From the Minister

Steven Guilbeault
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

As the Minister responsible for Parks Canada, I am pleased to present the 2020–21 Departmental Results Report, which outlines the Agency’s many achievements in the delivery of its mandate.

Throughout this reporting period, the world faced the immense challenge of the global COVID-19 pandemic. As Canadians did their part to limit the spread of COVID-19, the health and wellness benefits of spending time in nature and being outdoors were more important than ever. National historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas continued to offer countless incredible experiences and opportunities for Canadians to safely connect with nature and history while following the guidance of public health authorities to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to personal benefits, the network of protected areas in Canada contributes to environmental health, playing an important role in helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change by protecting and restoring healthy, resilient ecosystems, and contributing to the recovery of species at risk. The Government of Canada is committed to conserving national parks and expanding the system of protected areas. These actions directly contribute to Canada’s target to protect 25% of land and inland waters and 25% of marine and coastal areas by 2025, working toward 30% by 2030. This year, Parks Canada advanced work to create new national parks and national marine conservation areas and completed the final federal agreement with Indigenous partners for the establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. Working together, we are ensuring the protection of this 14,305 square kilometre area of great cultural importance to the Indigenous peoples who have lived along the shores of Great Slave Lake for hundreds of generations.

Canada also announced an additional investment of $59.9 million to continue work to implement a multi-jurisdictional action plan to ensure that the protection of Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site. The plan, a collaborative effort with Indigenous partners and the governments of Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories, lays out more than 140 actions—more than half now completed or underway—to ensure the World Heritage Site remains a treasured place for generations to come.

Parks Canada is also working with Indigenous peoples to incorporate Indigenous views, histories, and heritage into the places it administers. This approach is, part of the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Through the continued implementation of the Framework for History and Commemoration and continued collaboration with Indigenous communities, heritage organizations, partners, and Canadians; Parks Canada is ensuring that the stories shared at national heritage places explore all facets of this country’s heritage. Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that recognizes and honours the historic and contemporary contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationships Indigenous peoples have with ancestral lands and waters.

During this reporting period, Parks Canada collaborated with the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation to recognize the national historic significance of the Residential School System as a tragic and defining event in Canadian history and announce the designation of two former residential school sites as national historic sites, Shubenacadie Indian Residential School in Nova Scotia and Portage La Prairie Indian Residential School in Manitoba.

The Government of Canada is acknowledging the past and, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples and communities, is committed to sharing the experiences of Indigenous children in these schools to ensure that this history is remembered and that these stories are told. While there is more work to be done, designations like these seek to foster better understanding of our shared history as we walk the path of reconciliation together.

Also in this reporting period, despite limitations presented by the pandemic, the Minister’s Round Table on Parks Canada consulted Canadians through virtual engagement sessions and an online engagement portal. Representatives of national Indigenous organizations and over 60 stakeholder organizations were among the more than 13,000 people from across the country who shared their views during the consultation, exceeding past records of engagement.

As Parks Canada takes action in the coming years to respond to this important input, the Agency will build on its successes and advance efforts to protect nature, strengthen Indigenous leadership in conservation, make protected places more inclusive and accessible, protect built heritage, and tell Canada’s diverse stories. I am proud to be the Minister responsible for Parks Canada and look forward to many more accomplishments in the coming years. I invite all Canadians to fully experience the incredible national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas in Canada to learn more about our environment and rich histories.

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P.
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada

From the President & Chief Executive Officer

Ron Hallman
Ron Hallman, President & Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada

I am pleased to submit the 2020–21 Departmental Results Report, which articulates Parks Canada’s many accomplishments in the last reporting period.

This past year represented a time of rapid change and action by the Parks Canada team as they continued their important work. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parks Canada team members rose to the challenge of delivering critical services to Canadians, including avalanche control and highway maintenance, wildlife response and management, law enforcement, and search and rescue, as well as water management for watersheds across Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec, all while limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Following a temporary suspension of visitor services in spring 2020, we reopened Parks Canada-administered places to Canadians—and kept them open—with adaptive measures in place to limit the spread of COVID-19, keep visitors and staff safe, and help support domestic tourism. In addition, we provided important support for small businesses operating in national parks and national historic sites, ensuring they had access to the same commercial rent relief available to small businesses in other parts of Canada.

With 171 national historic sites, 47 national parks, five national marine conservation areas, and one national urban park, the vast network of protected areas administered by Parks Canada is a gateway to nature, history, and 450,000 square kilometres of memories from coast to coast to coast. In the delivery of its mandate, Parks Canada is responsible for protecting nationally significant examples of cultural and natural heritage and sharing the stories of these treasured places—including more than 25 million irreplaceable historical artifacts that connect us with the places, persons, and events that have shaped history in Canada.

This past year, we were proud to award a contract and begin construction on a specially designed facility in Gatineau, Quebec, that will allow for the protection and conservation of the artifact collection under optimal storage and environmental conditions. It will also provide Indigenous peoples, researchers, institutions, and community groups from across the country with access to this important collection in one location.

Parks Canada is committed to work with, learn from, and share leadership with Indigenous peoples and elders who have walked the land since time immemorial and who have made possible the creation of so many protected places. We acknowledge that the lands and waters on which we all live, work and care for are the ancestral territories and homelands of First Nation, Inuit, and Métis peoples. We have worked to better recognize Indigenous relationships with lands and waters and to support them through increased emphasis on shared decision-making, including signing of Terms of Reference with Métis Nation—Saskatchewan agreeing to explore and discuss a full range of options related to the future management of Batoche National Historic Site. We are proud to collaborate with Indigenous partners, as well as local and regional residents and stakeholders, visitors past and present, and with interested people and parties from across the country. Together, we strengthen the connection that Canadians have with these natural and cultural heritage treasures.

On the international stage, Parks Canada was proud to contribute to increasing Canada’s international engagement and assistance by sending fire personnel to help with wildfire mitigation efforts in the Western United States. As the only federal organization with operational wildfire resources to contribute to a Canadian response for support, Parks Canada sent a total of 25 wildland fire management specialists to help fight the devastating wildfires in Oregon.

I am proud to note that Parks Canada has also taken action over the past year to deliver on its commitment to becoming the inclusive and welcoming workplace that we aspire to become. These actions include, among others, reimagining and relaunching our Champions framework to provide a voice to equity-seeking groups of employees, creating a new Parks Canada Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Council to address horizontal barriers and challenges, and recruiting the Agency’s first-ever Senior Director, Equity, Diversity, Values & Ethics to provide dedicated expertise and capacity to the Agency’s Senior Management Committee.

As we have for more than a century, Parks Canada team members continued to play an important role in our service to Canadians throughout this reporting period, providing opportunities for visitors to experience and seek solace in Canada’s cultural and natural heritage, while remaining healthy and safe during the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

As the President & Chief Executive Officer of Parks Canada, I am extremely proud of the work of Parks Canada team members every day and I am immensely proud of how the Agency handled this challenging time.

Ron Hallman
President & Chief Executive Officer
Parks Canada Agency

Results at a glance

 
Results at a glance - Infographic
Results at a glance infographic — Text version

Visitation and Outreach

Digital Engagement

From virtual tours and digital podcasts, to Facebook Live events, and engaging video series, Canadians had access to Parks Canada directly from their homes!

Visitation during the COVID-19 pandemic: Safe Travels!

17.0 million people visited Parks Canada places, despite a closure for much of spring 2020

Visitors reported that Parks Canada places contributed to their mental and physical health as well as their overall sense of normalcy:

  • 80% reported Parks Canada places contributed to their mental wellbeing
  • 78% reported Parks Canada places contributed to their physical health
  • 82% reported Parks Canada places contributed to their overall sense of normalcy

Natural Heritage

Establishment

  • 79% terrestrial regions represented in the national parks system (target At least 82% by 2025)
  • 21% marine regions represented in the national marine conservation area system (target At least 31% by 2025)

Conservation

  • 82% national park ecosystems where ecological integrity was maintained or improved (target At least 92% by 2023)
  • 75 Conservation and Restoration Program (CoRe)projects
  • +74 Species at Risk Recovery Projects

COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts

Challenges adapting field activities — Approximately 70% of planned ecological integrity monitoring programs were partially or fully completed


Cultural Heritage

Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada’s Call to Action 79

Marked the designation of the Residential School System as a national historic event and the designation of two former residential schools as national historic sites

Safeguarding Cultural Heritage

Contract was awarded for the construction of the new 8,200m2 Parks Canada artifact collection facility in December 2020 – once completed, will house 25 million artifacts!


Reconciliation

36 Places where Indigenous peoples use lands and waters according to their traditional and modern practices

Cooperative Management

23 Natural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoples, an increase of three over 2019-20

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in one of the most unusual and challenging operational seasons in Parks Canada’s history and had significant impacts on the Agency’s operations. Noteworthy results achieved include:

  • Contributed to the mental well-being and physical health of Canadians during the pandemic by innovating visitor services and outreach, welcoming 17 million in-person visitors despite visitation to Parks Canada-administered places being suspended for much of spring 2020.
  • Announced the designation of the Residential School System as a national historic event and the designation of two former residential schools as national historic sites as part of work to implement the Government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 79.
  • Fully or partially completed 70% of planned ecological integrity monitoring program activities, despite the challenges of adapting field activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Contributed efforts to the government-wide commitment to addressing systemic racism and upholding equality and inclusion, with work advanced to identify and remove any potential systemic barriers to employment and job growth faced by Black people, Indigenous peoples, other people of colour, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities, and people with disabilities.

Total actual spending for 2020–21

$1,305,569,917

Total actual full-time equivalents for 2020–21

5,383

For more information on Parks Canada’s plans, priorities, and results achieved, see the Results: what we achieved section of this report.


Results: what we achieved

Core responsibility

Protecting and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage

Description

The Agency establishes national parks and national marine conservation areas; designates places, persons and events of national historic significance; protects and conserves natural and cultural heritage guided by science and Indigenous knowledge; provides opportunities to visit, experience and enjoy Canada’s natural and cultural heritage; and works with the public, other federal departments, provinces, territories, Indigenous peoples, and stakeholders to carry out these responsibilities.


Departmental results

In carrying out its core responsibility, Parks Canada will advance three Departmental Results:

  • Canada’s natural heritage is protected for present and future generations;
  • Canada’s cultural heritage is protected for present and future generations; and,
  • People connect to and experience Canada’s natural and cultural heritage in ways that are meaningful to them.

Departmental Result 1: Canada’s natural heritage is protected for present and future generations

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of terrestrial regions represented in the national park system At least 82% March 2025 79%
Percentage of marine regions represented in the national marine conservation area system At least 31% March 2025 21%

The COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges over the reporting period to Parks Canada’s work to establish new national parks and national marine conservation areas, due to restrictions on travel and delays in connecting with partners, limiting consultation opportunities with Indigenous peoples and provincial and territorial governments. Despite these challenges, Parks Canada was able to advance work on several important initiatives towards its terrestrial and marine targets.

Expanding Prince Edward Island National Park

In March 2021, Parks Canada completed the purchase of a 405‑acre property adjacent to Prince Edward Island National Park at Greenwich, which will be added to the existing national park.

This land contains a forest, wetlands and coastal dunes that are home to many species at risk and rare species, such as the Piping Plover, the Yellow-banded Bumble Bee and the Little Brown Myotis (bat).

