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Canada is Making a Series of Investments in the Arctic

Through Our North, Strong and Free Canada will be investing in Northern Operational Support Hubs, Tactical Helicopters and Airborne Early Warning Aircraft

The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, met with the Honourable P.J. Akeeagok, Premier of Nunavut; the Honourable Ranj Pillai, Premier of Yukon; and the Honourable R.J. Simpson, Premier of the Northwest Territories.

Minister Blair hosted the meeting in Iqaluit to brief the Premiers with an update on Arctic and northern security in advance of the Northern Premiers Forum. Senior officials from the Department of National Defence, Canadian Armed Forces, and Communications Security Establishment provided an overview of changes to the security environment, and discussed how Canada is investing to meet new security challenges through Our North, Strong and Free: A Renewed Vision for Canada’s Defence.

Minister Blair and senior officials emphasized that due to climate change, the Canadian Arctic is warming at four times the global average, making the region more accessible. Competitors are seeking access, transportation routes, natural resources, critical minerals, and energy sources through more frequent and regular presence and activity in the Arctic and North. Competitors are also exploring Arctic waters and the sea floor, probing our infrastructure and collecting intelligence. Minister Blair and defence officials also heard directly from the premiers on regional security and defence concerns.

Minister Blair highlighted that greater Russian activity in air approaches has been observed, and a growing number of Chinese vessels and surveillance platforms are mapping and collecting data about the region. Russia continues to modernize and build up its military presence in their Arctic, investing in new bases and infrastructure. It is highly capable of projecting air, naval and missile forces both in and through the broader Arctic region.

Minister Blair also emphasized that China seeks to become a “polar great power” by 2030 and is demonstrating an intent to play a larger role in the region. China is also expanding its investments, infrastructure and industrial scientific influence throughout the Arctic.

Minister Blair noted that states are rapidly building up their military capabilities in ways that impact Canada’s security in the Arctic—including submarines, long-range aircraft and hypersonic missiles that move faster and are harder to detect.

Minister Blair reiterated that through Our North, Strong and Free, Canada is making a focused series of investments to better protect the Arctic and North, including:

  • $218 million over 20 years for Northern Operational Support Hubs to better ensure Canadian sovereignty by establishing a greater year-round presence across the Arctic and the North, and invest in multi-use infrastructure that also meets the needs of territories, Indigenous Peoples, and Northern communities.
  • $18.4 billion over 20 years to acquire a more modern, mobile, and effective tactical helicopter capability that 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.
  • $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, ensuring a faster, better coordinated response with the United States when required.
  • $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, on all three coasts.
  • $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.

The Ministers and Premiers also participated in a working dinner, during which Minister Blair reiterated that as implement Our North, Strong and Free is implemented, the department will engage closely with territories, Indigenous partners and northern communities, whose homes and lifestyle are directly impacted by Canada’s security and sovereignty. In defending the region, Canada will continue to support the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework’s principle of “nothing about us, without us”.

Minister Blair, Minister Joly, Minister Vandal and Ms. Jones also met with the Iqaluit Patrol of the 1st Canadian Ranger Patrol Group to thank them for their service and toured the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Forward Operating Location (FOL) in Iqaluit.

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