WINNIPEG, MB–Canadians across the country are seeing an increase in extreme weather events due to climate change. These weather events are hitting harder and more often than ever before, and Canadians must be prepared for their impacts.
Today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Terry Duguid, announced federal funding of $1.95 million over three years for the launch of ClimateWest, a new non-profit regional hub for climate services for the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Based in Winnipeg, ClimateWest will provide tailored and easily accessible regional climate information, data, tools, and training to ensure communities, businesses, and governments become more resilient in the face of a changing climate.
Driven by the unique needs of those who live and work in the Prairie provinces, ClimateWest will support several different areas, including the agriculture industry, rural and Indigenous communities, businesses, and all levels of government. Knowledge sharing and data mobilization through ClimateWest will make accessing the leading climate science easier as Canadians work together to build climate resilience in the Prairies and across the country.
Information from ClimateWest can support adaptation efforts like the following:
Municipal engineers taking climate adaptation into account in infrastructure standards, like culvert size and storm-water design to reduce flooding impacts
Watershed associations planning as they consider increased risk of flood and drought
Remote and northern communities assessing their food security due to climate change impacts on transportation and wildlife habitat
Using these tools to understand the potential impacts of climate change will help communities build resilience to climate change, which will contribute to job creation, increased social equity, and improved health in the Prairies.
“The Government of Canada is pleased to support the new ClimateWest collaboration”, saidTerry Duguid, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. “By ensuring communities in the Prairies have access to the tools they need, like climate projections to help reduce the impact of flooding and support for risk assessments and other climate-adaptation planning, we are supporting our communities while becoming more resilient in the face of our changing climate.”
Jane Hilderman, Executive Director of ClimateWest added, “ClimateWest is the newest addition to a growing network of climate-expert organizations supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Canadian Centre for Climate Services. The network includes Ouranos (Quebec) and the Pacific Climate Impacts Consortium (BC). Collaboration is at the core of each of these regional climate centres. Regional-climate-data hubs support efforts to make all communities more resilient to extreme weather events. Better access to region-specific climate data means that businesses and individuals can better plan for the future.”
Six of the ten most expensive weather events in Canada have occurred in the Prairies since 2010, including the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire and the 2013 Calgary-and–surrounding-area flooding.
Between 1993 and 2018, insured losses due to extreme weather in the Prairies exceeded $12.5 billion. The total costs including uninsured losses are much higher.
ClimateWest builds on the strengths of its founding organizations: the International Institute for Sustainable Development, the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre, and the University of Regina’s Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative.
The Government of Canada launched the Canadian Centre for Climate Services in October 2018 and began creating regional hubs with the provinces so that Canadians could have the information and support needed to make communities and the economy more resilient to impacts of climate change.