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$1 billion and counting: Inside Canada's troubled efforts to build new warships – CBC.ca

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The federal government has spent slightly more than $1.01 billion over the last seven years on design and preparatory contracts for the navy’s new frigates and supply ships — and the projects still haven’t bought anything that floats.

The figures, tabled recently in Parliament, represent the first comprehensive snapshot of what has been spent thus far on the frequently-delayed project to build replacement warships.

It’s an enormous amount of money for two programs that have been operating for more than a decade with little to show for their efforts to date.

It will be years before the Canadian Surface Combatant project — which aims to replace the navy’s frontline frigates with 15 state-of-the-art vessels — and the Joint Support Ship program for two replenishment vessels actually deliver warships.

The numbers and details for each advance contract were produced in the House of Commons in response to written questions from the Conservative opposition.

A worker grinds a component at the Irving Shipbuilding facility in Halifax June 13, 2016. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The money was divided almost evenly between the federal government’s two go-to shipyards: Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax, the prime contractor for the new frigates, and Seaspan of Vancouver, the builder of the supply ships.

The breakdown raises critical questions about at least one of the programs, said a defence analyst, but it also shines a light on promises made by both Liberal and Conservative governments to keep spending under control for both of these projects — which could end up costing more than $64 billion.

“I think there should be a level of concern [among the public] about whether or not what’s being delivered in practice is what was advertised at the outset,” said Dave Perry, a procurement expert and vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

A design still in flux

Most of his concerns revolve around the new support ships, which the Liberal government says are in the process of being built now.

The written responses, tabled in Parliament, note that the projected cost for the two supply ships — $3.4 billion — remains under review “as the design effort finalizes.”

Perry said he was astonished to learn that, “seven years and half-a-billion dollars into design work on an off-the-shelf design,” the navy doesn’t have the support ships, even though “the middle third of the ship is built” — and officials now say “the design effort isn’t finished.”

Usually, he said, ships are designed before they’re built.

The head of the Department of National Defence’s materiel branch said most of the preparatory contracts were needed to re-establish a Canadian shipbuilding industry that had been allowed to wither.

‘A lot of patience’

“I think we have to look at the totality of everything that’s being accomplished under” the national shipbuilding strategy, said Troy Crosby, assistant deputy minister of materiel at DND.

“Over that period of time, and with these expenditures, we’ve built a shipbuilding capability on two coasts, not just through National Defence but also through the coast guard, offshore fisheries science vessels. I understand it has taken a lot of patience, I suppose, and probably some uncertainty, but we’re really getting to the point now where we can see delivering these capabilities to the navy.”

The largest cash outlays involve what’s known as definition contracts, which went individually to both shipyards and were in excess of $330 million each. They’re meant to cover the supervision of the projects and — more importantly — to help convert pre-existing warship designs purchased by the federal government to Canadian standards.

Then-minister of defence Peter MacKay, right, and Christian Paradis, then-minister of public works, pause to look at a model of a Canadian patrol frigate as they take part in the opening session of the Government Shipbuilding Consultation in Gatineau, Quebec, July 27, 2009. (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press)

The choices on each project were made at different times by different governments, but ministers serving both Liberal and Conservative governments decided that going with proven, off-the-shelf designs would be faster and less expensive than building from scratch.

Now, after all the delays, it’s still not clear that choosing off-the-shelf designs has saved any money.

“I would be completely speculating on what it would cost to invest to develop the kind of expertise and capacity inside the government, inside National Defence and everybody involved, to be able to do something like that in-house,” said Crosby.

“The approach we’ve taken at this point, by basing both the Joint Support Ship and the Canadian Surface Combatant on pre-existing designs, allows us to retire a lot of risk in the way forward.”

When Crosby talks about “retiring risk,” he’s talking about the potential for further delays and cost overruns.

Among the contracts, Irving Shipbuilding was given $136 million to support the drawing up of the design tender for the new frigates and to pay for the shipbuilding advice Irving was giving the federal government throughout the bidding process.

Years ago, the federal government had enough in-house expertise to dispense with private sector guidance — but almost all of that expertise was lost over the past two decades as successive federal governments cut the defence and public works branches that would have done that work.

The last time Canada built major warships was in the 1990s, when the current fleet of 12 patrol frigates was inaugurated.

An artist’s rendering of the British Type 26 frigate, which is supplying the basic design for Canada’s patrol frigates. (BAE Systems Inc./Lockheed Martin Canada)

The federal government has chosen to base its new warships on the BAE Systems Type-26 design, which has been selected by the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy.

The hull and propulsion system on the new frigates will be “largely unchanged” from the British design, but the combat system will be different and uniquely Canadian, said Crosby.

The project is still on track to start cutting steel for the new combat ships in 2023. Crosby said he would not speculate on when the navy will take delivery of the first one.

Delivery of the joint support ships is expected to be staggered, with the first one due in 2024.

There will be a two-year gap between ships, said Crosby, as the navy and the yard work through any technical issues arising with the first ship.

If that timeline holds, the first support ship will arrive two decades after it was first proposed and announced by the Liberal government of former prime minister Paul Martin.

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Coronavirus cases in Canada up by over 450, total nears 12,000 – Global News

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The number of novel coronavirus patients in Canada continues to grow, as the country hit more than 11,000 total cases on Friday.

According to data from Public Health Canada, cases reached 11,747 as of 11 a.m. EST on April 3, up by more than 450 from the day before.

The total deaths in Canada is at 152, which is an increase of more than a dozen people.


