Government of Canada: Updated 2024 wildfire season projections and preparedness measures

News release

May 9, 2024 – Ottawa, Ontario

Emergency Preparedness Week serves as a reminder to know the risks, plan for them, and act.

The Government of Canada is committed to providing Canadians with the information they need about climate change and its impact on everyday life. Wildfires in Canada are increasingly large-scale events and threaten the health, safety, and economic stability of Canadians.

Today, Minister Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, with Parliamentary Secretary, Sherry Romanado, Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, and Minister Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, convened to share with Canadians the latest assessment of the 2024 wildfire season and the state of federal preparedness.

Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC) meteorologists continue to predict weather conditions for spring and summer 2024 that could lead to greater wildfire risks. As we can expect with climate change, most parts of Canada have experienced warmer and drier spring conditions so far, with the added influence this year of El Niño. Drought conditions are expected to persist in high-risk regions in May, including the southern regions of the prairie and western provinces. ECCC is forecasting continued above-normal temperatures nationwide for the spring and summer period. Such conditions exacerbate the risk and intensity of both natural and human-caused wildfires.

In addition, Minister Sajjan highlighted efforts to bolster response capabilities for the 2024 wildfire season under the Humanitarian Workforce Program (HWF).

This initiative will test and strengthen the capabilities of non-governmental organizations (NGOs)—including Canadian Red Cross, St. John Ambulance, The Salvation Army, and the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC)—to ensure they can mobilize and rapidly deploy emergency responders and relief supplies to support Canadians in times of need. The initiative will focus on the needs of at-risk communities, with an initial focus on British Columbia and Northwest Territories.

Additionally, Minister Sajjan announced today the intention to work towards including the veteran-led humanitarian NGO, Team Rubicon, in the HWF program to increase the program’s urgent response capacity.

Building from lessons learned during the 2023 wildfire season, Public Safety Canada is working closely with the NGOs funded under the HWF program and provincial and territorial governments to identify needs and establish innovative ways to facilitate the rapid deployment of resources and respond to an emergency. As part of this initiative, NGOs will carry out activities which could help reduce response time and enhance planning and training that will include local organizations.

To counter the growing threat of wildfires in Canada, the federal government will continue to support provinces and territories in wildfire mitigation, response, and monitoring. Today, NRCan announced up to $1.2 million for the Canadian Interagency Forest Centre to expand the Centre’s wildfire prevention and mitigation capacity. This investment will also enhance and expand the adoption of FireSmart Canada, a program funded through the Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative (WRFI), in collaboration with provinces and territories. The WRFI invests in new programs and activities to reduce wildland fire risk in our communities and landscapes.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are working with partners to help people in Canada manage the health risks from wildfires. This includes providing information and public health guidance relating to air pollution created by wildfire smoke, what to do if wildfires are occurring along with extreme heat, and the mental health impacts that may result from wildfires. For example, during wildfire smoke events, the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) reports on air quality on a scale from 1 to 10+ and provides relevant health messages to help people make informed decisions to protect their health and the health of their loved ones.

In addition, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are working alongside jurisdictions to provide technical expertise, health guidance, air quality monitoring assistance, and advice for establishing cleaner air spaces when air quality is poor. The Public Health Agency of Canada also stands ready to support impacted jurisdictions upon request, with the delivery of essential medical equipment and supplies through the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile (NESS) and public health-related assistance during evacuations.

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) continues to work alongside First Nations to support the health, safety and well-being of their communities. As announced in Budget 2024, ISC proposes to allocate $57.2 million over five years to renew and expand ISC’s FireSmart program to directly support First Nation communities and other eligible recipients with resources and preventative measures, especially those located in high-risk areas. We are also doing things differently this year by offering advance payments to all communities so they can prepare earlier and incorporate traditional knowledge in our strategies. We are also going forward with a pilot project in Alberta to fund Emergency Management Coordinators in all 48 communities.

We all have a part in preparing for the potential impact of wildfires in our communities. The Government of Canada, like our emergency management partners in all levels of government, non-government organizations, Indigenous Leaders and the private sector, has heightened our awareness of the risks and has taken steps to increase our preparedness. Our focus is on the health, safety and security of Canadians. We are making sure we have the capacity to support provinces and territories and mobilize resources when they are needed for the 2024 wildfire season.


“Our climate is changing and with every passing year, we experience more extreme weather events. Now, more than ever, we need greater collaboration among us. The Emergency Preparedness Week theme of Be Prepared. Know your risks. applies to all of us, as individuals, communities, and organizations. I can assure Canadians that even as climate change affects the world around us, we are adapting and working together so we can respond to whatever happens. I am pleased to be working with colleagues in national emergency management NGOs to improve our readiness to respond across the country. Together, we will continue to adapt and reinforce the emergency response system.”

