The Harper Government is demonstrating its strong commitment to Canada’s North by investing in meteorological and navigational warning services in the Arctic. This will provide enhanced accessibility to weather data and navigational shipping information for mariners, economic sectors and the general population of the North. Environment Minister, the Honourable Peter Kent, and Fisheries and Oceans Minister, the Honourable Gail Shea, announced the $34.8 million investment.
“Our Government is committed to helping the North realize its true potential as a healthy, prosperous and secure region within a strong and sovereign Canada,” said Minister Kent. “Today’s investment in critical infrastructure to improve weather and marine services in the Arctic confirms our government’s confidence in the future of the North.”
“Our Government’s investment in new navigational areas will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to improve the coverage for Arctic areas not currently covered by satellite,” said the Minister Shea. “This improves navigational safety information services for mariners in the Arctic Ocean and supports the Government’s Northern Strategy.”
As a sovereign and environmentally responsible polar nation, Canada has committed to the International Maritime Organization to provide meteorological and navigational safety information to facilitate the safe management of marine traffic in two well-defined Arctic areas that are substantially within Canadian territory. The areas include Canadian Arctic waters, such as the Northwest Passage, and adjacent waters north of Alaska and along part of the western coast of Greenland.
“This government is making significant investments in the delivery of meteorological and navigational services in the Arctic to meet Canada’s commitments to the International Maritime Organization,” said the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Member of Parliament for Nunavut, Minister Responsible for the North, and Minister of Health. “This commitment reaffirms our position as a sovereign and environmentally responsible polar nation.”
The investment of $26.5 million over five years to Environment Canada, and $8.3 million over five years to Fisheries and Oceans will greatly aid in this effort, as shipping in Canada’s Arctic is expected to increase in the future due to reduced ice coverage and increasingly navigable waters.
This funding announced under Budget 2010 will go towards ensuring that weather and ice forecast services and warning operations will be provided around-the-clock. Bulletins will be disseminated as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System, where satellite coverage exists, and also through the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ high frequency radios where satellite coverage has not yet been established. Enhanced information will also be available through existing domestic channels.
As part of its meteorological commitment to the North, the Government of Canada also recently established a new satellite reception and processing station in Resolute Bay, Nunavut. Data from this station will enhance access to satellite images to support the delivery of weather and ice information to mariners in these areas.