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The West Block – Episode 12, SEason 13 – Nationwide | Globalnews.ca Specific Occasions

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Episode 12, Season 13
Sunday, December 3, 2023

Host: Mercedes Stephenson

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister
Paul Kershaw, Era Squeeze Founder
Laura Tamblyn Watts, CanAge CEO

Ottawa, ON

Mercedes Stephenson: A stark warning from Canada’s prime navy brass that the Canadian Armed Forces are usually not able to function in an more and more harmful world. Will the warnings from these admirals and generals change the federal government’s course on defence spending?

I’m Mercedes Stephenson. The West Block begins now.

Ottawa publicizes a $10 billion deal to exchange its growing old Aurora surveillance plane. It’s a bit of excellent information at a time when the navy is stretched to the restrict of personnel and gear. I communicate to Defence Minister Invoice Blair concerning the push to show issues round.

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Plus, is retirement a pipedream for the following technology? How lengthy will you must work earlier than you possibly can take pleasure in your golden years?

The federal authorities made it official final week. It’s changing its growing old Aurora patrol fleet with Boeing’s P8A Poseidon plane. The Aurora’s have performed a vital function in Canadian intelligence gathering. For instance, they had been used to establish ISIS targets in Iraq, and so they’re the identical plane that the Chinese language navy has been aggressively intercepting over the Pacific. The deal for the brand new planes will value simply over $10 billion, with the primary of the 14 plane anticipated to reach in 2026. The announcement comes because the navy continues to juggle a number of challenges, from growing old gear to main recruitment shortfalls. That message hit residence this week in a viral YouTube video that was made by the highest commander of the Royal Canadian Navy.

Vice-Admiral Angus Topshee, Royal Canadian Navy Commander: “The RCM faces some very critical challenges proper now that might imply we fail to fulfill our power posture and readiness commitments in 2024 and past. The RCM is in a vital state, with many occupations experiencing shortages at 20 per cent and better.”

Mercedes Stephenson: To speak concerning the challenges and options, hopefully, going through the Canadian navy, I’m joined by Defence Minister Invoice Blair.

Welcome to this system, Minister Blair.

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: Thanks very a lot. Good morning, Mercedes.

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Mercedes Stephenson: That was a fairly placing video by Admiral Topshee. It’s not usually that we hear senior generals or senior admirals come out and be that stark of their evaluation, that they might not be capable of defend the nation. They could not be capable of meet their targets. What did you make of Admiral Topshee’s video and do you agree together with his evaluation?

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister Nicely, initially, I work very intently with Admiral Topshee and with Common Eyre, our chief of defence employees, Common Kenny accountable for our air power and Common Paul accountable for the military. And—and I believe it’s essential that we, now we have amongst one another, with one another, but in addition with Canadians, candid, stark and—and frank conversations about what’s required to ensure that them to—to finish the mission of maintaining Canada protected and likewise to dwelling as much as our very vital worldwide commitments to NATO, to NORAD and within the Indo-Pacific. Now we ask a substantial amount of the Canadian Armed Forces, and I believe for a quantity—and I don’t need to kind of [00:03:11] the previous, however I believe for a really very long time, we didn’t make the mandatory investments within the platforms, initially that our navy works on, the service combatant ships that Admiral Topshee refers to, the P8, our multi-mission plane that the air power was in a position to purchase yesterday and a few of the primary gear of tanks and artillery and ammunition that the military wants. All of this stuff require vital new investments.

Mercedes Stephenson: Minister, you acknowledge that we’re dwelling in a extra harmful world. We’re watching aggression from China. We’re watching the conflict within the Center East. We’re watching Russia’s conflict in Ukraine. And sure, you might be changing some platforms, however they’re all platforms that had been flagged as in want of substitute not less than eight years in the past when your authorities took over. On the identical time, we’re going through dire shortages. I’ve spoken to plenty of senior commanders and in reality, Common Wayne Eyre stated this at committee: if there was a conflict, we solely have three days’ price of ammunition. We’re required to have 30 by NATO. We don’t have wherever close to that. We’re 27 days quick. Why has your authorities allowed the vital shortfall of ammunition and different supplies which might be required to defend Canada?

