In ten years, there will be half a dozen new Canadian ships patrolling the Arctic.

Last week, the federal government announced its National Shipbuilding Program. It awarded contracts to shipbuliders in Halifax and Vancouver.

It's likely that the first ships launched under the program will be six destined to patrol the Arctic offshore, fulfilling a long-standing promise by the Conservatives to beef up Canada's presence in the North.

Ottawa says the ships will patrol the coastline, be used for surveillance and search-and-rescue.

Western Arctic member of Parliament Dennis Bevington is with the opposition New Democratic Party. He says he questions why the government is spending $33 billion dollars on the program.

"I'm always uneasy with the idea that's somehow that's where we should invest our money in the Arctic," said Bevington. "There are so many ways to work with the international community to set up more stringent requirements for shipping and for vessel notification that go into the Arctic."

Bevington says he would rather see the construction of ships dedicated to research.

With files from The Canadian Press