NEWS
01/26/2016 17:50 EST | Updated 01/26/2017 00:12 EST

Five things to take away from government's National Defence performance report

OTTAWA — The federal government released departmental performance reports this week, including one for National Defence, which spent $18.4 billion in the budget year that ended last March. Here are five interesting and unusual facts from the annual disclosure tabled in Parliament.

— The House of Commons voted to appropriate $20.4 billion for the military, but as in past years, a substantial amount — $1.9 billion — was not spent. Of that, $1.3 billion was for purchases of new planes, ships and vehicles that had been budgeted but was either unavailable — or delayed by the former Conservative government — until future years. Not all of the surplus funds have to go back to the federal treasury.

— A significant number of full-time military members were unable to be deployed on operations — both at home and abroad — because of dental issues. The report says 5.4 per cent of those deemed ineligible required ongoing dental care, while 15.4 per cent did not show up for their annual dental fitness exams. National Defence says it will have to proactively remind personnel of their obligations.

— A lot of public attention is paid to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service spy agency (CSIS) and the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), Canada's electronic spy agency, but not many people realize the Canadian military maintains a large defence intelligence system. Last year, it produced more than 5,000 reports, which it shared not only with the top brass but with government departments. The branch also spent $202.4 million in hopes of providing "credible, timely, and integrated analysis of defence intelligence issues."

— The army may have service problems with its trucks, but the Royal Canadian Air Force managed an overall fleet serviceability rate of 93 per cent for its jets, fixed-wing planes and helicopters. That's despite having some aircraft that are more than 50 years old. The department report notes, however, that spare parts "remain a concern for certain fleets," and they've only be able to maintain serviceability rates by robbing "parts from other aircraft, which increases maintenance requirements."

— National Defence spent $113 million less than expected on international combat operations last year. It's not because the air force was being stingy with the bombs. Rather, the former Conservative government built the cost of winding down the bombing campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant into its budget projections. National Defence says the incremental cost of the war against ISIL — the cost over and above buying and maintaining the military equipment — was $70 million between April 2014 and March 2015.

The Canadian Press