TORONTO - Canada's defense chief announced Wednesday that the country plans to sharply increase its military budget following pressure from the Trump administration to bolster spending.
Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said military spending will grow 70 percent to reach $32.7 billion Canadian ($24.1 billion) in a decade. That means Canada would spend about 1.4 percent of gross domestic product on defense by 2026-27, up from about 1.2 percent now.
U.S. President Donald Trump has demanded that NATO's member countries increase their spending on defense forces. The U.S. accounts for more than 70 percent of all NATO military spending. Only Britain, Estonia, Greece and Poland now meet the NATO goal of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense.
Reliable, credible partner
Sajjan said the added money is designed to make sure Canada is a reliable and credible partner.
The plan calls for 5,000 additional military personnel, 15 new warships and 88 new fighter jets, the latter up from a planned 65 announced by the previous government.
“If we're serious about our role in the world, we must be serious about funding our military,” Sajjan said. “And we are.''
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said he was pleased.
“I warmly welcome Canada's new defense policy and the major planned investments,” Stoltenberg said in a statement. “This new policy affirms Canada's unwavering commitment to NATO and will ensure Canada has the armed forces and key capabilities that the Alliance needs.”
Canada has about 800 military personnel in the international mission against the Islamic State group, but removed its fighter jets after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberal Party government was elected in late 2015. Canada also has about 200 troops in the Ukraine and 220 in Poland.