POLITICS

Federal budget 2015: Parliament Hill, security agencies getting more money

04/21/2015 04:49 EDT | Updated 07/14/2015 07:59 EDT
Canada's national security agencies will get additional funding under the 2015 federal budget, including more money for security at military bases and for the country's lone intelligence review organization.

In a budget that projects this year's tax-cuts will cost $4.9 billion, the additional funding for the fight against terrorism is a fraction of the government's expenses.

The funding also pales in comparison to the prominence the Conservatives have given the issue.

The Armed Forces will get $360.3 million for the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), despite an estimate by Defence Minister Jason Kenney that the mission this fiscal year will cost $406 million.

The Forces are also getting $7.1 million this year to help train soldiers in Ukraine, although Kenney said that program would cost $16 million, including a $3-million dollar contingency fund.

The money for combating ISIS is scheduled for the 2015-16 fiscal year and not beyond. Canada has committed to a renewed six-month combat mission in Iraq and Syria, which is set to expire next fall.

The military is getting a further small contribution to improve security on bases — $4 million over five years — and a bigger commitment to increase the spending escalator for National Defence from an annual two per cent increase to an annual three per cent increase. 

SIRC budget doubled

Some of the security funding is back-loaded, scheduled to be spent, or to increase, two to five years from now.

Asked about the delay, given his government's insistence on the urgency of the anti-terror fight, Oliver addressed mostly defence spending, not the budget for Canadian security agencies.

"We're not talking about a flat fiscal situation for the Department of Defence. We're talking about increasing the increase," he said.

"We're providing more money for foreign intelligence [and] for domestic intelligence," he said.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the RCMP and the Canada Border Services Agency will share $292.5 million over the next five years, starting with $18 million and gradually building to $92 million in 2019-20.

The budget also includes an additional $2.5 million a year for the Security Intelligence Review Committee, doubling the agency's budget. SIRC reviews some activities of CSIS.

The government has been criticized for SIRC's limited mandate, especially as it tries to give CSIS a broader mandate to disrupt suspected terrorist activities. There was no commitment in the budget to increase the powers of SIRC.

The Ottawa police, which has jurisdiction including the area around Parliament Hill and which faced sharply increased costs following the Oct. 22 shooting at the National War Memorial, are getting $10 million over five years from the federal government.

The Conservatives are also committing $36 million over two years to improve security on Parliament Hill.