The Harper government responds

A release issued by the offices of Julian Fantino, Peter MacKay, Rona Ambrose and Christian Paradis.

The Honourable Julian Fantino, Associate Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence, and the Honourable Christian Paradis, Minister of Industry, today released the Government of Canada’s comprehensive response to Chapter 2 of the 2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada.

In Chapter 2, Replacing Canada’s Fighter Jets, the Auditor General recommends that the Government refine its estimates for the full life-cycle costs of the F-35 and make those estimates public. The Government accepts the Auditor General’s recommendation and conclusions.

The Government of Canada is taking the following seven steps to fulfill and exceed the Auditor General’s recommendation:

  • The funding envelope allocated for the acquisition of the F-35 will be frozen.
  • The Government of Canada will immediately establish a new F-35 Secretariat within the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada. The Secretariat will play the lead coordinating role as the Government moves to replace Canada’s CF-18 fleet. A committee of Deputy Ministers will be established to provide oversight of the F-35 Secretariat.
  • The Department of National Defence, through the F-35 Secretariat, will provide annual updates to Parliament. These updates will be tabled within a maximum of 60 days from receipt of annual costing forecasts from the Joint Strike Fighter program office, beginning in 2012. The Department of National Defence will also provide technical briefings as needed through the F-35 Secretariat on the performance schedule and costs.
  • The Department of National Defence will continue to evaluate options to sustain a Canadian Forces fighter capability well into the 21st century.
  • Prior to project approval, Treasury Board Secretariat will first commission an independent review of DND’s acquisition and sustainment project assumptions and potential costs for the F-35, which will be made public.
  • Treasury Board Secretariat will also review the acquisition and sustainment costs of the F-35 and ensure full compliance with procurement policies prior to approving the project.
  • Industry Canada, through the F-35 Secretariat, will continue identifying opportunities for Canadian Industry to participate in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter global supply chain, as well as other potential benefits for Canada in sustainment, testing, and training, and will provide updates to Parliament explaining the benefits.

Canada will not sign a contract to purchase new aircraft until these steps are completed and developmental work is sufficiently advanced.

Canada remains committed to ensuring that the Royal Canadian Air Force has the aircraft it needs to do the jobs we ask of them.

Ministerial Quotes

“Canada has not signed a contract to purchase any aircraft. As we have stated, Canada has set a budget to purchase fighter aircraft to replace the CF-18 and will acquire the F-35 only if and when we can operate within that budget,” said Minister Fantino.

“Funding will remain frozen and Canada will not purchase new aircraft until further due diligence, oversight, and transparency is applied to the process of replacing the Canadian Forces’ aging CF-18 fleet,” said Minister Ambrose.

“This comprehensive response to the 2012 Spring Report of the Auditor General of Canada once again re-affirms our Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting our brave men and women of the Canadian Forces and exercising responsible stewardship of taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars,” said Minister MacKay.

“Since 1997, Canada has worked with our allies in a unique multinational program to develop and manufacture the F-35. Our participation has generated $435 million in contracts for 70 Canadian companies resulting in skilled work that otherwise would not exist, with more opportunities to come,” said Minister Paradis.

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