Weathering the storms: Ontario’s growing season volatility

Federal and provincial investments will help regions prepare for volatile weather

By Kate Ayers
Staff Writer
Better Farming

Communities and industries across Canada must prepare themselves for increasingly volatile weather conditions.

As a result, the federal government is investing in measures to help residents and businesses with this task, an August Natural Resources Canada release said.

The Government of Canada announced it is investing over $900,000 to help Newfoundland and Labrador officials develop and deliver training to workers across five industries – fisheries, forestry, agriculture, tourism and mining – in the province.

“The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is providing support to multiple sectors to increase education and awareness, understand risks and opportunities, and integrate knowledge into planning and operations. This approach allows different sectors to learn from each other, while still identifying sector-specific actions,” a Natural Resources Canada spokesperson said to Better Farming in an email statement.

    Orchidpoet/iStock/Getty Images Plus photo

“For the agricultural sector, the province is working with the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Agriculture to conduct work in phases, starting with an environmental scan to identify the risks farmers are facing, as well as actions to be taken to address those risks. The federation will work closely with industry and stakeholders,” the spokesperson added.

“The project includes consultations to determine the needs of the stakeholders and their current level of awareness and education related to climate change issues. Training will take the form of webinars and workshops, and the sharing of best practices. Interactive training materials will be developed to reflect stakeholder needs as they are determined.”

Natural Resources Canada’s Building Regional Adaptation Capacity and Expertise (BRACE) also funds similar projects across Canada and “increases the ability of communities, organizations, small- and medium-sized enterprises and professionals to adapt their work to the impacts of a changing climate by developing their capacity to access, use and apply existing climate knowledge and tools,” the spokesperson said.

BRACE works with provincial officials and local stakeholders to organize training, internships and knowledge-sharing activities, the release said.

Then, “projects are delivered by organizations that are best placed to reach target audiences, using a range of approaches for building skills and expertise on climate change adaptation,” the spokesperson said.

“In general, climate change modelling indicates that the intensity and frequency of droughts and storms are expected to increase. These events may affect crop productivity and increase erosion.

“Increased temperatures may add stress to livestock, but it may also present opportunities, such as a longer growing season and the ability to grow new crop varieties. At the same time, climate change is bringing an emergence of new pests and diseases, and this presents risks to both crops and livestock,” the spokesperson said.

“In addition, investments in agricultural infrastructure on farms, such as drainage and water supplies, and across the supply chain need to be designed to be resilient to a future changing climate.”

The BRACE program and Natural Resources Canada projects will help producers “make informed decisions and take concrete, proactive steps to increase their resilience by reducing risks and capturing the opportunities of a changing climate,” the spokesperson said.

“For this Newfoundland and Labrador project, the initial phase focuses on increasing knowledge, and the overall goal is to incorporate climate change considerations into everyday planning and decision-making.” BF

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