'We have to build a better and stronger future':

ST. PETERS BAY, P.E.I. — The federal government has announced a plan to top up funds to municipalities for its new national climate change adaptation strategy.

On Nov. 24, a press conference was held at the UPEI climate lab in St. Peters Bay, where several federal ministers announced Canada’s first-ever climate action plan and its first adaptation strategy, which will see a further $1.6 billion put towards tackling issues of climate change across the country.

Bill Blair, federal minister of public safety, spoke at the conference and said taking these investments now will have major economic benefits later.

“For every dollar we spend on infrastructure, we can save as much as 10 dollars,” said Blair. “By investing in a more resilient camp, we can make a real difference,” he said.

The new strategy is a result of extensive engagement since 2021 and presents a vision for climate resilience and a framework to measure progress nationally.

Canada has already spent upwards of $8 billion to tackle these issues and meet the goal of net-zero carbon emissions. This funding will help allow the next phases of work to begin.

These areas include building and maintaining infrastructure more resilient to climate impacts, supporting workers in climate-related fields, protecting and restoring nature and biodiversity, and improving mental health resources for people suffering from the effects of climate change.

P.E.I. lost about 40 per cent of its trees as a result of post-tropical storm Fiona. Several wharfs were destroyed and large areas of the agricultural sector were left in ruins.

Liberal MP Lawrence MacAulay, who also spoke at the conference, said he has been devasted to see the damage the storm had on the province.

“As a farmer, to see the crops destroyed, to see the cattle dead in the barns, it’s really sad to see,” said MacAulay.

With the likelihood of more violent storms hitting the province in the future, MacAulay said these climate change plans are necessary for the safety and security of the public.

“No one needs to tell us about climate change, no one needs to tell us about storms,” he said. “We need the expertise here and we need it across the country. We have to build a better and stronger future.”

At the conference, Environment Minister Steven Myers said since a lack of finances has been the biggest obstacle in dealing with climate change and post-Fiona cleanup on the Island, he’s excited about the new funding.

“I think that Islanders see first-hand all of the time what climate change is doing. It’s exciting to be part of this today because the money is what we need,” said Myers. “Every dollar the federal government wants to send to P.E.I. we’ll spend.”

Here is how the government intends to divide the fund, as announced at the press conference on Nov. 24.

The $1.6 billion is considered a down payment with potential future funding to come, as it will not be enough to solve all the climate change issues across the country.

The strategy is now open to the provinces, territories and Indigenous organizations for 90 days to conduct study and review the findings.

The funding for these projects will be rolled out over the next five years.

Rafe Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian