Arctic and Northern Policy Framework: Safety, security, and defence chapter
In the Arctic and in the North, as in the rest of Canada, safety, security and defence are essential prerequisites for healthy communities, strong economies, and a sustainable environment. This chapter of the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework lays out the objectives and activities that the Government of Canada will pursue through to 2030 as part of its commitment to a safe, secure, and well-defended Arctic and North, and as a continued expression of Canada's enduring sovereignty over our lands and waters.
Canada's Arctic and Northern governments and communities are at the heart of security in the region. Partnership, cooperation and shared leadership are essential to promoting security in this diverse, complex and expansive area. Working in partnership with trusted international allies and all levels of government, including Indigenous communities, organizations and governments, Canada will continue to protect the safety and security of the people in the Arctic and the North, now and into the future.
The Arctic and Northern security environment
There is growing international interest and competition in the Canadian Arctic from state and non-state actors who seek to share in the region's rich natural resources and strategic position. This comes at a time where climate change, combined with advancements in technology, has made access to the region easier. While the Canadian Arctic has historically been — and continues to be — a region of stability and peace, growing competition and increased access brings safety and security challenges to which Canada must be ready to respond.
Climate change and increasing accessibility of the Arctic and Northern regions
Climate change is having far-reaching effects on the lives and well-being of Northerners. Extreme weather events, such as intense storms, wildfires, and floods are occurring more often and with greater severity. These events not only pose an immediate threat to the lives and property of Northerners, but can also impact the security of communities more broadly by severing the crucial transportation and communication links on which Northerners depend. Other climate change effects, including increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, melting permafrost, and changing sea ice conditions, can have an impact on food security, make transportation and travel more difficult, and endanger the stability and functioning of delicate ecosystems.
The remoteness of Arctic and Northern communities also poses a challenge with regard to critical infrastructure (CI) and emergency management (EM) considerations, which are likely to be exacerbated due to climate change. Melting ice could contribute to an increase in search and rescue requirements within the North. As such, monitoring capabilities of ice conditions and icebergs will need to be augmented to support the increased marine traffic through Northern waterways and to proactively limit EM response requests through cohesive mitigation and prevention efforts. CI requirements will increasingly need to consider a changing demographic and environment to ensure continued provision of essential services and capabilities. Specifically, robust CI is required in order to support communications, EM and military capabilities, and safe transportation within the region.
Arctic Maritime traffic
Every year, more ships, including large government research vessels and commercial cargo vessels, navigate Northern waters. In 2017, more than 190 vessels undertook 385 reported voyages through the Canadian Arctic, a 22% increase over 2016
Tourism vessels are also not uncommon in the Canadian Arctic. In 2016, Northerners saw the first transit of a modern, 1000-passenger, foreign-based cruise ship through the entire Northwest Passage.
Although the warming of the Arctic and the North offers economic opportunities, which would bring much needed socio-economic development, employment and infrastructure investments that are acutely lacking in the region, higher levels of activity could bring the potential for damage to unique ecosystems and may also increase the risks associated with increased movement of people and goods, the pursuit of interests by foreign state and non-state actors in Canada's Arctic and northern territory, and human-induced disasters. It is not difficult to imagine, for example, how a naturally-occurring or human-induced disaster in the Arctic Archipelago would place tremendous strain on the capacities of all levels of government, as well as on local communities, to support affected people and minimize the damage to affected wildlife, infrastructure, and ecosystems.
Growing international interest in the Arctic
While Canada sees no immediate threat in the Arctic and the North, as the region's physical environment changes, the circumpolar North is becoming an area of strategic international importance, with both Arctic and non-Arctic states expressing a variety of economic and military interests in the region. As the Arctic becomes more accessible, these states are poised to conduct research, transit through, and engage in more trade in the region. Given the growing international interest and competition in the Arctic, continued security and defence of Canada's Arctic requires effective safety and security frameworks, national defence, and deterrence.
In particular, easier access to the Arctic may contribute to greater foreign presence in Canadian Arctic waterways. On this matter, Canada remains committed to exercising its sovereignty, including in the various waterways commonly referred to as the Northwest Passage.
