Defence Budget

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This page was proactively published to meet the requirements of the Access to Information Act. It is a historical record which was valid when published, but may now contain information which is out of date.


  • The Department of National Defence (DND) is the largest department within the federal government in terms of budget and size. In 2021-22, DND’s budget accounted for approximately 7.1% of the total Main Estimates for Canada.
  • DND funding is comprised of multi-year reference levels approved by Treasury Board each year and accessed through the Parliamentary Estimates process.
  • The 2017 defence policy made a long term (20 year) funding commitment to support the Canadian Armed Forces in growing its force size and enhancing the capabilities required to meet Canada’s defence needs.


  • The Department receives an appropriation from Parliament on an annual basis. The cash budget is approved initially through the Main Estimates and can be revised up to three times per year through the Supplementary Estimates.
  • This cash appropriation is used to make payments for salaries, operating and maintenance costs, grants and contributions, the purchase of capital equipment, and the construction of real property infrastructure.
  • The Department of National Defence’s (DND) Main Estimates 2021-22 are $24.3 billion, comprised of various votes as well as statutory funding (mainly comprised of funding related to employee benefit plans totalling approximately $1.5 billion). The votes are:
    • Vote 1 – Operating ($16.4 billion);
    • Vote 5 – Capital ($5.7 billion);
    • Vote 10 – Grants and Contributions ($247 million);
    • Vote 15 – Payments in respect of the long-term disability and life insurance plan for members of the Canadian Forces ($423 million);
  • The largest portions of the budget are allocated to Personnel (35%), Operating (33%) and Capital (23%).
  • DND leverages the Supplementary Estimates process in order to access funding for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) military operations and major capital projects as funding requirements are better defined by this point in the year. This also promotes effective financial management of departmental resources in minimizing lapses at year-end.
  • Funding sought in fiscal year 2020-21 through the Main Estimates process represented approximately 83% of the Department’s budget with the remaining coming from the Supplementary Estimates, carry forward, and other adjustments.
  • The Capital Investment Fund is the source of funds for the acquisition, construction or betterment of tangible capital assets by the Department. The current defence policy − Strong, Secure, Engaged − facilitates the long-term financial planning of both capital and operating requirements.


  • Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, departmental slowdowns have occurred in training, travel and recruitment, with efforts made to resume to normal business operations. These internal slowdowns, coupled with significant reductions in capacity in Canadian industry, has resulted in reduced spending in 2021-22 at this point in the year, and the likelihood of higher than usual lapses in both Operating and Capital budgets.
  • While it is currently predicted that the 5% Operating Budget Carry Forward (OBCF) for 2021-22 will be maximized, the Department is adopting an aggressive spending plan to maximize the benefit of available funds and avoid lapses in fiscal year 2021-22. DND will request a re-profile for all unspent operating funding above the OBCF limit. This request will be subject to Department of Finance approval. Additionally, as the department does not have a Capital Budget Carry Forward (CBCF), any unspent capital funding will need to be re-profiled.
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