07/03/2012 06:25 EDT | Updated 09/02/2012 05:12 EDT

Defence Department Axes Signing Bonuses


The Department of National Defence is no longer offering signing bonuses to recruits with special skills, a move criticized by a defence expert as being part of federal government cutbacks.

In a statement to CBC News, a department spokeswoman said recruitment allowances were no longer required because the Canadian Forces had "fulfilled recruitment goals years ahead of schedule."

"Recruiting allowances are used when required. The requirement is based on a manning forecast produced every year to identify military occupations that are deemed under strength," said the statement.

"The manning forecast for this year indicates that there are currently no under strength military occupations."

The loss of signing bonuses applies to several occupations within the military, including medical officers, lawyers, meteorological technicians, communication specialists and aerospace control operators.

The value of the bonuses varied depending on the trade: $40,000 for engineering officers, $25,000 for dental officers and $225,000 for doctors, according to the Department of National Defence.

Ken Hansen, a research fellow at the Centre for Foreign Policy Studies at Dalhousie University in Halifax, said he doesn't believe the military has enough specialized personnel.

'It's clearly a cost-saving measure'

"If you look at it in light of the broader government cutbacks, it's clearly a cost-saving measure," Hansen told CBC News on Tuesday.

"The federal government is seriously reducing the amount of money that they put out for a wide variety of activities and this falls into that same pot, that kettle of fish. The gruel is getting thin."

Hansen, who spent time in the personnel branch of the Canadian navy, said the military's training system is jammed because it has been scaled back in recent years. Fewer recruits are needed only because fewer recruits can be trained, he said.

"The time that it takes to train specialists within the military can be very long. Four to five years is not uncommon," said Hansen.

"To turn back very significantly on your intake, especially for high-tech, long-time development people, is a risky proposition."

Hansen believes certain professionals, such as medical officers, are "always" in short supply.

"Cutbacks on something like recruitment of medical officers seems very risky to me," he said.

"It's part of the government's responsibility to make sure that even though we may not actually be at war — we're recently out of a period of conflict — that the system can fully and completely care for the people that have done their duty."

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