The Government of Canada is supporting Canadians through the 2023 Wildfire Season - Update
The Government of Canada is committed to continuing to support Canadians as all orders of government work together during the 2023 wildfire season. Across Canada, several provinces, territories and Indigenous communities are experiencing a severe wildfire season, and the effects are already widespread. The Government Operations Centre coordinates the federal response to the wildfire situation across the country. Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate this assistance.
Federal support for communities affected by wildfires this year includes:
Requests for Federal Assistance
- In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the municipal level and if they need assistance, they request it from their province or territory. If the emergency escalates further, provinces or territories can request assistance from the federal government.
- A Request for Federal Assistance is initiated when an emergency event overwhelms or threatens to overwhelm the resources of a province or territory and additional federal resources are needed to effectively support the impacted region.
- Should a province or territory make an official Request for Federal Assistance, there is a well-established process in place for managing the request, through the Government Operations Centre, and includes provincial/territorial and interdepartmental consultation and coordination.
- Requests for Federal Assistance from the Provinces of Alberta and Nova Scotia were approved on May 10, May 27, and May 31, 2023, respectively to support their efforts to combat the significant wildfire situation in these provinces.
- The response to the Request for Federal Assistance for Alberta can be found here.
- The response to the Request for Federal Assistance for Nova Scotia can be found here.
- A Request for Federal Assistance from the Province of Quebec was approved on June 3, 2023, and the response is underway.
Donation Fund Matching
- The Government of Canada has partnered 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.
- On May 11, 2023, the Government of Canada and the Government of Alberta announced a coordinated donation-matching program with the Canadian Red Cross to support the disaster relief efforts in Alberta communities impacted by the devastating wildfires. With federal and provincial contributions, this campaign has already raised approximately $20 million to support Canadians who have been impacted by wildfires in the province.
- In addition, the Government of Canada is partnering with the Canadian Red Cross and the province of Nova Scotia to establish a donation-matching program that will support families and individuals most impacted by wildfires.
- A donation-matching program with the Northwest Territories through United Way is also being put into place, to support disaster relief and recovery efforts in a number of communities.
Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA)
- In the event of large-scale natural disasters, the DFAA is the main instrument for the Government of Canada to provide financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments.
- Since the inception of the program in 1970, the DFAA has been a reliable source of support for provinces and territories. As of March 2023, the Government of Canada has provided $7.9 billion in post disaster assistance for 280 events to help provinces and territories with the costs of response and returning infrastructure and property to pre-disaster condition.
- The DFAA is there for when response and recovery costs exceed what individual provinces or territories could be expected to bear on their own.
- The federal government can cover up to 90% of eligible costs, but provinces and territories are in full control of the design and delivery of their recovery plans.
- Through the DFAA, assistance is paid to the province or territory – not directly to affected individuals, small businesses, or communities.
- Some examples of eligible Provincial/Territorial costs include:
- Evacuation, transportation, emergency food, shelter and clothing;
- Emergency provision of essential community services;
- Security measures including the removal of valuable assets and hazardous materials from a threatened area;
- Repairs to public buildings and related equipment;
- Repairs to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges;
- Removal of damaged structures constituting a threat to public safety;
- Restoration, replacement or repairs to an individual's dwelling (principal residence only);
- Restoration, replacement or repairs to essential personal furnishings, appliances and clothing;
- Restoration of small businesses and farmsteads including buildings and equipment; and
- Costs of damage inspection, appraisal and clean up.
- Provinces and territories may request advance payments or interim payments to address early requirements of recovery and rebuild, and additional allocation for projects that include mitigative enhancements.
Support for the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC)
- Natural Resources Canada provided a $1.2 million grant as its annual contribution to support CIFFC’s operating cost.
- Natural Resources Canada is providing $1.4 million over four years in contributions to develop national type 2 firefighter standards and modernize and integrate data management systems.
- Natural Resources Canada subject matter experts advise CIFFC throughout fire season on fire weather, fire danger, and other modeling and specialized decision-support.
- The GOC, on behalf of CIFCC, coordinates with Global Affairs Canada to help expedite Visa applications for international firefighters.
