Defence Minister Peter MacKay says Ottawa will spend up to $488 million on new vessels for the coast guard.
MacKay said construction of between 18 and 21 vessels of varying types will be available for competitive bids by Canadian shipyards that were not selected to build vessels as part of the national shipbuilding procurement strategy.
Shipyards in Halifax and Vancouver were the successful bidders to build the next generation of navy ships.
He said the program for coast guard vessels will provide jobs for small and medium shipyards.
Selected shipyards will construct search and rescue lifeboats, near-shore fishery research vessels, mid-shore science vessels and channel survey and sounding vessels.
They are to be built over the next seven years and will replace existing vessels.