Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada is fully committed to delivering on its commitment to plant two billion trees over the next 10 years.
At this time, Natural Resources Canada is working closely with other government departments, including Environment and Climate Change Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, and Parks Canada Agency to develop a comprehensive approach for implementing the government’s plan to plant two billion trees. The government is also collaborating with provinces and territories, municipalities, indigenous partners and communities, non-governmental organizations, industry, the private sector, landowners, researchers and other stakeholders to move this initiative forward.
Existing federal programs are already supporting tree planting, with approximately 150 million seedlings expected to be planted by 2022 through the low carbon economy fund, working with provinces and territories, as well as trees planted through the disaster mitigation and adaptation fund, working with communities. The Government of Canada also continues to support the Highway of Heroes tree campaign, which has planted more than 750,000 of a planned two million trees between Trenton and Toronto.
As part of its commitment to supporting Canada’s forests and forest sector, the Government of Canada took early action in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic by providing up to $30 million to small and medium-sized forest sector firms, including tree planting operations, to defray the costs associated with COVID-19 health and safety measures. This funding helped ensure a successful 2020 tree planting season and the planting of an estimated 600 million trees, while protecting workers and communities.
The Government of Canada is also adapting the investing in Canada infrastructure program to respond to the impacts of COVID-19. The program, delivered through bilateral agreements with provinces and territories, is being adjusted to add some flexibilities, expand project eligibility and accelerate approvals. A new temporary COVID-19 resilience stream, with over $3 billion available in existing funding, has been created to provide provinces and territories with added flexibility to fund quick-start, short-term projects that might not otherwise be eligible under the existing funding streams. The new stream will support projects such as: disaster mitigation and adaptation projects, including natural infrastructure; flood and fire mitigation; and tree planting and related infrastructure.