Good morning. I call this meeting to order.
Welcome to meeting number 51 of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
Pursuant to Standing Order 108(3)(g), the committee is meeting today to continue its study on “Report 6: Arctic Waters Surveillance” of the 2022 reports five to eight of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada.
The chair has asked that we move other business to another time. Do we have unanimous consent to use the full meeting for this study?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Vice-Chair (Ms. Jean Yip): I would now like to welcome our witnesses.
From the Office of the Auditor General, we have Andrew Hayes, deputy auditor general, and Nicholas Swales, principal. From the Department of Transport, we have Arun Thangaraj, deputy minister, and Lisa Setlakwe, assistant deputy minister, safety and security. From the Department of National Defence, we have Bill Matthews, deputy minister; Nancy Tremblay, associate assistant deputy minister, material; Rob Chambers, assistant deputy minister, infrastructure and environment; and Rear-Admiral Steven Waddell, deputy commander, Royal Canadian Navy. From the Department of the Environment, we have Chris Forbes, deputy minister, and Ken Macdonald, executive director, national programs and business development, prediction services directorate, meteorological service of Canada.
That's a full house. Thank you.
Mr. Hayes, you already made your opening remarks at the last meeting. We will then go to Deputy Minister Thangaraj for five minutes.
Go ahead, please. You have the floor.
Thank you, Madam Chair, for inviting us to be here with you this morning.
As the new deputy minister of transport, marine safety and security of Canada's Arctic waters is one of my top priorities.
The Government of Canada agrees with the findings and recommendations in the Auditor General's report related to the surveillance of Arctic waters and will take steps to address them.
Canada's maritime domain awareness in the Arctic is critical to ensuring the country can mitigate risks and respond to incidents that may impact our security, safety, environment and economy.
Transport Canada is working with our partners, including Inuit and indigenous communities, Arctic residents and industry, to address long-standing gaps in the Arctic maritime domain awareness, particularly the continuous tracking of vessels, identification of non-emitting vessels and the improvement of information sharing to ensure our Arctic waters are safe and secure.
In July, the announced an additional $2-billion investment into Canada's oceans protection plan, bringing the total investment to $3.5 billion. Under this plan, Canada is working together with indigenous peoples, stakeholders, coastal communities, and provinces and territories. The Government of Canada is working with them to strengthen protections for our coasts and wildlife, improving maritime traffic and incident management, and advancing partnerships with indigenous communities.
With respect to the specific points raised by the Auditor General, Transport Canada leads the interdepartmental marine security working group, which has updated Canada's maritime security framework. This will be finalized before the end of this month. This will enable a coordinated approach to address a range of maritime security challenges and priorities, including strategies dealing with both maritime domain awareness and Arctic maritime security.
Transport Canada is also reviewing legislation and regulations to address potential gaps and to ensure that the marine transportation security framework continues to address modern threats and risks to the marine transportation system.
As part of the marine security operation centre third party review, which was launched in December 2022, we are working with our partners to incorporate measures to identify gaps in monitoring, assessing and reporting on maritime domain awareness, and the way forward on operational flexibility, options and tools.
These centres are a unique example of multiagency integration and collaboration. To support that awareness and Canada's federal presence in the Arctic, the Government of Canada will continue to work with its partners to provide the equipment, infrastructure, assets and capabilities necessary to support our maritime security interests in the region.
We are improving key equipment used for maritime surveillance by pursuing options for acquiring equipment in a timelier manner and developing contingency plans to address the risk posed by critical equipment failure.
Regarding Transport Canada's air asset capacity, the department currently dedicates the Dash 7 maritime patrol aircraft to performing surveillance in the Arctic during the shipping season. Sensors on this aircraft enable the detection, classification and tracking of vessels of interest and marine oil spills. The Vancouver-based Dash 8 is also used, as required, to conduct surveillance in the western Arctic. To improve aircraft state of readiness, Transport Canada has acquired a substantial inventory of Dash 7 parts, in order to reduce the time the aircraft may be out of service.
The department, in co-operation with the Canadian Coast Guard, is also conducting a review of its aircraft services directorate to determine where efficiencies can be made, including recommendations for the future replacement of the Dash 7 aircraft.
The department has also procured a remotely piloted aircraft system, delivery of which is expected this summer, to augment its surveillance capacity in the Arctic and is progressing with the construction of a Transport Canada hangar in Iqaluit which will support the whole of government. This facility will support aircraft maintenance and allow for the possibility of extending Arctic surveillance operations into spring, late fall and winter.
