Press Conference and Opening of the National Adaptation Strategy Symposium

Speech

Monday, May 16, 2022

Greeting

Good morning, everyone.

Thank you for joining us today in Montréal’s borough of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, which is on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehà:ka, part of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy.

I’m pleased to be here with the Mayor of Pierrefonds-Roxboro, Dimitrios (Jim) Beis; and Sameer Zuberi, Member of Parliament for Pierrefonds–Dollard, for this important announcement.

And let me extend a warm, virtual welcome to the over one thousand participants of the National Adaptation Strategy Symposium who are joining us today.

Introduction

It’s my honour to kick off the Symposium and make an important announcement on a subject that is preoccupying every level of government and every community in Canada: preparing for the impacts of climate change.

[Pause]

We have to look at climate action in this twenty‑first century as a matter of both offence and defence.

As many of you may know, I’ve spent decades fighting to raise awareness and stop the pollution that causes climate change.

And so today, as we increase our preparations for the many impacts of our changing climate, it feels like we’re fighting a war on two fronts.

We can—and must—do both:

We must reduce carbon pollution, and we must prepare for the impacts of climate change.

And it’s going to take a big, coordinated Team Canada effort.

Today, I’m speaking to you from the banks of Rivière des Prairies, where incidents of flooding are occurring more and more frequently because of climate change.

To give you an example of an adaptation to climate change, just upriver is Cap-Saint-Jacques nature park, where an ambitious natural infrastructure project is being carried out.

Thanks to a partnership between federal, provincial, and municipal governments, this new infrastructure will both protect rare wetlands and help create a natural buffer zone to protect the communities downstream to better withstand spring floods.

Back in 2019, our government committed $50 million to this project through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund.

Our government is making record new investments under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, to the tune of $3.4 billion nationwide, effectively tripling spending in previous years, because these disasters are becoming more frequent with climate change.

To date, eleven projects in Quebec alone have been approved for funding under this program.

Our Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund is supporting projects from Taber, Alberta, to the Cowichan Tribes in Duncan, BC; from Windsor, Ontario, to Windsor, Nova Scotia.

These projects are helping communities become more climate resilient by helping them prepare for and withstand the impacts of natural disasters.

Right now, with Manitoba once again threatened by spring flooding, we are reminded of the importance of forward-looking and cost‑saving preparations to protect our communities and our economy.

But this is only one important example of a situation that clearly demonstrates the need for a climate change adaptation strategy.

Last Friday, the Minister of Emergency Preparedness, Bill Blair, announced a series of new measures for this year’s forest fire season and for future seasons, supported by more than half a billion dollars in federal funding.

Preparing for climate change also means collecting and sharing the best data and climate knowledge . . .

. . . not just to forestall disasters like major floods and wildfires, but also to better manage the daily wear and tear of climate extremes.

For the City of Toronto, for example, adaptation means using climate data from the Canadian Centre for Climate Services to reassess its asphalt formula to better withstand extreme heat and temperature fluctuations.

The goal is to save money on road repairs, a massive municipal cost.

Or take the Hamlet of Arviat, in Nunavut, which is using data from the same federal centre to reassess its drainage needs for new flood protections to prevent damage, improve performance, and extend the lifespan of the storm drains.

Every smart city planner, every forward-looking business person—everyone who is thinking about the cost to generations to come—knows that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

[Pause]

National Adaptation Strategy

Adaptation really is a global story of the survival of humankind across the ages.

With a rapidly changing climate, our government has been working urgently on the development of a new National Adaptation Strategy.

The National Adaptation Strategy represents a really important new direction for the country to go beyond climate change mitigation . . .

. . . and tackle—in a comprehensive and strategic way—how we make our communities safer and better prepared for the impacts of climate change.

The new Strategy will establish a shared vision and framework with clear targets and actions to drive new investments and initiatives . . .

. . . so that we build smarter, better use climate data, adjust our ways of doing business, harness nature, protect communities, and more.

No corner of Canada is untouched.

The costs of climate change are mounting in all parts of the country.

[Pause]

That’s why today, I am pleased to announce that our government is launching public consultations on the National Adaptation Strategy, the big final step in making this strategy a reality.

We’re kicking it off with a fantastic virtual conference.

We’re also launching an interactive web portal where you can submit your ideas and comments.

We have launched a discussion paper that incorporates the feedback of many groups that have participated up until now.

Now, we want to hear from you!

We want to hear from communities and Canadians, from local environmental organizations and interested businesses.

Preparing for climate change takes many forms.

That may include something which seems quite simple—protecting the nature that protects us—so that a riverside park is designed to absorb heavier spring flooding.

It could include constructing better insulated homes and infrastructure.

Or better sharing of data on climate and weather systems with local public safety officials, city planners, and public utilities, which can then better prepare for every situation, from snow loads to wildfires.

Our National Adaptation Strategy will set targets, identify gaps, pinpoint needed areas for investment, and help make communities safer and better prepared to support a more stable and resilient economy.

We will launch our strategy this fall, and we need input from as many Canadians as possible on priorities for action.

The National Adaptation Strategy should work hand-in-hand with climate change mitigation to make our communities safer and better prepared for the impacts of climate change.

We’re looking for a shared vision and framework with clear targets and actions—immediately, in the mid-term, and in the longer term.

Provincial governments, municipalities, Indigenous Peoples, the business community—we all have a stake in building a more climate-resilient Canada.

That’s why it’s so important today to get these public consultations underway.

Moving Forward

Canada is not alone in thinking ahead to prepare for climate change.

Today, I’m very honoured to say that Canada will host Adaptation Futures—the largest international conference on climate adaptation—in Montréal in the fall of 2023.

And I am pleased to announce that our government is supporting the conference with a contribution of $650,000 to help Quebec’s climate group, Ouranos, bring together policy‑makers, scientists, and practitioners from across the globe to exchange best practices on adaptation.

Together, we’re going to ensure Canadians are leading the way not just in preventing climate change but also in protecting ourselves from its effects.

Conclusion

This national consultation will make sure we leave no stone unturned, no climate impact ignored, no community bypassed, and no fresh idea unexplored.

If you have views on how we can best adapt to climate change, we want to hear from you.

Now is the time to work together to build a more climate-resilient Canada.

Thank you.

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