The Canadian coast guard provides critical icebreaking services to ensure commercial ships and ferries have access to Canadian ports during the winter and supports summer re-supply activities in Canada's Arctic. To ensure the coast guard can continue to deliver these essential services, Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian coast guard, announced that the service will be procuring six new program icebreakers to replace its current aging fleet of icebreakers.

Wilkinson also announced, on behalf of the Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility, that the government of Canada is officially launching a competitive process, through an Invitation to Qualify, to add a third Canadian shipyard as a strategic partner under the National Shipbuilding Strategy (NSS). This new shipyard will build the new program icebreakers for the coast guard.

The agency’s program icebreakers are essential to Canada's economy by supporting year-round marine trade in Eastern Canada, the St. Lawrence waterway and the Great Lakes. They enable eastern Canadian ferries to operate during the winter and are critical to Canada's commercial fisheries. The program icebreakers are also used to provide service to Canada's northern residents by supporting the annual re-supply of goods to Canada's Arctic communities and their industries.

"This is an important undertaking with another significant investment to back it up, and it means even more jobs, more opportunity and more economic development right across the country, while ensuring our Canadian Coast Guard has the ships it needs to do its important work,” Qualtrough said in a statement announcing the undertaking. “Together with our partners, we are renewing Canada's federal fleet, advancing Canadian technological innovation and supporting jobs across Canada."

Through the Invitation to Qualify, Canada will establish a short list of pre-qualified shipyards that will be eligible to submit a formal proposal to become the third strategic partner under the NSS, joining Irving Shipbuilding Inc. and Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards.

On May 22, 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the government of Canada is investing $15.7 billion (Can.) to renew its coast guard fleet, with up to 16 multi-purpose vessels to be built at Seaspan's Vancouver Shipyards and two new Arctic and offshore patrol ships to be built at Irving Shipbuilding Inc.

To date, Canada has awarded more than $11.4 billion (Can.) in NSS-related contracts across the country. Canada's NSS is a long-term, multi-billion-dollar program focused on renewing the Canadian coast guard and royal Canadian navy fleets to ensure that Canada's marine agencies have the modern ships they need to fulfill their missions, while revitalizing Canada's marine industry, creating middle-class jobs and maximizing economic benefits across the country.