Government of Canada providing assistance to the Northwest Territories in response to wildfires

News release

August 15, 2023
Ottawa, Ontario

The Northwest Territories is currently experiencing the worst wildfire season on record, leading to widespread evacuations, loss of personal property, and damage to critical infrastructure.

On August 12, the Honourable Harjit 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 the Northwest Territories to support their efforts to combat the wildfires.

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

  • personnel and resources to assist and enable Type III fire-fighting;
  • airlift resources for movement of personnel and equipment, as well as evacuation, and logistic support; and
  • planning and coordination support.

In addition to the CAF deployment, the federal government is also providing the following supports:

  • Funding dedicated to response and recovery activities for eligible First Nations through Indigenous Services Canada’s Emergency Management Assistance Program.
  • Public Services and Procurement Canada will provide advice to the Territory for the procurement of commercial options, where applicable, to assist in the overall response to the impacts of wildfires in the territory.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) will provide the following:
    • Up to two CCG personnel resources trained in the Incident Command System, as needed;
    • Various pieces of portable equipment, including water pumps, one mobile incident command post trailer, trucks, and associated operators.

The Government Operations Centre is working closely with federal and territorial partners to coordinate the federal response to the situation in the Northwest Territories.


“We are working closely with the Government of the Northwest Territories to ensure communities have the support they need. The Government of Canada is mobilizing all necessary federal resources to help manage this unprecedented situation, and I would like to thank all of the firefighters, first responders, Canadian Armed Forces personnel, emergency management officials, and local volunteers for their dedication and hard work.”

- The Honourable Harjit 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 forest fires, floods, and other times of need, the Canadian Armed Forces have always answered the call of service. We stand with the people of the Northwest Territories as they experience their worst fire season on record, and I am confident that our military personnel will do their utmost to assist their fellow Canadians. I thank all Canadian Armed Forces members involved in this effort for their dedication.”

- The Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of National Defence

“The Canadian Coast Guard stands ready to work with all partners to help the residents of the Northwest Territories. Our thoughts are with the communities affected by these unprecedented wildfires and the first responders coming to their aid.”

- The Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“As Canada continues to experience a record wildfire season, our government is working with provinces and territories to ensure they have the necessary resources to fight these fires. Having recently met with Northwest Territories’ Premier Cochrane in Inuvik, where heavy smoke was in the air from nearby wildfires, I assured her the federal government will be there to help in any way it can. I want to thank all the firefighters, volunteers, and local officials in Canada and from around the world, that are working in very dangerous situations to keep people safe.”

- The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for PrairiesCan and CanNor

“As multiple communities across the Northwest Territories are dealing with serious wildfires, the Government of Canada is providing much-needed support to the local firefighting efforts. Thank you to everyone who has assisted with getting residents out of harm’s way, and to the fire crews for their hard work throughout this unprecedented wildfire season.”

- Michael McLeod, Member of Parliament, Northwest Territories

Quick facts

  • As of August 14, 2023, there are 236 active fires in Northwest Territories with 2,126,254 hectares burned, 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.

  • CAF personnel and assets who will be immediately supporting these efforts are primarily drawn 5 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group, based out of CFB Valcartier, with are air assets from 8 Wing Trenton and 19 Wing Comox.

  • 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

Kyle Allen
Press Secretary and Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dan Vandal
Minister of Northern Affairs, and the Minister responsible for PrairiesCan and CanNor

Media Relations
Indigenous Services Canada

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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