- The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada, Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Minister responsible for the Pacific Economic Development Agency of Canada

“Last year, Canadians experienced the most destructive forest fire season in our nation’s history, and we know that climate change has been a root cause of their increased frequency and intensity. The federal government has been urgently working to prepare Canada for wildfires in 2024, including through an announcement today of $1.2 million in funding via the Wildfire Resilient Futures Initiative for the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre to expand the adoption of FireSmart. This investment builds on hundreds of millions of dollars we have invested since 2019 towards equipment and training for firefighters. Since last year alone, $22.5 million has flowed through the Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate (FMWCC) program to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories and Yukon, and this is just the beginning of our work with provinces and territories to bolster procurement of lifesaving equipment and personnel through the FMWCC and FireSmart programs. By working with partners across the country, we are building skills, supporting scientific research, and helping firefighters prepare not only for the 2024 season, but for a future where the impact of climate change on the severity of wildfires is increasingly obvious.”

- The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources

“The prospect of another active wildfire season simply drives the point home: we must take more action to combat and mitigate climate change and adapt to its very real and costly impacts. This is not a future problem. It is here now. Together - Canadians, communities, Indigenous peoples, organizations, utilities, businesses and governments - have the opportunity to work hand in hand, to deal with the climate crisis we see unfolding right before our eyes.”

– The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

“Wildfires can have significant negative impacts on our physical and mental well-being, even when they are burning thousands of kilometres away from us. So many Canadians experienced this first-hand last year, with cities across the country blanketed in hazardous smoke. With the 2024 wildfire season approaching, our government is ensuring that people in Canada have the tools and information they need to understand and manage the health risks associated with wildfires.”

– The Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health Canada

“Because of climate change, the 2023 wildfire season was the most devastating ever recorded. This season could yet again historically affect First Nations, as they are living first-hand the impacts of climate change. We have already seen a first community being evacuated in April, which is notably early in the season. We will be by First Nations’ side as they prepare for, face and recover from wildfires.”

– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario

Quick facts

  • The Government of Canada Wildfires 2024 web page includes information about programs, policies and initiatives to keep Canadians informed about the wildfire situation and to support provincial and territorial efforts to combat wildfires.

  • In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the local level: hospitals, fire departments, police and municipalities. If they need assistance at the local level, they request it from their province or territory. If an emergency escalates beyond the capabilities of a province or territory, they can seek assistance from the federal government by submitting a request for federal assistance (RFA).

  • The Government Operations Centre (GOC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, is the lead for federal response coordination for emergency events affecting the national interest. The GOC has activated a wildfires response team to level 1: enhanced reporting. The GOC works in close collaboration with federal organizations, non-governmental organizations and provincial emergency management partners to:

    • Coordinate whole of government response and preparedness.
    • Provide 24/7 information on a wide range of risks that could affect the safety and security of Canadians at home or abroad.
    • Provide senior decision makers and partners with national level understanding of events so each of them can deliver on their mandate.
    • Ensure federal readiness to respond, including interdepartmental consultation and coordination of federal assets.
  • Parks Canada manages and responds to wildfire in national parks with nearly 200 wildland firefighters and 100 incident management specialists who are trained to respond to wildfires and can manage all elements of complex incidents. Parks Canada collaborates with other jurisdictions and can provide equipment and firefighters when help is needed across the country and internationally.

  • To access the latest weather, forecast and alert information Canadians can download the WeatherCAN app and get notifications wherever they are in Canada.

  • To help people in Canada adapt to climate change and extreme weather, the Government of Canada has developed the National Adaptation Strategy with provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous partners, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, adaptation experts, and youth.

  • The National Adaptation Strategy is a whole-of-society blueprint to reduce the risk of climate-related disasters, improve health outcomes, protect nature and biodiversity, build and maintain resilient infrastructure, and support a strong economy and workers.

  • The long-range outlook for wildland fire activity is difficult to forecast early in the season and specific fire activity cannot be predicted. Instead, seasonal forecasts help identify areas that are at increased risk. The certainty of these projections will increase as we move towards the summer months. These forecasts anticipate risk and are not predictors of actual fire activity.  

  • Government of Canada analysis shows that climate-related impacts are costing average Canadian households $720 per year today and will rise to around $2,000 per year by 2050. In 2023, Canada’s severe weather caused over $3.1 billion in insured damages.

  • Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) is providing funding for preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery through the Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP). EMAP reimburses First Nations, provinces and territories and third-party emergency management providers 100 percent of eligible response and recovery costs, including evacuation costs.

Associated links


Joanna Kanga 
Press Secretary and Outreach Advisor
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness  

Media Relations 
Public Safety Canada 

Kaitlin Power
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Media Relations
Environment and Climate Change Canada
819-938-3338 or 1-844-836-7799 (toll-free)
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Twitter page
Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Facebook page

Christopher Aoun
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

Media Relations
Health Canada

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