Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence


Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Defence Minister Bill Blair released Our North, Strong and Free – a defence policy update that responds to the significant global shifts we have witnessed since Canada’s comprehensive defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, was announced in 2017. It is an investment in Canada, Canadians and our shared values, security, and sovereignty.

The most urgent and important task we face is asserting Canada’s sovereignty in the Arctic and northern regions, where the changing physical and geopolitical landscapes have created new threats and vulnerabilities to Canada and Canadians. This includes the need to upgrade our continental defences to threats or defeat them when necessary.

Today, the Prime Minister and Minister Blair announced Canada’s vision and its plan to defend Canadians in this new global environment. The new defence policy sets out to address two core objectives: strengthen the foundations of the CAF and acquire new capabilities to deal with new threats.

To deliver on our renewed vision for defence outlined in the policy, we need to provide the members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) with the tools, equipment, and training they need to keep Canada and Canadians safe in an increasingly unpredictable world, and to support them on the home front.

The new investments in Our North, Strong and Free will ensure that Canada can deliver on this vision. Defence investments in Budget 2024 are expected to bring Canada’s defence spending-to-GDP ratio to 1.76% by 2029-30, a significant step forward in our efforts to reach the NATO commitment of 2% to which we agreed at the Vilnius Summit in 2023. The initiatives under this defence policy also put Canada on track to exceed NATO’s target of 20% for major equipment expenditures as a proportion of defence funding.

Canada will invest $8.1 billion over the next five years, and $73 billion over the next 20 years, in our national defence over six major themes to:

Supporting Our People

Supporting CAF Members and Families

  • $295 million over 20 years to establish a CAF housing strategy, build new housing, and rehabilitate existing housing so CAF members have safe and affordable places to call home where they and their families are posted.
  • $497 million over 20 years to accelerate development of an electronic health record platform to improve the continuity of care as CAF members move between provinces and territories.
  • $100 million over five years to improve childcare access for CAF personnel on bases across Canada.

Reforming Personnel Management Policies

  • We will explore adjusting personnel policies related to compensation and benefits, human resources, leave, and other supports for work-life balance for those in uniform. Our current framework was put in place decades ago and does not address the expectations and realities of today’s members.

Strengthening our Foundation

Maintaining and Renewing National Defence Infrastructure

  • Investing $10.2 billion over 20 years in current and new infrastructure to support the required tempo of training, operations, and day-to-day military activities. These investments will range from asset maintenance and repair to other improvements to military facilities, such as piers and runways.

Civilian Capacity

  • $1.8 billion over 20 years to increase the number of civilian specialists in priority areas to accelerate and improve the purchase of new equipment, recruit, and train new soldiers, and upgrade our infrastructure, among others.

Building an Innovative Defence Industrial Base

Sustaining Military Equipment

  • $9.0 billion over 20 years to sustain military equipment under the National Procurement Program to ensure the CAF can continue to receive the critical updates necessary to preserve its ability deploy on operations.

Ammunition Supply and Production

  • $9.5 billion over 20 years to accelerate the establishment of new artillery ammunition production capacity in Canada and invest in a strategic supply of ammunition. Artillery ammunition is becoming increasingly difficult to procure abroad – and this production capacity will help meet the ammunition demands of Canada and our closest allies while creating skilled jobs for Canadian workers for the long term and generating economic benefits for Canadian communities. The CAF will also establish a greater strategic reserve of battle-decisive munitions. Canada needs adequate stockpiles of munitions to meet its defence and security commitments during a crisis or conflict, and industry needs clarity from government about future acquisitions to set up production lines. This production line will also help replenish CAF ammunition previously donated to Ukraine.

NATO Innovation Fund

  • $107 million over 20 years for Canada’s participation in the newly established NATO Innovation Fund, which will offer additional funding streams for innovative Canadian entrepreneurs. The Fund is the world’s first defence-focused multi-sovereign venture capital fund, providing investment in start-up firms developing dual-use, emerging and disruptive technologies critical to our defence.

Defending Canada

Specialized Maritime Sensors

  • $1.4 billion over 20 years to acquire specialized maritime sensors to conduct ocean surveillance. They will be used to monitor Canada’s maritime approaches, including in the Arctic and North, and will be a critical component of the CAFs’ ability to defend Canada from a growing range and sophistication of underwater threats including vessel-launched missiles, underwater systems, ships, and submarines.