Similarly, Canada's Arctic and natural resources are attracting interest from foreign states and enterprises. Foreign investment, research, and science have the potential to improve the lives of Northerners. However, some of these investments and related economic activities could seek to advance interests that may be in opposition to those of Canada. Recognizing that economic growth and investment in the Arctic supports good jobs, healthy people and strong communities, there are also security risks associated with these investments that could impact the well-being of Northerners. Canada will continue to balance needed economic development while ensuring that security in the Arctic and the North is maintained.
While the circumpolar Arctic can and should continue to benefit from a deeply ingrained culture of international cooperation, this cooperation must not result in complacency at a time of increased interest and competition from both Arctic and non-Arctic states who see the region's political, economic, scientific, strategic and military potential. In some cases, states with interests in the Arctic are using a broad range of military capabilities and other state-controlled assets as they work to collect intelligence and position themselves to access or control sensitive sites, infrastructure, and strategic resources — potentially under the appearance of productive activities. In addition, rapid changes in military and strategic technologies including remotely-piloted systems, as well as the rise of competition in new domains such as space, artificial intelligence, and cyber, are likely to have a significant impact on the way states pursue their interests, and gives them the ability to project military force in the Arctic and North America. The long-term objectives of some of these states remain unclear, and their interests may not always align with our own.
Canada's interest is to maintain the long-standing peace and stability in the region. While Canada is open to cooperation with other states regarding the Arctic, our security priority will always be the protection of Northerners and our broader national interests against competing interests.
Taken together, the opportunities, challenges, increased competition, and risks created by a more accessible Arctic require a greater presence of security organizations, strengthened emergency management, effective military capability, and improved situational awareness. Meeting these demands necessitates a collaborative approach among all levels of government, as well as with Northerners, including Indigenous peoples, and in cooperation with the private sector where relevant to ensure that the region can prosper and that it continues to be a zone of peace and cooperation.
Goal: The Canadian Arctic and North and its people are safe, secure, and well-defended
One of the primary objectives of the Government of Canada is to protect the safety and security of Northerners and safeguard the ability to defend both the Canadian Arctic and North America now and into the future. To meet this goal the Government of Canada will continue to advance the following objectives:
- Strengthen Canada's cooperation and collaboration with domestic and international partners on safety, security and defence issues
- Enhance Canada's military presence as well as prevent and respond to safety and security incidents in the Arctic and the North
- Strengthen Canada's domain awareness, surveillance, and control capabilities in the Arctic and the North
- Enforce Canada's legislative and regulatory frameworks that govern transportation, border integrity, and environmental protection in the Arctic and the North
- Increase the whole-of-society emergency management capabilities in Arctic and Northern communities
- Support community safety through effective and culturally-appropriate crime prevention initiatives and policing services
This approach is needed to secure Canada's wider interests in the region, and to protect the people and communities who call the Canadian Arctic home.
Objective 1: Strengthen Canada's cooperation and collaboration with domestic and international partners on safety, security and defence issues
The complexity of the Arctic security environment places a premium on collaboration between all levels of government, local and Indigenous communities and peoples, and trusted international partners. Keeping pace with the evolving safety, security, and defence challenges facing the Arctic and its peoples requires improving the ways we work together.
To further our collective ability to operate and respond to the unique safety and security challenges in the Arctic, safety and security organizations at all levels will continue to work together to identify common priorities, synchronize planning, and enhance our interoperability, including in fora such as the Arctic Security Working Group.
Operation NANOOK — Canada's signature domestic Arctic operation — reinforces the Canadian Armed Forces as a key partner in Arctic safety and security. Through Operation NANOOK, the Canadian Armed Forces delivers training, develops partnerships, and helps improve the readiness of federal, territorial, Indigenous, and municipal partners, as well as international partners. The Canadian Armed Forces also shares a number of facilities with local and federal partners, including a state-of-the-art cold-weather training facility in Resolute Bay, Nunavut, and Natural Resources Canada's Polar Continental Shelf Program. Going forward, the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to use Operation NANOOK and shared facilities to foster a collaborative approach to addressing Arctic safety, security, and defence challenges.