Among the most spectacular natural characteristics protected at the Greenwich sector of PEI National Park are the unusually large and mobile parabolic dunes with their associated counter ridges or Gegenwälle.

In September 2020, Parks Canada concluded the suite of agreements for the establishment of the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve by signing an agreement with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation. Parks Canada also continued negotiations with the sylix People of the Okanagan Nation, as represented by the Osoyoos Indian Band and the Lower Similkameen Indian Band, toward the establishment of a national park reserve in the south Okanagan-Similkameen region. Once established, this will bring the percentage of represented terrestrial regions to 82%.

The Agency made progress toward the establishment of national marine conservation areas by advancing the feasibility assessments for the proposed national marine conservation areas in the southern Strait of Georgia, Labrador Coast, les Îles de la Madeleine, Eastern James Bay and Tuvaijuittuq.

Parks Canada also began working on a Memorandum of Understanding to guide the feasibility assessment for a national marine conservation area offshore the northern Labrador Coast adjacent to Torngat Mountains National Park that was announced in September 2019, as well as on negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding to launch the feasibility assessment processes for potential national marine conservation areas on the Central Coast of British Columbia and western James Bay.

Parks Canada contributed toward the commitment to create an ambitious new Government of Canada plan to conserve 25% of Canada’s land and 25% of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working toward 30% of each by 2030, in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Parks Canada’s contributing activities in this reporting period included:

National Urban Parks at the Minister’s Round Table 2020

Participants in the Minister’s Round Table confirmed that Canadians have a greater appreciation for green spaces than ever before.

During the process, the development of a network of national urban parks was an important theme, with 309 participant endorsements and 25 participating organizations in two virtual sessions, providing 460 online contributions, 73 ideas and 82 comments related to urban parks.

Urban parks can play an important role in protecting biodiversity, offering natural solutions that protect communities (for example, flood risk mitigation) and promoting greater connectivity among protected areas, as well as encourage more Canadians to get outside.

A preliminary work plan has been created to develop a national urban parks policy and explore the designation of candidate national urban park sites.

  • finalizing the initial analysis to identify representative marine areas and/or candidate National Marine Conservation Areas in all 29 representative marine regions;
  • participating in the marine spatial planning exercises lead by Fisheries and Oceans Canada, in the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic regions to ensure that candidate National Marine Conservation Areas are considered in the development of the national network of marine-protected areas in Canada;
  • assessing a number of national historic sites administered by Parks Canada that may qualify for designation as "Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECM),” per the International Union for Conservation of Nature guidelines, in recognition of their contribution to the conservation designation of biodiversity outside protected areas;
  • investing approximately $660K to continue four existing and initiate 15 new projects to enhance the ecological connectivity of sites administered by Parks Canada;
  • participating online in the 24th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice; and,
  • collaborating with Environment and Climate Change Canada as part of the interdepartmental committee supporting Canada’s participation in the development of a post-2020 global biodiversity framework. This framework is to be determined by Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity.
Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of national park ecosystems where ecological integrity is maintained or improved. At least 92% March 2023 82%

An ecosystem has ecological integrity when:

  • it has the living and non-living species expected in its natural region; and,
  • its processes (the engines that make an ecosystem work; for example, fire, flooding, predation) occur with the frequency and intensity expected in its natural region.
National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy

Parks Canada experts are engaged with and support federal colleagues in the development of a Government of Canada National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy.

To ensure the sound stewardship of Canada’s treasured heritage places, Parks Canada staff support climate change adaptation planning by mobilizing climate science and knowledge to inform the Agency’s operations, including through adaptation workshops delivered in collaboration with external partners and stakeholders.

Parks Canada continues to build a toolbox of resources to address climate risks and impacts, and to integrate climate change considerations into its work to protect and present Canada’s natural and cultural heritage. This includes research that contributes to our understanding of climate change and what it means for the management of those irreplaceable sites.

Implementation of the ecological monitoring program continued despite the challenges of adapting field activities to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, approximately 70% of ecological integrity monitoring program activities that were planned by field units for the 2020–21 operational season were partially or fully completed. As of March 2021, the ecological integrity of 82% of park ecosystems has been maintained or improved, a 4% decrease from 2019–20, bringing Parks Canada approximately 10% away from its target of at least 92% by March 2023.

Monitoring results indicate that large-scale threats, such as climate change and landscape fragmentation, as well as local stressors, such as invasive species and water pollution, are affecting ecosystems. However, improvements in some ecosystems are also being observed, including three ecosystems that were declining in 2019–20 that are now stable. These improvements can be attributed, at least in part, to management actions for protecting species at risk and ecosystem restoration.

Aligned with recommendations from the Independent Working Group Report to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada (2019), key improvements to the monitoring program have impacted the Agency’s results for this indicator. In 2020–21, Parks Canada added seven new ecological integrity measures, for a total of 502, and made significant progress on an additional 20 remote sensing measures. While these improved measures provide useful ecological information and contribute to better ecosystem management, they also reveal new stressors and new problems, which are reflected in Parks Canada’s result for this reporting period. For example, in Elk Island National Park a better assessment of ungulate browsing pressure on forest pointed to a declining ecosystem trend.

Kelp Forest Restoration in Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area and Haida Heritage Site

Kelp forests within the cooperatively managed Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area and Haida Heritage Site have declined in quantity and quality with the extirpation of sea otters, a keystone predator species, due to the maritime fur trade of the late 1700s through the mid-1800s, and more recent effects of climate change on the ocean.

Working in collaboration with the Council of the Haida Nation, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Pacific Urchin Harvesters Association, and research institutions, Parks Canada implemented a five-year restoration project that increased the depth and extent of kelp forest habitat by mimicking sea otter predation on sea urchins that graze on kelp.

Through the Conservation and Restoration program (CoRe), Parks Canada invests in projects aimed at restoring ecological integrity in national parks, improving ecological sustainability in national marine conservation areas, and recovering species at risk at all sites. Over the past year, $17.9M was invested in 75 ongoing projects. CoRe projects adhere to global conservation standards of practice. Depending on project context, they may also be informed by Indigenous knowledge, socio-ecological concerns, climate change impacts, local understanding, and scientific evidence.

To support the CoRe program, the Agency held a workshop with Indigenous partners to co-develop the methodology for assessing progress and measuring success on CoRe projects. Building on this positive, collaborative work, a CoRe Indigenous Advisory Committee was established in 2020–21 to support Indigenous engagement and leadership in the CoRe program. Parks Canada also conducted a series of online webinars on to share best practices on fostering collaboration with Indigenous partners on conservation. This year, Parks Canada heard from Indigenous experts on the importance of biocultural indicators and cultural keystone species to Indigenous peoples. Increased awareness and understanding of these topics will further support the weaving in of Indigenous knowledge systems into conservation programming at Parks Canada.

Maintaining ecological connectivity, which can be defined as the movement of species and the flow of natural processes, is one of the proven ways to reduce impediments and threats to migratory animals caused by landscape fragmentation and habitat loss. Recognizing its importance to the effective management of protected areas, Parks Canada developed a new program of work on ecological connectivity that is integrated into its conservation planning cycle, from management planning through to monitoring, active management, and reporting. In 2020–21, approximately $660K was invested in 19 projects (4 existing, 15 new) focused on maintaining ecological connectivity in Parks Canada’s protected areas.

Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site Action Plan

In December 2020, an investment of $59.9M over 3 years was announced to continue implementing federal commitments under the Wood Buffalo National Park World Heritage Site Action Plan to address concerns regarding the national park’s world heritage values.

This funding, building on $27.5M received through Budget 2018, supports the delivery of remaining Action Plan initiatives including:

  • strengthening park management in collaboration with Indigenous partners;
  • enhancing research, monitoring and management of the Peace-Athabasca Delta using science and Indigenous knowledge; and,
  • establishing new mechanisms to support improved water management in the Peace-Athabasca Delta.

Notable progress has been made on the Action Plan to date, with more than half of the identified actions completed or underway.

The Agency is actively engaged in the work to evaluate the effectiveness of the Species at Risk Act (SARA), in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Parks Canada continues to support the Government of Canada’s commitment to implement the Pan-Canadian Approach to Transforming Species at Risk Conservation. Working closely with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners, Parks Canada is an early adopter of a prioritized, multi-species, and ecosystem-based approach to managing species at risk. The Agency also continues to further align its efforts on shared Priority Places, Species, and Threats with that of the Pan-Canadian approach. During 2020–21, Parks Canada identified the critical habitat for one species and provided legal protection for the critical habitat of 11 other species. Parks Canada added two more site-based, multi-species action plans, bringing its total to 23 plans that identify recovery measures for more than 262 species of conservation concern, including over 214 SARA-listed species. More than 74 projects are underway to implement recovery actions for more than 85 species. Forty-four percent of the recovery measures have been completed, with 50% targeted for completion by 2023, and 48% of the population and distribution objectives have been met.

During the reporting period, Parks Canada worked to strengthen meaningful engagement and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, partners and stakeholders to develop and implement integrated, landscape-level conservation approaches to improving ecosystem resilience in response to climate change and other threats. The Agency is also investing in projects to foster the involvement of Indigenous partners in resource conservation work and exemplify Indigenous leadership in conservation, including seven pilot projects funded in 2020–21 to support work with Indigenous partners on conservation issues of mutual interest. The Agency has also placed a new emphasis on Arctic Science, engaging with Indigenous knowledge holders, park staff, other government departments and agencies, including Polar Knowledge Canada, and international scientists to advance the collection and sharing of new insights on Canada’s vast northern protected areas.

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Number of natural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoples Between 27 and 30 March 2021 23
Cooperative management in Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve

Arrangements to support cooperative management and Indigenous use of lands and waters have progressed at Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve. In September 2020, an agreement between the Yellowknives Dene First Nation and Parks Canada was signed regarding Thaidene Nene; this agreement joins three others signed with Indigenous communities regarding the site.

Despite limitations imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Operational Management Board for Thaidene Nene met for the first time in February 2021 and the Regional Management Board is in the process of being formed.

Parks Canada recognizes the historic and ongoing responsibilities of Indigenous peoples in the stewardship of the natural heritage of their ancestral territories and homelands. To this end, the Agency has been working to advance cooperative management arrangements with Indigenous peoples at the heritage places it administers. As of March 31, 2021, the number of natural heritage places with cooperative management structures where Indigenous peoples participated in decision-making was increased by three for a total of 23, following the inclusion of Tallurutiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area, Gwaii Haanas National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Pingo Canadian Landmark. This increase reflects updated performance indicator methodology, which was revised to include marine and other terrestrial areas.

Throughout 2020–21, Parks Canada and Indigenous partners continued to work together to negotiate agreements, including during national park and national marine conservation area establishment discussions, to create new or enhance existing cooperative management structures at Parks Canada-administered places. The results of these ongoing negotiations are anticipated for the 2021–22 reporting year and beyond.


Departmental Result 2: Canada’s cultural heritage is protected for present and future generations

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Number of places, people and events of importance to Canadians that are formally recognized At least 3,778 March 2021 3,822

To date, the Government of Canada has formally recognized 3,822 places, persons and events under its heritage designation programs. This includes 1,265 federal heritage buildings owned and protected by the Government of Canada, and 1,001 national historic sites—of which 174 are administered by Parks Canada—along with 719 national historic persons and 500 national historic events.

