Defence Minister Anand spins the jobs argument for F-35 fighter-bombers, but do the numbers add up?

Published by Brent Patterson on

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Photo by Koozma J. Tarasoff; January 7, 2023.

The Department of National Defence has now acknowledged that the lifecycle cost of Canada’s new fleet of F-35 fighter-bombers will be about $70 billion over a 30-year period.

The No Fighter Jet coalition has calculated the figure to be $76.8 billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer will release its figure in the Spring.

If we use DND’s figure of $70 billion over a lifecycle period of 30-years, that about $2.3 billion a year (or $2.8 billion a year over a 25-year period).

Now, Defence Minister Anita Anand tweets: “Investing in new F-35 fighter jets will deliver clear economic benefits for Canadians. As I told @BNNBloomberg, this project has the potential to contribute over $425 million annually to our economy and close to 3,300 jobs annually for Canadian industry over a 25-year period.”

In other words, it could be said that Anand is arguing for a $2.8 billion annual expenditure on warplanes for a $425 million annual benefit.

Video: Anand on BNN.

In the U.S. context, Phyllis Bennis has written: “$1 billion in military spending creates approximately 11,200 jobs — but the same amount of money would create 26,700 jobs if invested in education, about two-and-a-half times as many. Or 16,800 jobs in clean energy, or 17,200 in health care.”

Similarly, research by the Costs of War Project based at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs found that while $1 million spent on “defence” creates 6.9 direct and indirect jobs, the same amount invested in solar power creates 9.5 jobs, in health care 14.3 jobs, and in elementary and secondary education 19.2 jobs.

We also recall the Alternative Federal Budget 2022 stated: “This AFB cancels the new fighter jet procurement and missile defence purchase, for an estimated saving of $3.1 billion a year for 30 years (in accrual terms). This includes the initial purchase cost, the lifespan costs of the jets, and estimated upkeep of the missile defence system.”

It also noted: “Military savings will be redirected to education, health care, human rights, environmental protection, housing, and future-proofing the Canadian workforce through industrial development strategies and skills development, among other initiatives that promote real human security.”

We continue to follow this situation.

Photo: Liberal MP Karina Gould, the federal Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, challenged on the F-35 deal; January 8, 2023. Photo by Graham Paine/Metroland.

Further reading: How have the Conservatives, NDP and Greens responded to the Liberal decision to spend $70 billion on F-35 fighter-bombers? (January 10, 2023).

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