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Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: Nicely let me be actually clear. One of many jobs the prime minister has given me is to attempt to untie a few of the knots of navy procurement to truly with the [00:04:30 ISED] minister and with our procurement minister to create, you recognize, a greater provide chain of ammunition and make it possible for we will truly have an effect on these acquisitions in a well timed method. We’ve additionally been challenged, and I believe Common Eyre would acknowledge this as a result of we’ve additionally made pretty vital commitments—not simply us, however all of our NATO companions and allies—in supporting Ukraine and its combat in opposition to Russia, and that’s taken a few of that provide off. However—however I don’t disagree with you in any respect, and it’s one thing that frankly, after I took over this place, I sat down with the chief of defence and the deputy minister of—minister of nationwide defence and we’ve been engaged on what have been their challenges in buying the ammunition and a few of it’s useful resource, however an terrible lot of it’s simply course of. And so making that course of work extra successfully and get…

Mercedes Stephenson: Nicely and I, you recognize, Minister…

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: And securing these provide chains is a vital a part of what now we have to do.

Mercedes Stephenson: I hear you on Ukraine and the fabric that’s been given out and ammunition, however different nations have purchased this. In actual fact, different nations are spending rather more than Canada has. They’re growing their defence spending. Canada is making cuts to the defence finances, which I do know your authorities says aren’t cuts. However the definition of cuts is often while you take cash out and also you don’t put it again in, which is successfully what is going on. Why in mild of acknowledging the scarcity of personnel within the harmful world that we reside in are you not spending extra?

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: Nicely and—and let me simply kind of articulate that as a result of I don’t suppose you’ve fairly captured precisely what we’re doing with defence spending. In 2017, we introduced ahead a plan, Robust, Safe and Engaged, to extend defence spending by 70 per cent over an eight 12 months interval. We’re six years into that and we’re proper on monitor. Defence spending is definitely gone up.

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Mercedes Stephenson: However you’re at 1.23 per cent, which is effectively under the two per cent NATO goal.

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: And—however we’re shifting ahead. The—the purpose I need to make is we’re placing considerably new sources in. However we additionally acknowledge as a result of the world was altering and significantly after the invasion off Ukraine, the more and more aggressive posture taken on by each Russia and China, and a few of the obligations within the Indo-Pacific and in our personal Arctic and naturally, in NATO. We acknowledge that now we have to proceed to speculate much more. Greater than we stated in Robust, Safe and Engaged in 2017, and that’s why now we have introduced ahead a plan that’s very a lot in dialogue proper now, inside our authorities, about making vital new investments. I hope I’ve made it very clear, publicly, that we acknowledge we should do extra. We’re going to do extra, however there’s additionally some context within the doing that extra as a result of there’s a fiscal scenario in Canada that I’ve to be life like about what could be achieved. We’re spending taxpayers’ {dollars}, Mercedes, and I’ve at all times tried to be very cautious after we try this. So one of many issues I used to be requested to do by Treasury Board is to check out how we administer a few of our processes in our monetary administration, in our human sources administration, in consulting companies {and professional} companies and government journey, and a broad vary of issues that over time bureaucracies are inclined to change into bureaucratic and I believe there may be at all times a necessity for individuals like myself to go and make it possible for we’re being as environment friendly as doable in delivering the defence capabilities that CAF wants and the nation wants.

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Mercedes Stephenson: So then why not take that cash and put it again into the operations and upkeep finances?

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: Nicely initially, we—now we have a major finances for upkeep and for operations…

Mercedes Stephenson: However it’s a shortfall from what we’d like in accordance with all these senior generals and admirals who’re saying that they don’t have what they should do what’s required.

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: Nicely let’s—in case you don’t—however let’s not combine up apples and oranges. There—there’s a reasonably vital expenditure of administrate—in administration and my job is to make it possible for we try this as effectively and as cheaply as doable. And on the identical time, there’s a really good portion of that finances which is devoted to that upkeep and that provide. Final 12 months, the Canadian Armed Forces was unable to spend over $2 billion of the finances and it’s as a result of their processes of procurement are usually not as environment friendly as they have to be. And so it’s not a matter of us not giving them sufficient sources. It’s a matter of—of constructing positive that these processes work for them in order that they’re in a position to try this upkeep, they’re in a position to purchase that ammunition, they’re in a position to make the investments that they should make. After which largely importantly, is fixing this deficit of individuals as a result of the true power of the Canadian Armed Forces is the women and men who serve that.

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Mercedes Stephenson: Talking of investments in platforms and applied sciences. In February of this 12 months, I spoke to Minister Anand when she was the defence minister, and we had been speaking concerning the tanks that Canada despatched to Ukraine. She informed me it was prime of her precedence record principally to get to work on changing these tanks, and as you recognize, there’s a really massive variety of Canadian tanks in Latvia proper now as effectively. What’s the standing of the substitute challenge for the tanks? I haven’t seen something come out about it. I haven’t seen it go to tender. Has your authorities began the method of changing them?

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: We’re effectively on our method. After all, we’ve recognized, you recognize, all of our necessities with respect to these tanks. We all know what we would like, the Leopard tank, and we’ve obtained—we’re additionally making investments in sustaining those we’ve obtained, however we do know we’d like extra. The procurement course of is, as I’ve already talked about to you, Mercedes, initially, I don’t speak an excessive amount of about the place we’re at and significantly processes as a result of I need to make it possible for I don’t do something that interferes with these contracts, however on the identical time, what I’m discovering is, and I believe you’re conscious of this and most Canadians are, a few of these procurement contracts take an extremely very long time to execute. And the time between when the Canadian Armed Forces defines the necessity and after we’ll truly be capable of get them within the door, it takes a while—an inordinate period of time and an unacceptable period of time, so it’s—we’re attempting to not solely to handle the associated fee, however to additionally handle the time that it takes to ship them. That once more, is one in every of my duties. I’m working with a few of the greatest individuals I do know in authorities and within the Canadian Armed Forces to, as you say, untie a few of these knots. I used to be more than happy, yesterday, we had been in a position to—we heard very clearly from the Royal Canadian Air Pressure about what it wanted in a multi-mission plane to exchange the CP-140, the Auroras. The recognized their necessities and we decided that the one airplane that at present was accessible and that met all of these necessities was the P8, and though it was a procurement not with out its challenges, I used to be very, more than happy to have the ability to announce to the Canadian Armed Forces and to the Royal Canadian Air Pressure that we had been in a position to purchase these planes for them and that they had been going to be getting them throughout the subsequent two years, earlier than the CP-140s age out of service. And in order that’s our accountability is to get jobs like that executed, and I used to be more than happy that yesterday we had been in a position—I hope we had been in a position to ship a sign about our dedication to ship for the Canadian Armed Forces. We’re going to proceed to ship for them as a result of they ship for us.

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Mercedes Stephenson: Thanks very a lot for becoming a member of us at the moment, minister. And good luck with I’m positive what’s a troublesome job forward of you.

Invoice Blair, Defence Minister: No, it’s the very best job in authorities. Thanks very a lot, Mercedes.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, is freedom 55 now a pipedream? We dig into a brand new report that reveals many Canadians aren’t prepared for retirement.


Mercedes Stephenson: With numbers out final week that the financial system is slowing and unemployment is up, interested by retirement appears like a pipedream for lots of us proper now, and that’s backed up by a brand new report that discovered the vast majority of individuals close to retirement age are usually not financially prepared to go away the workforce. Solely 14 per cent are retirement prepared. 31 per cent might want to depend on public revenue like CPP and Previous Age Safety. About 55 per cent must make way of life cuts to keep away from outliving their very own financial savings, and a staggering 73 per cent will face monetary hardship in the event that they require long run care.

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And for younger Canadians who’re struggling to afford a house and discover jobs, is retirement even a risk? To speak about all of this, I’m joined by Paul Kershaw, the founding father of Era Squeeze and a professor at UBC Faculty of Inhabitants and Public Well being, and Laura Tamblyn Watts, the CEO of CanAge, a nationwide seniors’ advocacy group.

Good morning to each of you. Not the cheeriest of subjects, however an essential one. You recognize, we had been speaking about this across the workplace and simply saying whether or not you’re on the finish of your profession and interested by retiring, or just lately retired and questioning in case you can afford to remain there, or for a few of the youthful individuals who work in our bureau, questioning in the event that they’re ever going to have the ability to retire. It’s not a very rosy and optimistic outlook.

Paul, are you able to begin us off with giving us a way of the place that is going and the way apprehensive we ought to be?

