From: Natural Resources Canada
June 1, 2023
As wildfires become more common and more extreme, the Government of Canada is focused on keeping people safe while strengthening Canada’s long-term response. Across Canada, several provinces and territories are experiencing a severe wildfire season, and the effects are already widespread. The Government of Canada is committed to supporting communities affected by wildfires.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources; the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness; the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services; the Honourable Randy Boissonnault, Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance; and the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, provided an update on the actions that the Government of Canada has taken so far to support communities impacted and threatened by wildfires and how it will continue to support Canadians through this year’s fire season and future seasons.
Current projections indicate that this may continue to be a challenging summer for wildfires in parts of the country. Forecasts for warm, dry weather indicate the potential for increased fire activity across much of Canada. Natural Resources Canada publicly shares forecasting for the fire season with full transparency regarding the uncertainty inherent in these projections.
The Government Operations Centre is working to coordinate the federal response to the wildfire situation across the country. Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate this assistance. Efforts are ongoing in Alberta to support the province’s Request for Federal Assistance, and additional federal support is available to all communities facing the threat and devastation of ongoing wildfires.
With federal and provincial contributions, the Government of Canada’s donation matching program with the Government of Alberta and the Canadian Red Cross has already raised approximately $20 million to support Canadians who have been impacted by wildfires in the province. The Government of Canada will be establishing similar matching programs with Nova Scotia through the Canadian Red Cross and with the Northwest Territories through United Way.
In addition to providing an update on the present situation, the Ministers also announced that through the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate Program (FMWCC), the Government of Canada has signed nine agreements through the first phase of the Wildfire Training Fund, a $37.9-million fund designed to hire, train and retain firefighters in communities that need this support the most. These agreements amount to over 300 Indigenous firefighters and 125 Indigenous fire guardians being hired and trained this season.
In light of the urgent wildfire conditions in Canada, Natural Resources Canada is pleased to be working with the International Association of Fire Fighters to advance a pilot project that would increase Canada’s wildfire fire fighting capacity. This project would be focused on training structural firefighters to respond to fires in the wildland-urban interface due to the particular risks those fires pose to homes, communities, and infrastructure.
This project builds on the Government of Canada’s commitment of $256 million over five years to establish the FMWCC program wildfire Equipment Fund, a dedicated federal fund to support provinces and territories in procuring specialized firefighting equipment such as vehicles, mobile units, avionics upgrades, hoses, pumps and enhanced communications equipment. The federal funding has been contributed to six provinces and territories for equipment procured in 2022–2023, and it’s expected all provinces and territories will participate in the fund this year.
Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) continues to support First Nations through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) to deal with this especially challenging time. 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 provinces and territories.
Through these investments and other ongoing actions, the Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadians as all orders of government work together during the 2023 wildfire season.
“Canadians from coast to coast to coast have felt the impact of intense wildfires. These fires threaten our communities, livelihoods and our environment. That is why the federal government is taking action — including training more firefighters, helping provinces and territories procure vital equipment, and developing cutting-edge monitoring technology — to better prepare for, adapt to and fight the effects of wildfires. We will continue to work across government and with Indigenous communities to keep people safe and secure through this wildfire season and seasons to come.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
“In communities right across Canada, we have seen an incredibly difficult and dangerous start to the wildfire season. The Government of Canada will continue to work closely with all orders of government and Indigenous communities to support Canadians who have been impacted. Thank you to all the firefighters, Canadian Armed Forces members, first responders, search and rescue personnel and community volunteers on the frontlines for their incredible work keeping Canadians safe.”
The Honourable Bill Blair
President of the King’s Privy Council and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“First Nations communities are often the first to be affected by climate change. As climate-related emergencies become more frequent, Indigenous Peoples are increasingly facing dangerous, destructive and life changing situations. The unprecedented wildfire season this year is incredibly stressful and emotionally devastating for the many affected communities. We are working with leadership to protect life and property. Indigenous Services Canada will continue to support affected First Nations through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP), and when the time comes, we will be there to help with the rebuilding effort.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“Albertans and Canadians, including many Indigenous communities, have been devastated by the forest fires raging through northern and central Alberta. Our government continues to work closely with our provincial counterparts to send the resources and help needed to keep Albertans and Canadians safe and fight the wildfires. To all the firefighters and first responders across the country and from abroad who are helping to save lives you have my deepest thanks.”
The Honourable Randy Boissonnault
Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance
“The Government of Canada will be there for Nova Scotia and other communities being ravaged by wildfires. The first responders who are keeping us safe are amongst the very best in the world at what they do. Thank you for putting yourselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe. I am so pleased to welcome this investment in training to ensure that you have the resources you need to do this life-saving work.”
The Honourable Sean Fraser
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
- 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.
