Canada and the United States Commit to Enhanced Wildland Fire Cooperation
OTTAWA, ON, June 23, 2023 /CNW/ – As wildfire seasons become longer and more extreme, the Government of Canada is focused on keeping people safe while strengthening our long-term response. Countries are increasingly looking to their allies to provide mutual aid during wildfire emergencies and other extreme weather events. As Canada faces a current wildfire season that has already been among the worst, we are strengthening our shared work with allies.
Today, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, and David L. Cohen, United States Ambassador to Canada, signed an arrangement that strengthens the two countries’ long-standing cooperation to combat wildland fires and protect communities in the face of this climate change–driven threat.
This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Natural Resources Canada and the United States of America’s Departments of Agriculture and the Interior builds on and furthers the historic, decades-long relationship on the exchange of wildland fire management resources between the two countries by:
- setting out procedures for the exchange of these resources; and
- establishing a framework that encourages mutual assistance and cooperation.
Through this arrangement, Canada and the United States of America are providing enhanced protection for their citizens by ensuring a more efficient exchange of wildfire suppression resources across international borders. It also facilitates information-sharing that expands wildland fire management knowledge.
Prior to this MOU, reciprocal wildfire support was predicated on several individual arrangements and processes and was focused solely on suppression. This arrangement will ensure that mutual aid is efficiently and effectively deployed where it is needed most, on both sides of the border, by expanding the scope of cooperation to include prevention, research, innovation, technical cooperation and risk mitigation.
Under the arrangement, both countries acknowledge the benefits of continuing to work collectively across their borders through shared values. This arrangement, and other initiatives like it, show how international collaboration can help countries manage the increasing challenges of extreme weather events in the face of climate change.
Canada and the United States will continue to work together to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, protecting communities, livelihoods and our environment for generations to come.
“Our top priority will always be keeping Canadians safe. Today’s arrangement with the United States will ensure effective cooperation through knowledge- and resource-sharing, advancing our joint efforts to protect livelihoods and communities from wildfires, on both sides of the border.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources
“The United States and Canada have a long history of working together to fight wildfires across North America. This arrangement builds on this proud history to improve how we cooperate at all levels to meet the growing wildfire threat. As climate change continues to threaten communities, infrastructure, forests and rangelands, finding new ways to work together is essential. I am confident that this arrangement between our two nations, coupled with critical reforms and investments we aim to secure in President Biden’s FY24 budget for our federal wildland firefighter workforce, will improve how we protect firefighters and communities and share resources, information and expertise as we tackle this crisis together.”
U.S. Agriculture Secretary
“Wildfires don’t stop at a state or country line — they impact all of us and require a coordinated and collaborative approach. This arrangement affirms our long-time partnership with Canada and will provide critical wildland fire suppression resources when we need them most. We owe it to the brave women and men on the frontlines to ensure we are giving them the tools they need to protect our families, our lands and our planet from the increasing threat of fire. Our continued work together, leveraging resources including those from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, will be a critical asset as both of our countries experience longer, more intense fire activity.”
U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary
“Throughout this challenging wildfire season, Canada has been able to count on personnel and resources from trusted international partners, including the United States, just as we have supported other countries with their response to wildfires. Through this Memorandum of Understanding, we’re strengthening these ties to allow for swift mobilization and deployments and to improve wildland fire management in both countries in the seasons to come.”
The Honourable Bill Blair
Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness and President of the King’s Privy Council
- 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.
- Canada is experiencing the most challenging recorded start to the wildfire season. Through our continued partnership with the United States, more than 1,500 American firefighters, incident managers and support staff have been deployed to assist in fighting Canadian wildfires.
- Separate from the MOU, on June 16, 2023, the United States announced that it would provide technological support to Canada this year through its FireGuard program to assist in the identification of emerging wildland fires. FireGuard will provide more frequent, more consistent eyes on fires throughout the day, equipping firefighters to be even more effective in their efforts.
- Canada’s WildFireSat mission, anticipated to launch in 2029, will be the world’s first purpose-built, public satellite system for monitoring fires. Responding directly to the needs of fire managers in Canada, it will provide unprecedented, daily, near–real-time intelligence on all active wildfires, when the fire management agencies at the provinces and territories need to make critical decisions.
- Canadian Wildland Fire Information System: Monthly and Seasonal Forecasts
- Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy
- WildFireSat: Enhancing Canada’s ability to manage wildfires
- Canada and United States Relations
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United States Department of the Interior
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SOURCE Natural Resources Canada
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