Paul Kershaw, Era Squeeze Founder: Nicely I believe that there are two issues that we’d like to pay attention to. On the one hand, for a youthful demographic, I do more and more fear concerning the pressures that they’ll face in a while of their aspirations to retire as a result of the fact is that for younger people at the moment, arduous work doesn’t repay prefer it used to. They may go to post-secondary extra and pay extra for the privilege to land jobs that really usually are paying much less after adjusting for inflation. After which everyone knows they’re going through dramatically greater housing costs that more and more lock them out of possession and their comfort prize is awful, rising rents. And all of which means it’s a lot tougher to save lots of for retirement down the street. And on prime of that, and now we have to consider at the moment’s growing old inhabitants, these are our relations. It’s my mother, my in-laws, and many others., and for that demographic, the info are considerably optimistic that they’ve a few of the lowest charges of poverty within the nation, essentially the most wealth of excellent quantity of housing safety, however a long time in the past, our authorities sort of allow them to and allow us to down as a result of we didn’t work out tips on how to pay successfully for a wholesome retirement for an growing old demographic pushed by the infant growth.

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And if I might simply add another statement on your listeners, you recognize, again within the day when child boomers had been younger adults, there have been seven working age residents to pay for each retiree. Now boomers have each cause to count on I would like the identical if not higher advantages, however they’re simply three working age residents to pay for each retiree, and that’s including some dangers to what can we do to guard the safety for our retired family members, but it surely’s additionally placing quite a lot of stress on youthful taxpayers.

Mercedes Stephenson: Laura, what occurs while you—you’ve labored arduous your entire like, you’ve saved appropriately for what you had been anticipating, however now issues are costlier, individuals are dwelling longer, particularly ladies usually outlive and make much less whereas they’re working than males. What’s the state of affairs proper now for senior Canadians?

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CanAge CEO: Nicely it’s not as rosy as we would want. You recognize, I do know that the best way that we calculate how individuals are doing by way of poverty index and so forth is there, and with these numbers older adults on the entire appear to be they’re doing fairly effectively, however the actuality of the circumstance is we measure the improper stuff. And what which means is the measurements are based mostly on a household of 4 in sort of their center years, and the basket of products and companies that we rely are usually not often the basket of products and companies that seniors want. So care, the price of care residence care, care provision, all of that isn’t within the basket of products. After we’re interested by what we’d like as older individuals, together with medicines and so forth that aren’t coated, these are additionally not within the basket of products. And what it means as effectively is that not solely we’re counting the improper stuff that they’re changing into rather more costly at a time when debt was low-cost, so many older individuals are very a lot in debt. Boomers are essentially the most indebted technology we’ve ever had. A few of them are retiring with scholar debt, let alongside mortgage debt. So that they’ve accrued quite a lot of debt, however their cash didn’t make a lot as a result of rates of interest had been traditionally low. Now, the price of debt has gone up and their value of dwelling has gone up and sometimes they’re not having the ability to make as a lot cash within the door, so it’s truly a really poor scenario.

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Mercedes Stephenson: Paul, what occurs for the youthful technology, and I see this with rather a lot my mates, delay having kids, you recognize, you’re establishing your profession. It’s costly, you’re ready till later, and now you’re in a state of affairs the place you might be each caring for probably younger kids or having to pay for little one care and on the identical time, worrying about growing old dad and mom who might also require care or long run. It looks like an amazing monetary burden and the place does the cash come from simply to get by day after day while you’re coping with these competing fam—not competing, you recognize what I imply, however relations at reverse ends of their life spectrum that each require quite a lot of care and some huge cash?

Paul Kershaw, Era Squeeze Founder: Nicely it’s the correct query, and I like a lot the way you corrected prefer it’s competing. It’s truly what now we have, I believe, is quite a lot of love, and there’s quite a lot of solidarity between older and youthful relations and tips on how to work it out in order that not solely can we make our households work for all generations, however we have to make our nation and our authorities budgets work for all generations. And I’m—I’m onboard with Laura saying we regularly aren’t proper now measuring the correct issues. And I’m sympathetic to the truth that many individuals proper now is likely to be having extra debt in retirement, however we have to—have to put that in context. That debt will usually be within the context of 1’s housing and—effectively there was slightly little bit of a trickle up within the variety of boomers who’re retiring with mortgage debt. Usually, that’s as a result of they’ve been refinancing properties and buying extra properties as a result of they’re making a substantial amount of wealth coming from the housing system. And so I believe Laura is correct. After we measure how individuals are doing, we have to transfer past revenue and suppose more and more about wealth since you could be a widow with a low revenue of say, round $25 thousand a 12 months and that shall be akin to love simply above the poverty line and simply above getting the Assured Revenue Complement on this nation, and we would suppose that that particular person is admittedly financially struggling. And in the event that they’re a renter, they completely are. But when they’re a house proprietor in Halifax or Hamilton or Victoria or Vancouver or Toronto, the is likely to be individuals whose properties that they personal outright are price one million, if not many hundreds of thousands extra. And in order that’s basically completely different than say, you would possibly suppose a younger lawyer making $250 thousand, they’re the highest earners within the nation, however in some situations, they’ll barely afford to lease a two-bedroom place. And so we have to increasingly be interested by how can we measure affluence on this nation. How can we measure our potential to contribute to the companies we’d like in retirement and the companies we’d like like little one care, like post-secondary, like reasonably priced housing? We’ve got to actually involves phrases with how—what we would like, how we’re going to pay for what we would like and be certain that we’re not leaving massive unpaid authorities payments through deficits for our youngsters and grandchildren.

