VICTORIA, British Columbia — The Canadian government has ordered $1.7 billion Canadian dollars ($1.3 billion) in defense-spending cuts, but it still plans to put emphasis on acquiring new equipment as well as improving North American security.

Gen. Wayne Eyre, Canada’s chief of the Defence Staff, and Bill Matthews, the deputy minister of National Defence, said in a statement issued March 4 that they hope to minimize the impact of the cuts which will take place over the next three years.

The plan is to redirect defense spending to increasing military capabilities and improving recruitment, the two noted in a message to military and department staff.

The Liberal Party government tabled in the House of Commons on Feb. 28 its spending estimates for the next several years. Those show reductions in defense spending of $810 million in 2024-2025, $851 million in 2025-2026 and $907 million in 2026-2027.

It is currently projected that Canada will spend $30 billion on defense in 2024-2025.

The cutbacks will come from infrastructure and travel budgets as well as funding used for private sector contractors. In addition, there could be money pulled back from future programs, but officials provided no details.

“We will achieve savings from activities that have a history of underspending their approved funding, and from initiatives to be delivered in future years,” Eyre and Matthews noted in their message.

Priority equipment programs and key capabilities, however, will retain their funding or could see more money in their budgets. In its Feb. 27 report titled, “Procurement of Capabilities,” the Department of National Defence noted that projects to modernize systems for NORAD will be accelerated. No specific timelines were provided in the document, but those projects include a new radar system to provide situational awareness in the Arctic for the joint U.S.-Canada alliance.

The cutbacks come at a time when Canada is facing increased pressure, particularly from the United States, to spend more on defense. In an interview aired Feb. 25 on CBC TV, David Cohen, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, acknowledged the significant funds the country has already spent on new military purchases and on Ukraine aid.

“By the same token, I have been quite clear — and the United States has been quite clear — that NATO and the world is watching what Canada is doing with respect to its commitment,” he said.

Canada is the seventh-largest spender in NATO when it comes to actual dollars. But in terms of the commitment by NATO nations to spend 2% of their GDP on defense, Canada has yet to reach that figure, currently standing at 1.3%.

To reach the alliance target Canada would have to add up to $18 billion Canadian annually to its defense budget.

In the last year Canada has announced $30 billion Canadian in new equipment purchases, including the acquisition of the Lockheed Martin F-35 and the Boeing P8-8A Poseidon. Canada is also buying a fleet of General Atomics MQ-9B Reapers as well as trucks.

In February, Canada announced it was spending $316 million Canadian for new air-defense and counter-drone systems as well as anti-tank missiles for its troops in Latvia as part of shoring up its NATO commitments.

David Pugliese is the Canada correspondent for Defense News.

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