Canada's Arctic waters surveillance is critical to ensuring the country can mitigate risks and respond to incidents that may impact our security, safety, environment and economy.
We look forward to working with our partners on these next steps.
If the committee has any questions, I would be more than pleased to answer them. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to begin by saying hello to all the committee members.
As you mentioned earlier, I am joined by a few of my counterparts from other departments.
I will offer some very brief opening remarks, in order to leave maximum time for questions.
The Auditor General's report clearly identifies where departments need to collaborate more effectively on Arctic waters surveillance. National Defence welcomes those observations and agrees. Defence is directly implicated in both recommendations one and two of the Auditor General's report. The department fully agrees with both recommendations and has developed corresponding management action plans for each. I will stress that some of this work is complicated and multi-year in nature.
If you wish to get into some of the details of those action plans, I would be happy to do so with the help of my colleagues, as appropriate.
I will stop here so that we have enough time to answer your questions. In any event, it's a pleasure for me to be here.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm happy to be here today with the committee to discuss report six of the Auditor General. This focuses on water surveillance in the Arctic, obviously.
We are one of the five organizations identified in the scope of the audit. We are not directly involved in traffic monitoring, but we obviously play an active operational role in supporting transportation in the Arctic.
We have offices and staff in all three territorial capitals, and we provide support in smaller and more remote communities, such as Fort Smith, Resolute Bay and Inuvik. We deliver programs and initiatives across the north, most notably—probably—in areas such as weather prediction, nature conservation and protection, biodiversity, and climate change and adaptation.
Our work also focuses a lot on reconciliation—a significant priority for the department—as well as research monitoring and international Arctic co-operation. As an example, the meteorological service of Canada monitors weather and ice conditions, uses world-leading computer models to predict the evolution of these conditions and provides services that support Canadians and Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic.
Data from these networks underpin the accurate and timely weather forecasts and warnings available to Canadians. This includes daily marine weather forecasts for the navigable waters of Canadian territory as well as marine weather and ice information for a broad area of international waters north of 60 degrees.
The data also feeds into specialized weather forecasts and information that are provided to the Canadian Armed Forces on an ongoing basis, domestically and internationally, and include mission support for the Arctic offshore patrol ships when they are in the Arctic.
There's also the Canadian ice service from Environment and Climate Change Canada's meteorological service of Canada. It has specialized expertise in monitoring sea‑ice and icebergs, ice detection and modelling. It also provides operational support for maritime activities seven days a week to help ensure safe ice operations. This includes direct support to Canadian Coast Guard and Royal Canadian Navy operations.
With longer and more widespread ice‑free conditions in the ocean, and sea‑ice decline, in some areas, as high as 20% per decade, it's a critical service.
In addition, the department's expertise in the north also supports our work to sustain Canada's northern water resources and freshwater ecosystems.
I'm going to stop here. At this time, I'm happy to take questions from members of the committee.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thanks to our witnesses, especially for the Auditor General's report and the very good work done by your department.
I'll begin with a quote from the Nunatsiaq News on August 5, 2015, which reads:
Russia is seeking to expand its Arctic territory—by 1.2 million square kilometres in the resource-rich Arctic waters around the North Pole.
That’s the gist of Russia’s new submission to the United Nations for the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which claims “the seabed and its subsoil in the central Arctic Ocean which is natural prolongation of the Russian land territory.”
Yes, that was eight years ago now, but this is from Mr. Putin just a month ago, in a Reuters article from Moscow on January 27, 2023. It said:
President Vladimir Putin held talks on Friday with top security officials about the status of Russia's efforts to legally expand the outer boundaries of its continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean.
Russia in 2021 filed a submission to the United Nations seeking to redefine its continental shelf, which is believed to contain vast untapped reservoirs of oil and gas. Moscow said at the time it wanted much more Arctic seabed, a move that has implications for Canada and Denmark who have their own claims.
Putin is a very real and present threat to our Canadian Arctic security and sovereignty.
I asked specifically about Arctic sovereignty on May 3, 2022. My question to her was:
Mr. Speaker, the NDP-Liberal budget proves once again that the current government is all talk and no action. Instead of a plan to protect our Arctic sovereignty and security, all we got was a reannouncement of NORAD's existing infrastructure and that the government is considering its options.
We heard that again today. My question continued:
Our Arctic sovereignty and security cannot be protected by more Liberal empty promises. Will the minister, who continues to fail to defend our north, stand up and explain?
