Avert Magazine

Canada releases first National Adaptation Strategy

November 24, 2022
By Environment and Climate Change Canada

As Canadians feel the impacts of climate change – from extreme heat and wildfires to floods and storms – this is the moment to build resilient communities for a strong economy.

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 Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, alongside the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, on behalf of the Honourable 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.

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

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 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.

Quick facts:

  • Climate change adaptation refers to any activity that reduces the negative impacts of climate change, or helps people cope with them, or one that takes advantage of new opportunities that result from climate change.
  • 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
  • According to the Canadian Climate Institute, by 2025 climate impacts will slow Canada’s economic growth by $25 billion annually, which is equal to 50 percent of projected Gross Domestic Product growth.
  • By 2030, the average annual losses from disasters is forecast to reach $15.4 billion—a forecast that can be reduced by ambitious adaptation action.
  • Flooding is Canada’s costliest hazard, with average residential costs of $2.9 billion per year.
  • Robust engagement has informed the proposed approach for the National Adaptation Strategy. This engagement includes: input from nearly 120 experts and more than 800 written submissions from diverse stakeholders; more than 20 workshops and roundtables; a national symposium with 1,400 participants; and 16,000 contributions from the public received through the public engagement platform.

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