Updating Canadians on the devastating wildfires across the country
As we gather here today, we stand with the hundreds of courageous women and men fighting wildfires across the country. We stand with the communities who've been evacuated and with people from coast to coast to coast who are enduring this painful, heartbreaking time. Here today with ministers Blair, Wilkinson, Gould, Guilbeault, Fraser and Vandal to talk about the federal response to the devastating wildfires we're seeing across the country.
Minister Wilkinson will have more detail in a moment, but our modeling shows that this may be an especially severe wildfire season throughout the summer. We're going to get through this together and our government will keep being there with whatever it takes to keep people safe and provide support.
Two weeks ago, I went to Edmonton and spoke with the Canadian Armed Forces members who are helping in Alberta's fire fight. I also met with many people from communities that have been evacuated, some of them had only a few hours to pack. They were told to bring pets, important documents, medication, and that's it. This is a scary time for a lot of people, not just in Alberta, but right across the country, including in the Atlantic, the North and Quebec, too.
I think of people like Catherine in Nova Scotia, even though she's lost her home, she found time to get help to her friend who's also affected and didn't want to be alone to see what was left of her own place. When people lose their homes, they don't just lose a roof and their possessions; they lose a special place where they saw their children grow up, where they built a life for themselves. This is incredibly difficult and heartbreaking, Canadians will continue to be there for you and with you.
In the last week, I've spoken with Mayor Savage of Halifax, Mayor Locke of Shelburne and Premier Houston as well as with Premier Smith and other local leaders.
Two days ago, I spoke with Premier Legault about the wildfire situation in Quebec. I also spoke the mayor of Sept-Îles, Steeve Beaupré, the mayor of Chapais, Isabelle Lessard, and the chief of Uashat mak Mani-Utenam, Mike McKenzie. We talked about the situation on the ground. As you know, members of the Armed Forces have already been deployed to help. There are a number of fires that are unpredictable, so it's very important to listen to local authorities to make sure everyone stays safe.
Like I said, our government is here to help. So far, we've approved three requests for federal assistance, in Alberta, in Nova Scotia and in Quebec. This includes deploying Canadian Armed Forces members for things like personnel to aid in firefighting roles, airlift resources and engineering support. Minister Blair will go into more detail about the status of this work in a moment on what we're doing to keep people safe right now.
Year after year, with climate change, we're seeing more and more intense wildfires and in places where they don't normally happen. That's why we've invested to train more community-based firefighters across the country. For example, we've worked with the Yukon First Nations Wildfire partnership to train 130 wildland firefighters in Yukon and northern British Columbia. In Newfoundland and Labrador, we partnered with the Innu Nation to train community members. In Manitoba, in Ontario and in many other places, our support allowed more firefighters to be trained. And last week we announced that through the Wildfire Training Fund, we're supporting over 300 Indigenous firefighters and 125 Indigenous fire guardians to be hired and trained this season.
Through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, we are coordinating our efforts with other countries to fight forest fires here and around the world. For example, in the past, we've sent Canadian firefighters to assist firefighters in other countries, like the United States and Australia. And since we're facing some very intense fires at home this year, we're receiving hundreds of firefighters from other countries to support our efforts..
Specifically, I wanted to thank the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and France for the firefighters they've already sent and will continue to send over the coming days and weeks, and on top of that we're engaging further with other international partners about more reinforcements over the coming weeks.
Before I end, I know there's a lot of Canadians who are asking how they can help, too. The federal government and the government of Alberta are coordinating a donation matching program with the Canadian Red Cross 2023 Alberta Fires Appeal, so every dollar donated will become $3 in support to those affected by wildfire in Alberta. And as announced last week, we will set up similar donation matching programs to help people in the Northwest Territories and in Nova Scotia.
This is a difficult time for many Canadians. If you have friends or family members who are affected, it's important to continue being there for one another. I want to thank the volunteers, first responders, CAF members and of course the firefighters who are doing their work like the true professionals they are.
I know that firefighters are often away from their family. I was talking with the CDS, the Chief of Defence Staff, about how some CAF members are personally affected by fires, some have had their homes damaged, some have seen their families evacuated. But despite all of this, they continue to step up to help and protect others. Thank you.
To all Canadians, let's continue supporting our firefighters by listening to local authorities. And across the board, whether it's with members of the Armed Forces, to Parks Canada resources, to firefighters and equipment, the Coast Guard, Health Canada and the Service Canada support – which Minister Gould will speak about shortly – our government is standing up support to keep people safe today and for wildfire seasons to come.