6

Auditors find military bases falling apart due to lack of funding

The Liberals will not say whether any new injection of money for the military is on the horizon


 
A Canadian military honour guard take part in a ceremony at the Canadian Forces Base Borden Centennial in Angus, Ont., on Thursday, June 9, 2016. A National Defence audit has found many of Canada's military bases are falling apart because of chronic underspending on the maintenance, repair and replacement of sewers, roads and electrical, heating and drinking water systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

A Canadian military honour guard take part in a ceremony at the Canadian Forces Base Borden Centennial in Angus, Ont., on Thursday, June 9, 2016. A National Defence audit has found many of Canada’s military bases are falling apart because of chronic underspending on the maintenance, repair and replacement of sewers, roads and electrical, heating and drinking water systems. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

OTTAWA – A National Defence audit has found many of Canada’s military bases are falling apart because of chronic underspending on the maintenance, repair and replacement of sewers, roads and electrical, heating and drinking water systems.

The problem is exacerbated by the fact military officials have little to no information on the actual state of those municipal works, meaning the department doesn’t know how what needs to be fixed or replaced.

The audit, recently published on the department’s website, concludes that the risk of electrical outages, sewer backups and other service disruptions at military bases is set to increase. Such disruptions threaten operations as well as the health and welfare of those living or working on or near the bases.

National Defence spokeswoman Ashley Lemire said the department is changing the way it manages its vast property portfolio. That includes taking authority away from the individual bases and centralizing it in Ottawa.

“The government of Canada is committed to equipping Canadian Armed Forces members with the resources required to do their jobs and to improving the facilities where they live, work and train,” Lemire said in an email.

“The new centralized model will continue to be refined to better support the management of real property, including municipal works, across the portfolio.”

But Lemire also confirmed that the more than $200 million set aside by this year’s federal budget for military infrastructure is not intended to address the underfunding identified in the audit.

The money will go toward armouries, aircraft hangars, naval jetties and military housing, rather than the basic utilities needed to operate military bases. More than half of the equipment associated with those utilities is over 50 years old.

Canada spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence after several years of belt-tightening by the previous Conservative government. That is among the lowest of all NATO allies, who have all agreed on a two per cent target.

The Liberals, who are currently drafting a new defence policy, have refused to say whether any new injection of money for the military is on the horizon.

In their report, the auditors laid much of the blame for the current problems on a combination of underfunding and poor record-keeping.

In 2008, defence officials set a number of spending targets with regards to replacing as well as maintaining and repairing existing infrastructure. However, auditors found that officials had not met those targets for the past five years “due to resource limitations.”

Base personnel “have consistently reported on funding pressures that have prevented them from reaching the targeted level of expenditure,” the audit report reads. “Chronic underspending on maintenance and repairs will lead to a continued decline in the condition and suitability of real property.”

Defence officials estimated there would be a cumulative $1.1-billion backlog in terms of maintenance and repairs by 2018. However, that figure is almost certainly low as the auditors found base personnel weren’t properly tracking, let alone checking, the state of infrastructure.

According to the audit, the condition field in the department’s property database was blank for 81 per cent of records. Service disruptions — power outages, sewage backups and water line breaks, among others — were also not tracked, meaning there was no way to know how often they occurred.

The auditors said military commanders could make a case for more funding if they had the proper information. But base personnel told auditors that part of the reason they were facing “chronic backlogs” when it came to entering information into the database was “limited resources to maintain the data.”


 
Filed under:

Auditors find military bases falling apart due to lack of funding

  1. “Canada spends less than one per cent of its gross domestic product on defence after several years of belt-tightening by the previous Conservative government. That is among the lowest of all NATO allies, who have all agreed on a two per cent target.”

    Let’s check this for accuracy. The story implies that spending was 2% of GNP under the LPC before Harper. It wasn’t. DND funding increased under the Tories and then was reduced after Afghanistan.

    WRT NATO spending. Canada’s defence budget is usually 6th in real dollars. We never agreed to spend 2% of GNP. Harper told NATO Canada wouldn’t. Ditto for Trudeau. 28 of 32 NATO states spend less than 2% and one of those that does- Estonia- doesn’t have combat aircraft. Another Greece is an economic basket case.

  2. “That includes taking authority away from the individual bases and centralizing it in Ottawa.”

    Of course because every community wants their municipal services run from Ottawa. Calling NDHQ to fix a broken water main in Edmonton doesn’t seem like it’s the answer to any problem.

  3. “But base personnel told auditors that part of the reason they were facing “chronic backlogs” when it came to entering information into the database was “limited resources to maintain the data.”

    Apparently the the notion of staying late or coming in on the weekend is beyond the modern military. Not finished your work? Drop it we’re all going to Boston Pizza!

    • You have no idea what you’re talking about it and it shows. Your comment is ignorant.

      First off, it’s not military members who work at CFHA, it’s civilian employees. Secondly, they don’t get paid enough to come in on weekends, or eat at Boston Pizza on a regular basis. It’s a Monday-Friday job, 8:00-4:00. Finally, to work at CFHA, you must be fluently bilingual (I know because I’ve applied for a job there) and finding bilingual people in BC or PEI is challenging, not to mention, the hiring envelope for civilian employees is down to NIL because of cut-backs on military funding.

      I do agree that centralizing this is a dumb idea though. The 3 hour time difference from the West Coast to Ottawa and the hour to the East Coast, means that they would have to staff their help desk from 0700 until1900 daily, as well as negating any local help required on weekends (because we all know that pipes only burst during working hours). That’s a decision that will bite them in the backside sooner rather than later.

      • The story is about the base not PMQs.

        DND civilian employees don’t get paid enough to eat at BP? I expect your story about bilingualism is also a lie and just cover for not getting a job (which apparently doesn’t pay well so why did you apply).

  4. The bases were falling apart in the 60’s……I was appalled even then

Sign in to comment.