Government of Canada to provide assistance to Nova Scotia in response to extreme wildfires
From: Public Safety Canada
June 1, 2023 – Ottawa, Ontario
The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness has approved a Request for Federal Assistance (RFA) from the Province of Nova Scotia to support their efforts to combat the significant wildfire situation in the province.
Nova Scotia is currently experiencing extreme wildfires and has deployed all available provincial and local resources to respond to fires across the province.
In response to this request for assistance, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, authorized the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to provide:
- planning and coordination support;
- ignition specialist personnel and equipment; and
- personnel and tools to aid in basic firefighting roles.
An Immediate Response Unit, from 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment, based out of Gagetown, New Brunswick, will be available to assist with basic firefighting. A CAF Liaison Officer is already integrated into the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre to help assess the situation and assist with planning efforts.
CAF resources will be provided for an initial period of three weeks, with a one-week possible extension.
In addition to the CAF deployment, the federal government is also providing the following supports:
- As a member of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), Parks Canada collaborates with other Canadian fire management agencies to provide support to our partners across the country and internationally when they require assistance by providing specialized equipment and wildland fire management personnel. Parks Canada currently has resources deployed to support various partner agencies and will continue to coordinate with CIFFC on all future requests for resource.
- Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is prepared to provide contracting support to the Province for supplies and logistics.
- Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is prepared to support impacted Canadians with enhanced Service Canada hours, outreach to evacuees, and deployment of mobile outreach to evacuation centres to support applications for services, such as employment insurance. ESDC is prioritizing employment insurance claims for those impacted. Additional procedures are in place to facilitate employment insurance claims where employers are not able to issue records of employment or where paper cheques may not be deliverable as a result of emergency situations.
- Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) continues to support affected First Nations through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP). Through EMAP, ISC keeps in close contact with affected First Nations and can advance funds or reimburse them for eligible expenses as needs are identified during daily communications with leadership and other partners, such as tribal councils as well as with the province.
- Public Health Agency of Canada’s (PHAC) National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS), is engaged and standing by to assist with the delivery of any additional resources that can be leveraged.
- Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) regional staff are on the ground and working with the province and telecommunications service providers to keep people connected.
- Health Canada has deployed six air quality monitors to Nova Scotia to provide additional air quality monitoring capacity during emergency response efforts.
- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), as Nova Scotia’s provincial police service, has been engaged in the response to the wildfires since the outset by assisting with evacuation efforts and road closures, publicly communicating vital public safety information, proactively patrolling communities to ensure safety and adherence to mandatory evacuation orders, and providing assistance to all partner agencies involved.
- Transport Canada (TC) will work with provincial officials to better understand the needs for potential flexibility in federal regulations to address any gaps in emergency firefighting and evacuations while ensuring aviation safety is maintained. TC has issued one Notice to Airmen in support of aerial forest fire suppression in Nova Scotia and will continue to support the efforts of the authorities in order to ensure the safety of aerial operations.
- The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) currently has response personnel and assets deployed to provide support to the Province of Nova Scotia in the form of Mobile Incident Command Post trailers, crew support trailers and helicopters for airlifts and aerial surveillance.
- Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) will continue providing weather forecasting capabilities to the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
The Government of Canada is also assessing what additional resources can be made available through other federal departments and agencies.
In addition to these supports, the Government of Canada is establishing a donation matching program with the Province of Nova Scotia and the Canadian Red Cross to support Canadians who have been impacted by wildfires in the province.
The Government Operations Centre is working to coordinate the federal response to the wildfire situation in Nova Scotia and across the country. Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate this assistance.
“When it comes to managing these fires, it’s all hands on deck. We recognize how traumatic and impactful displacement and evacuation can be for people who have had to flee their homes and the great anxiety this can cause. I am very grateful for the work of all of our first responders, firefighters, community volunteers, and the Canadian Red Cross and other local organizations. I want to also acknowledge the sacrifice and the challenges that Canadians have faced during these fires and assure them that the Government of Canada will always be there to help in times of need.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“The Canadian Armed Forces are always prepared to support our federal and provincial partners in keeping Canadians safe, while simultaneously meeting our commitments to Allies and protecting Canadian interests abroad. Our assistance to the Province of Nova Scotia, as they fight these unpredictable and devastating fires, is a tangible demonstration of the CAF’s dedication to their ongoing readiness to assist civil authorities in times of natural disaster.”
– The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence
“This unprecedented wildfire season is incredibly stressful and emotionally devastating for affected First Nations communities in Nova Scotia and across the country. We continue to work with First Nations and provincial leadership to protect life and property on reserves during the ongoing emergency and when the time comes we will be there to help with community rebuilding efforts. Thank you to all those working to ensure communities are safe at this challenging time.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services
“We stand in solidarity with Nova Scotians in the face of these devastating wildfires. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Nova Scotia in every possible way during this challenging time. We have heard the call for assistance, and we are mobilizing our resources to provide the necessary support. Together, we will overcome this and rebuild stronger and more resilient communities. Our thoughts are with the people of Nova Scotia, and we will stand by them every step of the way.”
– The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“Our thoughts go out to the people affected by the wildfires. The Canadian Coast Guard is onsite ready to support and provide our assets and services to the Province of Nova Scotia. We are deeply grateful to the first responders, fire fighters and all those working tirelessly to tackle these wildfires.”
– The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
- The Government Operations Centre is responsible for coordinating the Government of Canada’s response to emergency events.
- In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the municipal level and if they need assistance, they request it from their province or territory. If the emergency escalates further, provinces or territories can request assistance from the federal government.
- A Request for Federal Assistance is initiated when an emergency event overwhelms or threatens to overwhelm the resources of a province or territory and additional federal resources are needed to effectively support the impacted region.
- Should a province or territory make an official Request for Federal Assistance, there is a well-established process in place for managing the request, through the Government Operations Centre, and includes provincial/territorial and interdepartmental consultation and coordination.
- If provincial and territorial authorities require assistance, they may ask the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for help. When the CAF responds to natural disasters in Canada, it is known as Operation LENTUS.
- CAF assistance complements and enhances provincial and local resources with unique capabilities, including military personnel and equipment. The primary objective is to help provincial and local authorities stabilize the situation and to reassure Canadian residents in the affected areas.
- The number of CAF members deployed across the region will vary based on tasks that are identified by the provinces.
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada
and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
Department of National Defence
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada