OTTAWA — The Canadian military has reversed what had become a worrying trend by reporting a small increase in the number of people in uniform last year — though it still has a long way to go to fill all the holes in its ranks.
New figures show that there were about 450 more military personnel at the end of March 2017 than the previous year, with about half being regular-force members and the other half reservists.
That represents the first real growth in the number of people in uniform in several years, as increased attrition and recruiting challenges exacerbated by Conservative-era budget cuts steadily thinned the ranks.
Yet officials are unlikely to celebrate, as the military is still short about 2,000 regular-force members and 5,300 reservists even before the Trudeau government's promise to grow both forces in the coming years.
The Liberals plan to increase the regular force to 70,500 members from its authorized strength of 68,000 and the reserves to 28,500 from 27,000 to defend against growing global instability and emerging threats such as cyber.
Senior commanders have said streamlining the recruitment system and addressing attrition are their top priorities, but at the current pace, it could be many years before the military has enough people in uniform.