READ MORE:
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people worldwide

Quebec still holds the highest total cases, with 5,518. However, the most number of deaths have been reported in Ontario, at 67 of 3,255 cases, according to the data.

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Quebec’s death toll was at 36 as of April 3.

One day earlier, Canada’s total cases broke the 10,000 mark.

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PHAC reports that community transmission makes up 64 per cent of Canada’s COVID-19 cases, meaning people who caught the infection without travelling or being in close contact with a traveller.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

However, the extent of community transmission is difficult to track through these numbers, as experts believe many people are asymptomatic.

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, cautioned that the numbers won’t reflect what’s happening “right now,” because it doesn’t show the point in time when people became sick.

“What you’re seeing is what happened to someone when they were symptomatic at least two weeks ago,” she said at a recent press conference.


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“So even if you’re not hearing of cases in your community, it doesn’t mean there is no risk of exposure. We must all consider that anyone could be infected and keeping our two-metre distance is the safest bet.”

Tam said this week is “crucial” to see if physical distancing measures and closures have made an impact on the outbreak.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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COVID-19 researcher gains Canadian citizenship through historic virtual ceremony – Global News

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A University of Manitoba professor who has gained government funding to research solutions to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic was granted Canadian citizenship — without having to leave his home.

Dr. Adolf Ng took part in the first-ever virtual citizenship ceremony Thursday, according to a social media post from Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, in order to meet what they called an “urgent need to facilitate COVID-19 research.”

“His new Canadian citizenship and passport allows him to perform essential work related to combatting COVID-19 and saving Canadian lives,” the ministry said in a follow-up Tweet.

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Citizenship ceremonies and tests have been otherwise cancelled due to the pandemic and resulting public health orders prohibiting large public gatherings.

Ng, who teaches supply chain management at U of M’s Asper School of Business, received $258,900 from Research Manitoba last month for research projects in both Canada and Wuhan, China, to find solutions to supply chain issues in Canada.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau closes Canadian borders to foreign travellers

The research project is one of dozens that have been partially funded by the federal government in order to ramp up Canada’s research and development into solutions to battle the pandemic, including searches for possible vaccines.

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Ng told the University of Manitoba Today news magazine that he was honoured to be granted his citizenship through the unusual ceremony, which has never been performed in Canada before.


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“What an extraordinary way to complete my citizenship journey!” he said.

“The officers in IRCC were really, really accommodating, and I greatly appreciate their efforts. I really want to attend a physical ceremony someday.”

The university says Ng’s research project is expected to begin later this month.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Coronavirus: After shipment seized from Canada, FBI redistributing nearly 1M masks and gloves – Global News

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Medical supplies shipped from Canada to a New York man accused of price-gouging are now being redistributed to doctors and nurses amid the new coronavirus pandemic, according to U.S. authorities.

Baruch Feldheim, 43, was arrested on Monday in Brooklyn and charged with lying to federal agents after he allegedly sold a doctor approximately 1,000 N95 masks and other medical materials for $12,000, a roughly 700 per cent markup, according to the FBI.

READ MORE: Trudeau sidesteps questions on whether China’s coronavirus data is trustworthy

Feldheim was also charged with assaulting FBI detectives after allegedly coughing on them during his arrest, claiming to have COVID-19, the agency said in a statement.

U.S. court documents allege that Feldheim acquired and resold the personal protective equipment out of an auto repair shop in New Jersey and his residence in Brooklyn.

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The FBI allege about “eight skids of surgical masks” arrived from Canada. The agency did not respond to questions about who in Canada shipped the supplies.

“According to records from Customs and Border Protection, on or about March 25, 2020, [Feldheim’s company] received a shipment by truck from Canada of approximately eight skids of surgical face masks,” an FBI affidavit says.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Scheer tells Trudeau to release COVID-19 projections

The stockpile of supplies included 192,000 N95 respirators, 130,000 surgical masks and nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, the FBI said. Agents also recovered surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, hand sanitizer and spray disinfectant.

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According to the FBI, a doctor told agents he went to pick up his order at an auto repair shop in New Jersey, which was being used as a warehouse, he saw enough materials, including hand sanitizers, Clorox wipes, cleaning agents, and surgical supplies “to outfit an entire hospital.”

READ MORE: Counterfeit Chinese-made face masks pulled offline after Global News probe

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department said Thursday those supplies are now being distributed to health care workers in New York and New Jersey. The HHS said it used the Defense Production Act to take possession of the items and will pay Feldheim “fair market value.”

James Moriarty, Feldheim’s defense lawyer, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Global News, but Reuters reported that Moriarty had denied the charges. Feldheim has been released on a US$50,000 bond and a promise not to deal in medical equipment before his trial.

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Some provinces, including Ontario, have passed emergency legislation that could see price gougers of essential items face jail time amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

READ MORE: Scammers have never had a more target-rich environment amid coronavirus pandemic — experts

New York has been one of the states hardest hit by the deadly virus, where hospitals have been overwhelmed by patients and there is an urgent need for personal protective gear.

As of Friday morning, there have been more than 92,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the state, including 51,800 in New York City. More than 2,400 people with COVID-19 have died in the state, which has the largest number — around 38 per cent — of confirmed cases in the U.S.






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Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.


Coronavirus outbreak: Trudeau asked if Canada expects death projections similar to the U.S.

Across the U.S. there are more than 245,000 cases of the deadly virus that have been confirmed and more than 6,000 deaths.

U.S. officials called the case a blatant example of hoarding of medical supplies and that it was the first of many price-gouging investigations related to COVID-19 equipment currently underway.

“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General William Barr said in the announcement.

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“The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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