Wildland Firefighter Training
- Under Natural Resource Canada’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. The following Indigenous communities and organizations are receiving funding for training now:
- Yukon First Nations Wildfire, to train 130 wildland firefighters, including to the Type 1 firefighter standard, across the Yukon and Northern British Columbia;
- Mushkegowuk Tribal Council Communities, for three of the Ontario First Nation communities they represent, to train 30 individuals in SP100 standard wildland firefighting;
- Prince Albert Grand Council, for its Indigenous Wildfire Stewards Pilot Program, to train approximately 125 wildland firefighters as Indigenous Fire Stewards and hire Elder Advisors;
- Independent First Nations Alliance, to train 45 community members in SP100 and SP103 standard wildland firefighting across five Ontario communities;
- Manitoba Métis Federation, to train 12 community members to the Type 2 wildland firefighter standard to combat wildfires in Manitoba;
- Miawpukek First Nation (MFN), to train 34 firefighters with Fire Smart training in the MFN territory in Newfoundland and Labrador;
- Tŝilhqot’in National Government, to train 20 community members to the Type 2 Indigenous Initial Attack firefighter standard in six Tŝilhqot’in communities in British Columbia;
- Innu Nation, to train 13 community members in wildland firefighting in Newfoundland and Labrador; and
- Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, to train 24 Indigenous firefighters to the Type 2 wildland firefighting standard in two communities in Nova Scotia.
- Natural Resources Canada is working with the International Association of Fire Fighters to put in place a one-year pilot project to provide training on interface fires to structural firefighters.
- Under Natural Resource Canada’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program 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 following six provinces and territories have received funding to date:
- Alberta, to purchase equipment including water delivery skid units, trailers, drones, personal protective equipment and chainsaws;
- British Columbia, to purchase equipment including flight simulator computer components, water tanks, generators, pumps, forklifts and trailers;
- Northwest Territories, to purchase equipment including aircraft, vehicles, dispatch consoles and dust suppressant;
- Nova Scotia, to purchase equipment including radios, trailers, hoses and chainsaws and to provide Incident Management Team (IMT) training to additional staff;
- Saskatchewan, to purchase equipment including radios, pumps, sprinklers and hoses; and
- Yukon, to purchase additional wildfire equipment, hire additional wildland firefighting personnel and increase the capacity and frequency of wildland fire–based training throughout the year.
- It is anticipated that all provincial and territorial wildland fire agencies will participate in the program starting in 2023-24.
Wildfire Forecast and Modeling
- Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) generates monthly forecast maps from April to September through the Canadian Wildland Fire Information System (CWFIS). These seasonal forecasts are updated monthly and 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 CWFIS maps, which are approximations based on available data, provide Canadians with region-specific information about current conditions, fire danger, fire weather, fire behaviour, and fire hotspots.
- Natural Resources Canada provides tactical mapping support of emergency wildfires upon provincial and territorial request via CIFFC. This year to date this support has been provided for multiple fires in Alberta and is ongoing in Nova Scotia.
- In addition to the publicly available burned area estimates on the CWFIS interactive map, NRCan provides fire growth intelligence to Wildfire Management and emergency Management partners and coordinates more focused modeling and remote sensing of priority fires in response to provincial and territorial requests via CIFFC.
WildFireSat Satellite Mission
- The WildFireSat satellite mission, a $169.9-million collaboration between Natural Resources Canada, the Canadian Space Agency and Environment and Climate Change Canada, will be the world’s first purpose-built, public satellite system for monitoring fires that delivers detailed analysis of the fires in near real-time directly to front-line wildfire partners and decision makers.
- WildFireSat will:
- give fire managers the ability to predict fire behaviour and assess which wildfires have the greatest potential to grow out of control, therefore helping to reduce the number of disastrous wildfires;
- 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;
- deliver detailed analysis of the fires in near real-time directly to front-line wildfire partners and decision makers;
- provide more accurate information on the smoke coming from wildfires and air quality, improving forecasts on air quality conditions;
- help reduce economic losses, improve public safety, and protect infrastructure and natural resources; and
- enable earlier and safer evacuations that are particularly important for remote and Indigenous communities.
Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Deployments
- Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are supporting our federal, provincial, territorial, and municipal partners who are working diligently in service of Canadians in need. CAF assistance complements and enhances provincial and local resources with unique capabilities, including military personnel and equipment. CAF’s primary objective is to help provincial and local authorities stabilize the situation and to reassure residents in affected areas. Provincial agencies remain in charge of the response to the wildfires, with the CAF providing support to them.
