Today marks another important step forward to equip Canadians to face the mounting impacts of a changing climate. With the release of Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy: Building Resilient Communities and a Strong Economy for engagement and final consultations, the Government of Canada commits to a whole-of-society approach to climate adaptation.
The announcement includes $1.6 billion in new federal funding commitments to help protect communities from coast to coast to coast. Funding will help municipalities and townships build public infrastructures of the future, such as roads and bridges, that can withstand flooding, make sure Canadians have access to the information they need to stay safe during wildfires, and enable engagement and work with Indigenous communities on the development of region-specific health initiatives linked to changing climate conditions. The additional funding builds on existing federal commitments to adaptation, disaster resilience, and disaster response that total more than $8 billion to date.
New federal funding will help implement the five priority areas of the Strategy:
- improving health and well-being
- building and maintaining resilient public infrastructure
- protecting and restoring nature and biodiversity
- supporting the economy and workers
- reducing the impacts of climate-related disasters
Through the first-of-its-kind Government of Canada Adaptation Action Plan, which outlines clear federal adaptation objectives and targets in order to focus policy and spending on measurable results, the federal government is delivering nearly 70 actions to address both immediate and future climate risks to Canada.
The funding announced today includes:
- a commitment to the Green Municipal Fund to help communities deploy funding in climate-focused projects to specific municipal needs of the future
- enhancing the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund to build more new structural and natural infrastructures to increase the resilience of communities
- developing the tools and data services Canadians need to access the right information and support experts with climate modelling and assessments
Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, on behalf of Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, launched the strategy while also announcing the federal government’s action and investment plan for the immediate future. Image credit: Facebook screen capture.
“It was inspiring to see people and communities in Atlantic Canada come together to support one another in recovering from Hurricane Fiona—an effort that continues in many parts of the region,” said Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency. “Working together is key to addressing challenges of this scale, and that’s why Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy proposes a whole-of-society approach to adaptation in this country. Today’s announcement is building on this momentum to help protect communities from coast to coast in the years ahead.”
The strategy is now open to the provinces, territories, and National Indigenous Organizations for a final 90 days of engagement on the Strategy’s common goals and specific measurable targets and objectives. The Strategy is a result of extensive engagement since 2021 and presents a shared vision for climate resilience in the country and a framework to measure progress nationally.
Making adaptation investments now will have major economy-wide benefits later. Expert research suggests that every dollar invested in prevention and preparation can save up to 15 dollars in costs. Adapting to climate change requires all orders of government, the private sector, and Canadians, to work together to build resilient communities and a stronger economy, to ensure Canadians continue to thrive into the future.
“The fight against climate change has reached our doorstep. We must not only reduce the emissions that cause climate change, we must also adapt to the changes that are upon us. Adaptation is a cost-effective and positive investment in the present and future,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Environment and Climate Change.
“Taking measures to adapt can save lives, avoid damage to communities, reduce economic shocks to supply chains, and spur innovative technologies and jobs. Canada’s National Adaptation Strategy, guided by the best available science and informed by diverse views and perspectives, gives us a world-leading and unified path forward.”
According to federal research, every dollar spent on adaptation measures saves $13–$15, including both direct and indirect economy-wide benefits. Every dollar invested in adaptation generates significant benefits. Some examples of this return on investment include:
- implementing new flooding and wildfire guidelines and standards for new construction could save Canada an estimated $4.7 billion a year—saving nearly 12 dollars per one dollar invested
- climate-resilient building codes implemented in Canada have an estimated benefit-cost ratio of 12:1, which is equivalent to a 1,100 percent return on investment
- urban forests in the city of Toronto have been shown to generate $3.20 for every dollar invested by lowering cooling costs, improving air quality, and reducing strains on stormwater infrastructure
“The Federation of Canadian Municipalities welcomes today’s announcement of the federal government’s National Adaptation Strategy – a critical framework that will help to better protect Canadian communities from the effects of extreme weather events made more severe by a changing climate. The announcement included a significant investment in the Green Municipal Fund (GMF) to support, accelerate, and scale up community-based climate adaptation initiatives,” said FCM President Taneen Rudyk.
“This new approach to supporting municipal adaptation efforts will provide a single window for communities across Canada to advance their adaptation priorities through GMF—a long-standing, widely recognized and highly successful mechanism in the delivery of high-impact environmental outcomes. And it is an important recognition of the leadership role municipalities play in driving solutions for national challenges.
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Featured image: Unsplash/Nong Gang.