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Mercedes Stephenson: Laura, what is going on for people who find themselves retiring now? I’ve heard some individuals considering that they might have to come back again to work as a result of the quantity they saved that they thought could be sufficient now isn’t sufficient. Are you seeing quite a lot of that, or is that extra a concern than one thing that’s truly manifesting?

Laura Tamblyn Watts, CanAge CEO: Oh no, we’re fully altering it. And really that’s okay to vary it, so long as we’re speaking about people who find themselves economically safe and more and more we’re not. What it means is that individuals not solely live longer, additionally they have to work longer. They—the concept of retirement at 65 got here out of a time the place individuals died at 67. That’s truly after we created our CPP, it was solely anticipated that you’d reside two years and then you definitely would die. Now we’re taking a look at a 3rd of our life. It received’t be shocking for anybody to say that individuals want extra money and so they want extra safety. And there are some obstacles that we have to callout. One of many greatest obstacles for individuals who need to keep within the workforce longer, although we’re within the greatest labour crunch we’ve ever had in Canada, you recognize, ageism is taking part in an enormous function. And so people are having a tough time getting again into the working world, the paid working world, after which we even have these extra layers of complexity round issues like the very fact is most caregivers for older individuals are different older individuals, it’s not truly the generations under and they also’re attempting to determine how they’ll steadiness offering free take care of spouses, mates, and even, you recognize, dad and mom of their 90s, whereas on the identical time, they don’t have the gathered wealth that they should.

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The final piece I simply needed to share is there’s a structural drawback round housing, too. Fairly proper, sure, many individuals have gathered wealth or fairness of their home, however we don’t even have locations for them to go to which might be age-friendly and accessible and so most rental locations are usually not acceptable for older individuals. They’re not simply in a position to downsize and keep of their communities. Lots of them—they’re going to promote or they’re going to have to maneuver far exterior of the world that they’re into one thing rather more distant, more difficult to get the companies and well being care that they want, the place transportation turns into an enormous challenge. So once more, it’s not nearly the price of housing, it’s about the price of together with individuals in communities and we’re failing in that.

Mercedes Stephenson: Nicely definitely large questions forward about what that appears like and I’m positive whether or not or not these in my technology and youthful will ever be capable of retire. Paul and Laura, thanks each very a lot for becoming a member of us. I’m positive we’ll be speaking about this once more quickly as a result of it is a matter that fairly actually impacts everybody.

Paul Kershaw, Era Squeeze Founder: Thanks.

Mercedes Stephenson: Up subsequent, critical misconduct allegations levelled in opposition to Canada’s spy company.


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Mercedes Stephenson: Now for one final thing…

Final week, yet one more highly effective nationwide safety group confronted critical allegations of sexual misconduct and a poisonous office tradition. Whistleblowers from Canada’s spy company, CSIS, informed the Canadian Press that the British Columbia workplace of CSIS was a “darkish and disturbing place.” The allegations included harassment and rape. It’s not the primary time we’ve heard considerations about CSIS. In the course of the international pandemic, International Information reported on allegations of poisonous office tradition, racism and harassment by senior managers, in addition to a demoralized employees.

Those that work in nationwide safety are very important to this nation and so they make quite a lot of sacrifices, but rooting out sexual misconduct and guaranteeing oversight of highly effective and shadowy organizations appears to be an ongoing problem.

Those that defend the nation deserve higher, and right here at The West Block, now we have extra reporting to come back in coming weeks on this topic to carry these organizations accountable.

That’s our present for at the moment. We’ll see you subsequent Sunday.

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