Reflecting Black history through national historic designations

The theme of diversity is one of the strategic priorities outlined in the Framework for History and Commemoration.

In 2020–21, four new subjects related to Black history were designated by the Minister, on the recommendation of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, as being of national historic significance:

  • the Enslavement of African People in Canada (c. 1629 to 1834), acknowledging the participation of Canada in the enslavement of Africans and its long-term negative repercussions, as a national historic event;
  • Richard Pierpoint (c. 1744 to 1838), who provided rare known accounts of the life experience and contributions of a Black Loyalist in Upper-Canada;
  • Larry Gains (1900 to 1983), one of the top heavyweight fighters in the world in the 1920s to the 1930s, as national historic persons; and,
  • the West Indian Domestic Scheme (1955 to 1967), an immigration program targeting Caribbean women at a time when government policies restricted non-white immigration, as a national historic event.

Parks Canada is committed to ensuring that Canadians have opportunities to learn about the full scope of our history, including the tragic and shameful periods that are part of our collective past.

The total number of formal recognitions in a given year is dependent on many factors that impact the rate of growth and the overall total number of designations. These include the number of nominations and eligible subjects, as well as changes to the existing status of some formal recognitions resulting from a designation review. The total number of formal recognitions reported for 2020–21 is greater than the target, but has decreased since last year due to disposal and data reconciliation. In addition, travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to evaluate new designations of national historic sites, as travel to nominated sites is a requirement for their assessment.

The COVID-19 pandemic also had a significant impact on Parks Canada’s ability to hold in-person plaque-unveiling ceremonies during this reporting period. Three plaques were unveiled via social media: the Japanese Experience in Alberta National Historic Event, Spadina National Historic Site and Magog Textile Mills National Historic Site.

The Agency continues to implement the Framework for History and Commemoration to set direction for history presentation at the heritage places it manages, including work on existing designations that are controversial, through the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada. For commemoration, the Framework includes new strategic priorities for designations of places, persons, and events of national historic significance, emphasizing a full range of voices, perspectives, and experiences. The Agency is continuing work towards developing new measures that align with these priorities to report on results.

Parks Canada continued work to implement the Government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action 79 for national commemoration of the history and legacy of the residential school system in Canada and recognition and acknowledgement of the contributions that Indigenous peoples have made to Canada’s history. On September 1, 2020, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change announced the designation of the Residential School System as a national historic event and the designation of two former residential schools as national historic sites.

Parks Canada also continued its work to renew Parks Canada’s policies relating to commemoration and cultural resources through engagement and in cooperation with Indigenous groups and plans to also engage with diverse communities. The Agency has been working with the Indigenous Cultural Heritage Advisory Council, which provides the Agency ongoing advice on issues related to Indigenous history and cultural heritage.

Histories of Yukon First Nations at S.S. Klondike National Historic Site

At the S.S. Klondike National Historic Site, riverboat history has largely been shared from the white settler point of view.

In 2020–21, in partnership with the Ta’an Kwäch’än Council and the Kwanlin Dün First Nation, Parks Canada renewed the outdoor exhibit to include the absent perspectives of Yukon First Nations and how their societies were impacted by that era.

The resulting 23 interpretive panels come alive through stories, photographs and audio presented in strikingly beautiful, large-format designs that complement the in-person visitor offer.

Thanks to these collaborative efforts, the story of this prominent place is shifting.

The pandemic necessitated a major pivot for Parks Canada’s engagement in international activities, with several key events scheduled for 2020–21 being cancelled, delayed, or transformed into virtual meetings. While the annual World Heritage Committee was cancelled, Parks Canada did submit the Tr’ondëk-Klondike nomination to the World Heritage Centre for consideration in January 2021. This nomination, an outstanding example of an evolving gold rush landscape that illustrates the iconic gold rushes of the nineteenth century, as well as Indigenous people’s continuing relationship with their lands, will be considered by the World Heritage Committee at its summer 2022 meeting following a multiphase evaluation process.

Parks Canada continued contributing to requests for engagement from other government departments and from partners overseas on a responsive basis. In particular, Parks Canada participated in broader Government of Canada efforts to renew bilateral collaboration with the U.S. and explore new joint initiatives focused on Indigenous stewardship and conservation of shared ecosystems.

Parks Canada works with 11 custodian departments through the Subcommittee of Federal Heritage Buildings to review the approach to designate federal heritage buildings. Recommendations regarding improvements to the evaluation processes, including a new set of criteria, are being completed. The Agency also continues to work to better reflect the particular circumstances of various custodians of federal heritage buildings to address regional realities, Indigenous histories, community voices, and contemporary approaches to heritage values. The Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office has advanced enhanced methodologies relating to the evaluation, intervention, and disposal of federal heritage buildings. This includes new presentation of research, a variety of memoranda of understanding with federal departments, as well as memoranda on engagement.

Conservation gains are also being achieved in the disposal, sale, and transfer of real property. Technological advancement in heritage recording, such as 3D and virtual presentation, led to new approaches in monitoring, conservation, and commemoration practices. The adoption of different review approaches, for example in grouping and comparative analysis, enabled better planning and better protection of designated federal heritage buildings.

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of historical and archaeological collection, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites in Parks Canada’s care that are safeguardedAt least 90% March 2024 68%

During this reporting period, planned conservation work to safeguard the historical and archaeological collection, cultural landscapes, and archaeological sites under Parks Canada’s care was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related travel restrictions. Despite no change in the overall result reported this year relative to last year, cultural resource management and conservation work was completed to contribute to safeguarding cultural resources.

Parks Canada’s artifact collection facility

Following an open and competitive tendering process, a contract was awarded in December 2020 for the construction of a new facility for Parks Canada’s artifact collection.

Located in Gatineau, Quebec, the 8,200 m2 facility will house 25 million archaeological and historical objects with specially designed space that will allow for the protection and conservation of the collection under optimal storage and environmental conditions. It will also provide Indigenous peoples, researchers, institutions, and community groups from across the country with access to the collection in one location.

Completion is expected in 2023.

The Agency continued to work to advance federal legislation for historic places, including engagement with Indigenous governments and organizations, cultural heritage stakeholders, government departments, as well as with the Canadian public through the Minister’s Round Table. In response to commitments in the 2019 Minister’s Mandate Letter and Budget 2021, the Agency will continue work to advance federal legislation for historic places. This work is based on 3 principles: inclusivity, transparency, and sustainability.

In December 2020, construction began on a new purpose-built facility to house Parks Canada’s collection of archaeological and historical objects in Gatineau, Quebec. This facility will contribute significantly to safeguarding the collection and enable Parks Canada to meet its 90% target. As reported in 2019–20, the physical move of the Cornwall collection to another temporary facility as part of a pilot project, resulted in greater safeguards being put place for more than one-tenth of the overall national collection. This pilot project continued in 2020–21 and the collection was regularly monitored and accessed, within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a pest monitoring program was initiated.

To date, the Agency has completed a formal inventory of 80% of known archaeological sites and 91% of cultural landscapes that will contribute to their protection. Parks Canada is working with a committee of cultural heritage stakeholders and representatives from the provinces and territories to develop a strategy for the gathering of data on the economic, social, and environmental impacts of heritage places conservation.

During this reporting period, Parks Canada’s cultural heritage professionals (archaeologists, built heritage advisors, and other experts) provided support to the protection of cultural resources by performing impact assessments to identify and mitigate potential impacts of interventions on the heritage value of cultural resources and on the commemorative integrity of national historic sites.

Parks Canada – Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia collaborative archaeology process

Since its inception in 2017, the Parks Canada – Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia collaborative archaeology process continues to be implemented to guide multiple complex Parks Canada infrastructure projects in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site—a designated Mi’kmaw cultural landscape.

Archaeologists and other team members from the Mi’kmaq of Nova Scotia and Parks Canada work side by side under a technical committee governance structure on all project aspects. A co-created and shared decision-making process ensured Mi’kmaw perspectives inform developments.

This approach enhanced opportunities for involvement of Mi’kmaw knowledge holders to inform the process and engagement/participation of Community members. In addition, youth were able to participate in project archaeology field work in Kejimkujik, supporting Mi’kmaw reconnection with ancestors, history, and the land.

Despite the risks presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, numerous archaeological assessments identifying threats to archaeological resources were completed and mitigation measures identified. This was achieved by identifying archaeology as a critical service and developing safe work practices to address the risks of travel and fieldwork. Park Canada’s in-house services were supported by local contractors when travel was not possible, to ensure that projects underway received the necessary archaeological support. As well, while travel restrictions and limitations for on-site staff to support infrastructure projects posed challenges, significant progress was made that will result in the work being completed in the 2021–22 season.

The Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office continued to provide advice and training to federal custodians, review interventions on Classified federal heritage buildings, and guide custodians in their best efforts when undertaking disposals. Through a special service agreement and recurrent fund, access to Public Service and Procurement Canada’s Heritage Conservation Services has been provided to a variety of heritage places administered by Parks Canada and other federal government entities.

Parks Canada’s Cultural Resource Management Information System, which has been in development over the last several reporting periods, is now ready for the migration of data into the system. Migration is targeted to be substantively completed by March 31, 2022. This system will consolidate critical cultural resource information from multiple sources to facilitate evidence-based decision making, reporting and presentation for the cultural resources cared for by Parks Canada.

The Agency continued to provide financial assistance for projects to support the protection and presentation of nationally recognized heritage places not administered by the federal government through Parks Canada’s National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places. To help address the uncertainties impacting project delivery and the exigencies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of recommended projects was doubled in 2020–21, approving 37 projects for a total assistance valued at $2M, and recipients were provided with up to two years to deliver their projects.

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Number of cultural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoplesBetween 6 and 10 March 2021 5
Managing Batoche National Historic Site

Batoche National Historic Site commemorates the historic Métis community of Batoche, Métis river lot land use patterns, and the 1885 conflict between the Métis Provisional Government and the Government of Canada. The national historic site holds great cultural and historical significance for the citizens of the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan.

In December 2020, Parks Canada and the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan signed Terms of Reference agreeing to explore and discuss a full range of options related to the future management of Batoche National Historic Site.

Parks Canada and the Métis Nation – Saskatchewan have long collaborated with regard to Batoche National Historic Site, beginning with the signing of the Batoche National Historic Site Management Agreement in 1998.

Parks Canada recognizes the historic and ongoing responsibilities of Indigenous peoples in the stewardship of cultural heritage of their ancestral territories and homelands. The Agency has been working to advance cooperative management arrangements with Indigenous peoples at the cultural heritage places it administers.

For the first time, Parks Canada is reporting on the number of cultural heritage places and historic sites that are managed cooperatively. As of March 31, 2021, there are five places where Indigenous Peoples participate in decision-making structures: the kitijigattlik-Ramah Chert Quarries National Historic Site, the Nan Sdins National Historic Sites, the Obadjiwan – Fort Témiscamingue National Historic Site, the Saoyú-?ehdacho National Historic Site, and the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site.

Throughout 2020–21, Parks Canada and Indigenous partners continued to work together to negotiate agreements, including as part of cultural heritage area establishment discussions, which will create new or enhance existing cooperative management structures at Parks Canada-administered places. The results of these ongoing negotiations are anticipated for the 2021–22 reporting year and beyond.

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of built heritage assets in good or fair conditionAt least 49% March 202254%

In 2020–21, 50 heritage assets, with a replacement value of $770M, were improved from poor or very poor condition resulting in 54% of the Agency’s built heritage assets overall being in good or fair condition. Continued progress on improving the condition of Parks Canada’s built heritage assets will be dependent upon confirming new funds.