Her answer was:
Mr. Speaker, Canada's sovereignty in the Arctic is secure....
Her answer went on, but still, that's her premise.
From the Auditor General's report, we're clearly not anywhere near having a secure Arctic. I'll go to the recommendations in the report. Recommendation 6.12 on page 7 reads:
Overall, the federal government has not taken the required action to address long-standing gaps affecting its surveillance of Canada’s Arctic waters. As a result, the federal organizations that are responsible for safety and security in the Arctic region do not have a full awareness of maritime activities in Arctic waters and are not ready to respond to increased surveillance requirements.
I'll go on to 6.13, the section below, which reads:
The long-standing issues include incomplete surveillance, insufficient data about vessel traffic in Canada’s Arctic waters, poor means of sharing information on maritime traffic, and outdated equipment. The renewal of vessels, aircraft, satellites, and infrastructure that support monitoring maritime traffic and responding to safety and security incidents has fallen behind to the point where some will likely cease to operate before they can be replaced. For example, the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada risk losing presence in Arctic waters as their aging icebreakers and patrol aircraft near the end of their service lives and are likely to be retired before a new fleet can be launched.
We are hardly in a good place in the Arctic, despite the minister's wanting to reassure us that we're good.
I'll ask the DMs from defence, transport and environment to please respond.
The report identifies gaps, and there have been actions taken within the department to address those gaps, firstly with respect to situational awareness and the information sharing, as well as on the aircraft, as you stated.
First, with respect to some of the gaps, one of the first actions of the department was reviewing the working group. There have been changes to the working group and how it operates to make it more nimble and responsive and to identify where those gaps are. As the audit noted, the framework was old and outdated, so that working group has met and the revised framework will be approved by the end of this month.
Certainly. There are a couple of points. One, I would distinguish between issues around lack of awareness, which is what the Auditor General's report highlights, versus ongoing legal claims made by Russia in terms of land ownership or mineral rights, etc.
In terms of closing gaps around awareness, the work we are advancing is twofold. Number one, we are looking at Arctic offshore patrol ships' new capability, and there are three more coming there. However, information sharing is also critical. The OAG report flags that some vessels self-report. Others, smaller vessels, are under no obligation to do so. There are multiple departments, including the Coast Guard, which is not here today, which work together to build that picture.
My colleague just flagged the information sharing—
I can respond to that. Thank you.
Part of it is governance, as has just been indicated, and having clearer lines of communication and protocols. Part of it is data—you've already alluded to that—and making sure we are collecting the data and that it is going into systems that people can access. In some cases there are legislative impediments to our being able to share information between each other, and we are working to remove some of those barriers.
I would say there is a very close collaborative relationship that exists domestically as well as internationally. I just left a meeting this morning with our Five Eyes partners where we are, in fact, tackling some of these questions and trying to get better at managing the data, sharing it and using it to be more responsive, nimble and agile to deal with situations that may emerge.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to thank everyone for being here.
My first question is for Mr. Hayes.
Mr. Hayes, someone said at our last meeting that there is currently very little leeway with respect to renewing ships before the end of their useful life, that the situation seems to have worsened and that the action plan is not delivering the anticipated results.
In a few words, what are your concerns about our ships potentially reaching the end of their useful life? How would that impact national security?
My next question is for you, but also for Mr. Matthews.
When we talk about icebreakers, we're talking about very extensive capabilities because the Arctic remains covered in ice despite the fact that the glaciers are melting faster. The dream of using the Northwest Passage dates back to the 18th and 19th centuries. We need our icebreakers to do that.
We have a third shipyard in this country that's been doing better and better since 2015, and yet it's still not included in the national shipbuilding strategy; that shipyard is waiting for the framework agreement to be signed.
What effect is this delay having on shipbuilding and protecting our Arctic waters?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
The report clearly found that inadequate patrol equipment was not the only major problem in terms of marine surveillance. It also pointed to a massive infrastructure gap that is affecting the aerial patrol needs. That gap is centred on Nunavut's airports.
As the report states:
The lack of adequate infrastructure is also a problem for the National Aerial Surveillance Program. From July to November, Transport Canada's Dash 7 maritime patrol airplane is located in Iqaluit, but the department does not have the infrastructure needed to maintain its aircraft or house its personnel in the Arctic.
We heard aspects of that in the Transport representatives' comments, but absent is the fact that the airport itself—the actual physical airport—is in need of critical infrastructure repair and maintenance. Anyone who knows the realities of the Arctic can tell you that the issues with the airports' infrastructure are not limited to those under the aerial surveillance program. Airports in their entirety aren't being properly invested in for things like operations and maintenance.
