Government of Canada releases first national-level disaster risk assessment
May 11, 2023 - Ottawa, Ontario
The rising frequency and severity of natural disasters is a growing concern. In recent years, Canadians have seen extreme weather events, like floods and wildland fires, destroy homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure, and leave lasting impacts on communities right across the country. As Canada and the world continue to experience these disasters, it is crucial to increase risk awareness across all sectors of society and to inform decision-making for reducing, preparing for, and responding to them.
Today, the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, released the National Risk Profile, Canada’s first public, strategic, national-level disaster risk assessment. It provides a national picture of disaster risks facing Canada, and the existing measures and resources in our emergency management systems to address them.
The report released today examines disaster risks from three of the most concerning hazards facing Canadians - earthquakes, wildland fires, and floods, with a section on the cascading effects of pandemics like COVID-19 on these three hazards.
The report will increase resiliency in a few different ways:
- It provides decision-makers with a consolidated, national picture of disaster risk and associated capabilities, to understand how and where to intervene to build resilience.
- It provides Canadians with a better understanding of the risks they face in order to prepare for, manage, and recover from emergencies.
- It helps communities understand the realities of increased disasters, including those associated with climate change.
The report is based on broad public engagement and includes input from stakeholders from all sectors across Canada, including representatives of federal departments and agencies, provinces and territories, municipalities, Indigenous organizations and communities, as well as the academic, private, volunteer, and non-governmental sectors.
“When we understand the risks we face, we can better protect ourselves and our communities from them. The National Risk Profile is a foundational piece of emergency preparedness work that draws upon scientific evidence and stakeholder perspectives to support decision-making that will strengthen Canada’s emergency management and resiliency to climate-related risks and disasters.”
- the Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
In addition to broad public and stakeholder engagement, the National Risk Profile uses two evidence-based methodologies to assess Canada's current level of risk to all-hazards and inform our collective ability to mitigate their impacts:
- The All-Hazards Risk Assessment methodology measures the impact and likelihood of hazards that pose a threat to Canada. This helps raise awareness and reduce the vulnerability of people, property, the environment and the economy.
- The Emergency Management Capability Assessment methodology allows for consistent evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the Canadian emergency management system across different hazards and over time.
The next phase of the National Risk Profile will focus on heat events, hurricanes and space weather. These three hazards were selected given their high impacts on public health, critical infrastructure, the economy, and ecosystems. Space weather refers to eruptions on the Sun that cause disturbances in the earth’s magnetic field, sometimes through events known as magnetic storms. While it does not directly affect people, like hurricanes and heat waves, it affects the technologies on which modern societies rely, such as electrical grids, satellites, and communications systems.
In future years, the National Risk Profile will expand to include more natural hazards, and subject to decision-making, will eventually include all hazards and threats, including those that are caused by humans.
In addition to the National Risk Profile, the Government of Canada is pursuing a number of measures with a view to improving the resiliency of Canadians in the face of the rising frequency and costs of disasters, including:
- As proposed in Budget 2023:
- investing an additional $15.3 million to create a publicly accessible online portal where Canadians can access information on their exposure to flooding as well as resources and suggestions on how best to protect their homes and communities;
- investing $31.7 million to create a low-cost flood insurance program aimed at protecting households at high risk of flooding and without access to adequate insurance. In parallel the Government of Canada will also engage with industry on solutions to earthquake insurance and other evolving climate-related insurance market challenges;
- investing $48.1 million over five years and $3.1 million ongoing to identify high-risk flood areas and implement a modernized Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program, which would encourage proactive mitigation measures before an emergency or disaster occurs to eliminate or reduce the impacts of disasters on our communities;
- As proposed in Budget 2023:
Working collaboratively with partners to implement the shared priorities laid out the country’s first National Adaptation Strategy, to help Canada be more resilient and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Strengthening national resilience to disasters is one of the five focus areas of the Strategy;
Working with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, municipalities, and the emergency management community to implement the Emergency Management Strategy to help Canada better prevent, mitigate, predict, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies and disasters;
Investing $164 million over five years working with Provinces and Territories to increase Canada’s resilience to flooding by expanding the Flood Hazard Identification and Mapping Program;
Integrating climate resilience into the National Building Code and conducting research to factor climate resilience into the design of buildings; and
Providing funding for infrastructure projects through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, to help communities better withstand the potential impacts of hazards.
- National Risk Profile: Strengthening Canada’s All-Hazards Approach to Emergency Management
- Backgrounder: What is the National Risk Profile?
- Backgrounder: National Risk Profile Methodology
- Backgrounder: Earthquakes
- Backgrounder: Wildland Fires
- Backgrounder: Floods
- Backgrounder: Future of the National Risk Profile
Director of Communications
Office of the President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
Public Safety Canada
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