Canadian Rangers, a component of the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves, is the Canadian Armed Forces' 'eyes and ears' in the Arctic and in the North. Its primary role is to provide a military presence in those sparsely settled Northern, coastal, and isolated areas of Canada which are not otherwise served by the Canadian Armed Forces.
The Canadian Armed Forces will also continue to deepen its extensive relationships with Indigenous governments, organizations and Northern communities, and will continue to engage with local populations as a routine part of its Arctic operations and exercises. For example, the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to enhance training and the operational effectiveness of the Canadian Rangers so that they can better contribute and respond to safety and security incidents, strengthen domain awareness, and express Canadian sovereignty. The Government of Canada also attaches great value to the Junior Canadian Ranger program, as it provides opportunities for youth in remote Arctic and Northern communities to build and share traditional and other life skills in remote and isolated communities throughout the Arctic and North, and across Canada.
Likewise, Transport Canada, the Canadian Coast Guard, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the Canadian Hydrographic Service of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans will work with territorial, provincial, and Indigenous governments to build partnerships to collaboratively manage shipping in the Arctic and the North. Together, partners will identify Northern Low-Impact Shipping Corridors, and develop a governance framework to promote safer marine transportation in the North and ensure the provision of essential services to Arctic and Northern communities while respecting the environment.
Just as partnerships at the domestic level are critical to ensuring the safety and security of Canada's Arctic, it is equally important to work with other Arctic states and international partners in the broader region. Through the Arctic Council's Emergency Prevention, Preparedness, and Response Working Group, for instance, a number of federal government departments collaborate with other Arctic states on how best to address natural or human-induced disasters. As a signatory to the Agreement on Cooperation on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue in the Arctic, Canada is also actively working alongside the other seven Arctic states to strengthen air and maritime search and rescue. Recognizing the shared challenge posed by search and rescue in the Arctic, this agreement, signed in 2011, coordinates international search and rescue coverage and response in the Arctic, and establishes the area of responsibility of each state. This agreement is one of many that Canada is a signatory to, which highlights the continued importance of international cooperation and our ability to comprehensively respond to incidents.
Building on this essential international cooperation, the Canadian Coast Guard is an active participant in the Arctic Coast Guard Forum, an independent, informal, and operationally-driven organization comprised of representatives from all Arctic states. The Forum is intended to foster safe, secure, and environmentally responsible maritime activity in the Arctic, and provide a venue for information sharing and joint exercises on issues including search and rescue and environmental response. Through this unique forum, the Canadian Coast Guard will continue to share best practices and Canadian expertise with its counterparts, while also supporting the broader environmental protection and sustainable development goals of the Arctic Council.
As the Arctic makes up a large portion of the air and maritime approaches to North America, Canada will continue to work in close partnership with the United States to ensure that we remain secure in North America by being positioned to deter and defend against threats to the continent, including from our Northern approaches. The binational North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), and the strong relationships fostered through the Tri-Command structure which includes NORAD, Canadian Joint Operations Command, and United States Northern Command, remain as relevant for continental defence today. Canada remains firmly committed to modernizing NORAD with the United States to meet current and future threats to North America, as outlined in the Joint Statement from President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, in February 2017.
Canada and its Arctic partners share many of the same challenges in the Arctic, which provides an opportunity to leverage each other's efforts in support of our common security. Through fora such as the Arctic Security Forces Roundtable, Canada will continue to work with Arctic and non-Arctic allies and partners to foster information-sharing, improve situational awareness, and enhance operational cooperation on a broad range of Arctic and regional issues.
Canada will also continue to work with the United States and Denmark — our eastern and western neighbours — and explore opportunities to collaborate with fellow NATO member Norway to increase surveillance and monitoring of the broader Arctic region. More broadly, as stated in Strong, Secure, Engaged: Canada's Defence Policy, Canada will seek opportunities to work with allies and partners, including with NATO, in support of our common commitment to security in the Arctic. As part of this commitment, the Canadian Armed Forces will increase its participation in regional multinational exercises and seek opportunities to incorporate key Arctic and non-Arctic allies and partners in joint activities in Canada's Arctic, including Operation NANOOK. Canada will also continue to develop science and technology partnerships with trusted partners in the fields of security and defence.
