Evidence of meeting #74 for National Defence in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was going.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Patrick Finn  Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence
Jody Thomas  Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence
Charles Lamarre  Commander, Military Personnel Command, Department of National Defence
Alain Parent  Acting Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence
Claude Rochette  Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister, Finance, Department of National Defence
Elizabeth Van Allen  Assistant Deputy Minister, Infrastructure and Environment, Department of National Defence
Greta Bossenmaier  Chief, Communications Security Establishment, Department of National Defence

4:55 p.m.

Chief, Communications Security Establishment, Department of National Defence

Greta Bossenmaier

Well, as you know, Minister Goodale is undertaking a cybersecurity review, and Minister Sajjan is supporting him in that effort as well. In terms of the broader perspective on cybersecurity, that review is ongoing by Minister Goodale.

In terms of whether it's being taken seriously enough, this is something that consumes not only a lot of time and attention but also a lot of strategizing to ensure that we have the right procedures in place, the right measures in place. I would say we have a robust security posture for the Government of Canada, but I would also suggest that no one can be complacent. This is always changing. It's always evolving. There are new types of threats, and there is just more use of the technology. It's not something we can ever be complacent about and say we've done enough. I think the reality is, for now and the foreseeable future, that staying ahead of that cybersecurity game is going to be a key priority, for sure, for the Communications Security Establishment.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Thank you.

Another question I want to get to is on northern security and the Arctic, our icebreakers and patrols. In light of what we're seeing, delays of Seaspan and that industry, do we have the capacity to do what we need to do in the Arctic at this point in time? Will we have that capacity five or 10 years out, until these new ships come into place?

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

I think there are two answers there.

The Royal Canadian Navy is not procuring icebreakers. They're procuring Arctic offshore patrol ships. Those vessels have an ice capacity, and they'll be able to operate in first-year ice in the Arctic two to three months of the year. The Canadian Coast Guard has icebreakers. Together, the two organizations absolutely work in tandem from that front in terms of Arctic security. Arctic security, though, is very broad. The vice-chief is a former deputy commander of NORAD, so he can certainly talk to you about the other aspects of security that are occurring in the Arctic. The ships we are getting, the AOPS, will be operational, I think, in time to provide good service with the Canadian Coast Guard.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

It's going to have to rely on the Coast Guard for the icebreaking capabilities if its—

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

I'm going to have to stop you there, unfortunately.

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

They've always had to.

5 p.m.

Conservative

Randy Hoback Conservative Prince Albert, SK

Okay.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

We're going to have time to come back around again. If you want to continue, that will be okay.

I'm going to give the floor to Mr. Garrison.

5 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Thanks very much, Mr. Chair.

Thanks for staying with us.

At the time the national shipbuilding strategy got all-party support, I already had some concerns, and I'm going to restate those. He's tired of hearing me.

The shipbuilding strategy would become a ceiling rather than a floor. At the time, I understood it was the minimum the navy needed, not all the navy ever wanted or might need in the future.

The second point was that there would be competitive bidding for other shipyards outside the strategy to meet other needs of DND, for the smaller vessels like tugs, fireboats, and also for repair, refit, and maintenance. It wasn't that all the work goes to two shipyards and there isn't any other work.

My question is on the procurement side. What's happening with that other work, with the smaller ships, repair and maintenance? Is there work available for the other shipyards to be bidding on at this time?

5 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

I'll ask the ADM, materiel, to respond in detail.

The answer very broadly is yes. I think that we shouldn't conflate the national shipbuilding strategy with the requirements that have been laid out for the Royal Canadian Navy in the defence policy review, which states the capacity required very clearly.

5 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Patrick Finn

Thank you, sir, as always for the question.

As you know, there are a number of pillars in the strategy, including smaller vessels and maintenance. As laid out, it's still the intention that smaller vessels for both the Coast Guard and the navy.... A big one for us on the horizon is a project we call the naval large tugs that will go out competitively. The two shipyards that build larger ships, Irving Shipbuilding and Seaspan, are precluded from bidding on those smaller projects.

As well, there's maintenance. We've had the submarine maintenance contract, for example, which was a 15-year contract. It still has a few years to go, but it will be re-competed, as well as other maintenance. We've competed the in-service support contract for both the Arctic offshore patrol ships and joint support ships. That is now out. It was broader than just ship maintenance. It was broader...who it was competed to. This is a first for us where we have this large in-service support contract in place before the first ship gets delivered, so we're much more seamless in that transition. As the ships get built, they will also have to compete out work to maintain our auxiliary fleet, which is a fair-sized fleet, and our minor warships. Again, it has competed, and they then compete out work into shipyards. That overall contract will be re-competed. Per the strategy, there is a fair bit of work ahead for us, as well as for our colleagues at Coast Guard or elsewhere, that will look at smaller vessels and the maintenance in a competitive environment.

5 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

When it comes to the naval large tugs contract, who will be able to bid on that? Is that limited to Canadian shipyards or could that be built abroad? That would be a concern of mine if we're talking about going outside the country.

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Patrick Finn

Right now, the intention is to follow the Canadian shipbuilding policy. There was some discussion at some point about capabilities, again, which was to make sure that as we did the option analysis, we considered it all. We landed on building the next generation of tugs, and per the policy, we're pursuing a build-in-Canada approach.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

Great. Thanks.