Examples of work completed to improve the condition of built heritage assets include:

  • rehabilitation of the north front fortifications at Halifax Citadel National Historic Site;
  • rehabilitation of masonry walls at Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site;
  • rehabilitation of Kawartha Sector concrete locks at the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site;
  • rehabilitation of Edmunds spillway dam, weir and lock at the Rideau Canal National Historic Site; and,
  • fire protection improvements of heritage buildings at Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site.

Departmental Result 3: People connect to and experience Canada’s natural and cultural heritage in ways that are meaningful to them

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Number of visitors experiencing Parks Canada placesAt least 23.7M March 2021 17.0M

Visiting a national park, national historic site, or national marine conservation area is one of the most effective ways of connecting Canadians to culture and heritage and helping to foster greater understanding of the importance of conserving nature and history. During the COVID-19 pandemic, natural spaces in national historic sites and national parks offered health and wellness benefits for millions of Canadians, as well as settings for families and friends to safely connect with each other.

Opening of Georges Island National Historic Site

For the first time in generations, Georges Island National Historic Site, a part of the Halifax Defence Complex located in the heart of Halifax Harbour, was partially opened to visitors starting on August 8, 2020.

This opening was made possible by the completion of a new wharf, jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia. This new wharf provides a gateway, accessed by a ferry service, to this unique historical and cultural attraction, enhancing Halifax Harbour for residents and visitors.

Demand for tickets was so high that the initially planned visitor season, scheduled to end after Labour Day, was extended by an additional five weekends to Thanksgiving Monday.

In support of Canada’s efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve of the pandemic, visitor access and services at all national parks and national historic sites were suspended from March 19 to June 1, 2020. During these weeks, Parks Canada worked collaboratively with public health experts and a variety of national and local partners, as well as provincial and territorial parks systems, to adapt and safely resume services to Canadians. Operations resumed starting on June 1 with a series of adaptations designed to keep visitors and employees safe and minimize the risks of COVID-19. These included, reduced camping availability, adaptations to interpretive programming, and limited access to some buildings.

The suspension of visitor services in spring 2020, closures at some Parks Canada locations throughout the year, reduced or modified visitor programming, and limitations on local, regional and international travel all contributed to lower visitation in 2020–21. Nonetheless, while visitation fell by 34% compared to the previous year, some 17 million visitors benefited from access to recreation and health and wellness opportunities at Parks Canada locations across Canada. In fact, a number of national parks exceeded past records for visitation in summer 2020.

The safety of employees, visitors, and Canadians was a top priority during the resumption of operations during the 2020 operating season. When surveyed, more than eight in ten visitors (84%) were satisfied with the onsite health and safety measures Parks Canada put in place and most indicated that they visited because they considered the places to be safe (87%). Even with modified offers to align with public health and safety measures, the vast majority of visitors reported being satisfied (91%) and having enjoyed their visit (89%).

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of Canadians that support the protection and presentation of Parks Canada placesBetween 78% and 82% March 202186%

The results of Parks Canada’s quarterly survey showed that 86% of Canadians support Parks Canada’s mandate, exceeding the Agency’s target for 2020–21. This success, achieved despite the unprecedented impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, is attributable to the Agency’s ongoing work to collaborate with others and to reach and connect with Canadians through strategic outreach, promotion, engagement, and onsite programming.

Welcoming Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic

The Agency had to adapt most of its services to integrate COVID-19 health and safety mitigation measures. For example:

  • facilities were modified to allow for physical separation;
  • information services were moved to phone or online to limit in-person interactions;
  • visitor centre kiosks moved outdoors or pop-up kiosks were used;
  • guided interpretive tours shifted to roving interpreters to engage with small groups;
  • cleaning protocols were adapted to recommended Government of Canada standards; and,
  • a suite of new signage was created outlining health and safety measures.

All of these changes were done to ensure visitor and staff safety, while providing visitors with much needed access to outdoor spaces and safe recreation activities.

Natural spaces, including national historic sites and national parks, became a refuge for millions of Canadians during 2020–21. Eight in ten Canadians who visited Parks Canada places indicated that the resumption of access to national parks and historic sites was important to their mental well-being (80%), physical health (78%), and their overall sense of normalcy (82%) during a very stressful and uncertain year.

Parks Canada collaborates with others and connects with Canadians in many ways to inspire and keep heritage places in their hearts and minds. While the COVID-19 pandemic created many challenges, Parks Canada team members continued to engage Canadians through proactive marketing and communication efforts focused on encouraging advance trip planning, managing expectations, and influencing safe and respectful visitor behaviours. Promotional activities also aimed to help mitigate visitation pressures at popular destinations and to promote alternative destinations, where travel was permissible.

To further ensure Parks Canada was able to continue connecting with Canadians during this reporting period, staff harnessed their passion and creativity to produce digital content and innovative programming that accommodated physical distancing and other protective measures. For example, live-use video programs helped tens of thousands of Canadians interact with national parks and national historic sites from the safety of their living rooms, and in-person events successfully integrated digital tools to continue to commemorate and celebrate Canada’s history and heritage places.

Even with the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Canadians continued to express their support for conservation and volunteered with Parks Canada. Approximately 5,000 people donated their time in 2020–21 to assist in conservation activities such as citizen science, first aid workshops, and species monitoring.

Parks Canada connected with Canadians in their homes and communities during the COVID-19 pandemic and welcomed millions to national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas across the country. Parks Canada continues to keep Canadians front and centre in the outreach, promotion, education and media content it designs and shares. In doing so, it endeavors to connect Canadians with nature and history in ways that are meaningful to them.

Digital engagement - by the numbers!


Facebook: 397,529 Facebook followers

Twitter: 243,283 Twitter followers

Instagram: 557,613 Instagram followers

Youtube: 10.2M YouTube impressions, with +4K new followers

Email: 4M Newsletter readers

Mobile app: 38,630 Mobile app downloads

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Number of places where Indigenous peoples use lands and waters according to their traditional and modern practices Between 32 and 42 March 2025 36
Indigenous guardians

Supporting Indigenous practices on the land through initiatives such as the Indigenous Guardians programs and culture camps is an important area of focus.

Indigenous Guardians programs in places like Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, at the Wrecks of HMS Erebus and HMS Terror National Historic Site, and the Nauttiqsuqtiit Inuit Stewardship Program at Tallurtiup Imanga National Marine Conservation Area strengthen participation of Indigenous knowledge holders in heritage place management, promote inter-generational sharing of Indigenous knowledge, provide economic and developmental opportunities, and enhance visitor experience.

As of 2021, Parks Canada supports seven Indigenous Guardian programs that are operating in protected heritage places.

Parks Canada recognizes the important and ongoing roles and responsibilities of Indigenous peoples as stewards of the heritage places it administers, and is committed to facilitating their use of these lands and waters for traditional and modern cultural practices. Most, if not all, of the natural and cultural places administered by Parks Canada have been traditionally used by Indigenous peoples long before Canada became a country. Supporting Indigenous peoples’ connections to traditional territories contributes to repairing connections that in many instances were severed when heritage places were created.

As of March 31, 2021, the number of places where Indigenous peoples use lands and waters according to their traditional and modern cultural practices increased to 36, following the inclusion under this indicator of places where interim arrangements that facilitate traditional use of ancestral and traditional territories are in place. Parks Canada and Indigenous partners continue to work towards finalizing agreements that will facilitate Indigenous peoples’ use of land and waters at protected heritage places across Canada.

Departmental Result Indicator Target Date to Achieve Target 2020–21 Actual results
Percentage of contemporary assets in good or fair condition At least 74% March 2022 75%

In 2020–21, 219 contemporary assets, with a replacement value of $826M, were improved from very poor or poor condition, bringing the overall percentage of contemporary assets in good or fair condition to 75%, which is above the Agency’s target. Continued progress on improvements to the overall condition of Parks Canada’s contemporary assets will be dependent upon confirmation of new funding.

Examples of work completed to improve the condition of contemporary assets include:

  • construction of a third lane and associated infrastructure at East Gate at Jasper National Park;
  • rehabilitation of beach complex facilities, park entrances and kiosks at Prince Edward Island National Park;
  • rehabilitation of visitor experience assets at Grey Owl’s cabin site in Prince Albert National Park;
  • rehabilitation of Meyers Dam 8 at the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site; and,
  • rehabilitation of Lock 29a and Smiths Falls Basin walls at the Rideau Canal National Historic Site.

Gender-based analysis plus

As an operating agency of the Government of Canada, Parks Canada seeks to employ an inclusive lens in its policies and programs and to continuously improve its services to Canadians. The Agency also aims to remove barriers to the use and enjoyment of national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas. Parks Canada strives to make inclusion and accessibility fundamental principles in the development and delivery of visitor services and experiences.

Some examples of initiatives intended to increase diversity and inclusiveness that Parks Canada undertook this year include:

Accessible and inclusive facilities and spaces:

In 2020–21 Parks Canada created guidance to foster the creation of accessible and inclusive facilities and spaces as part of the Agency’s ongoing infrastructure program. For example, by incorporating inclusive facilities in new and renovated washroom projects, the Agency is ensuring that these places are designed with everyone in mind, offering greater flexibility of use to accommodate the varying needs of visitors. This includes spaces for families, people with disabilities, and people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, with designs that are inclusive of all gender expressions, gender identities, and sexual orientations. Inclusive sanitary facility designs are in the planning, construction, final completion, or opening phases in many Parks Canada-administered places, including Glacier, Kouchibouguac, Kejimkujik, Waterton Lakes, Banff, and Forillon National Parks, as well as Klondike National Historic Site, Rouge National Urban Park, and Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.


Social stories for inclusive visitor experiences in Terra Nova National Park

Social stories are used to describe a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a patient and reassuring manner that is easily understood by its audience. They are created with the intention of making it easier for people with disabilities to follow routines, calm fears, and learn new skills, thus creating an opportunity for greater independence. In partnership with the Autism Society of Newfoundland and Labrador, two social stories were developed for Terra Nova National Park on staying in an oTENTik and using a washroom facility. There are seven additional stories that are in progress that include using a kitchen shelter, camping at Terra Nova National Park, going to the Visitor Centre, and visiting other key locations throughout the park.


Incorporating American Sign Language (ASL) and Quebec Sign Language (QSL) at Signal Hill National Historic site

Exhibits at the Signal Hill National Historic site were refreshed to improve visitor enjoyment, while simultaneously incorporating new technologies and design considerations to improve accessibility. This included the installation of screens on several exhibits to display ASL and QSL interpretation for audio messages, and the inclusion of ASL and QSL interpretation for existing video components of the theatre. Additionally, layout changes ensure that visitors with mobility devices have a clear and accessible route to experience the exhibit.


"Mood Walks" for mental health

Despite the pandemic, Rouge National Urban Park’s Mood Walks Program continued to deliver its innovative programming in 2020–21 with year-round, “virtual” guided walks led by certified Parks Canada volunteer hike leaders. The program is a collaboration with the Scarborough Health Network’s Centenary Hospital that promotes physical activity in nature as a way to improve physical and mental health among transitional youth experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges.


