June 6, 2023 By P&PC Staff
A Natural Resources Canada statement recently shared that as wildfires become more common and more extreme, the Government of Canada is focused on keeping people safe while strengthening its long-term response.
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada; 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 Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development; the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change; the Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship; and the Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, provided an update on the wildfire seasonal outlook and the Government of Canada’s continuing efforts to support Canadians through this year’s fire season and future seasons.
Current June projections indicate the potential for continued higher-than-normal fire activity across most of the country throughout the 2023 wildland fire season due to ongoing drought and long-range forecasts for warm temperatures. For June, warm and dry conditions will increase wildfire risk in most of Canada from British Columbia and Yukon eastward into western Quebec and the Atlantic region. During July, wildfire potential is expected to expand into Yukon, although the eastern edge will recede from western Quebec into central Ontario.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) generates monthly forecast maps from April to September. These seasonal forecasts use the most recent fire weather indexes and take into account drought conditions and temperature and precipitation forecasts. These forecasts are compared with the average weather in each region, and the differences are mapped as above or below the average. The forecasts are used as a long-range planning tool by fire resource managers. NRCan publicly shares its forecasting for the fire season with full transparency on the uncertainty inherent in weather projections.
The Government of Canada is putting in place direct support to keep Canadians safe and protect communities, during this wildfire season and seasons to come. This includes:
- Approving requests for Federal Assistance from the Provinces of Alberta (2) and Nova Scotia (1) on May 10, May 27, and May 31, 2023, respectively, to support their efforts to combat the significant wildfire situation in these provinces. A Request for Federal Assistance from the Province of Quebec was approved on June 3, 2023, and the response is underway.
- Partnering with provincial and territorial governments and not-for-profit organizations to match funds donated by Canadians and organizations. The funds will be used to support not-for-profit community groups that help residents who have been impacted by the aggressive and devastating wildfires, including those who were forced to evacuate.
- Funding through the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate Program to train 300 Indigenous firefighters and 125 Indigenous fire guardians for this season. Six provinces and territories have been able to procure specialized firefighting equipment.
- 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.
- The WildFireSat satellite mission, a purpose-built, public satellite system for monitoring fires, will provide an unprecedented portrait of all active wildfires at least twice daily, which will inform provincial and territorial fire management agencies making critical decisions.
- A Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative, in support of the priorities identified by the National Adaptation Strategy, with a proposed investment of $284 million to:
- enhance the FireSmart Canada program;
- increase Canadians’ resilience to wildfire while building wildland fire knowledge through research and pilot projects on fire risk reduction measures; and
- create a Centre of Excellence for Wildland Fire Innovation and Resilience to help transform wildland fire management in Canada and internationally through innovation, knowledge exchange and supporting Indigenous fire stewardship.
“Updated modelling shows that the 2023 wildfire season will once again be serious in many areas of Canada. The federal government is working with provincial and territorial counterparts, as well as with Indigenous communities, to ensure continued support for those impacted by these fires. As we battle this year’s fire season, we are also making significant long-term investments to ensure that we are prepared to mitigate and adapt to the effects of future wildfire seasons. Over the past eight years, the federal government has made wildfire management a top priority and will continue to do so,” said the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources.
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