Frequently Asked Questions
What is critical infrastructure?
The National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure (CI) as “processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. Critical infrastructure can be stand-alone or interconnected and interdependent within and across provinces, territories and national borders. CI disruptions could result in catastrophic loss of life, adverse economic effects, and significant harm to public confidence.”
The National Strategy also identifies ten CI sectors: energy and utilities, finance, food, government, health, information and communication technology, manufacturing, safety, transportation and water.
Part of the objective of the consultation is to determine the scope of what should be considered CI.
Who owns critical infrastructure in Canada?
CI is owned by private sector businesses across numerous industries, federal, provincial, territorial and Indigenous governments and the not-for-profit sector. Much of the CI in Canada is owned and operated by the private sector, such as in telecommunications, finance and some transportation and energy utilities. In Canada, publicly-owned infrastructure is primarily owned by municipal governments (61.9%), followed by provincial and territorial governments (32.6%), with only a small portion owned by the federal government (2.8%) and Indigenous communities (2.7%). The not-for-profit sector operates food banks and other community services.
What is the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure?
The National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure (National Strategy) was developed to build a safer, more secure and resilient Canada. Endorsed by federal, provincial and territorial governments in 2009, the National Strategy advances complementary actions across jurisdictions by establishing a common definition of CI and three objectives:
- Build partnerships to support and enhance critical infrastructure resiliency;
- Implement an all-hazards approach to risk management; and
- Advance the timely sharing and protection of information among partners and key stakeholders.
Together, these objectives guide national efforts to protect Canada’s most vital assets and systems.
What is the difference between the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure renewal and other infrastructure and security-related strategies?
There are a number of other federal initiatives focused on infrastructure and national security, such as:
- The National Adaptation Strategy, which is being developed to help Canada reduce climate change risks and enhance climate resilience.
- The National Cyber Security Strategy, published in 2018, which aims to keep Canadians, businesses and government systems secure from cyber threats.
- The National Infrastructure Assessment, which will assess what infrastructure Canada needs and how best to coordinate and provide funding.
The National Strategy has a few distinct features. A renewed National Strategy will be:
- CI-focused: The National Strategy will not address all types of infrastructure, rather, it will focus on the infrastructure most critical to the well-being of Canadians.
- All-hazards: The National Strategy will enhance resilience against all types of hazards (cyber threats, natural hazards, insider threats and others) as opposed to protecting against a single hazard.
- Cross-sector: The National Strategy will address CI across sectors and industries as opposed to a single sector, whether it is publicly or privately owned, and physical or digital.
A renewed National Strategy should complement other initiatives and keep Canada resilient no matter what threats may emerge in the future.
What are the next steps and timelines for the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure renewal?
Input from the consultation process will be collected, analyzed, and used to inform the development of options for a renewed strategy. Options will be refined and finalized with the aim of a new National Strategy and overall approach to CI coming into effect by the end of 2023.
Who do I contact if I have additional questions?
If you have any questions, comments, or would like to discuss a renewed strategy for CI resilience further, please contact Public Safety Canada’s Critical Infrastructure Policy Unit at: firstname.lastname@example.org.