- There are currently approximately 150 CAF personnel have been deployed in support of firefighting tasks. These members are split into two companies, one of which is employed in the vicinity of Fox Creek, 250 km west of Edmonton, with the second in Fort Chipewyan, a fly-in community 600 km north of Edmonton.
- Nova Scotia
- CAF planners and a liaison officer are working with the provincial emergency operations centre to help in monitoring and assessing the situation and to assist with ongoing planning efforts. The CAF is also maintaining personnel at the ready to assist with firefighting support once the fire is at a suitable stage of control and the requisite training and equipping requirements are met.
- 14 Wing/CFB Greenwood is supporting a civilian company with ramp space, fuel stock, and other logistics, enabling the company’s waterbombers and observation aircraft to assist in the firefighting efforts.
- CFB Halifax firefighters provided two specialized fire fighting vehicles, with the requisite crews, in support of efforts.
- The CAF will be providing assistance with planning and coordination, firefighting support, and, as capacity allows airlift for mobility and logistical tasks. CAF planners and a liaison officer are already working with the provincial emergency operations centre to help in monitoring and assessing the situation and to assist with ongoing planning efforts.
- Approximately 150 CAF personnel, a company-sized element from the Immediate Response Unit (IRU), consisting of soldiers from 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (5 CMBG) at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, is currently deployed to the Sept-Îles area, to assist with firefighting activities.
Canadian Coast Guard Supports
- The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is ready to assist and has deployed multiple personnel, heavy equipment, two Mobile Incident Command Posts and two crew support trailers.
- CCG is also providing helicopter assistance as requested and based on asset availability to transport essential supplies in and out of affected regions, as well as the transportation of people for non-emergency but necessary movement.
- A CCG Agency Representative has been assigned to the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office, and CCG is in continuous communication with Public Safety Canada, which is the lead federal department liaising with the province on federal support. Other resources will be made available, when and if requested.
Equipment and Emergency Support to Provinces and Territories
- Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is working closely with Government of Canada partners to support the response to wildfires in various regions in Canada.
- PSPC is on standby to provide technical support and expertise in civil engineering for bridges, buildings or other damaged structures.
- The department is also ready to provide emergency contracting support for goods, services and temporary accommodations, as well as warehousing services for emergency stockpile and equipment, which may be required to support the response.
- PSPC is working closely with Public Safety Canada to assess and respond to any Requests for Assistance in a timely manner.
- Health Canada has deployed 6 air quality monitors to Nova Scotia to provide additional air quality monitoring capacity during emergency response efforts.
- In addition, two air quality monitors have been provided proactively to the Yukon in preparation for the 2023 wildfire season, with additional sensors to be deployed later in June 2023 to long-term care facilities and hospitals, to monitor indoor and outdoor air quality impacted by wildfire smoke.
- Based on a request from the British Columbia First Nations Health Authority, Health Canada is currently procuring 25 additional indoor air quality monitors that will be available to be deployed later in June.
Emergency Management Assistance Program
- Indigenous Services Canada continues to support affected First Nations through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) to deal with this especially challenging time. Through EMAP, Indigenous Services Canada keeps in close contact with affected First Nations communities on reserve and can advance funds or reimburse them for eligible expenses, as needs are identified during daily communications with leadership and other partners such as tribal councils, indigenous organizations, as well as the provinces and territories. EMAP also supports FireSmart project funding to build skills in First Nations communities to prevent and prepare against wildland fires.
- Indigenous Services Canada works with partners to ensure that First Nations individuals who remain in their communities and those who were evacuated have access to all the support needed, including health services, such as: mental wellness supports; Non-Insured Health Benefits program; Jordan’s Principle program; primary care; and environmental public health services.
- Through EMAP, Indigenous Services Canada provides funding to First Nations communities so they can build resiliency, prepare for natural hazards and respond to them using the four pillars of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. This includes funding for all costs related to a wildfire evacuation response, such as accommodations, transportation, food, and security protection costs, as well as mental health and wellness supports. The Department also works with communities to provide recovery support for repairs to on-reserve community infrastructure to restore to pre-event conditions.
- ISC has so far provided more than $40 million as advance payments directly to impacted First Nations communities on reserve for the current 2023 wildfire season. Once the response phase is over, EMAP will provide recovery support for repairs to on-reserve community infrastructure to restore to pre-event conditions, mitigation measures to infrastructure to minimize future impacts and personal losses.
- Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Service Canada have well-established emergency response plans to assist communities and evacuees impacted by emergency events. ESDC and Service Canada communicate regularly and frequently to ensure up to date and relevant information about response measures is available to communities, businesses and individuals affected by wildfires. Across the country, ESDC and Service Canada have taken a number of actions:
- In-Person Service and Community Outreach: There are numerous Service Canada Centres and scheduled outreach locations across the country where clients can access in-person service. Clients can find the nearest service location online here: Find a Service Canada Office. Service Canada reaches out to evacuation centres, the Canadian Red Cross, and other community organizations to provide information on how affected individuals can access support. Some of the services offered for SIN clients so that they may replace lost information include; EI clinics to provide information on eligibility and application procedures, and general information sessions to increase awareness of supports available, including the Work-Sharing program, which helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in usual business. Service Canada also has good working relationships with Indigenous communities and reaches out to leaders in communities when impacted by emergency events to offer assistance. For existing beneficiaries of Old Age Security, Canada Pension Plan or Canada Pension Plan Disability, Service Canada will confirm if there are any clients in the affected areas who normally receive their benefit through paper cheque and contacts those clients to discuss direct deposit as an alternative to ensure their access to benefits is not interrupted. There are also measures in place to deal with situations where a client does not have access to a Record of Employment, where a payment replacement is required if a benefit cheque was left behind in the impacted area, as well as in circumstances when there is an interruption in employment for a Temporary Foreign Worker.
- Applications for Employment Insurance (EI) can be submitted without a record of employment (ROE). If the ROE is not available, other available income information can be used to establish entitlement for affected clients in order to ensure prompt payment. For those clients who receive their payments by mail and have not received an EI payment due to mail disruption, a replacement payment is prioritized and issued. Clients are encouraged to subscribe to direct deposit to ensure there are no impacts to their benefits. Service Canada supports employers during an emergency event by reaching out to those who are impacted to provide assistance with issuing records of employment to employees who are laid off, and to provide information about available services that can be shared with employees.
- Evacuees can apply for Passports at any Passport office, Service Canada Centre, and through scheduled outreach. For those evacuees who identify with a critical need to urgently access a passport, Service Canada will explore all options to expedite their service needs.
- Organizations delivering Canada Summer Jobs projects and other grants and contributions initiatives in affected regions are contacted to offer individualized supports and flexibilities on a case-by-case basis.
- In regards to supports for temporary foreign workers (TFWs) Service Canada contacts those employers who have active or pending LMIAs in the impacted areas, and wellness checks are conducted with employers who have identified having TFWs on site.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada Supports and Regulatory Flexibility
- Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has extended the season for Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 33 and 34 from May 31 to June 6 and June 2 respectively due to impacts of the wildfires in Shelburne County, Nova Scotia.
- The intention of this extraordinary measure is to allow harvesters who have been impacted by the wildfires extra time to remove their traps, as they have been unable to access their vessels due to heavy smoke, volunteer firefighting duties and/or caring for their families. We will continue to support harvesters impacted by the wildfires as needed.
- Fishery officers are ready to assist the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) if support is requested.
- DFO Conservation and Protection’s fixed wing aerial surveillance program (service provide by PAL Aerospace) is available to support, as required. There are currently three aircraft (2 Beechcraft King Airs and 1 Dash 8) operating on the East coast that can support mapping of hot spots and vector (water) assets.
- In Quebec, fishery officers have carried out traffic security and patrols, and will continue to work with the Sûreté du Québec on evacuations and provide additional supports as the situation unfolds.
Parks Canada Supports
- Parks Canada’s National Fire Management Program is a team of professional, highly trained wildland fire management specialists committed to public safety and the stewardship of Parks Canada administered places.
- Parks Canada has 22 dedicated four-person fire crews across Canada. Parks Canada also maintains a roster of five 20-person National Incident Management Teams with personnel from across the country who are trained to manage complex fires and other incidents.
- As a member of the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), Parks Canada collaborates with other Canadian fire management agencies to provide support to our partners across the country and internationally when they require assistance by providing equipment and highly trained wildland fire management personnel. Parks Canada wildfire management specialists have supported fire fighting efforts in Australia (2019-20), Western United States (2020), and British Columbia (2021).