An inclusive and accessible visitor centre for Rouge National Urban Park

Significant progress was also made on the development of Rouge National Urban Park’s future visitor, learning and community centre. This included the awarding of the architecture and engineering contract to Toronto-based architecture firm Moriyama & Teshima Architects, in partnership with Six Nations of the Grand River-based Two Row Architect, and the awarding of the visitor experience and exhibit design contract to Montreal-based firms Cadabra and Daily tous les jours in a joint venture. All firms competed for the opportunity to work on this project through rigorous, competitive, and open processes. Parks Canada also made significant progress on early conceptual renderings, co-designing a range of program elements in close collaboration with the Rouge National Urban Park First Nations Advisory Circle and park stakeholders. Once completed, the visitor centre will feature an aesthetically and environmentally progressive building using universal design concepts, with visitor amenities that include indoor and outdoor multi-purpose gathering and learning spaces. The building will be net-zero carbon and a GBA Plus process will also be applied throughout the project design.


Internal actions

Actions have also been taken during the reporting period to increase diversity and inclusion internally:

  • Thousands of Parks Canada employees wear a uniform, and in 2020–21, the Agency updated its staff uniform ordering system. It now provides staff with a self-service approach to viewing and ordering uniform items (e.g. shorts or pants) based on the preference of the employee, not based on gender assigned in personnel files. Gender fluid or gender non-conforming employees can now also obtain name tag(s) for their uniform with their preferred name.
  • In Nunavut, work continues to reduce barriers to Inuit employment and advancement through targeted recruitment initiatives, such as local student hiring for Auyuittuq, Sirmilik and Ukkusiksalik national parks. The Inuit Employment Plan to increase the percentage of Inuit employees in the Nunavut Field Unit was also renewed and shared with Nunavut Tunngavut Inc. In 2020–21, multi-year Training Plans for Inuit staff in the field unit were either updated or developed.
  • In accordance with Parks Canada and Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre objectives, the Agency’s Natural Resource Management Branch is continuing the review and development of actions towards a more diverse and inclusive workplace within the Wildfire Management Program, including the establishment of a Wildfire Management Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

Experimentation

The last year brought unprecedented change in the lives of every Canadian. As an operational agency of the Government of Canada providing service directly to Canadians, as well as the nation’s largest tourism operator, the COVID-19 pandemic presented unique challenges to the day-to-day operations of Parks Canada. It highlighted the complexities and immense responsibilities of operating a network of heritage places in 13 provinces and territories, tied to hundreds of communities, businesses, and infrastructure across Canada. Parks Canada collaborated with other parks organizations and had to adapt nearly every aspect of its operations to keep staff, visitors, and Canadians safe. The following are some key examples of innovative approaches the Agency adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic:


Bringing you Canada – from Lockdown!

Shuttling service innovation

Parks Canada has been offering a visitor shuttle service in the Lake Louise area since 2013. Since then, demand has driven the growth of the program and the shuttle is now an essential component of the overall visitor access strategy in Lake Louise. In 2019, ridership was over 545,000 and the shuttles saw long lineups in the middle of the day.

For the 2021–22 season, based on lessons learned in past years, Parks Canada developed an approach to enable visitors to reserve shuttle seats on the National Reservation System to improve visitor experience. Visitors can now plan ahead, reserve their seats in advance, and guarantee themselves access to both Lake Louise and Moraine Lake under the same booking. This allows the visitor to leave their vehicle behind, hop on a shuttle bus without any wait, and skip the headache of full parking lots.

The pivot to a reservation-based shuttle service not only helped to improve the visitor experience accessing these busy destinations by providing a convenient and predictable tool to plan ahead, but it also helped to space visitors out during a time where adhering to COVID-19 precautions was necessary.

With Parks Canada places closed to the public for at least part of the year due to the pandemic, the Agency found new ways to connect with Canadians virtually in their homes, including:

  • Advancing a pilot program to leverage technology to support the remote delivery of key Agency programs and services to Canadians, even while in lockdown. This included expanding the use of digital video broadcast tools such as Facebook Live and others and adopting approaches for podcasting, virtual tours, and publishing digital exhibits on platforms such as Google Arts and Culture. This pilot is in early stages but has promising initial results for allowing the Agency to reach new and long-standing audiences remotely.
  • Finding new, virtual ways to deliver Parks Canada’s popular Learn-to Camp program, including launching a new video series in June 2020 designed to bring the activities from sessions normally delivered in person to Canadians in their homes. These include videos on how to set up a tent, how to start a fire, how to set up a tarp, and how to pack a cooler for camping. This video series has been made available not only in English and French but also in Traditional and Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Spanish;
  • Creating “roving” visitor centre staff at Riding Mountain National Park while the visitor centre was under construction and indoor restrictions were in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These staff members were located in the townsite and were able to take information to visitors where they were, thereby reducing the wait times to get inside the building and minimizing overcrowding;
  • Providing virtual programming to students, including delivering the Learn-to Camp program to 75,000 primary students in Quebec, and live and interactive video programming for students in remote Northwest Territory and northern Alberta classrooms on the geology and unique wildlife of northern parks, how guiding and interpretive programs are delivered at Parks Canada-administered places, and on-the-land survival skills using traditional bushcraft;
  • Opening the Bow Valley Parkway to cycling in summer 2020 by restricting automobile access on its eastern half, an interim measure to help support physical distancing requirements at Johnston Canyon. This change provided enhanced cycling opportunities on a scenic, well-maintained roadway with minimal automobile traffic. Following enormously positive feedback, a pilot project for an enhanced cycling experience in Banff is planned for 2021. This pilot builds on the park’s established, well-used network of cycling opportunities and aligns with a long-term strategy for moving people sustainably throughout the park. Learnings from the pilot will support assessment and planning for enhanced cycling experiences in the future; and,
  • Developing a comprehensive online onboarding, orientation, and training process in Coastal British Columbia for 14 Outreach students, most of whom were starting their first experience working for Parks Canada. The Vancouver Outreach programming offer was adapted to deliver almost 40 virtual programs to over 4,000 Canadians in the comfort and safety of their own homes. The team also adapted its in-person programming, reaching 12,624 Canadians. Lessons learned were shared broadly within the Agency and beyond with the goal of supporting other teams and raising awareness of the innovation of this approach. This work that was above–and-beyond their regular duties embodied the leadership attribute of excellence at Parks Canada.

Innovation in project management

Delivering on the most significant infrastructure program in Parks Canada’s 110-year history has necessitated innovating new approaches that take into account the protection of cultural and natural heritage, while making improvements to the Agency’s vast infrastructure portfolio. In 2020–21, innovations have included:

  • The development of a new Project Integration Exchange (PIE) Tool to support natural and cultural heritage protection by better aligning Impact Assessments (IA) and Cultural Resources Impact Assessments (CRIA) considerations with project management requirements. The PIE Tool has been implemented as a common, simpler approach to IA and CRIA supported by training that has been developed and offered throughout the Agency. The tool is meant to continue making progress on the integrated management of natural and cultural values, and pave the way to aligning more practices in future years; and,
  • A major Federal Infrastructure Investment (FII) Program Lessons Learned exercise was conducted on heritage conservation practices and processes over the five years of the FII program. This analysis identified a number of activities to review, new initiatives to develop, and a number of recommendations to implement. Among other things, the Lessons Learned was an opportunity to review the Cultural Resources Impact Assessment (CRIA) process.

Connecting research and practice through the Pan-Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network

The Pan-Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Research Network was established in 2020–21, connecting academic researchers in diverse disciplines, independent professionals, and practitioners from parks and protected areas from across the country. Its role is to strengthen shared understanding of issues and potential solutions, thereby increasing capacity for evidence-based, informed decision making in Canada’s parks and protected areas.

Parks Canada is a founding partner of the research network, which builds on the platform of the Canadian Parks Collective for Innovation and Leadership (CPCIL). The network aims to reflect a holistic approach to conservation, where Western and Indigenous knowledge systems are braided together, respecting each other and contributing to the conservation of our shared natural heritage.

The first Research Summit of the Pan-Canadian Parks and Protected Areas Network was held virtually from March 9 to 12, 2021. Led by CPCIL, the event brought together a multidisciplinary, multifunctional group of “Knowers” (scholars and knowledge keepers), “Doers” (practitioners), and “Learners” (students, new employees) from across the country. The event demonstrated the value of the research network, both now and into the future, through the willingness of participants to share their experiences, knowledge, and recent findings to advance sound decision making in protected areas management.


Enabling Parks Canada’s reporting and compliance through improved mobility

In 2020–21, the Agency supported increased flexibility and mobility of enforcement and compliance work by deploying more mobile-enabled and cloud applications, including its mobile reporting pilot with the Agency’s Visitor Safety, Human-Wildlife Conflict, and Law Enforcement teams.

The Law Enforcement Branch collaborated with the Office of the Chief Information Officer to improve the Law Enforcement Mobile App designed for Park Wardens following a successful pilot test in the summer of 2020. The Mobile Compliance Reporting (MCR) application is used by compliance staff to track and monitor compliance issues within a field unit. In 2021, there were 14 protected heritage placed that used the MCR App.


Promoting solutions to natural resource conservation challenges in Parks Canada places

In 2020–21, as part of building a culture of experimentation and innovation, Parks Canada launched an internal, virtual innovation fair to crowdsource solutions to natural resource conservation challenges at Parks Canada-administered places for potential funding under the Nature Legacy initiative. This competition, which ran throughout the year, invited Agency employees from across the organisation to put forward their ideas to strengthen natural resource conservation. In the first phase, participants were asked to provide a statement of the problem that was to be addressed and a proposed approach, rationale, and costing for the potential solution. In the second phase, all Agency employees were invited to vote on the proposals as a means of identifying which would be screened in and considered for funding. Successful proposals were announced in December 2020.

In total, close to 500 team members participated (approximately 10% of the active workforce). From the 75 proposals submitted, 29 were screened in, of which eight were chosen, with up to $100K to be invested in 2021–22. These new natural resource conservation projects, include:

  • the use of motion-activated cameras to estimate wolf occupancy in a caribou critical habitat in Pukaskwa National Park;
  • constructing a cross-walk to allow for the migration of salamanders across a highway in Riding Mountain National Park, improving habitat connectivity, boosting visitor awareness, and reducing road mortality in Riding Mountain National Park; and,
  • inviting the public to share pictures of the coastline on social media through a pre-determined hashtag as a way to use crowd-sourced data collection to study dynamic coastal processes in Prince Edward Island National Park.

2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Through its planned activities for 2020–21, Parks Canada Agency contributed to Canada’s achievement of the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and targets:

  • Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable (Goal 11), and, more specifically, target 11.4 (Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage).
  • Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts (Goal 13), and more specifically, target 13.2 (Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning), and target 13.3 (Improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning).
  • Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development (Goal 14), and more specifically, target 14.2 (By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans) and target 14.5 (By 2020, conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, consistent with national and international law and based on the best available scientific information).
  • Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss (Goal 15) and, more specifically, target 15.5 (Take urgent and significant action to reduce the degradation of natural habitats, halt the loss of biodiversity and, by 2020, protect and prevent the extinction of threatened species), and target 15.1 (By 2020, ensure the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of terrestrial and inland freshwater ecosystems and their services, in particular forests, wetlands, mountains and drylands, in line with obligations under international agreements).
  • Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development (Goal 17) and, more specifically, target 17.17 (Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships).

