June 5, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario - As wildfires become more common and more extreme, the Government of Canada is focused on keeping people safe while strengthening our long-term response.
Across the country, several provinces and territories are experiencing a severe wildfire season, and the effects are already widespread. The Government of Canada is committed to a whole-of-government approach to supporting communities affected by wildfires.
Today, 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, the world’s first 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:
o enhance the FireSmart Canada program;
o increase Canadians’ resilience to wildfire while building wildland fire knowledge through research and pilot projects on fire risk reduction measures; and
o 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.
For more information on these programs and other government support including through Parks Canada, the Coast Guard, Service Canada, and more, please see this summary: The Government of Canada is supporting Canadians through the 2023 Wildfire Season - Update - Canada.ca
“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.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
“Modeling is an effective tool for ensuring that we are aware of potential risks and taking steps to prepare for them. We remain in constant contact with provinces and territories, through the Government Operations Centre, and stand ready to support them should they require it. We will continue to be there for Canadians as we work together to prepare for, respond to, and recover from this wildfire season.”
The Honourable Bill Blair
President of the King's Privy Council and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“The current situation is extremely difficult and stressful. Service Canada will continue to ensure services and benefits are easily accessible for all those who are impacted by the wildfires across the country. We will be there to support you, for as long as it is needed.”
The Honourable Karina Gould
Minister of Families, Children and Social Development
“We are already seeing one of the worst wildfire seasons on record, and we must prepare for a long summer. The Government of Canada is stepping up to the request for assistance from Quebec and will immediately begin mobilizing Canadian Armed Forces, firefighting resources and assistance with planning to support the wildfire response in the province. The threat of increased fires due to climate change is one of the many reasons our government is developing a robust National Adaptation Strategy with all levels of government and Indigenous groups, so we can be sure our communities are well prepared for the impacts of climate change.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
"As wildfires increasingly threaten communities, including Nova Scotia, the Government of Canada remains unwavering in its commitment to prioritize public safety and strengthen our response efforts. With the ongoing severe wildfire season impacting several parts of the country, we are dedicated to a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach in supporting affected communities."
The Honourable Sean Fraser
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
“With the impacts of climate change, wildfires have increased in frequency, severity and intensity. Across the country, Indigenous communities are on the front lines of wildfires and have witnessed devastating outcomes already this wildfire season. As we look ahead toward a challenging summer, we will continue to work with Chiefs and Councils on wildfire mitigation and preparation, and we will continue to support affected First Nations throughout this challenging season.”
The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
“During forest fires, floods and a global pandemic, the members of our Canadian Armed Forces have always answered the call of service — and that will never change. We will always be ready to support our federal and provincial partners in keeping communities safe. Through effective forecasting, our government will continue to plan for, and be ready to respond to, extreme weather events. We will do whatever it takes to protect Canadians.”
The Honourable Anita Anand
Minister of National Defence
Seasonal wildfire forecasts use the most recent fire weather indexes and consider drought conditions and temperature and precipitation forecasts derived from two climate model ensembles known as the Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPS, operated by Environment and Climate Change Canada).
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.
Under NRCan’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.
Under NRCan’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program’s 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 WildFireSat satellite mission will respond directly to the needs of fire managers in Canada. It will support smoke and air quality monitoring and forecasting, and downstream carbon emission monitoring. WildFireSat will also improve our ability to defend Canadian communities, especially the more vulnerable remote northern communities located in forested areas and enable more effective decisions about evacuations.
Canada’s first National Adaptation Strategy, released in November 2022 for a final period 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 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.
- Backgrounder: The Government of Canada is supporting Canadians through the 2023 Wildfire Season - Update.
- The Government of Canada Provides Update on Firefighter Training and Support for Canadians Through the 2023 Wildfire Season
- The Government of Canada Is Supporting Canadians Through the 2023 Wildfire Season
Source: Natural Resources Canada