- To date, Parks Canada has provided over 50 wildfire personnel to support current wildfire suppression efforts in Canada:
- Two Incident Management Teams to Alberta
- Ignition Specialists and ignition equipment to Alberta
- Initial Attack Crews to Alberta
- High volume sprinkler equipment with crew to Northwest Territories
- Parks Canada currently has resources deployed to support various partner agencies and will continue to coordinate with CIFFC on all future requests for resource. As with all resource requests, Parks Canada will explore all possibilities to dedicate available resources to support our partner fire agencies at the local, provincial/territorial, national, and international level.
- National parks and national historic sites in Nova Scotia are supporting the provincial government’s efforts to reduce wildfire incidents by temporarily closing all trails and backcountry camping sites at all Parks Canada administered places in the province.
Transportation Support Measures
- Transport Canada is closely monitoring the wildfire situation and is working with federal and provincial officials on potential flexibility in federal regulations to address any gaps in emergency firefighting and evacuations while ensuring aviation, marine and road safety is maintained.
- Transport Canada has issued several Notices to Airmen (NOTAM), restricting aircraft and drone operations in the airspace over or near firefighting operations in support of aerial forest fire suppression.
- The department’s National Aerial Surveillance Program (NASP) aircraft carried out surveillance flights to assist with mapping, detection and imaging of wildfires and assessment of damages in Nova Scotia. The NASP aircraft remain available if further assistance is required.
- Transport Canada issued an extension and expansion of a Security Notice permitting Canadian air carriers to exercise discretion and flexibility when boarding passengers affected by wildfire evacuations on domestic flights. This was done in response to concerns raised by air carriers dealing with passengers missing regular government-issued identification. This Security Notice is valid until June 30, 2023, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.
- Transport Canada will continue to support the efforts of the authorities in order to ensure the safety of our transportation systems being impacted by wildfires across Canada.
National Adaptation Strategy
- The National Adaptation Strategy sets an overarching, inclusive vision for climate resilience in Canada. The Strategy outlines a shared path and sets common direction across five key systems, including disaster resilience. Released alongside the Strategy, the Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan represents the Government of Canada’s strategic and targeted actions to help meet the Strategy’s goals and objectives.
- The strategy recognizes that the scope, scale and impact of wildland fire is increasing as our climate changes, placing lives, communities, economic activity, infrastructure and more, at risk each year.
- New actions include the Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative (up to $284M) to invest in long-term wildfire resilience, including community prevention and mitigation (i.e., enhancing FireSmart Canada), and developing evidence-based approaches to enhance and support community resilience as the nature and behaviour of wildfires change over time. The initiative will also establish a Centre of Excellence for Wildland Fire Innovation and Resilience to mobilize knowledge, increase uptake of innovations in technology and training, support Indigenous fire stewardship, and help strengthen wildland fire management in Canada and around the world.
- Investments are also being made to build greater climate resilience through public infrastructure, including up to $489.1M to top-up the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and support the development of structural and natural infrastructure to increase community resilience; and up to $59.5M to speed up the development and use of climate resilient building codes, standards and guidelines.
- As a part of emergency preparedness efforts, PHAC regularly undertakes a range of activities to support Canada’s preparedness and response capacity on an ongoing basis, including stockpiling of medical supplies, equipment, and pharmaceuticals for the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS).
- The NESS contains supplies that provinces and territories can request in emergencies, such as extreme weather events. The purpose of the NESS is to provide surge support to provinces and territories when their own resources are depleted or not immediately available.
- In response to a request for assistance by the province of Alberta, and in consultation with provincial and local authorities, the Public Health Agency of Canada had secured and coordinated the delivery of supplies such as cots, blankets, ward boxes, and disposable sheets to the province for possible support to their response.
Mental Health Supports
- In times of crisis and emergency, people in Canada can access free and confidential mental health and substance use support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week online through Wellness Together Canada or by:
- calling 1-888-668-6810 or texting WELLNESS to 686868 for youth
- calling 1-866-585-0445 or texting WELLNESS to 741741 for adults
- Indigenous Services Canada and partners continue to assist First Nations individuals who remain in their communities and individuals who were evacuated with mental wellness supports. Immediate, toll-free telephone and online-chat-based mental health support is available to all Indigenous people in Canada. This service is available 24/7 in English and French, and upon request in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut. Trained counsellors are available by phone at 1-855-242-3310 or by online chat at hopeforwellness.ca.
Public Safety Canada
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
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