Satellite Ground Station

  • $222 million over 20 years to build a new satellite ground station in the Arctic. This ground station will improve our ability to detect, deter and respond to malign activities and to communicate those threats quickly with our most trusted partners.

Tactical Helicopters

  • $18.4 billion over 20 years to acquire a more modern, mobile, and effective tactical helicopter capability. It will provide the CAF with the speed and airlift capacity to assert Canada’s sovereignty and respond to natural disasters and emergencies throughout the country.

Northern Operational Support Hubs

  • $218 million over 20 years for Northern Operational Support Hubs. These will better ensure Canadian sovereignty by establishing a greater year-round presence across the Arctic and the North, and investing in multi-use infrastructure that also meets the needs of the territories, Indigenous peoples, and Northern communities.

Enhancing Canada’s Intelligence and Cyber Operations

  • $2.8 billion over 20 years to stand up a joint Canadian cyber operations capability with the Communications Security Establishment, integrating the unique strengths of each organization into a unified team that will conduct active cyber operations in support of Canadian interests.

Renew and Expand Submarine Fleet

  • We will explore options for renewing and expanding our submarine fleet to enable the Royal Canadian Navy to project a persistent deterrent on all three coasts, with under-ice capable, conventionally powered submarines.

All-terrain Vehicles for Arctic Mobility

  • We will explore options to acquire new vehicles adapted to ice, snow, and tundra. These versatile, all-terrain vehicles would be able to operate effectively in all Arctic terrains and climate conditions. These vehicles would allow the military to maintain awareness in remote regions and along Canada’s entire coastline, and better respond to unauthorized activity.

Enable Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels to Operate Helicopters

  • We will explore options for enabling our Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels to embark and operate our maritime helicopters at sea.

Defending North America

Airborne Early Warning Aircraft

  • $307 million over 20 years for airborne early warning aircraft that will vastly improve Canada’s ability to detect, track and prioritize airborne threats sooner, and respond faster, and to better coordinate our response with the United States when required. They will allow Canada to continue making meaningful contributions to NORAD while also supporting allies and partners globally.

Long-Range Land Missiles

  • $2.7 billion over 20 years to acquire long-range missile capabilities to enable our forces to deter threats to Canada from an appropriate distance and reach targets at greater ranges than our adversaries in combat.

Contribution to Integrated Air and Missile Defence

  • We will explore options to ensure our new airborne early warning and control aircraft and previously announced platforms such as the Canadian Surface Combatants can contribute to efforts with our allies to defeat new missiles that move faster and in more unpredictable patterns.

Ground Based Air Defences to Defend Critical Infrastructure

  • We will explore options for acquiring ground-based air defences to defend critical infrastructure from a diverse array of incoming airborne attacks, including drones, missiles, and artillery.

Long-Range Air and Sea Missiles

  • We will explore options to acquire long-range air- and sea-launched missiles to enable our forces to deter threats to Canada from an appropriate distance and reach targets at greater ranges than our adversaries in combat.

Defending Canada’s Global Interests and Values

Sustaining Naval Vessels

  • $9.9 billion over 20 years to improve the sustainment of our naval fleets. This will include extending the life of the Halifax-class frigates and preserving the Royal Canadian Navy’s interim at-sea replenishment capability. These investments will help Canada maintain a globally deployable naval fleet capable of supporting NATO and engaging in operations, exercises, training, and defence diplomacy with key allies and partners, among other activities.

Worldwide Satellite Communications

  • $5.5 billion over 20 years to acquire a comprehensive worldwide satellite communication capability. Working with our allies, we will jointly develop updated access to the satellite constellations that enable the military to operate effectively around the world, including by better defending its communications against jamming or disruptions by adversaries while deployed.

Modern Artillery Capabilities

  • We will explore options for modernizing our artillery capabilities, which will significantly improve the protection of our deployed personnel by providing them with the capacity to strike enemy positions from farther away and in a greater number of directions.

Upgrade or Replace Main Battle Tanks

  • We will explore options for upgrading or replacing our main battle tanks, which continue to have a decisive effect on the modern battlefield and remain key to conducting land operations against conventional militaries with advanced capabilities.

Upgrade or Replace Light Armoured Vehicles

  • We will explore options for upgrading or replacing our light armoured vehicle fleet and establishing a production program to replenish our fleet while also enabling industry to invest in a sustainable defence production capacity to support Canada and our NATO allies.

Surveillance and Strike Drones and Counter-Drone Capabilities

  • We will explore options for acquiring a suite of surveillance and strike drones and counter-drone capabilities.

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