Objective 2: Enhance Canada's military presence as well as prevent and respond to safety and security incidents in the Arctic and the North
The Canadian Armed Forces
The Government of Canada is already taking steps to increase its Arctic and Northern footprint in support of regional safety and security. This effort is anchored in Canada's defence policy, Strong, Secure, Engaged, whichrecognizes that the Arctic region is of critical importance to the national security and defence of Canada and of North America. Strong, Secure, Engaged meets the need to enhance the Canadian Armed Forces' presence in the region over the long term by setting out the capability investments that will give the Canadian Armed Forces the mobility, reach, and footprint required to project force in the region in ways that defend our national interests and sovereignty, and better respond to the needs of those residing in Arctic and Northern communities. Strong, Secure, Engaged, committed a number of key investments in the Arctic and the North, including six ice-capable Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, which are a part of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, all-terrain vehicles optimized for use in the Arctic environment, and space situational awareness to enhance and improve communications throughout Canada's Arctic region. These initiatives and investments are a small sampling of the various activities being carried out by the Canadian Armed Forces to defend Canada's Arctic and North. A comprehensive account of all Canadian Armed Force's activities in the Arctic can be found in Canada's defence policy Strong, Secure, Engaged.
Adapting to the evolving security environment will require a multi-pronged effort. At the operational level, the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to build and maintain its ability to respond in the Arctic through support for annual operations and exercises, including through a new approach to Operation NANOOK which encompasses a range of activities conducted over the course of the year. This will ensure that the Canadian Armed Forces is better able to demonstrate a persistent presence in the Arctic, support whole-of-government partners in delivering on their mandates in the Arctic, enhance our capacity to respond to major incidents, and increase collaboration with international Arctic Allies and partners.
By undertaking an approach to long-term planning that ensures the appropriate development of Arctic safety, security, and defence capability and infrastructure, we will be able to maintain a persistent and effective capacity to respond to incidents in the Arctic and to project and sustain force for domestic and continental defence into the future.
The Canadian Coast Guard
The Canadian Coast Guard is often the only federal presence in many areas of the Arctic and must have the capacity to protect Canada's interests in the region. Through the strategic positioning of resources and assets, targeted investments in infrastructure and the adoption of advanced vessel technology, the Canadian Coast Guard is enhancing its capacity to support Canada's safety, security, environmental, and economic interests in Northern waters.
The Canadian Coast Guard already provides ice-capable platforms to support responses to maritime safety, security, and environmental threats, and often partners with other departments, agencies, and organizations as they carry out their respective mandates. Through the Government of Canada's Oceans Protection Plan, the Canadian Coast Guard has extended its icebreaking season in the Arctic to ensure safe marine shipping and promote economic growth. As part of this effort, the Coast Guard has acquired 3 interim medium icebreakers, which will be operational in 2020–21, while additional vessels will be built under the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Transport Canada plays an important role in the Arctic through its National Aerial Surveillance Program, and is a key contributor in protecting Canada's interests in the region. With the investment of new infrastructure in the Arctic (a new Arctic hangar and accommodations unit), Transport Canada will continue to support Canada's safety, security, environmental, and economic interests in Northern waters. Transport Canada currently provides aircraft to monitor shipping activities, ice conditions and marine security, including environmental threats. Transport Canada also shares information with other departments, agencies, and organizations as they carry out their respective mandates.
Transport Canada continues to work on the remotely piloted aircraft system (RPAS) project as a means of enhancing its airborne maritime monitoring and other capabilities. The RPAS is expected to supplement manned aircraft already patrolling the Arctic.
Advancing Arctic search and rescue
Arctic search and rescue
Search and rescue (SAR) in the Arctic is an immense and complex activity that requires a broad range of capabilities and partners working together to save lives.
- Air search and rescue is conducted by the Royal Canadian Air Force, with assistance from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association, a national volunteer organization which provides private aircraft and trained crews. In addition, the Canadian Armed Forces is responsible for the effective operation of the coordinated aeronautical and maritime SAR system through Joint Rescue Coordination Centres. Finally, the Canadian Armed Forces also provides and coordinates the Air response for maritime SAR
- Due to its continuous monitoring of the Arctic and presence in the region, Transport Canada plays a key role in SAR. Its surveillance aircraft is often the first asset to be called upon to respond to incidents
- Maritime search and rescue is mandated to the Canadian Coast Guard, and supported by the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer organization with more than 200 members and 25 vessels.
