Plan, prepare, act: Government of Canada launches first National Adaptation Strategy
June 27, 2023 – Vancouver, British Columbia
Climate change is affecting the safety, health, and quality of life of people across Canada. Every year, the country faces increasing record-breaking climate events, including wildfires, extreme heatwaves, and floods, on top of slow onset climate impacts, such as thawing permafrost and rising sea levels. Working together to reduce risk from the changing climate will keep Canadian communities safer and healthier. It will also shield the economy from shocks and help avoid some of the rising costs of extreme weather. Simply put, the choices we made today will help decide the future of our communities, our livelihoods, our environment, and our economy.
To that end, today the Government of Canada launched the National Adaptation Strategy in Vancouver alongside provincial, and Indigenous government representatives. The Strategy is the product of two years of engagement with provinces and territories, Indigenous partners, key experts, stakeholders and partners across Canada. It presents a whole-of-society approach to reducing risk and building climate-resilient communities.
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, was joined by the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, and the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, as well as the Honourable George Heyman, British Columbia’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, and Mike Klassen, Vancouver’s Acting Deputy Mayor. Representatives from the Chief Wayne Sparrow of the Musqueam Indian Band, Chief Jen Thomas of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, and a representative of the Squamish Nation were also in attendance.
The Strategy lays out an agreed-upon framework to reduce the risk of climate-related disasters, improve health outcomes, protect nature and biodiversity, build and maintain resilient infrastructure, and support a strong economy and workers. It also identifies common goals, objectives, and targets to focus the efforts of governments and communities across these key areas and to help ensure future investments are targeted and effective.
The Strategy was released in November 2022 for a period of final comment, with provinces, territories, and national Indigenous organizations reviewing it and providing feedback. This opportunity for a final comment period strengthened relationships, confirmed support for the Strategy’s overall vision, and will improve shared implementation. In particular, feedback was received on targets that were part of the November 2022 release. Most comments focused on how governments could work together to achieve goals and measure progress. Notably, feedback allowed for even deeper recognition of the lived realities and climate change impacts in communities across the country, including Indigenous communities and the North.
Similarly, the Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan, released alongside the National Adaptation Strategy in November 2022, has been updated to include new federal investments and initiatives related to flooding, freshwater, supply chains, and security. The action plan—which now has 73 actions, compared to 68 in November 2022—outlines the federal contribution to achieving Canada’s climate change adaptation goals.
In the coming months, the federal government will work with provinces and territories to advance bilateral action plans as a key step to implementing the Strategy. Likewise, the government will work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis on a regional and distinctions basis through the Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda which supports self-determined Indigenous climate actions.
Also highlighted today is a $164.2 million investment through the National Adaptation Strategy announcement in November 2022, to advance the ongoing Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping Program (FHIMP). This investment provides five years of funding toward projects under the FHIMP, while working to increase nation-wide flood mapping coverage and to share accessible flood hazard information with all Canadians. Timely action on flood mapping will provide decision-makers and the public with the information they urgently need to plan, and respond to, flooding impacts made severe by climate change.
Starting in 2015, the Government of Canada has invested more than $6.5 billion in adaptation, including $2 billion in commitments since fall 2022 to implement the National Adaptation Strategy and support other adaptation-related activities. When disaster relief is factored in, federal investments exceed $10 billion.
The Strategy is a practical framework for action from all orders of government to keep communities safe from climate risk. Through cooperation and collaboration, including continued efforts to reach net-zero emissions, Canadians and their communities can increase their resilience to the impacts of climate change. The National Adaptation Strategy helps governments and communities in Canada work more effectively together by setting collective priorities for urgent action. With equity and inclusion at its centre, the Strategy helps to ensure that collective actions do not leave anyone behind.
“The National Adaptation Strategy presents the first national comprehensive framework ever established in this country on climate adaptation. The feedback we received from provinces, territories, and national Indigenous organizations since its initial release in fall 2022 has made it truly reflective of the experience of people living in all parts of the country. In the context of record-breaking wildfires across the country, record hurricanes like Fiona and record floods in British Columbia, this Strategy is needed now, more than ever, to establish a shared vision of our future. The Strategy aims to transform the way governments, communities, and Canadians work in partnership to prepare, and reduce risks of climate change through coordinated and ambitious action. The federal government plays a key role; in the last few years, we've invested more than $10 billion in adaptation, disaster resilience, and disaster response measures.”
– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“British Columbia has recently released our provincial climate preparedness and adaptation strategy, and we continue to update it through close work with our federal partners, communities, and First Nations. Our federal, provincial and First Nation Disaster Recovery Committee identified many measures we will pursue together to prevent and mitigate the impacts of climate change. We are committed to protecting our communities and the environment, and to saving lives.”
– The Honourable George Heyman, British Columbia Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
“People in British Columbia, and indeed across Canada, are experiencing the escalating impacts of climate change emergencies, from unprecedented wildfire seasons to catastrophic flooding. By taking action now, we are helping to ensure people’s safety while also reducing the costs of climate change down the road.”
– The Honourable Bowinn Ma, British Columbia Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
“Indigenous peoples have been on the frontlines of the climate crisis, using our Indigenous ways of knowing to help influence policy and climate action. The National Adaption Strategy will allow us to bring forward our own experiences and Indigenous solutions to this complex challenge. We must make smart choices that will benefit future generations and help heal our fragile ecosystem.”
– Syex̱wáliya Ann Whonnock, Spokesperson Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation)
“We feel the impacts of climate change every day in our community, from loss of land due to erosion to reduced access to marine food sources. We are taking action by building pathways for clean energy and adopting climate action and community energy plans, actions which respect our traditional knowledge, stewardship obligations, and values. This National Adaptation Strategy will support the adaptation measures we have begun to put in place to build our resilience in the face of extreme climate events.”
