Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change first annual report: adaptation and climate resilience

In the Pan-Canadian Framework, federal, provincial, and territorial governments underscored the significant risks that climate change impacts pose to communities, the health and well-being of Canadians, the economy, and the natural environment. Canada’s northern and coastal regions and Indigenous Peoples are especially vulnerable. The Pan-Canadian Framework represents the first time that federal, provincial, and territorial governments have identified priority areas for collaboration to build resilience to a changing climate across the country:

  • Ensuring Canadians have information and multidisciplinary expertise to consider climate change in their planning and decision-making;
  • Building climate resilience through infrastructure;
  • Working to protect the health and well-being of Canadians;
  • Supporting particularly vulnerable regions and Indigenous Peoples in addressing climate impacts; and
  • Reducing the risks to communities from climate-related hazards and disasters.

For each priority area, federal, provincial, and territorial governments identified new actions that would advance efforts towards a more resilient Canada. These actions range from measures to improve access to climate science and information that supports adaptation decision-making, to investments in built and natural infrastructure to increase climate resilience in communities, to efforts that help us better understand and take action to address climate-related health risks such as extreme heat and infectious diseases.

This first year of implementation provided a solid foundation for this work, including the announcement of significant new investments in adaptation and climate resilience. New programs to support adaptation efforts are being established, codes and standards for climate resilience are under development, and initiatives to build regional capacity for adaptation action across all the priority areas have been launched. An Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience Results has been established to provide advice to the federal government on measuring progress on adaptation and climate resilience in March 2018. In December 2017, Saskatchewan released Prairie Resilience: A Made in Saskatchewan Climate Change Strategy with a focus on developing policies to improve readiness and resilience to climate change in key area, including: natural systems, physical infrastructure, economic sustainability, and community preparedness. Consultations will be held in 2018.

Efforts are underway across many portfolios to advance adaptation and resilience (e.g., health, relations with Indigenous Peoples, emergency management, infrastructure, local government, mining, forests, fisheries, agriculture, energy, transportation, finance, economy and innovation). Ministers of Agriculture are advancing efforts to adapt to the impacts of climate change through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership that will build capacity in the agricultural sector while also supporting science, research and innovation. In addition, Forest Ministers are undertaking work to better combat the spread of pests that destroy forests, such as the mountain pine beetle and spruce budworm. Work also continues through Canada’s Adaptation Platform, with membership from governments, Indigenous organizations, industry, and professional organizations, to engage the private sector and work collaboratively to reduce Canada’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change.

4.1 Translating scientific information and Traditional Knowledge into action

Understanding how the climate and the environment are changing and how future conditions will impact Canada is essential for taking action to adapt and build resilience across the country. Climate science and information and Indigenous Knowledge can inform important decisions that will help manage risks, reduce costs, and ensure society thrives in the face of a changing climate.

As the foundation for advancing adaptation in Canada federal, provincial, and territorial governments committed to improve access to authoritative, foundational climate science and information to support adaptation decision- making across the country, build regional capacity and expertise, respectfully incorporate Traditional Knowledge, and mobilize action.

The Maliseet Nation Conservation Council, with support from the federal government, is working with three Maliseet communities in New Brunswick to build resilience to climate change. The project combines community knowledge from traditional ecological surveys and interviews with Elders, while data from a vulnerability assessment on final strategic planning document will help the communities better prepare for climatic changes.

Saskatchewan is funding research projects to help mitigate and enhance resilience to climate change, including research on drought resistant crops, prediction and management of pests and diseases, enhanced carbon sequestration through agronomic practices or root architecture, and minimizing the vulnerability of forests to climate change.

To support hazard mapping activities and risk assessments in the Atlantic region, New Brunswick has made climate change data as well as other data to inform flood risk mapping (e.g., LiDAR) publically accessible. Nova Scotia has produced and made publicly available regional climate data and local flood risk maps to be used by planners, researchers and the public across the province. Prince Edward Island has secured federal funding approval under the National Disaster Mitigation Program to conduct a risk assessment of coastal infrastructure assets, to develop provincial flood risk maps, which include the entire coastline, and to make the data publicly accessible.

Implementation is on track with all governments working in partnership to improve climate services in Canada, including the design phase of a Canadian Centre for Climate Services. The federal government is also working with governments and organizations to build or support existing regional adaptation capacity and expertise and develop regionally-specific risk assessments. With funding announced in Budget 2017, the federal government, in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments, has launched a new program to help equip decision-makers with regional knowledge and skills to apply tools and information to take action to adapt to climate change.