- Ground search and rescue is a collaborative effort between territorial and provincial governments and agencies, and the federal government. It is most often coordinated by the jurisdictional police service, and can involve collaboration with the Royal Canadian Air Force or the Canadian Rangers of the Canadian Armed Forces.
- Public Safety Canada is leading the development of a strategic policy framework for Canada's search and rescue community to ensure integrated governance across all regions of Canada, including the Arctic
The Canadian Coast Guard is increasing its maritime search and rescue capacity in the North in partnership with Indigenous communities. Through the Oceans Protection Plan, it is expanding the Arctic Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary and extending its Indigenous Community Boat Volunteer Pilot Program. These measures will complement the recent creation of the first Arctic Inshore Rescue Boat station in Rankin Inlet, which will allow the Canadian Coast Guard to more effectively respond to marine emergencies. Finally, through the community boats program, Cambridge Bay, Rankin Inlet, Gjoa Haven, and Ulukhaktok will receive funding to purchase search and rescue boats and equipment. The Canadian Coast Guard will continue to undertake risk assessments in coastal Arctic communities to ensure that maritime search and rescue needs can be met, now and into the future.
In support of one of its core missions, the Canadian Armed Forces is investing in a replacement for the Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue aircraft which will bolster the Royal Canadian Air Force's ability to respond to critical air search and rescue, in partnership with civilian partners. The Canadian Armed Forces also continues to build its ability to respond in the Arctic and the North through the conduct of operations and exercises, including refinement and exercising of Exercise READY SOTERIA, which corresponds to the scenario of a Major Air Disaster. With the acquisition of a fleet of Arctic and Offshore Patrol Vessels, the Royal Canadian Navy will be better positioned to support partners, including the Canadian Coast Guard, in undertaking Arctic activities.
Finally, recognizing that a better understanding of activity in the Arctic is critical to search and rescue abilities, Public Safety Canada will continue to work with search and rescue partners, including Northern communities and peoples, to encourage the use of standardized location devices and technologies to ensure that responders are able to receive distress signals across a common frequency.
Another important element in addressing the evolving safety and security realities in the Arctic is to ensure the integrity of our Northern borders and facilitate legitimate travel. To this end, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will run pilot programs in the Arctic, including Private Vessel Remote Clearance, to support the clearance process for certain non-commercial pleasure craft seeking to enter Canada in the eastern regions of the Arctic. It will also launch the Arctic Shipping Electronic Commercial Clearance Pilot, which is an alternate clearance process for commercial vessels.
As Canada's lead for border management and border enforcement, the CBSA will work with a wide range of partners to co-develop and co-implement timely, relevant and sustainable services at an increasing number of points of service (e.g. deep water ports, airports, marine vessel transits) in a dynamic risk environment. Although CBSA is responsible for managing border security at specified ports of entry, the RCMP is responsible for securing Canada's borders between those ports and is the designated body for enforcing immigration and customs legislation in the North when and where there is an absence of other enforcement bodies.
Objective 3: Strengthen Canada's domain awareness, surveillance, and control capabilities in the Arctic and the North
Made up of more than 162,000 km of coastline, and comprising 75% of Canada's overall coastline and 40% of Canada's landmass, the Canadian Arctic poses unique challenges for building and maintaining a comprehensive picture of what is happening across this vast domain. Our ability to respond to regional challenges, provide security, and enforce compliance with our laws and regulations largely depends on our ability to put this picture together, as gaps can have life-threatening consequences. For example, increased maritime and cross-border traffic creates new challenges for border enforcement and effective vessel tracking. This is why it is critical for departments, agencies, communities and others to work together to develop strong domain awareness by collecting and synthesizing information from multiple sources.
Addressing critical gaps in situational awareness across the vast expanses of Canada's Arctic and North, and ensuring service levels are commensurate with growing demands, will also be essential to support missions-critical decision-making and strategic planning in the region. In particular, many safety, security and defence efforts in the Arctic and the North are reliant on sound weather, water, ice, and climate information, alerting and warning services to help mitigate operational risks.