– Chief Jen Thomas, səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh Nation)
“Musqueam is pleased to join federal, provincial and municipal leadership for this important announcement regarding the release of Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy. The impacts of climate change are especially difficult for Indigenous peoples who have stewarded our territories for thousands of years, and are now seeing drastic differences in our environment. Musqueam hopes that this new strategy will help all communities better prepare for the realities of climate change.”
– yəχʷyaχʷələq, Chief Wayne Sparrow, Musqueam Indian Band
“The increased frequency and severity of climate-related disasters, such as wildfires and floods, are impacting communities right across the country. Building on the Emergency Management Strategy, the National Adaptation Strategy lays out a whole-of-society blueprint to guide all orders of government, Indigenous partners, and the private sector to collaboratively reduce the impacts of these events. By working together, we can mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and expedite recovery from emergencies as we continue to strengthen our resilience.”
– The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“Climate change is the biggest health threat facing people in Canada and around the world. Wildfires, floods, and extreme heat are only some of the impacts affecting Canadians across the country and pushing our health care systems to the limit. The National Adaptation Strategy is a blueprint that enables all levels of government and partners to work together to adapt our health care systems to our changing climate and help protect the health of everyone.”
– The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health
“Northern and Indigenous communities are leading the way toward a more climate-resilient future. This investment will help support Northern and Indigenous communities with important projects such as adaptation, monitoring, emergency preparedness, and infrastructure investments.”
– The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
“The future of all of our communities depends on our ability to adapt and manage the increased severity and frequency of climate-change related disasters. Indigenous communities are often on the front lines of these disasters, from floods, to fires, to high winds. This new strategy will support all of us working together, to prepare and be ready when these events occur, and to work on the preventive measures that make us better able to withstand emergencies and prevent loss of life and habitat.”
– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services
“The impacts associated with climate change—intensified wildfires, devastating flooding, more powerful storm system, and others—are being felt in every region of Canada. That is why Canada is committed to a comprehensive plan to adapt to, and mitigate, the effects of climate change. The National Adaptation Strategy makes important investments, like in flood mapping, that will protect Canadian lives and livelihoods, and ensure more resilient and prosperous communities.”
– The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources
The National Adaptation Strategy was released in November 2022 for comment from provincial and territorial governments, and national Indigenous organizations. The National Adaptation Strategy released today reflects their feedback. The next step in its implementation is establishing bilateral action plans with provinces and territories and working with Indigenous partners through the Indigenous Climate Leadership initiative. The Strategy will evolve and change over time, as we continue to adapt to a changing climate.
Climate change adaptation refers to any activity that reduces the negative impacts of climate change, or helps people cope with them, or one that takes advantage of new opportunities that result from climate change.
Every dollar spent on adaptation measures saves up to $15, including both direct and indirect economy-wide benefits. Every dollar invested in adaptation generates significant benefits. Some examples of this return on investment include:
- Implementing new flooding and wildfire guidelines and standards for new construction could save Canada an estimated $4.7 billion a year—saving nearly $12 per $1 invested.
- Climate-resilient building codes implemented in Canada have an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 12:1, which is equivalent to a 1,100 percent return on investment.
- Urban forests in the city of Toronto have been shown to generate $3.20 for every dollar invested by lowering cooling costs, improving air quality, and reducing strains on stormwater infrastructure.
According to the Canadian Climate Institute, by 2025, climate impacts will slow Canada’s economic growth by $25 billion annually, which is equal to 50 percent of projected gross domestic product growth.
By 2030, the average annual losses from disasters is forecast to reach $15.4 billion—a forecast that can be reduced by ambitious adaptation action.
Flooding is Canada’s costliest hazard, with average residential costs of $2.9 billion per year.
Remote, rural, and coastal communities often experience disproportionate impacts of climate change that require collaborative and innovative adaptations. The Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities program, announced in November 2022, is designed to target the need for early action in coastal communities to proactively address multiple climate risks across regions and jurisdictions.
The Government of Canada will soon be rolling out the new Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities program to co-fund regional scale pilot projects across Canada’s. Pilot projects will work with coastal partners, Indigenous rights-holders and stakeholders to address key knowledge gaps on sea level rise, coastal erosion, and to develop an integrated approach to planning and implementing regional-scale climate resilience.
Through the National Adaptation Strategy, the Government of Canada is helping infrastructure owners and investors develop projects that contribute to Canada’s path to net-zero emissions. With an anticipated release in spring 2024, a new platform of climate toolkits will help owners and investors identify risks and better determine locally appropriate solutions that make communities more resilient to climate change.
Robust engagement has informed the proposed approach for the National Adaptation Strategy. This engagement includes: input from nearly 120 experts and more than 800 written submissions from diverse stakeholders; more than 20 workshops and roundtables; a national symposium with 1,400 participants; and 16,000 contributions from the public, received through the public engagement platform.
- Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy
- Map of Adaptation Actions — Canada in a Changing Climate
- Canadian Centre for Climate Services
- Climate Change in Indigenous and Northern Communities
- Infrastructure Canada Accepting Applications to the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund
- The Government of Canada Provides Update on Wildfire Seasonal Outlook and Outlines Response
- Government of Canada Invests $42.9 Million to Support Individuals and the Health Sector to Adapt to Our Changing Climate
- Minister Wilkinson Announces New Programs That Combat the Risks Canadians Face From Flooding, Wildfires and Coastal Erosion in Support of Canada’s First National Adaptation Strategy
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs, and Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
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