I can't speak on behalf of General Lanthier. Certainly, when I referred in my
opening remarks to the challenges with infrastructure, as Commander of 4th
Canadian Division I have over 50 armouries in my area of responsibility. Over a
dozen of those — I think 16 of them — are more than 100 years old. The
challenges associated with maintaining and looking after those buildings are
I will say I look at it from two perspectives. There is a lot of history and
interest assigned to those buildings, and they have important footprints in the
community. At the same time, as a commander, I look at it as the buildings serve
us, not the other way around. Those buildings are there to provide training and
force generation for soldiers.
When I apportion funds in my budget, I am looking at what I need to put into
that building in order to maintain it and to continue to support training and
force generation roles.
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: One of the concerns as you centralize, with any
centralization attempt, there is always the fear that you lose your ability to
influence a process and see the parties answered to. We are addressing that
wherein we have a solid engagement with the MIE to ensure they understand the
challenges we are facing with infrastructure and they understand our priorities.
We have them physically come over and look at our infrastructure.
I am living the exact same situation where I have about 17 armories that are
100 years old. One of them is celebrating its two hundredth anniversary this
year. It represents a significant investment that is required to be able to
maintain those armories to function.
Senator Day: I have a supplementary question to that.
The Chair: Right to the point.
Senator Day: We're talking about operation maintenance and capital,
and the infrastructure comes out of the capital. There are two separate items
within your budget that we approve as parliamentarians.
Do you have any sense that the operation and maintenance is getting less than
it should because of this heavy burden that you have on infrastructure,
especially in all of those armories?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Actually, sir, there is Vote 1 and Vote 5. Vote 1
is dedicated to the maintenance of buildings, so this is the portion that is
probably the most critical for me to retain the ability to upkeep my armories.
But those funds are not linked to the operations and maintenance, which directly
supports training. Even though they are not for building, they are for
maintaining infrastructure. Up to a point, those are communicating phases, but
one hasn't been adversely impacted. If we had a choice to make, we always
preserve salaries and the training portion. The approach we've had for a number
of years is we take an institutional risk with the infrastructure.
Senator Nolin: I would like to get a better sense of how the dynamic
will work. My colleague just mentioned a new unit. All infrastructure, including
the armouries, will be overseen by a unit at headquarters. Will the money for
that maintenance still come out of your budget, though?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: Anything having to do with management,
stewardship and funding will be centralized. I do not think a portion of that
budget will be given to me, but I am not sure. I think the administrative
component will stay centralized.
Senator Nolin: It is actually the opposite. Is that the case even for
the maintenance budgets?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I will get back to you on 718 and 719, senator. I
would not want to give you the wrong information.
Senator Nolin: It could be a major portion of your budget. If you look
at the cost to maintain those 50 armories, it's huge. If it's not decided by you
but it's paid by you, someone will have a problem and we have a problem with
that, big-time, because you know what you need, not this guy or lady in Ottawa.
That's why your concern is our concern.
Senator White: I have one brief question regarding recruiting. You got
my attention earlier about trying to meet certain numbers.
Has the military given consideration to looking at different status versus
citizenship to allow for reservists? Right now you have to be a Canadian
citizen. Have they looked at a lesser level, five years in the country or
permanent residency? Some police agencies back in 2002, 2003 and 2004 looked at
it in Canada because the exact same challenge was being faced, and they went
from requiring Canadian citizenship to being either landed or a permanent
resident. Has any consideration been given federally?
Brig.-Gen. Lanthier: I'm not aware of any national initiative in that
Brig.-Gen. Lavoie: Likewise. We have to take that on notice and talk
with the commander of the Canadian Forces recruiting group and see if it is one
of his initiatives.
Senator White: Thanks.
The Chair: I would like to thank our witnesses for coming forward
today. I think it has added some clarity in respect to the report we had almost
two years ago. It's an area of concern for the committee, and it is one way for
your organizations to account to the public for what you're doing and how things
are proceeding for the reserves.
I would like to thank you for your attendance. We appreciate the commitment
and the work you do on our behalf, and I look forward to maybe having you as
witnesses in the future. I would like to thank you again, and we are now