The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and its component, the Union of National Defence Employees (UNDE), have written to Prime Minister Trudeau demanding the government revisit its decision to contract out maintenance and other related services in new multi-billion-dollar shipbuilding plans.
PSAC-UNDE have grave concerns about the scope of industry influence in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada’s Defence Policy.
“This shipbuilding plan puts significant military intelligence and operations in the hands of a private company,” says John McLennan, UNDE president. “It’s a security risk and a warning sign that more and more of our security apparatus could be sold to the highest bidder. That’s a trend we’re seeing throughout the Defence Policy Review.”
DND documents reveal troubling plan
A Department of National Defence (DND) briefing document reveals that these in-service support contracts will include unprecedented access to DND facilities, support equipment, and even supervision of DND employees. The contracts will include maintenance for new acquisitions of the Royal Canadian Navy’s Arctic Offshore Patrol Ships and Join Support Ships.
UNDE was not consulted about the sweeping nature of this new agreement, which puts responsibility for core maintenance and upkeep in private hands.
The union is concerned this could be repeated with other tendered projects in the future, with increased industry involvement spelled out in new Defence Policy.
Defence Minister unresponsive to union’s concerns
After failing to receive a response from the Minister of National Defence to a letter sent in February, the union has now written Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with our concerns.
“We have yet to see a business case that proves contracting out is better, yet the government has signaled we’re going further down this path,” said Robyn Benson, PSAC President. “Contracting out is rarely any more efficient or a cost-saver; in fact it can often mean major problems and costs down the line. Just look at the disaster we’ve seen with Phoenix. That was supposed to save money and instead the federal government is still cleaning up the mess.”
UNDE is one of the largest components of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, with over 18,000 members across Canada.