I think there was a little confusion introduced earlier about the difference between supply ships and the interim ship that we have. Perhaps I could get someone to talk about it, so that all of us around the table are clear that these are different ships and they have different capabilities and that we're filling the gap with one ship that isn't necessarily the same as the ships we're building. Can I just get some comment on that?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

I'll start and then ask both the vice-chief and ADM materiel to jump in.

The joint supply ship is a project that has been on the books for the Royal Canadian Navy for several years and is part of the national shipbuilding procurement strategy, two vessels, both warships, built to warship standard as opposed to commercial standard. When the HMCS Preserver and HMCS Protecteur had to come out of service unexpectedly, one due to a fire and one due to difficulties with corrosion, the navy was left without capacity. The interim AOR was one of the measures to mitigate that capacity gap. Others were smart scheduling and other things that the minister spoke to earlier. The interim AOR is a refitted, refurbished commercial vessel that will be able to fulfill some of the capacity needs for the Royal Canadian Navy in the short term, but they're very different vessels for very different purposes. The interim AOR is absolutely appreciated but it fills a short-term capacity gap.

5:05 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, Department of National Defence

Patrick Finn

I would just add, again, joint support ship is the name of the project. They are much broader but, as the deputy said, principally they are warships. They are designed, have survivability, different things to do and they are ships we're bringing into service for at least 30 years. If you look at the two that have been replaced, they were in service almost 45 years after different upgrades.

The interim contract is five years plus options. It's very different. It is more in the short term. It is, I think, a very impressive capability we're seeing coming online early next year that will serve the navy, from what we see, well as it comes together, but it really is bringing those support ships into the task group.

The way our navy operates as a task group, that support ship carries a significant amount of the aircraft and other things into harm's way with the task group.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Randall Garrison NDP Esquimalt—Saanich—Sooke, BC

That's exactly what I thought we needed to hear. Of course, I remain a very firm supporter of the national shipbuilding strategy, and especially to get the supply ships built in a timely manner.

Thanks.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Stephen Fuhr

Given the time we have available, we have enough time to go around the track one more time with five-minute questions. Having said that, we'll go Liberal, Conservative, NDP, assuming members still want questions. I know the Liberals do.

We'll start with Mr. Spengemann for five minutes.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Mr. Chair, thank you very much.

I have a brief question for Ms. Thomas and Lieutenant-General Parent, and I'm hoping to share the rest of my time with Ms. Romanado.

My question is about the Canadian Armed Forces as an employer in 2017 for men, women, and Canadians of minority gender identity and expression. We have voted appropriations of $333 million for a pay increase. We had the announcement yesterday, the apology, by the Prime Minister to the LGBTQ2 community.

Where do you see the Canadian Forces not just as an economic opportunity for Canadians but also as an inclusive workforce that reflects our current diversity? How can you each apply your personal leadership to make sure we do even better?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

Thank you very much for the question. I'll start and then ask the vice-chief to jump in.

I think that speaking for the civilian workforce and in discussions I've had with General Vance, we see ourselves as perhaps one of the most progressive workforces in government. If you look at the steps that have been taken within the Department of National Defence for encouragement of inclusivity, diversity, the aggressive stance taken with Operation Honour to ensure that our employees and CAF members feel safe in the workplace, that we stop sexualized behaviour, if you look just at this table—there are three deputy heads in the Department of National Defence under Minister Sajjan's leadership, two of the three, I and Greta Bossenmaier, are women—it says something about who we are as an organization and the values we believe in.

The recruiting targets for civilians are absolutely to reflect Canada, so we're responsible for that as the civilian employers and that's what we're looking for, to ensure that we reflect Canada.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you very much.

5:10 p.m.

LGen Alain Parent

We're in the business of people and no matter your race, religion, sexual orientation, we're all people and we want to attract the best of Canadians, and the best of the best are amongst all of the different diversity that is offered to us. Also, as a fighting force, we have to be representative of the diaspora of what Canada is and therefore, there is absolutely no issue in the Canadian Armed Forces leadership about being fully inclusive and embracing diversity.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sven Spengemann Liberal Mississauga—Lakeshore, ON

Thank you so much, both of you.

Ms. Romanado.

November 29th, 2017 / 5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Sherry Romanado Liberal Longueuil—Charles-LeMoyne, QC

Thank you very much.

Thank you very much for being here today.

It's a real pleasure to see you again, Deputy Minister.

We heard a little earlier today about the MFRCs from my colleague from Kingston and I'd like you to elaborate on what we're doing to close this seam between active military service members and veterans. The reason I'm asking that is we've seen some demonstrated efforts in terms of opening up MFRC access to veterans and their families post-career, as well as the joint suicide prevention strategy where we see the Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence and the Minister of National Defence working lockstep to close that seam.

I know that is an item in both ministers' mandate letters about that transition group that we were announcing in the DPR. Could you elaborate on those initiatives that we're doing to make sure that we're working lockstep to support the Canadian Armed Forces members, whether active or inactive service, and the families that support them along the way?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of National Defence

Jody Thomas

This subject is extraordinarily important to everybody in the department. Bill Matthews, the new senior associate deputy minister—you met him here a few weeks ago—has now been assigned the task of working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, supporting the Associate Minister of National Defence, Minister O'Reagan, in closing the seam work. General Lamarre, whom I'll ask to speak in a second, is leading the work for the Canadian Armed Forces and the department. That enrolment-to-grave perspective on a career is the only way we are moving forward. It is absolutely critical to the health of the Canadian Armed Forces and our veterans community, and it is the focus of everything we're doing.

I'll ask General Lamarre to give you some very specific answers.