Government of Canada providing additional resources to combat wildfires in British Columbia
August 25, 2023
Wildfires in British Columbia have continued at an extreme level during the last week, with evacuations, loss of personal property, and damage to critical infrastructure happening in communities across the province.
On August 25, the Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada, approved a Request for Federal Assistance from the Government of British Columbia to provide additional fire-fighting resources — increasing the level of support that is already being provided to the province.
In response to this request for assistance, the Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence, authorized the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to provide personnel to assist and enable planning and coordination support, and type III fire-fighting operations, which typically include turning over and dousing hotspots and mopping-up affected areas.
CAF resources will be provided for an initial period of three weeks starting on August 28, with an extension possible following a joint evaluation of the situation to determine if support is still required.
This assistance is in addition to the federal support already being provided to the province through a Request for Federal Assistance, which was approved on August 19.
The Government of Canada’s Government Operations Centre is working closely with federal and provincial partners to coordinate the federal response to the situation in British Columbia.
“In communities across the province, British Columbians continue to be seriously impacted by wildfires, with some residents losing everything. We will continue to provide the necessary resources to combat these wildfires and bring the situation under control. On behalf of all Canadians, I thank the firefighters, first responders, Canadian Armed Forces personnel, emergency management officials, and local volunteers working tirelessly under challenging conditions to protect their communities.”
- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada
“During this unprecedented wildfire season, the Canadian Armed Forces have been there to help provinces and territories across Canada – demonstrating their outstanding commitment to service. We have now authorized the Canadian Armed Forces to assist British Columbia with firefighting operations, and we will continue to provide whatever support is necessary at this critical time. I sincerely thank all Canadian Armed Forces members involved in this operation for their hard work and dedication.”
- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence
B.C. continues to respond to over 370 active fires burning across the province. Wildfires have burned over 1.75 million hectares of land across British Columbia, well-above the seasonal average.
The Government of Canada’s 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 and 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 soldiers deploying in support of British Columbia will be drawn from 3 Canadian Division’s reserve brigade groups: 38 Canadian Brigade Group, 39 Canadian Brigade Group, and 41 Canadian Brigade Group.
The Government of Canada’s 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.
- News release: Government of Canada supporting British Columbia with response to wildfires – August 22
- News release: British Columbia to receive federal assistance with ongoing wildfire situation – July 16
- Backgrounder: The Government of Canada is supporting Canadians through the 2023 Wildfire Season - Update
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
Department of National Defence
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