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Canada unveils new climate adaptation strategy with more than $1-billion commitment

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Canada’s first climate adaptation strategy, unveiled today, commits the federal government to new targets for preventing extreme heat deaths, reversing species loss and protecting homes in flood- and wildfire-prone areas.

Environment and Climate Change Canada released the strategy — which has been almost two years in the making — in Prince Edward Island, one of the Atlantic provinces that felt the brunt of Hurricane Fiona in September.

The strategy envisions a country prepared to deal with the worst impacts of climate change. The high-level document talks about multiple targets but doesn’t provide any hard numbers. The government says its goal is to set the stage for more detailed implementation plans to be rolled out later.

The government also announced $1.6 billion over five years in new funding to help jump-start the work that needs to be done. The money is meant to improve disaster response, protect Canadians from extreme heat and health effects and top up the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund.

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The funding required from the public and private sectors to address the impacts of climate change in Canada is estimated at $5.3 billion per year, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, a trade association that represents the industry.

A federal official speaking on background told reporters Thursday the new funding is a “down payment” and acknowledged more will be required to achieve the strategy’s goals. Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair seemed to acknowledge this at the announcement.

“Clearly, there will need to be significant investments by all orders of governments and all Canadians across the country,” Blair told reporters.

The NDP says it’s not enough.

“This is a step in the right direction,” said New Democrat emergency preparedness critic Richard Cannings. “It’s just it’s taken a long time.

“It’s too little. We need much more ambition here to really do some meaningful things [to] prepare Canadians and communities for climate change.”

While governments and communities have been anticipating and planning for the effects of climate change — which range from droughts and floods to permafrost loss, failing infrastructure and pressure on ecosystems — more needs to be achieved, says the strategy document.

“Our collective actions have often been insufficient or disjointed, and have not resulted in the swiftness and scale of adaptation that communities in Canada require,” the document states.

Embedding climate change in all decision-making

In the hope of resetting the country’s approach, the strategy rests on several pillars: disaster resilience, health and well-being, nature and infrastructure.

Without going into specifics, the strategy outlines several targets — such as reducing the number of people affected or killed by floods, wildfires and extreme heat.

On the infrastructure front, the strategy calls for embedding “climate change in all decisions to locate, plan, design, manage, adapt, operate and maintain infrastructure systems across their lifecycle.”

Streaks of fire are seen behind trees, with a water jet visible.
Firefighters struggle to contain a wildfire outside Lytton, B.C. on July 14, 2022. (Supplied by Daniel Mundall)

The strategy commits Canada to new construction guidelines and standards, especially in areas prone to wildfires, flooding and other climate-related threats.

It sets broad targets for stopping and reversing nature and biodiversity loss. Indigenous communities, it says, must have opportunities to protect their traditional lands.

The strategy calls for expanding urban forests and wetlands in city landscapes. These nature-based solutions have been proven to reduce emissions and minimize the impacts of flooding and heat waves on urban populations.

The most significant aspect of Thursday’s plan is that it outlines these priorities, said Sarah Miller, an adaptation research associate at the Canadian Climate Institute. She added that some may be tempted to focus on how much money is needed.

“That’s essential because without [setting priorities], no amount of money is going to make a real difference,” she said.

The strategy is meant to be a living document. The government promises to update it every five years and to start issuing progress reports as soon as 2025.

Feeling the effects of climate change

Climate change has had devastating impacts on Canadians already. In June 2021, Western Canada experienced a historic heat dome which set a record temperature of 49.6 degrees C in Lytton, B.C. A forest first would later tear through the community.

Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault called Hurricane Fiona in September “the most severe hurricane in the history of Canada. We’ve never seen anything like this.”

“Lives were lost, and this is because of climate change,” he added.

Economic analysis shows the impacts of climate change will be severe, even if the world does not exceed the international goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C. A recent United Nations report warned that the failure of individual nations to cut their emissions is “leading our planet to at least 2.5 degrees warming, a level deemed catastrophic by scientists at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

The Canadian Climate Institute estimates that by 2025, the impact of climate change could cut economic growth by $25 billion annually. More recently, the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that even if the world meets its emissions reduction commitments, Canada’s real GDP will take a 5.8 per cent hit in 2100.

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Businesses, Canadians feeling financial pressure of inflation | Watch News Videos Online – Global News

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Global National

Canadian businesses are cutting costs and raising prices as profits plummet, while consumers struggle with the rising cost of living. Marney Blunt looks at how everyone is looking to save money, and what credit counsellors are predicting for January 2023.

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Alberta, Saskatchewan chiefs call for sovereignty acts to be withdrawn

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First Nations chiefs from Alberta and Saskatchewan are calling for their provinces to toss proposed legislation they say is inherently undemocratic, unconstitutional and infringes on Indigenous rights.

“We are not looking for change or amendments to the bill. We want it withdrawn,” Chief Tony Alexis said Wednesday on behalf of Treaty 6.

The chiefs are putting forward an emergency resolution at the Assembly of First Nations special assembly to reject sovereignty bills that are before both provincial legislatures.

Alexis, of the Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation northwest of Edmonton, said there has been no consultation or dialogue with First Nations around the Alberta bill.

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It has been criticized for giving the premier and cabinet unchecked powers to pass laws behind close doors, although amendments to change that have recently been put forward.

Alexis said the bill is harmful to Albertans and Canadians. He said it infringes on treaty rights and could set a harmful precedent.

“We are deeply concerned that, if passed, it would have a domino effect across Canada,” Alexis said. “And what would keep other provinces from following suit and, ultimately, what will that mean for treaty rights across Canada?”

Vice Chief Aly Bear of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations also said the act in Saskatchewan is unconstitutional. The bill, tabled last month, looks to unilaterally amend the Constitution to reassert the province’s jurisdiction over its natural resources.

Premier Scott Moe has said the act doesn’t affect treaty rights and is aimed at growing the economy to benefit all people, including Indigenous people

Bear said, however, that the proposed legislation creates more harm than good. She said there has also not been consultation with Indigenous groups in Saskatchewan.

“If we want to fix that relationship, we have to be sitting down at the table,” she said.

The chiefs said the federal government has, so far, taken a hands-off approach to the bills and encouraged officials to meet with First Nations leaders from the provinces.

Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said she stands with the chiefs in Saskatchewan and Alberta, calling for the acts to be withdrawn.

She said the bills have a specific agenda around lands and resources and that they infringe on First Nations inherent and treaty rights.

“We will not stand idly by.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Kelly Geraldine Malone in Saskatoon

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

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Mint issues black-ringed toonie in memory of Queen Elizabeth II

The Royal Canadian Mint is issuing a new black-ringed toonie to honour Queen Elizabeth II.

The mint says the coin’s black outer ring is intended to evoke a “mourning armband” to honour the queen, who died in September after 70 years on the throne.

The mint says it will start to circulate nearly five million of the coins this month, and they will gradually appear as banks restock inventories.

Aside from the black ring, the mint says the coin retains the same design elements of the standard toonie.

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Four different images of the queen have graced Canadian coins since 1953, when she was crowned.

The core of the commemorative toonie will feature the same portrait of the queen that has been in circulation since 2003, with a polar bear design on the other side.

“Queen Elizabeth II served as Canada’s head of state for seven decades and for millions of Canadians, she was the only monarch they had ever known,” Marie Lemay, president and CEO of the Royal Canadian Mint, wrote in a statement.

“Our special $2 circulation coin offers Canadians a way to remember her.”

The mint says it may produce more of the coins, depending on what it calls “marketplace needs”.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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