Canada not carrying its weight when it comes to defence spending

News Release

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence

Canada not carrying its weight when it comes to defence spending

April 13, 2017

Ottawa – The federal government should increase military spending to 2% of Canada’s gross domestic product to prevent the continued erosion of our existing military capabilities and to fulfil our obligations to Canadians and our allies, senators said in a report released Thursday.

Successive governments have failed to provide the military with the support and clear priorities it needs to defend Canada and fulfil its international commitments. Today, Canada is spending 0.88% of GDP on the military. This is clearly insufficient.

Canada needs to be properly defended.

In its report, Military Underfunded: The Walk Must Match the Talk, the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence makes 16 recommendations to shore up Canada’s military and to address problems that have plagued it for decades.

The committee recommends the government present a plan to Parliament within 180 days to increase defence spending to 1.5% of Canada’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023 and to 2% by 2028.

These much needed funds will be used to address the urgent capability gaps within the military and ensure effective security and defence for Canadians. It will also allow Canada to fulfil the government’s requirement that the military must also be able to simultaneously meet our NORAD and NATO obligations.

The committee notes that military procurement also requires urgent attention and a total revamp. The current system is a bureaucratic morass with little accountability. It is prone to delays that prevent the timely acquisition of necessary materiel and diminish the government’s purchasing power. The committee makes a number of recommendations to address this long-standing issue.

The committee also urges the government to do more to protect critical infrastructure, eliminate lapse funding, and to move forward with plans to promote a cross-party consensus on military issues, as this will be in the best interest of Canadians.

The government can no longer afford to just talk the talk while the military struggles. Our national defence is too important. It is time for the government to turn words into action and make the much needed investments in our own security and defence.

Quick Facts

  • More than $2 billion per year in new money is needed to maintain current operations.
  • Canada’s military spending is in decline and accounts for just 0.88% of GDP.
  • Canada ranks 23rd out of 28 NATO member countries in defence spending.


“Government after government has talked a good game about the military while providing less and less support. The current government has pledged to ensure our military does not get short-changed. The recommendations made in this report — if adopted — will allow the government to keep its promise. It’s time for the walk to match the talk.”

- Senator Daniel Lang, Chair of the committee.

“Our military has important commitments at home and abroad. Defending our vast Arctic region requires significant resources, while helping our international partners ensure the rule of law is respected in trouble countries overseas is a humanitarian commitment from which we cannot shrink. We ask a lot from our military. Now we must show that we support them, as they unfailingly support us.”

- Senator Mobina Jaffer, Deputy Chair of the committee.

Associated Links


For more information, please contact:

The Office of the Hon. Senator Daniel Lang
Senate of Canada

The Office of the Hon. Senator Mobina Jaffer
Senate of Canada