Politics

Government defence spending unsustainable, watchdog says

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says the federal government will need to either pour more money into its defence budget or scale back its ambitions in order to put Canada's military on a sustainable footing.

Parliamentary Budget Officer says miltary capabilities will suffer if costs and budget aren't balanced

The HMCS Victoria sits at dock at Canadian Forces Ammunition Depot Rocky Point in Victoria, B.C. Today, the Parliamentary Budget Officer said Canadian Forces budgets and costs must balanced or current abilities can't be sustained. (The Canadian Press/Dirk Meissner)

The Parliamentary Budget Officer says the federal government will need to either pour more money into its defence
budget or scale back its ambitions in order to put Canada's military on a sustainable footing.

A new report by the PBO says the Defence Department's force structure is "unsustainable" at current funding levels.

The PBO says if program costs and the budget allocation are not balanced, there will be a deterioration in the capabilities of the current force structure.

The report says that means there will be a reduction in the numbers and types of equipment and potentially fewer troops.

The PBO says the cost of maintaining the Canadian Forces between 1995 and 2014 rose by 1.5 percent a year. Budgets through that period rose 1.9 percent a year. 

2015 marks a budget turning point, though. Starting this year, defence budgets will have to rise by 2.5 percent a year if the government wants to maintain the current force structure.

The report blames the most recent episode of federal budget trimming for the shortfall.

The report comes as MPs are set to debate a motion to expand and extend Canada's war against ISIS to include airstrikes on extremist positions in Syria.

The motion seeks Parliament's blessing to extend the mission "to a date not beyond March 30, 2016."

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