Canada's Defence Minister Peter MacKay speaks during Question Period
OTTAWA -- The federal government is slashing next year's defence spending by 13% compared to what was spent in 2012-13, leaving one defence insider worried about the future.
"You're going to have soldiers that train less and ships that sail for fewer days ... and airplanes that fly for fewer hours," the insider told QMI Agency, warning that reduced operations are already happening.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay insists things are still better than they used to be.
"The Conservative government has seen increases of roughly 34% in the defence budget since 2005-06," MacKay said when Liberal MP John McKay challenged him in question period Tuesday. "Let us roll the clock back when this member was part of the government that presided over a decade of darkness that saw the Canadian Forces rusted out."
The 2013 federal budget may yet change the numbers, but government estimates released Monday show the National Defence budget will drop to around $18 billion next year from $20.7 billion.
Bureaucrats attribute $1.2 billion in cuts to improved efficiency, including more modern training programs and less redundant equipment.
Another $360 million in savings comes from slower equipment purchases and infrastructure investments.
There is also a $830 million cut from implementation of the Canada First Defence Strategy.
Separately, funding is up 1.6% for electronically snooping on foreign security threats and safeguarding against cyber-attacks on government computer systems.
The Communications Security Establishment Canada will receive about $422 million in 2013-14.