Mr. Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue for asking this question as it will allow us to clarify a few facts about a file that is important to National Defence and all Canadians.
Yes, we want to take more pre-emptive action. We want to be better managers and to improve management of our real property assets. We want to be more efficient and achieve superior results in managing these assets, which are extensive.
However, I must say that it was never our intention to ignore this question, either in committee with the minister or today. During the debate on the supplementary estimates (B) that took place late last year, it was not a question of simply changing the infrastructure budget. There is no shortfall in the budget for these items. On the contrary, since 2009 we have spent much more than $3 billion across the country for all kinds of construction projects.
The government will continue to invest in infrastructure in order to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the resources they need to carry out their duties safely.
The hon. member probably knows better than most Canadians that this is nothing glamourous. We do not see many headlines about infrastructure, but it is one of the four main pillars of the national strategy. Canada puts national defence first. The other pillars are equipment, personnel, and of course, readiness, which includes training—a key component of readiness.
The Department of National Defence has one of the Government of Canada's biggest and most complex real estate portfolios, including 21,000 buildings and 800 properties covering 2.25 million hectares. The department has to manage tens of thousands of square kilometres of land. Managing such a large real estate portfolio is not easy. We know that there are still problems that need to be resolved. The department has agreed to implement the Auditor General's recommendations and is in the process of doing so.
The source of the funding used to solve the problems raised by the Auditor General was an internal allocation. As a result, to date, these expenses have been absorbed into the department's existing budget, and as things now stand, they do not need to be included in the supplementary estimates.
The government already has a plan to solve the problems that have been raised with regard to infrastructure. I have already spoken about the Canada first strategy. This is an infrastructure strategy that will be carried out over a 20 year period. Let us be clear. There are factors that we cannot control, such as the weather, the seasons and how much construction can be done in a summer or fall. These factors can lead to slight changes in the plan, but they will never interfere with our determination to follow through with this great plan to renew our infrastructure.