My colleague represents Nunavut as the member of Parliament for that area. I had an opportunity to connect with her on some of the things that the people there are experiencing—the direct constituents of Nunavut. They're deeply concerned about the horrific state of their infrastructure. She told me there was even mould in the airport's terminal.
The communities of Whale Cove and Cambridge Bay in particular still don't even have paved airstrips. They're still landing on gravel when there's no ice and snow. It's unthinkable that these kinds of structural and health issues in airport terminals would remain unaddressed. That just wouldn't be a reality for us in the south. It's even worse, because Whale Cove has had several boil water advisories. They are being forced to choose between having a new terminal and thinking about some of the water problems and infrastructure problems that are present there, including sewage. It's a very difficult decision they have to make, of course.
My question is for the Transport Canada officials. Should Whale Cove and other Inuit communities be put in a position of having to choose between getting mould out of their airport terminals and having the infrastructure needed for clean water?
Thank you once again, Madam Chair.
I'll move right to Mr. Hayes.
I'm going to ask you a final question, but I have a preamble again.
On page 14, 6.37 reads, “We found significant risks that there will be gaps in Canada's surveillance, patrol, and presence in the Arctic in the coming decade as aging equipment reaches the end of its useful service life before replacement systems become available.” I'll list them. There are five: “Weaknesses in satellite surveillance capabilities”, “Icebreakers reaching the end of their useful lives”, “Further delays in procuring Arctic and offshore patrol ships” or AOPS, “Patrol aircraft reaching the end of their useful lives” and “Inadequate infrastructure for patrol equipment”. These are just the equipment aspects of the shortfalls.
I'm going to turn to page 16, which talks about satellite surveillance and capabilities. I'd say it's top of mind for a lot of Canadians. They saw a spy balloon float over the Yukon and into the U.S. and various other devices of which we're not sure where they came from. With that lack of capacity to even keep track of that kind of stuff in our Arctic airspace.... I'll go to page 16 and 6.44, which reads, “We found that current Canadian satellite-based surveillance capabilities do not meet the needs of National Defence”. That's now. They were going into a phase.
I'll read farther down. We have it good now. It's going to get worse. Paragraph 6.46 reads, “The government acknowledges that it will take another decade for the Canadian Space Agency to launch a successor to the RADARSAT Constellation Mission and that an interruption of satellite earth-observation services past 2026 is therefore a significant risk.” On the following page, 6.47 talks about these not becoming operational until 2035.
We're heading into an era of almost a 10-year gap of surveillance of our own airspace at a time when we're seeing threats like really never before—unprecedented. This is all from a minister who says, “Hey, everything is great,” and a who says the Arctic is strategically important. Well, prove it then, Mr. Prime Minister. I don't see it. I think even our northern premiers are voicing their concerns about Putin and the threats there and ambitions of other countries around the world. Many countries have Arctic policies now.
I'm going to finish with the conclusion and the question. It's coming, don't worry.
On the conclusion page, paragraph 6.67—and this is your office—reads:
We concluded that the federal organizations we audited—Fisheries and Oceans Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment and Climate Change Canada, National Defence, and Transport Canada—had not taken the action required to build the maritime domain awareness they collectively needed to respond to safety and security risks associated with increasing vessel traffic in Arctic waters. While these organizations had identified gaps in maritime domain awareness, they had not taken sufficient measures to address them.
Lastly, it says, “Furthermore, the existing satellite services and infrastructure did not provide the capacity that the federal organizations needed to perform surveillance of Arctic waters.” That's now. “Delays in the renewal of satellites, ships, and aircraft risks compromising the presence of these organizations in Arctic waters.”
This is my question to you, Mr. Hayes: Does the lack of equipment and lack of attention by this current government, and the lack of action as a result...? Are our Arctic sovereignty and security compromised?
There are two components of that, and they're a result of the oceans protection program.
The first is what's called enhanced maritime situational awareness. It's an initiative that was codeveloped with indigenous partners and is improving our overall domain awareness for coastal communities and indigenous communities. It involves real-time, live-vessel traffic information and other environmental data to look at what the maritime environment is doing. Various partners are using this to look at traffic patterns, to track icebreakers, to record various observations during the open water season and to monitor fuel, for example.
