Minister's Speech / October 7, 2013
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is truly a pleasure to be with you this morning.
In fact, this is my first opportunity to address the senior civilian and military leadership of the Defence Team.
Like all Canadians, I have long admired the professionalism and commitment of our men and women in uniform, and their civilian counterparts.
And since taking on this portfolio, I have come to better appreciate the breadth, depth and complexity of your work, and the exceptional expertise that everyone of you brings to this job.
Since 2006, the Government has supported Canada’s armed forces with an increase in the Defence budget of $4.5 billion, to modernise core equipment fleets, upgrade infrastructure, improve care for our ill and injured military personnel, and ensure readiness.
In recent years, this Government’s firm commitment to re-balance the budget, and the resulting spending reviews that were mandated across the public service, have demanded that you take a critical and comprehensive look at the way you do business.
In the face of that challenge, you have been identifying efficiencies and ensuring that your efforts and investments are allocated to the highest priorities.
Going forward, we want to encourage a continued commitment to such management excellence.
We want to continue to ensure that we’re delivering on the defence mandate in the most efficient way.
That’s why, in line with the Prime Minister’s intent to free up support for operational capability and readiness, National Defence has put forward an ambitious plan to reduce corporate overhead.
Defence Renewal will help National Defence continue to build a modern first class military, ready to take on the challenges of tomorrow.
So together we are embarking on this unique process – one that is being driven by defence, for defence.
Let me be clear – I’m not talking about more cost cutting, but rather, about doing things smarter.
Our focus is to achieve clear accountability, improve processes, and develop a stronger culture of innovation, which will ultimately ensure that we maintain the support and trust of Canadians.
This large-scale review of our business processes is aimed at freeing up resources that can be re-invested in defence.
These resources will be redirected towards the continued modernization of the Canadian Armed Forces’ capabilities, and other defence priorities.
Our intent is not to reduce the number of Regular Force, Reserve Force or civilian employees.
It is, however, expected that there will be a rebalancing of the workforce to address higher, operationally-driven priorities.
This is what Canadians expect of National Defence.
It is about making changes to the way we do things to ensure maximum value for every tax dollar.
It is about entrenching a culture of continuous improvement in the Defence organization.
It is about strengthening Defence for the future.
As you know, a small in-house team – a “Defence Renewal Team” – comprised of both military and civilian officials, has been driving this process forward since last year.
This Team has now completed a Defence Renewal Charter and Plan, which take advantage of international best practices and lessons learned, and also reflect the extensive input that was gathered through internal consultations.
Together, these documents serve to lay-out the vision and the roadmap for the transformation process that lies ahead.
And they articulate a concrete and tangible set of commitments, timelines and reporting cycles that will guide us towards attaining that vision in the coming years.
Today is the formal launch of this major initiative to to bolster front-line investments by reducing inefficiencies, streamlining business processes and reducing corporate overhead within Canada’s defence organization.
But in fact, in some areas, Defence Renewal has already begun – as some of you can attest.
We all know that this kind of fundamental change will take time, and it will take a deliberate and concerted effort by the entire Defence organization.
Indeed, this is a truly ambitious project.
That is why personnel throughout the organization – military and civilian, management and staff – are being called on to engage.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In recent years, you have maintained an impressive operational tempo, while also sustaining a wide array of modernization efforts.
The Defence Renewal process that I have just outlined is aimed at building on your tremendous accomplishments to date.
Through this process, we will embrace change so that we can continue to improve our level of service for Canadians – today, tomorrow, and for years to come.
I look forward to moving this process forward together.