The Government of Canada will assist Canada's ports with the cost of modernizing and strengthening their security systems and programs. The funding announcement was made by Transport Minister Tony Valeri at the Port of Halifax's Pier 21. The Marine Facility Security Contribution Program is a three-year, $115 million commitment to assist ports and port facilities with security enhancements. It forms part of the Government of Canada's National Security Policy announced on April 27, 2004 by Deputy Prime Minister Anne McLellan. "Canada's ports are among the most competitive in the world," said Mr. Valeri. "Today's announcement demonstrates the Government of Canada's commitment to helping them remain among the most secure." In compliance with new international security requirements, the Government of Canada has required ports and port facilities to have approved security plans in place and operational by July 1, 2004. Under the new program, ports and marine facilities will be able to apply for funds to assist with new security equipment and programs called for under their security plans. These funds will not only assist participants in finalizing their initial work to meet the basic requirements of their plans, it will also help them to extend and build on these security enhancements in the future. Mr. Valeri was joined by Fisheries and Oceans Minister Geoff Regan and Defence Minister David Pratt who outlined initiatives in their respective areas designed to strengthen marine security. "We will continue to collaborate with our federal partners to ensure that the Department of Fisheries and Oceans effectively supports Canada's marine security network," said Minister Regan. "Together, we are demonstrating a unified commitment to ensuring the safety of our waters and of Canadians." "This announcement further demonstrates how government departments and agencies are working together to ensure the safety and security of Canadians," said Mr. Pratt. "To protect our coasts effectively we must ensure security extends from our ports out beyond our 200 nautical mile economic zone and the Canadian navy stands ready to work with other government departments and agencies on this important priority." The National Security Policy proposes to strengthen Canada's marine security by: - clarifying and strengthening accountability; - establishing Marine Security Operations Centres; - increasing the Canadian Forces, RCMP and Canadian Coast Guard's on-water presence, as well as the Department of Fisheries and Oceans' aerial surveillance activities; enhancing civilian and naval fleet communications; - pursuing greater marine security co-operation with the United States; and - strengthening the security of marine ports and facilities. Backgrounders on marine security are attached.