British Columbia to receive federal assistance with ongoing wildfire situation

News release

July 16, 2023

Ottawa, Ontario

The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, has approved a Request for Federal Assistance from the Government of British Columbia to support their efforts to combat wildfires.

British Columbia is currently experiencing a challenging wildfire season and has deployed all available provincial and local resources to respond to fires across the province.

In response to this request for assistance, the Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence, authorized the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to provide:

  • personnel and resources to assist and enable fire fighting;
  • airlift resources for mobility and logistical tasks, including the evacuation of isolated communities; and
  • planning and coordination support.
  • In addition to the CAF deployment, the federal government is also providing the following supports:
  • The Canadian Coast Guard is providing:
    • Personnel to support the management, operations and administrative activities of BC Wildfire Service’s Incident Command Posts
    • a maritime staging facility for fire fighting equipment and personnel, and,
    • two helicopters to transport firefighters and equipment to remote locations.
    • The Canadian Coast Guard will also provide support and assistance to remote coastal communities, in the event that access to those communities becomes restricted.
  • Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) provides funding for preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) to enhance capacity to address emergency events including wildfire. ISC is working closely with the Province of British Columbia, First Nations’ Emergency Services Society of British Columbia and the First Nations Health Authority to ensure First Nations are fully supported to respond to emergency events and evacuations. ISC keeps in close contact with affected First Nations to ensure they are fully supported during emergency events and evacuations.

Transport Canada, Parks Canada, Public Services and Procurement Canada, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are standing by to provide assistance to address additional needs under their own mandates, as needed.

The Government Operations Centre is working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate the federal assistance in response to the situation in British Columbia.


“We are working closely with the Government of British Columbia to mobilize federal resources to help manage the wildfires. This has been a challenging wildfire season for communities right across the country and I would like to express my sincere gratitude to responding partners from all orders of government, particularly firefighting personnel, for their unwavering commitment to the safety of all Canadians. From response to the recovery and rebuild, the Government of Canada will be there.”

- The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

“The Canadian Armed Forces stand ready to assist BC with their efforts to combat the wildfires and help evacuate isolated communities. Throughout the past few months, our members have been there for Canadians across the country in these unprecedented times and I thank all involved for their dedication and hard work responding to wildfires and evacuation communities in Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and now BC.”

- The Honourable Anita Anand, Minister of National Defence

“I know how devastating wildfires can be, and I want to assure the people of British Columbia that the Canadian Coast Guard is ready to support you. We are onsite with our assets and services to aid the Province of British Columbia, and our thoughts are with you. We are deeply grateful to the first responders, firefighters and all those working hard and risking their lives to contain and suppress these wildfires.”

- The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“First Nations in British Columbia and across the country continue to be disproportionately impacted by wildfires and extreme weather events. This will only become more frequent due to the impacts of climate change. The Government of Canada is supporting First Nations with whatever they need. We will be there for as long as it takes and when the time comes, we will support recovery efforts. I want to thank Chiefs, Indigenous fire guardians and first responders who are working incredibly hard to make sure everyone is safe.”

- The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services

Quick facts

  • Since the start of the season, 1,062 wildfires have burned over 1.26 million hectares of land across British Columbia, well-above the seasonal average.

  • The Government Operations Centre is responsible for coordinating the Government of Canada's response to emergency events.

  • 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 get help 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 federal government help is 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.

  • If provincial and territorial authorities require assistance, they may ask the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) for help. When the CAF responds to natural disasters in Canada, it is known as Operation LENTUS.

  • CAF assistance complements and enhances provincial and local resources with unique capabilities, including military personnel and equipment. The primary objective is to help provincial and local authorities stabilize the situation and to reassure Canadian residents in the affected areas.

  • The number of CAF members deployed across the region will vary based on tasks that are identified by the provinces.

  • The Government Operations Centre works closely with Public Safety Canada’s regional offices in an emergency. These regional offices, which are located in all provinces and in the North, provide regional input and perspective while supporting the coordination of the federal response to an emergency event. Their networks of provincial and territorial officials, other federal departments and agencies, and diverse communities and stakeholders, are essential to this work.

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Annie Cullinan
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

Media Relations
Department of National Defence

Zeus Eden
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Matthew Dillon
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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