Results achieved
Departmental results Performance indicators Target Date to achieve target 2018–19 Actual results 2019–20 Actual results 2020–21 Actual results
Canada’s natural heritage is protected for present and future generations Percentage of terrestrial regions represented in the national park system At least 82% March 2025 77% 79% 79%
Percentage of marine regions represented in the national marine conservation area system At least 31% March 2025 17% 21% 21%
Percentage of national park ecosystems where ecological integrity is maintained or improved At least 92% March 2023 82% 86% 82%
Number of natural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous Peoples* Between 27 and 30 March 2021 n/a n/a 23
Canada’s cultural heritage is protected for present and future generations Number of places, people and events of importance to Canadians that are formally recognized At least 3,778 March 2021 3,816 3,826 3,822
Percentage of historical and archaeological collection, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites in Parks Canada’s care that are safeguarded At least 90% March 2024 63% 68% 68%
Number of cultural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoples* Between 6 and 10 March 2021 n/a n/a 5
Percentage of built heritage assets in good or fair condition* At least 49% March 2022 n/a n/a 54%
People connect to and experience Canada’s natural and cultural heritage in ways that are meaningful to them Number of visitors experiencing Parks Canada places At least 23.7M March 2021 25.1M 24.9M 17.0M
Percentage of Canadians that support the protection and presentation of Parks Canada places Between 78% and 82% March 2021 88% 83% 86%
Number of places where Indigenous peoples use lands and waters according to their traditional and modern practices Between 32 and 42 March 2025 30 34 36
Percentage of contemporary assets in good or fair condition* At least 74% March 2022 n/a n/a 75%
*This is a new or revised indicator for 2020–21 and thus no previous-year results are available.

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2020–21 Main Estimates 2020–21 Planned spending 2020–21 Total authorities available for use 2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used) 2020–21 Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)
1,022,207,842 1,022,207,842 1,528,562,141 1,171,403,186 149,195,344

Actual spending was $149.2M (or 15%) higher than planned spending due primarily to additional appropriations received after the planning exercise, mainly related to the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites, as well as an increase in salary and employee benefits plan due to ratification of a new collective agreement.


Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents 2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents 2020–21 Difference (Actual full-time equivalents minus Planned full-time equivalents)
4,417 4,427 10

Actual full-time equivalents (FTE) were 10 FTE or 0.2% higher than planned FTEs in 2020–21.

Financial, human resources, and performance information for the Parks Canada’s Program Inventory is available in GC InfoBase.


Internal Services

Description

Internal Services are those groups of related activities and resources that the federal government considers to be services in support of programs and/or required to meet corporate obligations of an organization. Internal Services refers to the activities and resources of the 10 distinct service categories that support Program delivery in the organization, regardless of the Internal Services delivery model in a department. The 10 service categories are:

  • Acquisition Management Services
  • Communication Services
  • Financial Management Services
  • Human Resources Management Services
  • Information Management Services
  • Information Technology Services
  • Legal Services
  • Material Management Services
  • Management and Oversight Services
  • Real Property Management Services

Budgetary financial resources (dollars)
2020–21 Main Estimates 2020–21 Planned spending 2020–21 Total authorities available for use 2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used) 2020–21 Difference (Actual spending minus Planned spending)
85,324,009 85,324,009 126,573,965 134,166,731 48,842,722

Actual spending for internal services was $48.8M (or 57%) higher than planned spending, primarily due to the additional appropriations received after the planning exercise, mainly related to the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites. The planned spending amount did not include internal services spending related to the approved transfer in capital funding from 2019–20 to 2021–22 in order to align the remaining authorities with forecasts for multi-year projects.


Human resources (full-time equivalents)
2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents 2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents 2020–21 Difference (Actual full-time equivalents minus Planned full-time equivalents)
762 956 194

Actual full-time equivalents (FTE) for internal services were 194 FTE or 25% higher than planned FTEs in 2020–21. This variance is primarily due to the hiring of additional FTEs for the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites.


Financial Management Services — Modernization of financial management

In 2020–21, preparations were underway to facilitate the Agency’s transition from a multi-year appropriation to a one (single) year appropriation regime, as other departments and agencies have done. As well, work was launched to update the financial management framework, define business requirements for a new forecasting system, and develop enhanced resource management strategies to ensure the Agency is able to support the implementation of a one-year appropriation and a transition from a one- to a two-vote structure (operating and capital) by April 1, 2022. Parks Canada continues to automate and improve the efficiency of several key business processes, such as invoicing and procurement, and is also advancing efforts to transition to an accrual budgeting regime for its capital assets program.


Human Resources Management Services — Fostering a high-performing, diverse and inclusive workforce

As a highly operational organization, Parks Canada’s workforce is its strength, and the Agency is strongly committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in its workplaces. As this has been an area of renewed focus at Parks Canada, the Agency undertook many initiatives in the reporting period to progress toward a culture of inclusion, increased workforce diversity, and enhanced policies and programs to support workplace equity.

In 2020–21, Parks Canada continued to contribute efforts to the government-wide commitment of addressing systemic racism and upholding equality and inclusion. Work was advanced to identify and remove any potential systemic barriers to employment and job growth faced by Black people, Indigenous peoples, other people of colour, members of the LGBTQ2+ communities, and people with disabilities. In support of this commitment, Parks Canada’s President & Chief Executive Officer announced the creation of the new Parks Canada Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council and a new Champion structure within the Agency. Chaired by the President & Chief Executive Officer, the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Council is made up of Co-Champions and leads of equity seeking groups, Senior Management Committee members, the Parks Canada Ombudsman, the Gender-based Analysis Plus Manager, and representatives from bargaining units and equity group networks.

Parks Canada also continues to advance a diversity and inclusion plan to support various government-wide initiatives, such as the Nothing Without Us accessibility strategy, and the Call to Action from the Clerk of the Privy Council on Anti-racism, Equity, and Inclusion in the Federal Public Service. In 2020–21, Parks Canada initiated a review of staffing policies and practices aimed at creating a simplified staffing regime underscored by a commitment to diversity and inclusion in hiring. As well, new approaches that support diverse hiring were implemented, including development of specific guidance related to Indigenous recruitment, and delivery of seven equity, diversity, and inclusion training sessions to over 400 managers and human resources professionals. The Agency also initiated development of a contract to conduct an employment systems review in 2021. This review will be an in-depth assessment of all employment systems, policies, and practices and their implementation and will identify barriers to full employment for equity seeking groups identified under the Employment Equity Act.

Parks Canada values the experience and perspectives that Indigenous peoples bring to the stewardship of natural and cultural heritage places. The Agency aims to address barriers to Indigenous employee retention, career development, and advancement, as identified in the whole-of-government strategy, Many Voices One Mind: A Pathway to Reconciliation. As a tangible response, Parks Canada has developed the Indigenous Employee Training Fund (IETF), which allocated $51,684.84 during the reporting period to support the professional development of 33 of the Agency’s Indigenous employees.

The Agency is in the process of developing its Accessibility Plan, in accordance with the Accessible Canada Act, which came into force in 2019. This plan aims to identify, remove, and prevent barriers for persons with disabilities in Canada. A working group of Parks Canada team members is currently contributing to the drafting of this plan.

Parks Canada actively participates in the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) program to provide Canadian youth with skills, support, work experience, and networks to help them prepare for and successfully transition to employment. The YESS is designed to respond to a range of labour market challenges faced by youth and was adapted at Parks Canada in 2020–21 to emphasize outreach to communities. Parks Canada now also works with partners across Canada to provide valuable experiences to youth facing barriers to employment. In addition to the direct employment of young people by Parks Canada, the initiative will also support the hiring of some 3,000 youth by the Agency’s partners in conservation (for example, municipal and provincial and territorial parks, nature conservancies, and not-for-profit conservation and reforestation organizations). In partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada, the Agency will target hiring of a projected 4,183 youth in 2021–22.

Finally, the Agency has also deployed the Government of Canada’s Public Service Performance Management (PSPM) application within the organization, which provides an online solution to formalize and document the performance objectives and evaluations of employees, while ensuring better information management and mobility of the information across the broader federal family. Within the first 6 months of implementation, over 85% of employees required to use the PSPM had started using the application.

Human Resources Management Services — Optimizing a safe, healthy and respectful workplace

Parks Canada remains committed to building a safe and harassment-free work environment, supportive of workplace health, wellness, and the promotion of civility and respect. During the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, many Parks Canada team members continued to provide service directly to Canadians and others were required to perform their work remotely. In all of these cases, the health, safety, and wellness of all Parks Canada team members was of critical importance.

Management teams, procurement staff, maintenance employees, trades teams, and programming staff worked in collaboration with local and national occupational health and safety committees to ensure that expert health advice was central to all planning and decision-making activities. Essential services, such as building maintenance, law enforcement, search and rescue, avalanche control, highway maintenance, and associated support functions like human resources and pay and finance continued largely uninterrupted. Consequently, as a direct result of the hard work of other operational and functional staff across the Agency, Parks Canada was one of the first federal organizations to resume operations following the suspension of visitor services in March 2020. Through this work, Parks Canada sustained its operations and established a solid platform from which Parks Canada-administered places could reopen to welcome visitors and resume critical conservation activities.

Recognizing the many personal, mental, and workload-related challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, tools and resources were developed to support positive mental health for Agency employees, such as Parks Canada’s Guide to Critical Incident Stress Management and a guide for managers on COVID-19. A suite of mental health training was offered to employees such as a resilience workshop and the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s The Working Mind training, alongside increased promotion of existing mental health material and activities. In total, internal training was offered to over 1,000 employees by the Agency’s wellness team.

Parks Canada introduced additional rigor on its occupational health and safety program through the creation of a management response and action plan to address the findings of an internal audit. This plan includes timely review and updates to the Agency’s Infectious Disease Protocol to reflect the requirements and measures recommended by Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat, as well as the development of ergonomics tools and training resources for employees working remotely.

With the coming-into-effect on January 1, 2021 of the Work Place Harassment and Violence Prevention Regulations promulgated under the Canada Labour Code, the Agency has reaffirmed its commitment to creating a workplace that is free from harassment and violence. In this reporting period, a Centre of Expertise on the Prevention and Resolution of Harassment and Violence in the workplace was created, along with a new harassment and violence prevention program. New internal tools, including a new Harassment and Violence Prevention Policy and an internal generic mailbox for reporting incidents of violence and harassment, were put into place to support the program alongside the development of a new resolution procedure. Looking forward to future years, a mandatory training suite on harassment and violence prevention has been approved and a risk assessment procedure and tools were developed to identify and assess risk factors and mitigation measures.

On January 14, 2021, Parks Canada and the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) signed a collective agreement with an expiry date of August 4, 2021. The PSAC served its notice to bargain on June 16, 2021, in order to initiate collective bargaining discussions to renew the Agency’s collective agreement. As a Separate Employer, Parks Canada typically begins collective bargaining after bigger tables within the Core Public Administration have advanced on their agendas. As such, collective bargaining sessions have yet to be scheduled, nonetheless, preparatory work is well advanced to seek mandate approvals from the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer to ensure the Agency’s readiness for bargaining discussions when they begin.

Human Resources Management Services — Providing tools that support and adapt to changing operational needs

Work continued at Parks Canada in 2020–21 to advance the pay modernization file in collaboration with Public Services and Procurement Canada. The adoption of an internal electronic tracking system has enabled the team to track and strategically process pay transactions in a timely manner, which reduces future pay processing issues. Through this system, inquiries can be triaged to the correct level of compensation support, resulting in improved resolution and client service. The system also allows the Agency to undertake analysis of compensation trends, such as volume and main areas of concern for employee pay, which helps to inform planning for future improvements to compensation systems and processes, as well as the identification of resource and training needs.