Budget 2017 announced $73.5 million over five years to support climate adaptation decision-making, including for a new Canadian Centre for Climate Services (CCCS). The CCCS will deliver trusted climate information, data, and tools through an online climate information portal to support adaptation decision-making in Canada. Training, support, and user-driven products will ensure tools are designed to meet user needs. The Centre will shape and deliver services across the country in partnership with regional climate organizations.

Provinces and territories have undertaken initiatives to build regional capacity for decision-making and addressing climate impacts, including providing funding for regional organizations. The federal government and the Atlantic provinces are collaborating on the development of a proposal for an Adaptation Hub for the region.

Manitoba is providing funding support of $400,000 for the creation of the Prairie Climate Centre to develop climate data to inform decision-making and address climate impacts. The Government of Canada is also partnering to help the Prairie Climate Centre’s Climate Atlas extend its reach to a national audience to engage on climate change.

Ontario is taking significant steps to better prepare for the impacts of climate change, including: launching a new climate change organization to provide cutting edge, region specific climate impact information and services; undertaking a province-wide climate change risk assessment; raising public awareness; and developing an all-of-government approach to consider climate change adaptation in policy and program decisions.

4.2 Building climate resilience through infrastructure

Designing and investing in built and natural infrastructure that can withstand and help us manage changing climate conditions is essential to the health, safety, and sustainability of our communities and economy.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments committed to partner to invest in infrastructure projects that build climate resilience and to work together to integrate climate resilience in building design codes and guides.

Implementation is on track for 2017, with significant investments to support climate resilience through infrastructure across governments. For example, a portion of the cost-shared $9.2 billion announced by the federal government for Integrated Bilateral Agreements with provinces and territories will be invested in adaptation and climate resilience, and on a cost share basis an additional $2 billion has been committed to a Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund for large-scale infrastructure projects. This fund represents Canada’s largest dedicated source of funding for built and natural, large-scale infrastructure projects designed to protect communities from natural disasters and extreme weather and build climate resilience. Manitoba is also making strategic infrastructure investments of no less than $1 billion annually to support economic growth and improve flood protection.

Governments are also working together to build the tools to help ensure significant investments are resilient to climate change. For example, a federal-provincial-territorial Working Group is helping develop a Climate Lens for mitigation and adaptation investments. For adaptation specifically, the lens will ensure climate resilience is considered for infrastructure programs under the Investing in Canada Plan and for Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund projects.

More than 90% of Newfoundland and Labrador’s population is situated along the coastline which is affected by storm surges and erosion. The province is enhancing its network of coastal monitoring stations. There are currently 116 stations in the province, including five in northern Labrador Indigenous communities. Data from these stations informs infrastructure, planning, and development decisions.

Research is underway to update building codes and guidance and standards are being developed to support decision-making for climate resilient infrastructure. Some provincial and territorial governments are requiring consideration of climate change impacts in infrastructure design, and undertaking initiatives to increase resilience to flooding.

Since 2008, Québec has been assessing natural risks and developing and implementing climate change adaptation strategies for Nunavik transportation infrastructure built on permafrost. The ongoing research projects assess the effectiveness of full-scale adaptation solutions.

4.3 Protecting and improving human health and well-being

Focused efforts to address rising climate-related health risks help Canadians take action to protect themselves and prepare health care systems to deal with emerging challenges. Community-based approaches and solutions are key to the vitality and well-being of Indigenous Peoples facing unique and growing challenges related to health.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments committed to collaborate to address climate change-related health risks, including extreme heat, and climate-driven infectious diseases, such as Lyme disease. The federal government committed to support First Nations and Inuit communities to undertake health adaptation projects and work with the Métis Nation on addressing the health effects of climate change.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has developed public health advice to minimize health impacts due to wildland fire smoke and a visibility index tool to estimate current air quality and identify appropriate actions. NWT has also been working to deploy portable air monitoring equipment during smoke events, and update the health and social service system’s emergency response capacity and preparedness.

Good progress has been made in 2017 with federal, provincial, and territorial governments advancing efforts to reduce the harmful consequences of climate change on the health and well-being of Canadians. For example, various provinces and territories have developed new heat warning thresholds, expanded Heat Alert and Response Systems for smaller communities, and advanced monitoring and awareness building of climate change impacts on health. The federal government has launched a framework and action plan on Lyme disease that will focus on surveillance, education and awareness, as well as guidelines and best practices related to prevention, diagnosis and treatment. It is also increasing support for First Nations and Inuit communities to undertake climate change and health-adaptation projects and working with the Métis Nation to address the health effects of climate change.

As part of new federal funding for climate change health initiatives, the first call for proposals under the new Infectious Diseases and Climate Change Fund was issued to address the impact of climate change on human health by building and increasing access to infectious disease-based evidence, education, and awareness.

