Language Selection


SDG 1: No poverty

On this page

The environmental perspective

Canada needs to build resilience to current and potential climate change impacts that threaten our communities, our health and our well-being. This chapter's focus on Canadians' preparedness for natural disasters and emergencies directly supports SDG Global Indicator Framework Target 1.5: by 2030, build the resilience of the poor and those in vulnerable situations and strengthen their capacity to respond to and recover from climate-related extreme events and other economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

As the frequency and severity of climate-related disasters rise, impacts of the loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services threaten the foundations of our economy, food security, health, and quality of life. Poverty and climate-related disasters are interlinked: although natural disasters can affect all Canadians, various social factors (including income, education, employment, and living conditions) may accelerate their impacts on individuals and communities, as well as affect their capacity to prepare and adapt. Poverty can worsen the impacts of a disaster, while disasters can cause or exacerbate poverty. Over the last 20 years, the world has experienced more floods, wildfires, and other climate-related disasters than in any other documented 20-year period in history. This has affected communities, the environment and the resources it provides, as well as overall poverty levels.

Despite substantial progress in reducing poverty over the past several years, in 2019 about 1 in 10 people continued to live in poverty in Canada. Groups such as single people, persons with disabilities, lone parents, recent immigrants, First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation are more likely to have low incomes and face systemic barriers that affect their ability to prosper.

Extreme events such as heat waves, floods and storms are causing costly damage to Canadian communities, as well as injury, illness, death, and longer-lasting impacts on people's mental health. Across Canada, health facilities have been flooded, procedures have been canceled due to extreme heat or power losses from storms, and facilities have been evacuated due to wildfires. An increased frequency and intensity of multiple climate extremes in a region may lead to compounding or cascading extreme events affecting populations, communities and health systems, and outstripping their ability to respond.

According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, insured damage for severe weather events across Canada reached $2.1 billion in 2021, ranked as the year with the sixth-highest loss. Further, during the prolonged heatwave in southwestern British Columbia in 2021, more than 569 people were reported to have died due to the heat, and 79% of the deceased were over 65 years old.

First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation face disproportionate health risks from climate change and remain some of the groups most vulnerable to a changing environment. These populations experience unique challenges due to the remote geographic location of many communities, disproportionate fiscal and population pressures, a legacy of sub-standard infrastructure, limited access to services, and a heavy reliance on the natural environment. For example, Inuit communities are experiencing the effects of thawing permafrost, including damaged homes, schools, roads and other infrastructure. Climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation are also reducing access to traditional food sources such as seals, caribou and fish. For example, a declining caribou herd population in the Arctic is currently affecting food security for Indigenous groups in northern Quebec and Labrador.

Where the Government of Canada is going

Mandate letters released in December 2021 outline the Government of Canada's direction and policy priorities. Selected commitments related to Sustainable Development Goal 1 are listed below.

  • Strengthen the governance and service delivery for First Nations emergency preparedness, management and recovery (Minister of Indigenous Services and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Northern Ontario; Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations; Minister of Northern Affairs; President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness).
  • Develop a whole-of-government planning and preparedness strategy to ensure the Government of Canada is fully prepared to protect lives and livelihoods from the catastrophic impacts of climate change (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness).
  • Take action to help Canadians be prepared for, and recover from the impact of floods in high risk areas, by:
    • Creating a portal informed by mapping to provide centralized access to information on flood risks as well as resources and suggestions on how best to protect their homes and communities (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness; with support from the Minister of Natural Resources);
    • Creating a low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and do not have adequate insurance protection (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness);
    • Developing strategies to lower insurance premiums and identify cost-effective ways to protect communities and homes from climate impacts (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness); and
    • Co-Chairing the joint Committee of British Columbia and Government of Canada ministers on disaster response and climate resilience, ensuring effective coordination across all orders of government, including with Indigenous communities, and that lessons learned from the recent climate-related floods and fires are translated into effective policy action (President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness).
  • Protect homes and communities from the impacts of climate change by completing work to develop flood maps for higher-risk areas, advancing work to complete flood mapping nation-wide, supporting the development of a portal to provide centralized access to information on flood risks, and expanding the eligibility requirements of the Canada Greener Home Grants to include more climate resilience measures (Minister of Natural Resources).

How the Government of Canada contributes

Vulnerable populations that may experience the impacts of natural disasters more acutely are supported by programs such as Opportunity for All - Canada's First Poverty Reduction Strategy. Opportunity for All established an official measure of poverty—Canada's Official Poverty Line—and set ambitious and concrete poverty reduction targets, including a 50% reduction by 2030, which, relative to 2015 levels, will lead to the lowest poverty rate in Canada's history.

Emergency management and disaster risk reduction are shared responsibilities. Provincial, municipal, and territorial governments and Indigenous peoples lead within their respective jurisdictions. The Government of Canada provides leadership at the national and international levels, including on lands and properties under federal responsibility.

In 2019, federal, provincial, and territorial governments endorsed the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030. This strategy helps fulfill the Government of Canada's commitment under the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction for a pan-Canadian disaster risk reduction strategy. Its purpose is to build resilience in Canada by guiding governments, and their respective partners, in carrying out priorities aimed at strengthening Canada's ability to assess risks and to prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. It recognizes that pre-existing socioeconomic disadvantages tend to amplify the negative impacts of climate-related disasters.

The Government of Canada supports programs that strengthen community resilience to extreme weather events. For example, the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, launched in 2018, is a national program for communities across Canada that aims to reduce the socioeconomic impacts of climate change. Meanwhile, the First Nation Infrastructure Fund supports structural mitigation projects to make communities more resilient to natural hazard events. The Rural and Northern Communities Infrastructure stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is also investing in the unique and wide-ranging infrastructure priorities of small, rural, and remote communities.

In June 2021, Canada joined the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, a partnership of 26 countries and 7 international organizations, the private sector, and knowledge institutions. The coalition aims to promote the resilience of new and existing infrastructure systems to climate and disaster risks.

Emergency management in Indigenous and northern communities

Indigenous peoples living in remote northern areas are among those most at risk in Canada to extreme weather events and the slow onset impacts of climate change. Many communities lack year-round road access (all-season roads) and rely on small airports and seasonal winter roads that operate for a few weeks per year as vital links for the delivery of diesel fuel for heat and electricity, bulk non-perishable food and construction materials, and large equipment. Winter roads, especially segments built over water bodies (ice bridges) are especially susceptible to climate change impacts. Winter road seasons are opening later and closing earlier with more frequent mid-season disruptions due to warm spells. Disruptions to transportation infrastructure due to wildfires, floods, storms, or the increasingly unpredictable availability of winter ice roads, can cause this disproportionately poor segment of Canadian society to experience even greater economic hardship.

The Government of Canada recognizes this reality and seeks to strengthen programs that help equip Canadians with resources, information, and data that improve adaptation, and allow for effective preparation and emergency management services in the most remote of locations in the country. As the knowledge and expertise of Indigenous peoples is vital to emergency management, the Government of Canada is committed to developing multilateral service agreements that make Indigenous peoples full and equal partners in the design and delivery of emergency services.

Search the strategy to find out about its goals, targets, milestones, and action plans

Use the interactive tool

Download the strategy

2022-2026 FSDS

Draft Federal Sustainable Development Strategy 2022-2026