Information Management and Information Technology Services — Collaborating openly and digitally with partners and Canadians

Parks Canada continues to embrace several new tools to support productivity within the Agency. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, a temporary instance of the Microsoft 365 GC Collaboration suite of tools and Google Meet were adopted and became the primary means for virtual collaboration amongst team members and with partners. Confluence—an online collaboration tool—continues to be effective during the pandemic, allowing Parks Canada team members working remotely to create and edit content in real-time and for content to be developed collaboratively and easily shared, with robust version control. Additionally, Jira, an issue tracking software, and service desk solutions were implemented and updated for tracking issues in other areas of the Agency, including for human resources and employee wellness, comptrollership, and conservation information management. These solutions helped these functions transition towards more structured and productive file intake, better file management processes, and secure online approvals for key workflows.

Information Management and Information Technology Services — Enabling Parks Canada with a mobile workforce

Several cloud-based and mobile-enabled applications continued to be enhanced, addressing the Agency’s need for off-network productivity tools and enabling the rapid and effective adoption of a temporary virtual workplace for all team members working from their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the Microsoft 365 GC Collaboration suite pilot, and Google Meet off-network capabilities described above, these also included deployment of the BBM Enterprise app and a successful pilot of a Mobile Compliance Reporting Tool, which enabled three teams to more effectively track infractions and responses at Parks Canada places.

As well, to support a remote workplace, improvements were made to the virtual private network (VPN) to address the 300%+ increase of users logging into the Agency’s network remotely as a result of the move to telework resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of VPN licenses and bandwidth were upgraded to meet this demand and network access was stabilized. Parks Canada also deployed a digital signatures framework, which maximized efficiency and improved internal processes, while aligning with the objectives of the Government of Canada’s Digital Government initiative and guidelines.

Building the results of its pilot project, an additional focus in 2020–21 was the preparation and remediation required for the Agency’s broader migration to Microsoft 365, the Government of Canada’s recommended workplace productivity suite.

Information Management and Information Technology Services — Connecting with Canadians using Open Data

Parks Canada supports the Government of Canada’s priority for open data. During this reporting period, Parks Canada initiated the development of an integrated Open Government implementation plan for natural resource conservation data and information resources. This plan contributes to making more Parks Canada natural resource conservation information available to the public by integrating open data and open science considerations into existing processes. In addition, it provides more tools to ensure natural resource conservation staff are able to effectively share information resources.

The Agency continues to contribute to Open Government datasets; there are currently 486 Parks Canada records posted on open.canada.ca. Ongoing maintenance and updates of ecological integrity monitoring measure datasets continue to represent the largest portion of Parks Canada resources posted to the Open Government Portal. Datasets describing human-wildlife coexistence incidents managed by Parks Canada also continue to be updated and the human-wildlife coexistence legacy data project initiative resulted in the expansion of some records to include data from 2010 to 2020. This project will continue with the goal of updating all human-wildlife coexistence records to reflect data spanning the last decade. Reports on climate change adaptation workshops held at six protected heritage areas between 2017 to 2019 have also been posted and work continues to prepare datasets from the Carbon Atlas Project for posting.

Information Management and Information Technology Services — Using technology to continuously improve

During the reporting period, Parks Canada’s internal directory, PC411, continued to be an effective self-service account management tool that places account management and ownership in the hands of staff while simultaneously updating the government-wide GCDirectory. PC411 was updated to include an account deletion function, allowing for improved information and access management. This online directory contains detailed contact information for all employees and enabled the Agency to compile quick and accurate network information on each work site across Canada.

Other key examples of technology improvements across the Agency included:

  • The Agency migrated its network to the Government of Canada Network Service (GCNet) from the legacy Converged Network Service. As part of this process, several Parks Canada places received bandwidth upgrades.
  • Parks Canada implemented an agency-wide Information Management clean-up using automated tools to identify R.O.T. (redundant, obsolete, trivial) files for disposal, as well as records of business value that must be retained;
  • The development of three site-specific digital permitting tools to improve services to both Canadians and staff.

Management and Oversight Services — Business Modernization

In 2020–21, work continued on enhancing financial resource management and improving capacity in financial and procurement management within internal services. The Agency began planning the foundational work required to move to a one-year appropriation regime and to prepare for the transition to long-term, predictable capital funding. The capital work included reconciliation of key asset information metrics, the exploration of an accrual budgeting regime, and a preliminary assessment of business system needs. Furthermore, the Agency initiated an enterprise-wide resource review, to be completed by the end of 2021–22, to support strategic long-term decision-making regarding Parks Canada resources.

Parks Canada manages one of the largest and most diverse portfolios of contemporary and built assets in Canada, with a current replacement value of $26.5B. In alignment with Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat’s Horizontal Fixed Asset Review recommendations, the Agency completed analysis in 2020–21 to inform priorities and direction for future, long-term investment in Parks Canada’s real property assets. These priorities include continuing to make progress on protecting Canada’s built cultural heritage, reducing Parks Canada’s carbon footprint, increasing the accessibility and inclusiveness of assets and sites, and enhancing climate change resilience, while maintaining assets in a range of acceptable conditions. The Agency’s asset management database continues to be updated regularly with information on the number, condition, and cost of Parks Canada’s assets, including its heritage properties. This data supports investment decisions and portfolio analysis, as well as requests for long-term, predictable asset funding.


Real Property Management Services

To support small businesses negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Parks Canada provided rent relief to eligible commercial tenants from April 2020 to September 2020 that was equivalent to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.

The total rent relief provided by Parks Canada was $2M. The relief provided to eligible lessees and licensees was equivalent to 75% of rents for the applicable six-month period. In addition, Parks Canada offered all commercial tenants the option to defer payments due in the same six-month period in order to support businesses in managing cash flow. Parks Canada continues to communicate and work with commercial tenants.

As of October 2020, rent relief for eligible commercial operators is available directly through the government Commercial Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program lead by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Parks Canada also reviewed its processes for soliciting public interest for commercial leasing and licensing opportunities and established new internal tools to improve delivery to Canadians.


Analysis of trends in spending and human resources

Actual expenditures

Departmental spending trend graph

The following graph depicts the Agency’s spending trend over a six-year period. For the period from 2018–19 to 2020–21, spending represents expenditures as reported in the Public Accounts. For the period from 2021–22 to 2023–24, the planned spending reflects approved funding by Treasury Board to date to support the Agency’s Strategic Outcome. Any future impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on planned spending are currently unknown and therefore not factored in this graph.

Agency spending trend graph
  2018—2019 2019—2020 2020—2021 2021—2022 2022—2023 2023—2024
 Statutory   234,165 234,869 177,336 204,836 201,567 198,765
 Voted   1,226,159 1,245,406 1,128,234 924,272 541,787 501,765
 Total   1,460,324 1,480,275 1,305,570 1,129,109 743,353 700,531

The significant decrease in planned spending in 2022–23 and following years is primarily due to the ending of the time-limited infrastructure funding. This eight-year funding, which ends in 2021–22, represents a total investment of approximately $4.2B to support infrastructure work in Parks Canada places and to ensure safe, high-quality experiences for visitors by improving heritage, visitor, waterway, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas. The Agency continues its effort to secure additional funding to support its capital investment program.


Budgetary performance summary for Core Responsibilities and Internal Services (dollars)
Core responsibilities and Internal Services 2020–21 Main Estimates 2020–21 Planned spending 2021–22 Planned spending 2022–23 Planned spending 2020–21 Total authorities available for use 2018–19 Actual spending (authorities used) 2019–20 Actual spending (authorities used) 2020–21 Actual spending (authorities used)
Protecting and Presenting Canada’s Natural and Cultural Heritage 1,022,207,842 1,022,207,842 1,015,272,311 650,354,911 1,528,562,141 1,331,557,979 1,358,136,356 1,171,403,186
Subtotal 1,022,207,842 1,022,207,842 1,015,272,311 650,354,911 1,528,562,141 1,331,557,979 1,358,136,356 1,171,403,186
Internal Services 85,324,009 85,324,009 113,836,418 92,998,565 126,573,965 128,766,185 122,138,301 134,166,731
Total 1,107,531,851 1,107,531,851 1,129,108,729 743,353,476 1,655,136,106 1,460,324,164 1,480,274,657 1,305,569,917

The planned spending of $1,107.5M represents the Agency’s 2020–21 Main Estimates and reflects approved funding by Treasury Board to support the Agency’s programs. The actual spending of $1,305.6M reflects the Agency’s expenditures as reported in the 2020–21 Public Accounts.

The increase in authorities available for use over the 2020–21 Main Estimates is primarily due to unspent funds from 2019–20 that were transferred to 2020–21 and the additional appropriations received after the planning exercise, mainly related to Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites.

The significant decrease in planned spending in 2022–23 and following years is primarily due to the conclusion of the time-limited infrastructure funding. The Agency has invested a total of approximately $4.2B over the period of eight years ending in 2021–22 to support infrastructure work in Parks Canada places and to ensure safe, high-quality experiences for visitors by improving heritage, visitor, waterway, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation areas. The Agency continues its effort to secure additional funding to support its capital investment program.

Actual spending was $198.0M (or 18%) higher than planned spending, also primarily due to additional appropriations received after the planning exercise, mainly related to the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites.


Actual human resources

Human resources summary for core responsibilities and Internal Services
Core responsibilities and Internal Services 2018–19 Actual full-time equivalents 2019–20 Actual full-time equivalents 2020–21 Planned full-time equivalents 2020–21 Actual full-time equivalents 2021–22 Planned full-time equivalents 2022–23 Planned full-time equivalents
Protecting and presenting Canada’s natural and cultural heritage 4,638 4,656 4,417 4,427 4,378 4,191
Subtotal 4,638 4,656 4,417 4,427 4,378 4,191
Internal Services 928 935 762 956 915 743
Total 5,566 5,591 5,179 5,383 5,293 4,933

The Agency’s planned Full Time Equivalents (FTE) reported here reflects approved funding by the Treasury Board to support the Agency’s programs. In 2020–21, the Agency used 5,383 FTE, which is 204 FTE or 4% higher than planned. The variance in FTE is primarily due to additional employees hired with additional funds received for the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites.

The decrease in planned FTEs in 2022–23 is primarily due to the end of time-limited infrastructure funding. The Agency continues its efforts to secure additional funding to support its capital investment program.


Expenditures by vote

For information on Parks Canada’s organizational voted and statutory expenditures, consult the Public Accounts of Canada 2020–2021.


Government of Canada spending and activities

Information on the alignment of Parks Canada’s spending with the Government of Canada’s spending and activities is available in GC InfoBase.


Financial statements and financial statements highlights

Financial statements

Parks Canada’s financial statements (unaudited) for the year ended March 31, 2021, are available on the Agency’s website.

Financial statements highlights

The following condensed financial statements are prepared on an accrual basis of accounting, which aligns the consumption of resources with services provided rather than reporting on the use of authorities. However, the spending authorities voted by Parliament remain on an expenditure basis. Note 3a in the linked financial statements provides a reconciliation between the two types of accounting.


