02/16/2013 09:07 EST | Updated 04/18/2013 05:12 EDT

Peter MacKay Says Reserves Will See Growth, Despite Budget Cuts

EDMONTON - Defence Minister Peter MacKay insists the future of the Canadian Forces reserves remains bright despite talk of looming cuts.

MacKay says a report in the National Post that contends reserve units have seen their budgets reduced up to 25 per cent from last year is "exaggerated."

He says he has spoken with the commander of the army, Lt.-Gen. Peter Devlin, and says the reservists, proportionally, will continue to see growth.

The Post also said that millions of dollars that were originally intended for part-time reservists were actually going to full-time reserve members based at various headquarters.

But MacKay says the reserves continue seeing the type of investment that the government has been making in the past six or seven years, which he notes has seen the defence budget grow about a billion dollars every year.

MacKay made the remarks at CFB Edmonton, where announced several contracts for maintenance and other work at bases in Alberta.

"We have no intention of reducing the readiness of our reservists. Just as we are going to prepare our regular force for whatever inevitabilities and whatever challenges may come. That has been the stated intent of our government," MacKay said when asked whether the reserves would face cuts.

"We will continue to invest in the Canadian Forces to ensure that it's a modern, capable and multi-tasked force for the world."

A struggle between Prime Minister Stephen Harper and some military brass appeared to be illuminated by a leaked letter Harper sent last June, complaining that initial defence cuts did not go deep enough on the administrative side.

The letter specifically mentioned the part-time reserves as areas to avoid when making budgetary reductions.

Harper later talked of the importance of reducing administrative expenses in the forces in order to "carry out work on the ground" when he spoke at the change of command that saw Gen. Tom Lawson take over as chief of defence staff.

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