Evidence of meeting #42 for Public Accounts in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was costs.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Kevin Page  Parliamentary Budget Officer, Library of Parliament
  • Sahir Khan  Assistant Parliamentary Budget Officer, Expenditure and Revenue Analysis, Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Library of Parliament
  • Peter Weltman  Senior Director, Expenditure and Revenue Analysis, Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer, Library of Parliament
  • Michelle d'Auray  Secretary of the Treasury Board of Canada, Treasury Board Secretariat
  • Robert Fonberg  Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence
  • Dan Ross  Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence
  • François Guimont  Deputy Minister, Deputy Receiver General for Canada, Department of Public Works and Government Services
  • André Deschamps  Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, Department of National Defence
  • Simon Kennedy  Senior Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Industry
  • Kevin Lindsey  Assistant Deputy Minister, Chief Financial Officer, Finance and Corporate Services, Department of National Defence
  • Tom Ring  Assistant Deputy Minister, Acquisitions Branch, Department of Public Works and Government Services

10 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Robert Fonberg

Thank you for the question.

If I may, on the specific question, which I believe is related to the report on plans and priorities from last year, on April 13 of this year my office was informed that there was an error in the supplementary tables on major capital projects in the 2011-12 report on plans and priorities.

Specifically, the RPP indicated that the next-generation fighter capability project status was in the definition phase. That was incorrect, and we apologize for that. In 2011-12 the project was in the options and analysis phase.

I could ask the CFO to speak to what that means. I would—

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Fair enough; that works for me, that explanation, in the sense of.... You believed you were at the options analysis phase last year, and yet I believe that just on Tuesday the report back here was that we had gone back to that phase. I believe my friend Mr. Alexander, as the parliamentary secretary, is on the public record as saying we're going back to the options analysis phase, which implies that we were further along. But I'll take your explanation at face value.

At this point, I'd like to turn to Lieutenant-General Deschamps. Sir, do you have a sense of...? The $19,000 per flying hour for the CF-18--is that close? Is that a close number?

May 3rd, 2012 / 10 a.m.

Lieutenant-General André Deschamps Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force, Department of National Defence

Thank you for that question.

I don't manage those costs with regard to operating per hour. My colleague to the left actually manages those issues, so I will defer to him.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Thank you.

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Dan Ross

Thank you.

I manage the contracted support for the CF-18 fleet, so all the spare parts and repair and overhaul annually.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

I'm looking for numbers here.

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Dan Ross

Annually, we have spent, over the last ten years, $200 million per year. Now, that is not the total operating cost of the CF-18. That is the portion that I manage.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

When I use the number $19,000, you're not able to tell me. Could you provide that to the committee, please, flying hour costs? Could you table that with the committee?

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Dan Ross

Sir, yes, we could calculate that for you and get back to the committee.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

So when the U.S. says that the hourly cost to fly the F-35A is $31,000and change—we can round that up or down—does that number ring to you at all as close to the CF-18 cost? Or is that more than the CF-18 cost at present?

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Dan Ross

We've always expected that the F-35, due to its complexity, would cost more. And as I testified here last year, knowing that we'd spent about $200 million annually for the F-18, I'd estimated $250 million to $300 million in my last testimony. So we expect that it will cost more.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Thank you. What I'm hearing from you is that it's going to cost more to fly the F-35 versus the CF-18. Yet we made an operating cost estimate. Mr. Fonberg has repeatedly said here, including the minister, that the sunk costs are the same as the CF-18 for the F-35. You, sir, have just told me they're more.

Mr. Fonberg, square the circle for me. How did it get to be more by Mr. Ross and the same by you?

10 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Robert Fonberg

I think Mr. Ross will answer that question, Mr. Chair.

10 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Dan Ross

Thanks, sir.

10 a.m.

NDP

Malcolm Allen Welland, ON

Mr. Fonberg, I'm looking for a response from you, sir. You're the deputy minister.