Marine Security Operations Centres
The Marine Security Operations Centres provide Canada with a marine security capability by identifying, assessing, and reporting on maritime activities, including in the Arctic, that represent a potential threat to the sovereignty, safety, and security of Canada and Canadians. Comprised of several federal departments and agencies responsible for marine security, the Marine Security Operation Centres enable partners to work together, share intelligence and surveillance information, and support an organized response.
Several federal partners, including the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Transport Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada Border Services Agency, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and Natural Resources Canada provide the infrastructure and work together to monitor activity in the Arctic, including through Marine Security Operations Centres. These Centres are an integral component of Canada's maritime intelligence and security architecture and contribute to a whole-of-government approach to increase maritime domain awareness. These centers monitor, detect, and analyze vessel traffic and identify security-related incidents that require a response by the Government of Canada. We will also strive, in collaboration with Indigenous governments, associations, and organizations, to increase the participation of Northern and Indigenous communities in the maritime management regime. This collaboration will enhance our knowledge of vessel activities in areas of cultural and environmental importance, as well as in areas of significance to national security.
Recognizing the need to develop a clearer understanding of the region, the Government of Canada will bring together the capabilities of a broad range of assets, such as satellites, to help provide security providers and decision-makers with a clear comprehensive picture of the operating environment.
To effectively monitor and control all of Canada's territory and approaches, Canada has taken steps to increase its awareness of air traffic approaching and operating in Canada's sovereign airspace in the Arctic, including through expansion of the Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone (CADIZ) to cover the entirety of Canada's Arctic Archipelago and its approaches. Bolstering our capabilities to support continental defence in partnership with the United States, including through the modernization of NORAD and the renewal of the North Warning System, will be essential to our continued ability to detect and understand threats against North America, and to decide whether and how to respond.
As outlined in Strong, Secure, Engaged the Canadian Armed Forces will further strengthen its ability to monitor activity in the Arctic by acquiring a range of new sea, land, air, and space capabilities and integrating them into a 'system-of-systems' approach to Arctic surveillance. The Royal Canadian Air Force will acquire a fleet of 88 advanced fighter aircraft to enforce Canada's sovereignty and meet Canada's commitments to NORAD and NATO. Canada will also continue working collaboratively with NORAD to ensure that it has the capabilities and structures, including command and control, for continuous aerospace and maritime domain awareness as well as aerospace control. As new areas of potential threat are identified — including developing technologies such as remotely-piloted systems and the emergence of new space and cyber capabilities — acquiring assets such as the replacement for the upcoming RADARSAT Constellation Mission system will enhance and improve surveillance and monitoring, including throughout Canada's Arctic region. The Canadian Armed Forces will also introduce a number of Arctic Offshore Patrol Vessels, which provide armed, sea-borne surveillance of Canadian waters in the Arctic.
Advanced research and development, including through the All Domain Situational Awareness Science and Technology (S&T) Program, and the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) program, will further contribute to meeting the Canadian Armed Forces' need for cutting-edge surveillance and communication solutions designed for the challenging Arctic environment. Safeguarding investments made in these essential technologies from unfriendly foreign activities such as theft and sabotage is a priority for Canada.
Objective 4: Enforce Canada's legislative and regulatory frameworks in the Arctic and North
Transportation in Canadian Arctic waters is subject to robust legislative and regulatory frameworks designed to protect both people and the environment. Given the rise of maritime traffic in the Arctic, ensuring the proper regulation of vessels transiting through or operating in our waters is a growing priority for Canada. In this context, a number of legislative mechanisms regulate shipping, including: the Marine Transportation Security Act; the Canada Shipping Act, 2001; the Marine Liability Act; and the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act. All three provide a range of recourse to address risks associated with safety and security in the region. Another important development is the 2017 introduction of the Arctic Shipping Safety and Pollution Prevention Regulations which address ship safety and pollution prevention, incorporate the Polar Code, and represent the most significant change to Canada's Arctic shipping regime in a decade. As the operating environment evolves, the Government of Canada will continue to enforce our laws and regulations to ensure safe, secure, and environmentally sound vessel operations, and to stop unsafe vessels from operating in the Arctic.