Condensed Statement of Operations (unaudited) for the year ended March 31, 2021 (dollars)
Financial information 2020–21 Planned results 2020–21 Actual results 2019–20 Actual results Difference (2020–21 Actual results minus 2020–21 Planned results) Difference (2020–21 Actual results minus 2019–20 Actual results)
Total expenses 909,801,000 1,052,090,000 968,750,000 142,289,000 83,340,000
Total revenues 150,000,000 105,653,000 172,611,000 (44,347,000) (66,958,000)
Net cost of operations before government funding and transfers 759,801,000 946,437,000 796,139,000 186,636,000 150,298,000

Expenses

Actual over planned

Expenses were $142.3M higher than planned (planned: $909.8M; actual $1,052.1M) primarily due to the additional appropriations received after the planning exercise, including those related to the Budget 2019 measure Supporting Capital Assets in Canada’s National Parks, National Marine Conservation Areas, and National Historic Sites, and salary expenses that were higher than planned due to the ratification of a new collective agreement.


Actual year over year

Year-over-year expenses increased by $83.3M ($1,052.1M in 2020–21; $968.8Min 2019–20) primarily due to the ratification of a new collective agreement and an increase in amortization costs following infrastructure investments, offset by a decrease in operating expenses due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.


Revenues

Actual over planned

Revenues were $44.3M lower than planned (planned: $150.0M; actual $105.7M) primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in the suspension of access to and availability of visitor services at all national parks and national historic sites from March 19 to June 1, 2020. This was followed by a period of reduced capacity, with only those locations that could be operated safely re-opening for visitation in June 2020. This reduced revenue was compounded by a predominant preference among visitors for autonomous outdoor activities they perceived as safer, most of which are offered at a low cost or free of charge.


Actual year over year

Revenues decreased by $67.0M ($105.7M in 2020–21; $172.6M in 2019–20) primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which as noted above resulted in the suspension of visitor services at all national parks and national historic sites from March 19 to June 1, 2020 and reduced capacity over the remainder of the operating season in 2020, leading to lower overall visitation and related revenue.


Condensed Statement of Financial Position (unaudited) as of March 31, 2021 (dollars)
Financial information 2020–21 2019–20 Difference (2020–21 minus 2019–20)
Total net liabilities 318,511,000 329,180,000 (10,669,000)
Total net financial assets 191,104,000 214,154,000 (23,050,000)
Departmental net debt 127,407,000 115,026,000 12,381,000
Total non-financial assets 4,691,665,000 4,384,315,000 307,350,000
Departmental net financial position 4,564,258,000 4,269,289,000 294,969,000

The net debt is calculated as the difference between total liabilities and total net financial assets, and it represents liabilities for which the Agency will require future appropriations. Parks Canada Agency’s net debt increased by $12.4M. The increase is composed of the following items:

  • a decrease in the “Due from Consolidated Revenue Fund” account from delays in invoices processing due to initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 on the Agency’s operations, which resulted in some payments being postponed to April, increasing the “Due from Consolidated Revenue Fund” account in 2019–20. For the financial year ending on March 31, 2021, there was no delay in processing payments, resulting in a decrease;
  • an increase in environmental liabilities, due to the revaluation of contaminated sites and inflation adjustment; and,
  • a decrease in deferred revenue, due to the camping reservation system opening on April 1, 2021 (instead of January 1, 2021 last year) which meant that reservations could not be made in advance for the new financial year, resulting in a decrease of deferred revenue.

The net financial position is calculated as the difference between net debt and total non-financial assets, and it consists mainly of tangible capital assets. The increase of $295M is largely due to investments in tangible capital assets to support infrastructure work in Parks Canada places and to ensure safe, high-quality experiences for visitors by improving heritage, visitor, waterway, and highway assets located within national historic sites, national parks, and national marine conservation, for which $4.2B in funding was received between 2015 and 2021.


Corporate information

Organizational profile


Appropriate minister

The Honourable Steven Guilbeault, P.C., M.P.


Institutional head

Ron Hallman, President & Chief Executive Officer


Ministerial portfolio

Environment and Climate Change Canada



Year of incorporation/commencement

1998


Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

“Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do” is available on Parks Canada’s website.

For more information on the department’s organizational mandate letter commitments, see the Minister’s mandate letter.


Operating context

Information on the operating context is available on Parks Canada’s website.


Reporting framework

Parks Canada’s Departmental Results Framework and Program Inventory of record for 2020–21:

Departmental results framework 2020-21

Core responsibility

Protecting and presenting Canada's natural and cultural heritage

Core responsibility description

Establish national parks and national marine conservation areas; designate places, persons and events of national historic significance; protect and conserve natural and cultural heritage guided by science and Indigenous knowledge; provide opportunities to visit, experience and enjoy Canada’s natural and cultural heritage; work with the public, other federal departments, provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and stakeholders to carry out these responsibilities.

Departmental results

Canada’s natural heritage is protected for present and future generations

Canada’s cultural heritage is protected for present and future generations

People connect to and experience Canada’s natural and cultural heritage in ways that are meaningful to them

Indicators

Percentage of terrestrial regions represented in the national park system

Percentage of marine regions represented in the national marine conservation area system

Percentage of national park ecosystems where ecological integrity is maintained or improved

Number of natural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoples

Number of places, people and events of importance to Canadians that are formally recognized

Percentage of historical and archaeological collection, cultural landscapes and archaeological sites in Parks Canada's care that are safeguarded

Number of cultural heritage places managed cooperatively with Indigenous peoples

Percentage of built heritage assets in good or fair condition

Number of visitors experiencing Parks Canada places

Percentage of Canadians that support the protection and presentation of Parks Canada places

Number of places where Indigenous peoples use lands and waters according to their traditional and modern practices

Percentage of contemporary assets in good or fair condition

Internal Services


Program inventory

Heritage Places Establishment Program

Heritage Places Conservation Program

Heritage Places Promotion and Public Support Program

Visitor Experience Program

Heritage Canals, Highways and Townsites Management Program


Supporting information on the program inventory

Financial, human resources and performance information for Parks Canada’s Program Inventory is available in GC InfoBase.


Supplementary information tables

The following supplementary information tables are available on Parks Canada’s website:


Federal tax expenditures

The tax system can be used to achieve public policy objectives through the application of special measures such as low tax rates, exemptions, deductions, deferrals and credits. The Department of Finance Canada publishes cost estimates and projections for these measures each year in the Report on Federal Tax Expenditures. This report also provides detailed background information on tax expenditures, including descriptions, objectives, historical information and references to related federal spending programs as well as evaluations and GBA+ of tax expenditures.


Appendix: definitions


appropriation
(crédit)

Any authority of Parliament to pay money out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund.


budgetary expenditures
(dépenses budgétaires)

Operating and capital expenditures; transfer payments to other levels of government, organizations or individuals; and payments to Crown corporations.


core responsibility
(responsabilité essentielle)

An enduring function or role performed by a department. The intentions of the department with respect to a core responsibility are reflected in one or more related departmental results that the department seeks to contribute to or influence.


Departmental Plan
(Plan ministériel)

A report on the plans and expected performance of an appropriated department over a 3 year period. Departmental Plans are usually tabled in Parliament each spring.


departmental priority
(priorité)

A plan or project that a department has chosen to focus and report on during the planning period. Priorities represent the things that are most important or what must be done first to support the achievement of the desired departmental results.


departmental result
(résultat ministériel)

A consequence or outcome that a department seeks to achieve. A departmental result is often outside departments’ immediate control, but it should be influenced by program-level outcomes.


departmental result indicator
(indicateur de résultat ministériel)

A quantitative measure of progress on a departmental result.


departmental results framework
(cadre ministériel des résultats)

A framework that connects the department’s core responsibilities to its departmental results and departmental result indicators.


Departmental Results Report
(Rapport sur les résultats ministériels)

A report on a department’s actual accomplishments against the plans, priorities and expected results set out in the corresponding Departmental Plan.


experimentation
(expérimentation)

The conducting of activities that seek to first explore, then test and compare the effects and impacts of policies and interventions in order to inform evidence-based decision-making, and improve outcomes for Canadians, by learning what works, for whom and in what circumstances. Experimentation is related to, but distinct from innovation (the trying of new things), because it involves a rigorous comparison of results. For example, using a new website to communicate with Canadians can be an innovation; systematically testing the new website against existing outreach tools or an old website to see which one leads to more engagement, is experimentation.


full time equivalent
(équivalent temps plein)

A measure of the extent to which an employee represents a full person year charge against a departmental budget. For a particular position, the full time equivalent figure is the ratio of number of hours the person actually works divided by the standard number of hours set out in the person’s collective agreement.


gender-based analysis plus (GBA Plus)
(analyse comparative entre les sexes plus [ACS plus])

An analytical process used to assess how diverse groups of women, men and gender-diverse people experience policies, programs and services based on multiple factors including race ethnicity, religion, age, and mental or physical disability.


government-wide priorities
(priorités pangouvernementales)

For the purpose of the 2019–20 Departmental Results Report, those high-level themes outlining the government’s agenda in the 2019 Speech from the Throne, namely: Fighting climate change; Strengthening the Middle Class; Walking the road of reconciliation; Keeping Canadians safe and healthy; and Positioning Canada for success in an uncertain world.


horizontal initiative
(initiative horizontale)

An initiative where two or more federal organizations are given funding to pursue a shared outcome, often linked to a government priority.


non budgetary expenditures
(dépenses non budgétaires)

Net outlays and receipts related to loans, investments and advances, which change the composition of the financial assets of the Government of Canada.


performance
(rendement)

What an organization did with its resources to achieve its results, how well those results compare to what the organization intended to achieve, and how well lessons learned have been identified.


performance indicator
(indicateur de rendement)

A qualitative or quantitative means of measuring an output or outcome, with the intention of gauging the performance of an organization, program, policy or initiative respecting expected results.


performance reporting
(production de rapports sur le rendement)

The process of communicating evidence based performance information. Performance reporting supports decision-making, accountability and transparency.


plan
(plan)

The articulation of strategic choices, which provides information on how an organization intends to achieve its priorities and associated results. Generally, a plan will explain the logic behind the strategies chosen and tend to focus on actions that lead to the expected result.


planned spending
(dépenses prévues)

For Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports, planned spending refers to those amounts presented in Main Estimates.

A department is expected to be aware of the authorities that it has sought and received. The determination of planned spending is a departmental responsibility, and departments must be able to defend the expenditure and accrual numbers presented in their Departmental Plans and Departmental Results Reports.


program
(programme)

Individual or groups of services, activities or combinations thereof that are managed together within the department and focus on a specific set of outputs, outcomes or service levels.


program inventory
(répertoire des programmes)

Identifies all the department’s programs and describes how resources are organized to contribute to the department’s core responsibilities and results.


result
(résultat)

A consequence attributed, in part, to an organization, policy, program or initiative. Results are not within the control of a single organization, policy, program or initiative; instead, they are within the area of the organization’s influence.


statutory expenditures
(dépenses législatives)

Expenditures that Parliament has approved through legislation other than appropriation acts. The legislation sets out the purpose of the expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made.


target
(cible)

A measurable performance or success level that an organization, program or initiative plans to achieve within a specified time period. Targets can be either quantitative or qualitative.


voted expenditures
(dépenses votées)

Expenditures that Parliament approves annually through an appropriation act. The vote wording becomes the governing conditions under which these expenditures may be made.