A new website, ClimateTelling, has also been created to support Indigenous Peoples in sharing knowledge and information on climate change adaptation.

4.4 Supporting particularly vulnerable regions

While all regions in Canada are faced with unique challenges from the impacts of climate change, the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, along with coastal and northern regions, are particularly vulnerable and disproportionately affected. Understanding climate change impacts and taking action to adapt will help the most vulnerable communities, traditional ways of life, and economic sectors thrive in a changing climate.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments committed to invest in infrastructure to protect vulnerable regions and communities, build climate resilience in the North, support community-based monitoring by Indigenous Peoples, and support adaptation in coastal regions.

Implementation is on track for 2017. Infrastructure investments under the Investing in Canada Plan will help build resilience in vulnerable coastal and northern regions, and new and enhanced programming has been launched to support northern communities and Indigenous Peoples in monitoring climate changes, assessing impacts, and identifying adaptation solutions. Progress has been made on the development of the multi-partner Northern Adaptation Strategy that will build capacity in the North.

The governments of Canada, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Québec and Newfoundland and Labrador as well as northern Indigenous organizations are collaborating to develop the Northern Adaptation Strategy. This Strategy, to be finalized in 2018, will set the stage for a new collaborative approach to addressing adaptation throughout the North, including identifying priorities for mobilizing action, fostering innovation to support the development of strong and resilient communities and contributing to renewed Arctic leadership.

Federal programming has been renewed to support adaptation efforts in coastal regions with sound scientific information and predictions of climate change impacts on fisheries, ecosystems and coastal infrastructure. Targeted regional efforts have been undertaken to increase resilience to flooding.

As a coastal province, Nova Scotia has focused on increasing its resilience to flooding. The province is developing new dyke standards, restoring salt marshes, and providing funds to municipalities through the Flood Risk Infrastructure Investment Program.

In partnership with Yukon First Nations and municipalities, Yukon is planning a new integrated strategy for energy, climate change and green economy to help enhance resilience to climate change across the territory. Yukon is also supporting monitoring and data collection at Herschel Island-Qikiqtaruk Territorial Park to document climate change impacts on the ecosystems and wildlife of this remote arctic island. The Northwest Territories has developed a Climate Change Strategic Framework and supporting adaptation by Indigenous Peoples is a key priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories. The government is partnering with the NWT Association of Communities to facilitate adaptation efforts across the territory.

Québec, in collaboration with Kativik Regional Government and Consortium Ouranos, is developing a synthesis of knowledge on Nunavik's projections on sea and coastal ice, weather extreme events, storm surges and coastal risks in the context of climate change.

4.5 Reducing climate-related hazards and disaster risks

With climate change expected to exacerbate the frequency and intensity of hazards such as floods, wildfires, drought, extreme heat, high winds, and road failures, effective disaster risk-reduction efforts and adaptation measures are key to reducing the severe negative impacts these events can have on communities and the economy.

The 2017 wildfire season in British Columbia saw an unprecedented 1,215,745 hectares burned, almost eight times the 10-year average area burned for 2006-2016. More than 65,000 people were displaced and firefighting costs exceeded $550 million. The province has commissioned an independent review of recent events and will continue to fund community-level wildfire risk reduction and landscape-level fire management activities.

Federal, provincial, and territorial governments committed to invest in traditional and natural infrastructure that reduces climate-related disaster risks, advance efforts to protect against floods, and support adaptation in Indigenous communities facing repeated and severe climate impacts.

Implementation is on track for 2017, with billions of dollars under the Investing in Canada Plan, including the new Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, for investments in traditional and natural infrastructure to reduce climate-related hazards and disaster risks. Federal, provincial, and territorial governments have worked together on developing a Federal Floodplain Mapping Guidelines Series to help advance floodplain mapping activities across jurisdictions in Canada. A wide range of actions are also underway across many jurisdictions to address flood risks.

To enhance efforts to protect against floods, the Québec government held a forum on flood management solutions in October 2017. The province also started a project to help 88 coastal municipalities identify and reduce their vulnerabilities to coastal erosion and increase their resilience to climate change.

Additional targeted initiatives include federal enhancements to the First Nations Adapt program for flood mapping activities and provincial and territorial support for municipalities and communities in building long-term resilience to flooding as well as drought events, preventing coastal erosion and landslides through adaptation planning, and sharing of best practices.

In 2017, the Alberta Community Resilience Program awarded $58.5 million to 25 projects in 20 municipalities and First Nation communities for the development of long-term resilience to flood and drought events. Additionally, $4.86 million was awarded through the Watershed Resiliency and Restoration Program for 32 projects to restore and improve natural watershed functions to enhance natural resiliency to droughts and flood.

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