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Climate Change Adaptation Initiatives - Minister Guilbeault

Hon. Mary Jane McCallum: Honourable senators and minister, my home community of Barren Lands First Nation and 16 other Manitoba First Nations are connected to the provincial highway system by a winter road network that is open for only a few short weeks each year.

This once-a-year lifeline is essential for shipping truck loads of fuel, housing and construction materials, food and dry goods that must last until next year’s winter road season. Climate change is resulting in the winter roads opening later and closing earlier each year with the winter roads this year not opening until mid-February and expected to close by March 15.

Will the minister please tell northern Manitoba First Nations what concrete action the minister is taking, as per your mandate letter, alongside the Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada ministers to work in partnership with First Nations to chart collaborative strategies to adapt to the impacts of climate change?

Hon. Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: Thank you for the question, senator. In fact, that work has already started. We are working on building the first-ever National Adaptation Strategy. It’s not a federal adaptation strategy. It’s a National Adaptation Strategy. We had five tables of experts last year that were looking at various elements of adaptations such as infrastructure, health and emergency response. These tables were not led by the federal government. We were there, but they were led by experts from across the country. Since the beginning of the year, we started engaging with Indigenous communities, with provinces and territories as well as with municipalities and a whole range of other stakeholders so we can build in more resilience and be better prepared to face the impacts of climate change, which you rightly pointed out are happening two to three times faster in the North than elsewhere on the planet.

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