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.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources; the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness; and the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario, spoke about steps taken so far to support communities hit by wildfires and new measures for this year’s fire season and for seasons to come.
The ministers were joined by the Honourable Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General; the First Nations Emergency Services Society; the First Nations Health Council; the First Nations Leadership Council; and Bryan May, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Defence, as well as representatives from Squamish Nation and Tsleil-Waututh Nation.
Support for communities affected by last season’s wildfires, including:
● Approximately $416 million in federal funding through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) program for response and rebuild costs associated with the 2021 wildfires in British Columbia, including Lytton.
● $24 million in recovery funding for Lytton First Nation, including for 39 interim housing units.
● In addition, Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides funding to support First Nations across the country to prepare for, prevent and mitigate emergency events, including wildfire. In 2021–22, ISC provided $17.5 million to support this work.
● Response in 2021 to 14 requests from British Columbia, Manitoba and Ontario for emergency support on wildfires, including the deployment of Canadian Armed Forces personnel and resources for evacuations and firefighting.
Next steps for the 2022 season on beyond, including:
● $516 million through Budget 2022 for communities across the country to:
o train 1,000 additional firefighters and incorporate Indigenous traditional knowledge in fire management
o help provinces, territories and First Nations communities buy firefighting equipment
o develop a new wildfire monitoring satellite system
● Over $8.4 million in 2022 through the First Nations Emergency Services Society to support emergency planning, preparedness and response in First Nations communities in British Columbia
● A commitment to a June 10 meeting of the Joint Committee to Address Extreme Weather and Climate Resilience
The Ministers were joined by officials from NRCan, as well as members of the First Nations Emergency Services Society. Current projections indicate that this could 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. NRCan publicly shares forecasting for the fire season with full transparency regarding the uncertainty inherent in these projections.
Since 2019, we have made significant investments into the mitigation and prevention of wildfire events and the recovery from them. These include $61 million through the Emergency Management Assistance Program, which goes directly to communities in British Columbia, and $7 million in specific FireSmart Funding to support wildfire risk reduction.
Canada is currently developing its first National Adaptation Strategy, working with provincial, territorial and municipal governments, Indigenous peoples and other key partners, to make communities safer and more resilient. Public consultation on the National Adaptation Strategy will launch soon, with a targeted release of the strategy by fall 2022.
The Government of Canada is committed to keeping all Canadians safe as all orders of government work together to prepare for the 2022 wildfire season.