There's also the proactive vessel management initiative, where we have partnered with Arctic communities to address marine shipping concerns through their waterways in Inuvik and Cambridge Bay. We're working with these communities on cruise ship management, safety on the ice, vessel speed limits and mapping safe harbours and places of refuge in the event that they're required.
With both, we rely heavily on local knowledge and the expertise of those who live, work and hunt in the region.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
First, if I may, I'm going to make a comment for about 20 seconds.
Both of you talked about the need to identify gaps and the need to learn more about the hydrographic structure of the Arctic. It's also about its geomorphological structure. You didn't say it, but I'm hearing about it.
There's no shortage of reports pointing to gaps in this area, so I wonder why they're saying we need to identify the gaps. Honestly, I don't get it.
Two key partners are studying the Arctic's currents along with its hydrographic and geomorphological structure: Environment and Climate Change Canada, which is doing incredible research in that area, and the universities, particularly in Quebec, which have specializations in those fields.
Since there's been no shortage of resources for 10 or 15 years, Mr. Thangaraj, do you intend to use all those resources to identify gaps and characteristics?
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
Just to continue, in some ways, in regard to the last line of questioning to the representative from Transport, it's concerning to me to think about how, in particular, the work of Transport in the north could affect the environment. It's no secret that climate change has had disproportionate effects on the Arctic north.
I also want to mention in particular, just as a friendly reminder and as a courtesy to the representative from Transport—and this is actually currently an issue in the House as well—the use of the words “our indigenous” and to just flag the use of the word “our” as a possessive term for indigenous folks and that we should avoid the use of that language.
I'll mention that once as a courtesy, but in the future moments, Madam Chair, I'll be raising it as a point of order.
The work the government is doing to prepare for environmental impacts due to the increase in shipping does pose, I think, a credible threat to Arctic folks and particularly to Inuit ways of life. The working groups from the North Atlantic Marine Mammal Commission and the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Beluga and Narwhal met in Denmark in December of last year. They recently released a report that predicts there will be almost no narwhal left in the area off the northeastern coast of Baffin Island this summer.
Hunters in Pond Inlet, also known as Mittimatalik in Inuktitut, are seeing fewer and fewer narwhal in the area where there used to be an abundance, and they note that their behaviour is changing. This is severely affecting Inuit hunters' ability to harvest the narwhal they use for food, their livelihoods and, of course, their culture.
The commissions' reports were clear. The increase in shipping traffic from the nearby Mary River iron ore mine, run by Baffinland, is to blame for the disappearance of the narwhal.
My question is for the Environment Canada representative. Do you accept the findings of that report?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to all of the witnesses for being here today.
My questions will be mainly for the Department of National Defence, but if anyone else wants to chime in, certainly feel free.
Last June, like many Canadians, I watched with interest when I discovered on the news that we were going to have a new land border with Denmark, or at least we will once the treaty with the Danes regarding Hans Island is signed and implemented.
I was wondering if National Defence could share with the committee what activities have happened regarding Hans Island since last June. Are we coordinating or co-operating with the Danes to figure out a plan to monitor the Arctic waters around Hans Island?
Thank you for the question. I will turn to my colleague, if he has anything to add, in a second.
I'm looking at his face and I'm thinking not, so I will take this one.
We're happy to get back with additional information, but generally speaking, the Canadian Armed Forces has regular exercises in the area, including Operation Limpid and Operation Nanook. It's generally about overall awareness from both a marine and also an aerial perspective.
I am not aware of any specific activities with Denmark related to Hans Island, but we do collaborate very regularly with all of our allies, from a military perspective. My assumption is that there has been nothing specific related to this, but I will confirm that in writing, if that's okay.
I can start, Madam Chair, and see if my colleagues wish to add anything.
It is a group team sport in this area, in that it is about all domain awareness. You need to keep your eye on the air and sea as well as land.
As we look to fill in the gaps that the Auditor General has identified in terms of awareness, you have to think across multiple departments. Transport Canada has already spoken to what they do. We do have ship patrols in the area when the season is appropriate. We also have our own air, but there's also the existing North Warning System and its upgrade, as well as the eventual replacement for NORAD modernization. That is all about the complete picture.
What I would flag, which is of interest to me, is that where the ships are of a large size and are complying with the law and are self-identifying, that's not a gap. You have smaller ships that are not required to use the identification system, and it's with our partner departments that we piece together that information to try to build the complete picture. We have mentioned numerous tools. I didn't mention satellites as well, which have already been flagged in terms of a tool.
It's that complete set. The Auditor General has flagged some gaps. We are discussing our plans to fill in those gaps as a group, but that's really the core of it.
I'm looking to my colleagues to see if they wish to add anything.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
My question is for Fisheries and Oceans Canada but not limited to it.
There is one particular aspect of the report that caught my attention. It was regarding illegal fishing. It says:
The presence of fishing vessels, and their share of overall traffic, has increased significantly in the Arctic. Illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in the Arctic has been a rising concern, especially because of its potential effect on fragile marine ecosystems and the economy and the risk of increased tensions among fishing nations.
Can the department tell us a bit more about that? Who is doing the illegal fishing, and how severe is it?
To me, that is an act of encroachment on our territory. You don't see that a lot on the news, but it is a very serious problem. If illegal fishing is happening, that could lead to many other illegal things that might be more problematic.
The second point is regarding the fragile ecosystem up north. Given the effects of climate change now, making the surrounding water more accessible, I want to get a better understanding of how severe the problem is.
Thank you for your question.
I'd like to answer in English, if I may.
I wouldn't say that the platforms are of such obsolescence that they cannot operate in and near the Arctic. As a matter of fact, they have undergone significant operational improvements to ensure that they are relevant platforms.
The challenge is in the operating system or the propulsion system of the platform. With that type of propulsion system, a diesel-electric submarine, and the kind of environment that the Arctic represents, it's just challenging—if not nearly impossible—for that type of propulsion technology to be able to operate in and around sea ice.
The Dash 7s are aging aircraft, as you said. That is why we have procured a very robust spare parts inventory to ensure that we can keep them operational for as long as possible.
The surveillance program is augmented by the Dash 8 that flies out of Vancouver for the western Arctic. There are other Dash 8s positioned in Ottawa and Moncton that can be mobilized, if required, to ensure that we have adequate coverage for surveillance.
In the longer term, we are working with the Coast Guard on a plan to replace them—what the right aircraft and right capital asset are to replace them. In the meantime, the use of the remotely piloted aircraft is one way of augmenting the air capacity that we have, but the longer-term solution will be the result of the study we are doing with the Coast Guard.
Thank you very much for the question. I have a colleague here from the meteorological service who can certainly fill in any blanks.
I would say that the key parts we are providing are near-term predictions around, obviously, weather, ice, water conditions, wind and things like that, which we would share with colleagues and obviously with communities. In the longer term, the meteorological climate conditions obviously can be used for planning and other activities to get at longer-term trends.
I'd be happy to ask my colleague Ken to add in some colour commentary.
Perhaps I can start, Madam Chair, from a defence perspective.
In Canada, we are still dealing with a shipbuilding industry that is relatively new to building these sizes of ships. As you build new and different ships.... When you look worldwide, first-in-class and second-in-class generally come with problems. We've touched on some of the recent challenges for the Arctic offshore patrol ships.
What you want to get to is a series where you're building similar ships in a long run. By the time you hit the third ship, you can factor in anything you've learned from your early ships. By way of example, under the Arctic offshore patrol ships, the sixth ship is likely going to come in at significantly less cost than the first ship, because of learning in the manufacturing process. They will have learned a few things in the design process as well.
Thank you very much, Madam Chair.
I'd like to now turn my final question—with regard to the Canadian Rangers—to Bill Matthews, the deputy minister of national defence.
My colleagues, particularly the , work largely with members of the Canadian Rangers when dealing with the Canadian Armed Forces. We've heard a great deal of testimony from Inuit Canadian Rangers who don't feel that they have the adequate support they need when it comes to getting reimbursement for their equipment when they participate in military exercises.
Just for preference, for Canadians who may not know, the Canadian Rangers utilize their own equipment—private equipment—and lease, rent or find other accommodations by way of a reimbursement agreement between them and the government for the utilization of that equipment. The wear and tear, in addition to whatever use that equipment undergoes, of course, is something that the individual would have to deal with, especially if there is maintenance required. That reimbursement total, of course, would be different or sometimes not satisfactory, depending on how much more expensive that maintenance could be.
It is incredibly important that the Canadian Rangers are well equipped but also have the tools to ensure that they continue to do the work they need to do. I think it is appropriate that the Canadian Rangers have the option to utilize their own equipment, particularly if it is important to them to be able to utilize that equipment for better results. How is the Department of National Defence understanding those reimbursements? What is the way in which they get to the reimbursement for the utilization of that equipment? Is there any way to ensure that the regular costs that are going up for these Canadian Rangers keep in line with the reimbursement they should be getting?