Canadian government provides updated forecast for remainder of 2023 wildfire season; most recent projections indicate continued potential for higher-than-normal fire activity across most of the country due to long-range forecasts, ongoing drought

Sample article from our Government & Public Policy

OTTAWA, Ontario , July 7, 2023 (press release) –

As wildfires become more common and more extreme, the Government of Canada is focused on keeping people safe while strengthening Canada’s long-term response and addressing the root cause of these intensified fires: climate change.

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, Government of Canada officials held a technical briefing to provide an updated forecast for the remainder of the 2023 wildfire season.

The 2023 wildfire season has already been Canada’s most severe on record. Current projections indicate that this may continue to be a significantly challenging summer for wildfires in parts of the country.

Most recent projections indicate a continued potential for higher-than-normal fire activity across most of the country throughout the 2023 wildland fire season. This is due to long-range forecasts for warm temperatures and ongoing drought, which are affecting parts of all provinces and territories and intensifying in some regions. For July, warm and dry conditions will increase wildfire risk from British Columbia and Yukon through to western Labrador. During August, the area at risk will stretch from British Columbia through western Quebec.

Following a technical briefing on the updated July wildfire modelling, the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness; the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health; and Julie Dzerowicz, Member of Parliament for Davenport; and Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada, provided an update on the current wildfire situation and on the actions that the Government of Canada is taking to support communities and prepare them for future seasons. The government has already taken key steps to respond to the 2023 wildfire season, such as making additional investments to train more firefighters and provide support to provinces and territories on equipment and deploying Canadian Armed Forces personnel and capabilities. Today, Ministers announced two new steps to strengthen Canada’s response. This includes the upgrading of a National Fire Equipment Cache in Banff National Park to act as a central equipment repository for Parks Canada and augment local equipment reserves in national parks across the country. The Ministers also highlighted the announcement of the Canada–Portugal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on wildland firefighting cooperation, which will help strengthen resources sharing between the two countries. Minister Duclos and Dr. Tam also spoke about ways that Canadians can keep themselves safe, including from wildfire smoke, over the course of the summer. 

Keeping Canadians safe and healthy is the first priority of the Government of Canada. We are working with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and our international allies to continue to fight these wildfires while protecting homes, livelihoods and lives. 

Quotes

“In the face of the worst wildfire season on record, Canadians can be certain that their government will be there to support them. While current forecasts show that the remaining months of the 2023 wildfire season will continue to be challenging, the federal government is working with all our partners — provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and our international allies — to keep Canadians safe and healthy. Coupled with long-term investments in wildfire fighting as well as climate mitigation and adaptation, Canada will continue to protect homes, livelihoods and communities while also addressing the root cause of these intensified fires: climate change.”

The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources 

“From personal losses and evacuation orders to poor air quality — Canadians right across the country have felt the impacts of this challenging wildfire season. The federal government is working closely with provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners to ensure they have the supports and resources needed to manage the fires and mitigate their effect on our communities. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre is coordinating international deployments, and we are grateful for the assistance Canada has received from around the world and for the tireless efforts of our Canadian firefighters and emergency management teams. From response to recovery, the Government of Canada will be there as we navigate the remainder of the season.”

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

“With 45 First Nation communities having already been affected, most recently in Ontario, this wildfire season has been more intense, severe and devastating than any other. As the impact of wildfires continues, Indigenous Services Canada will continue to support affected First Nations with evacuation efforts including paying 100 percent of eligible costs for wildfire evacuations. We will be there for as long as it takes to support affected communities and to help with the rebuilding effort. I give my sincerest thanks to the firefighters and first responders who are supporting people at this challenging time.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services 

“With this year being the worst wildfire season on record, Canada is facing unprecedented impacts from forest fires. From evacuations to poor air quality and extreme heat warnings, we are experiencing the reality of climate change effects. We are working closely with provinces and territories to reduce the risks posed by these events, including by sending air quality monitors and N95 masks to partners and communities across the country. To protect our health and well-being, we should all pay attention to the Air Quality Health Index and special air quality statements, reduce our exposure to wildfire smoke as much as possible, and stay hydrated and cool during heat waves.”

The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health

“Wildfires are a threat that too many Canadians have felt the impact of. By coordinating with international partners, we are ensuring that Canada and its allies can rely on mutual assistance and resource sharing when needed most. This arrangement with the Portuguese Republic underscores our effective cooperation on both sides of the Atlantic and will advance our joint efforts to protect livelihoods and communities from intense wildfires. We are deeply grateful to the Portuguese Government for stepping up and supporting us during this difficult time.”

Julie Dzerowicz
Member of Parliament for Davenport

Quick facts

  • Seasonal wildfire forecasts use the most recent fire weather indexes and consider drought conditions and temperature and precipitation forecasts derived from two climate model ensembles known as the Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPS, operated by Environment and Climate Change Canada).

  • Current information on national fire conditions is available publicly at all times through NRCan’s Canadian Wildland Fire Information System. Additionally, during the fire season, the Canadian Forest Service supports emergency and fire management agencies through the development of situation reports (fire weather forecasts, situational awareness) and the delivery of fire growth and behaviour models.

  • The Government of Canada, through Environment and Climate Change Canada, is committed to providing support to all our partners by supplying weather information including detailed precipitation and wind forecasts, smoke dispersion predictions and air quality forecasts. Access the latest weather information with weather.gc.ca.

  • Under NRCan’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. 

  • Under NRCan’s Fighting and Managing Wildfires in a Changing Climate program’s 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 WildFireSat satellite mission will respond directly to the needs of fire managers in Canada. It will support smoke and air quality monitoring and forecasting and downstream carbon emission monitoring. WildFireSat will also 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.

  • Countries are able to bolster internal capacity through providing mutual aid during wildfire emergencies. Canada requires support from international partners most years and has benefited from such assistance in the recent past. Canada has also provided aid to international partners when they have been faced with intense wildland fire seasons.

  • Memoranda of Understanding are important instruments to request and receive wildland fire management resources from other countries and to facilitate cooperation on wildland fire management–related activities.

  • With the signing of the Canada–Portugal MOU, Canada now has seven international arrangements with partner countries to ensure mutual assistance in the face of intensified wildfires, including resources, information and knowledge sharing. 

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Contacts

Natural Resources Canada
Media Relations
343-292-6100
media@nrcan-rncan.gc.ca

Keean Nembhard
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
613-323-7892
keean.nembhard@NRCan-RNCan.gc.ca

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