Additionally, the Northern Canada Vessel Traffic Services Zone Regulations (NORDREG) help track vessels operating in Canadian waters to ensure safe and efficient navigation and protection of the marine environment. With expanding tourism and cruise ship activity in the region, including possible stops in Northern communities, Transport Canada will continue to work with Arctic communities to bring their marine infrastructure into compliance with the Marine Transportation Security Act and other regulations. The Government of Canada will ensure that our legislative and regulatory frameworks remain adapted to the realities of increasing levels of Arctic traffic, and the potential impacts on the region's people and communities.
Effective laws and regulations are also key in ensuring that foreign investment in the Arctic benefits Northerners and does not pose a threat to Canada's security. This legal and regulatory framework supports economic growth and increased investments in the regions, while ensuring that foreign economic activity in the Arctic does not compromise national security. While we look to develop much-needed infrastructure in the Arctic, risks and opportunities posed by foreign activity in areas of strategic importance will need to be carefully considered and balanced. Knowing that safe and sustainable communities free from potentially damaging external influence or behaviours are the foundation of a healthy Northern economy, the Government of Canada will also enhance protections for sensitive sites and infrastructures, as well as for the technologies on which the Canadian Armed Forces and other federal security providers depend.
Objective 5: Increase whole-of-society emergency management capabilities in Arctic and Northern communities
A key pillar of the Arctic safety and security architecture is incorporated in Canada's Emergency Management Strategy, which is the result of federal, provincial, and territorial efforts to establish complementary approaches to emergency management. Recognizing that emergency requirements are constantly changing, there is a need for collaboration amongst all areas of society to enhance community safety and resilience. As part of ongoing efforts to improve the way we prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies, partners are working to strengthen federal, provincial and territorial Emergency Management governance and enhance the participation of Indigenous representatives in this work.
Objective 6: Support community safety through effective and culturally-appropriate crime prevention initiatives and policing services
As Arctic and Northern communities continue to face particular challenges that contribute to higher levels of crime, culturally-sensitive crime prevention programs and community safety planning initiatives are essential. Through the Aboriginal Community Safety Planning Initiative, Public Safety Canada will continue to support Indigenous and Northern communities to develop community safety plans that address issues identified by the community, as specific to their unique vulnerabilities and circumstances. In addition, the National Crime Prevention Strategy will continue to deliver culturally-sensitive crime prevention programming and support initiatives to prevent and reduce crime in Indigenous and Northern communities. Through funding programs such as the Northern and Aboriginal Crime Prevention Fund and the Crime Prevention Action Fund, the Government of Canada will continue to collaborate with its partners to support and promote safe, strong, and resilient communities. The Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund was also developed with the recognition that provinces and territories — working closely with Arctic and Northern communities — are best placed to identify their most pressing issues related to gun and gang violence and develop initiatives to address them. As such, this Fund allows jurisdictions the flexibility to use these resources for a range of enforcement and prevention-related activities, including tailored initiatives that are adapted to Arctic and Northern realities.
The RCMP also has a key role in securing Canada's Arctic by providing policing services. Increasing international interest and activity in the Arctic could lead to escalating organized crime activity, irregular migration, human smuggling, and national security threats. To help respond, through Territorial Police Service Agreements, there is a large RCMP presence in the Northern Territories to help protect Arctic and Northern communities and ensure the safety of Northerners. The RCMP's presence in the Arctic includes 61 detachments and 3 Divisional headquarters. As the contracted police service, RCMP plays a critical role in providing first response to civil emergencies and national security threats.
As more commercial ventures, such as the Iqaluit deep water port, and people become established in the region, the demand for illicit goods is likely to increase. Higher profit margins for drugs in the Arctic, compared to in southern provinces, have attracted criminal networks. The RCMP's primary priority across the northern territories is to maintain safe and secure communities. The RCMP conducts traditional boots-on-the-ground policing, while focusing on delivering the highest quality service, which includes developing community capacity to prevent crime through social development initiatives and criminal intelligence collection. Criminal intelligence serves to assist the RCMP in preventing, deterring, and detecting criminal activity that may pose a threat to the safety and security of Canada.