Parliamentary Committee Notes: Humanitarian Workforce Program

Date: May 11, 2022
Classification: Unclassified
Fully releasable (ATIP)? Yes
Branch / Agency: EMPB

Proposed Response:

Financial Implications:


Building on previous initial investments early on in the pandemic, Fall Economic Statement 2020 announced that the Government would provide up to $150 million over two years, beginning in 2021-2022, to support the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in building and maintaining a humanitarian workforce to provide surge capacity in response to COVID-19 outbreaks and other large-scale emergencies. The Humanitarian Workforce (HWF) program aims to fund a scalable civilian workforce that can be rapidly deployed in emergencies, broadening the resources available to respond to human-induced and climate-related disasters in Canada, and reducing the reliance on the Canadian Armed Forces in disaster response. The program funds NGOs that possess specialized skills and expertise to respond to a variety of events that could initiate Requests for Federal Assistance (RFAs) from provincial and territorial governments (P/Ts).

Two streams of funding are available from the $150 million envelope. Stream 1: Emergency Readiness – Capacity Building, and Stream 2: Emergency Response (Deployments). Program authorities for year one of the program (until March 31, 2022) were established on June 16, 2021, with $40 million available in funding for Capacity-Building, and $43.2M for Emergency-Response (Deployments). Program authorities for year two of the HWF have been extended until March 31, 2023, with $42 million available in funding for Capacity-Building, and $23.2 million for Emergency-Response (Deployments).

Stream 1: Emergency Readiness – Capacity Building funds NGOs to build on their recruitment, training, equipment and organizational readiness to allow them to rapidly deploy on short notice for emergency response. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, as of April 28, 2022, $34.9 million has been committed under stream 1 through agreements with the CRC, St. John Ambulance, the Salvation Army, and the Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada (SARVAC). Stream 2: Emergency Response (Deployments) funds the deployment of NGOs in response to RFAs from P/Ts when surge capacity is needed to support resources on the ground. In the 2022-2023 fiscal year, as of April 28, 2022, $0.1 million has been committed under stream 2. Since the beginning of the Program, as of April 28, 2022, $11.3 million has been committed under this stream, and there has been a total of 13 deployments by the CRC, including support for Health Human Resources (HHRs) in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut; support to Long-Term Care Facilities (LTCFs) in Ontario and Nova Scotia; contact tracing, shelter support and epidemic prevention and control in Northwest Territories; and vaccination support in Nova Scotia and PEI. The Search and Rescue Volunteer Association of Canada has also deployed once in Ontario.

This funding builds upon previous time-limited funding to scale up the capacity of the Red Cross for urgent relief efforts. In May 2020, the Government announced a commitment of up to $100 million to help the Red Cross meet increased demand due to COVID-19, and to support future flood and wildfire relief efforts. An additional $70 million was announced in December 2020. This funding is administered under the Government of Canada’s existing contribution program: the “Supporting the Canadian Red Cross’s Urgent Relief Efforts Related to COVID-19, Floods and Wildfires” program.


Prepared by: Dominik Breton, Program Manager, (343) 549-2208
Approved by: Trevor Bhupsingh, Assistant Deputy Minister EMPB, (613) 993-4325

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