Annex D: What We Heard: Defence Policy Review Consultations

This defence policy was underpinned by significant consultations with Canadians, allies and partners, building on the extensive consultations undertaken in the years since Strong, Secure, Engaged, including on culture change efforts, the development of our NORAD modernization plan and through our academic and expert engagement program. We engaged the Canadian public, Indigenous partners, industry, parliamentarians, defence experts, and allies and partners. Additionally, a dedicated online platform launched in the first half of 2023 received more than 1500 submissions from Canadians across the country.

The message was clear. Canadians expect the following:

  • The Canadian Armed Forces will be there for them, at home and abroad;
  • Our military members and their families will be well-supported;
  • Canadian Armed Forces members will be equipped with the modern tools they need to do the job their government asks of them;
  • Canada will make valuable contributions to our alliances;
  • Defence's relationship with industry needs to be deeper and more strategic; and
  • Canada needs to respond to the rapidly changing strategic environment with urgency and clarity of purpose.

Experts stressed that culture change is critical to ensuring we can attract and retain talent from all segments of Canadian society, and to improving the quality of leadership and operational effectiveness. They pointed to the limited accessibility of recruiting centres, overworked recruiters, and overly lengthy and complex bureaucratic processes as obstacles to attracting new talent. Furthermore, many Canadians cited the burden of frequent postings, a lack of spousal employment opportunities, limited access to health and childcare, an oversaturated housing market, and high costs associated with relocation as key challenges to increasing the appeal of a career with the Canadian Armed Forces.

On defence procurement, industry representatives, defence experts, allies, partners, and private citizens all advised that Canada needs to do more to ensure the security, relevance, and effectiveness of our defence industrial base. Industry representatives emphasized that the relationship with Canadian industry needs to be reset and long-term strategies for cooperation are needed between government and industry. Industry and experts also called for faster and more flexible defence procurement, secure supply chains, and investments to modernize defence infrastructure, particularly in Canada's North.

Canadians consistently agreed that the global security environment is becoming more volatile and unpredictable. Accelerating threats have compressed time horizons and heightened the need for new capability and infrastructure investments. Strategic competition between states is a path to major power conflict. Intensifying environmental crises, driven or augmented by climate change, and threats posed by malign below-threshold activities, including cyber attacks, disinformation, and foreign interference require new approaches to national defence.

Canadians told us that decisive action was needed to ensure a diverse, well-equipped, and resilient military. This is a non-negotiable requirement of a 21st century military.

Going forward, The Department of National Defence will explore ways and means of adapting our engagement approach so that more regular consultation contributes to better implementation of defence policy. We intend to continue these conversations on an enduring basis in order to collaboratively identify problems as they evolve, integrate diverse points of view, and develop new solutions in the years ahead.

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