- Provincial and territorial authorities are the first to respond when a major natural disaster occurs in their jurisdiction. If an emergency requires more resources than the affected province has available, it may ask the federal government for additional resources, which can include Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel and equipment. When the CAF responds to such a crisis, known as Operation LENTUS, assistance is provided to complement and enhance provincial and local resources by helping to stabilize the situation and reassure residents in affected areas.
- Under Natural Resource Canada’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program Training Fund, a two-year Training Pilot is being implemented with a focus on providing support to Indigenous communities and organizations to train firefighters and to better understand the needs and barriers in the sector. A fully launched fund in 2024–2025 will be informed by the learning obtained from the projects under the pilot. The following Indigenous communities and organizations are receiving funding for training now:
- Yukon First Nations Wildfire, to train 130 wildland firefighters, including to the Type 1 firefighter standard, across the Yukon and Northern British Columbia;
- Mushkegowuk Tribal Council Communities, for three of the Ontario First Nation communities they represent, to train 30 individuals in SP100 standard wildland firefighting;
- Prince Albert Grand Council, for its Indigenous Wildfire Stewards Pilot Program, to train approximately 125 wildland firefighters as Indigenous Fire Stewards and hire Elder Advisors;
- Independent First Nations Alliance, to train 45 community members in SP100 and SP103 standard wildland firefighting across five Ontario communities;
- Manitoba Métis Federation, to train 12 community members to the Type 2 wildland firefighter standard to combat wildfires in Manitoba;
- Miawpukek First Nation (MFN), to train 34 firefighters with Fire Smart training in the MFN territory in Newfoundland and Labrador;
- Tŝilhqot’in National Government, to train 20 community members to the Type 2 Indigenous Initial Attack firefighter standard in six Tŝilhqot’in communities in British Columbia;
- Innu Nation, to train 13 community members in wildland firefighting in Newfoundland and Labrador; and
- Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, to train 24 Indigenous firefighters to the Type 2 wildland firefighting standard in two communities in Nova Scotia.
- Under Natural Resource Canada’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program Equipment Fund, provinces and territories can cost-share investments for equipment, such as vehicles, mobile units, avionics upgrades (parts), hoses, pumps, enhanced communications equipment, repair of aging equipment and training. The following six provinces and territories have received funding to date:
- Alberta, to purchase equipment including water delivery skid units, trailers, drones, personal protective equipment and chainsaws;
- British Columbia, to purchase equipment including flight simulator computer components, water tanks, generators, pumps, forklifts and trailers;
- Northwest Territories, to purchase equipment including aircraft, vehicles, dispatch consoles and dust suppressant;
- Nova Scotia, to purchase equipment including radios, trailers, hoses and chainsaws and to provide Incident Management Team (IMT) training to additional staff;
- Saskatchewan, to purchase equipment including radios, pumps, sprinklers and hoses; and
- Yukon, to purchase additional wildfire equipment, hire additional wildland firefighting personnel and increase the capacity and frequency of wildland fire–based training throughout the year.
- ISC’s EMAP reimburses First Nations, provinces and territories and third-party emergency management providers 100 percent of eligible response and recovery costs, including evacuation costs.
- ISC has so far provided more than $40 million for the current 2023 wildfire season. As of May 31, advance payment funding has been provided to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. These funds are intended to cover costs associated with evacuations including transportation, accommodations and meals. Funds also cover emergency response measures including establishing fire guards and putting in place Emergency Operation Centres where possible. In addition to advance payments, communities seeking reimbursement after an emergency are encouraged to submit estimates or invoices as quickly as possible to help ensure a timely community recovery.
- As the wildfires are still active, ISC continues to support communities affected and is in daily contact with leadership to discuss the day-to-day plans and supports required, as well as the long-term actions needed to support the communities that have had a loss of infrastructure.
- FPT partners are working together under the auspices of the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers to implement the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy to enable national wildfire resilience.
- Current information on national fire conditions is available publicly at all times through NRCan’s Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. Additionally, during the fire season, the Canadian Forest Service supports emergency and fire management agencies through the development of situation reports (fire weather forecasts, situational awareness) and the delivery of fire growth and behaviour models.
- The Government of Canada, through Environment and Climate Change Canada, is committed to providing support to all our partners by supplying weather information including detailed precipitation and wind forecasts, smoke dispersion predictions and air quality forecasts. Access the latest weather information with weather.gc.ca.
- Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy, released in November 2022 for a final 90 days of engagement with provinces, territories, and National Indigenous Organizations, sets an overarching vision for climate resilience in Canada, including with respect to disaster resilience. The Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan, released alongside the Strategy, announced new funding of up to $284 million over five years to reduce the risks of wildfire in our communities, including by enhancing community prevention and mitigation activities, supporting innovation in wildland fire knowledge and research, and establishing a Centre of Excellence for Wildland Fire Innovation and Resilience.
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada