The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is calling on the government to prioritize funding for a national high-risk flood insurance program in its upcoming budget.
A statement from IBC president and CEO Celyeste Power emphasized the urgency of the matter, stating that Canada is becoming riskier and more dangerous due to the increasing frequency and intensity of natural catastrophes caused by climate change.
“Only timely and sustained action on the part of governments, industry and indeed the whole of society, can create a culture of preparedness and help protect the health, homes and quality of life of all Canadians,” Power stated.
She pointed to the severe weather events that hit Canada throughout 2022, which resulted in approximately $3.1 billion in insured losses, “one of the highest annual totals on record.”
“The trend has been clear for years: more and bigger floods, wildfires, hailstorms, windstorms and extreme heat events – all influenced by our changing climate – are costing billions and putting more lives at risk,” Power said.
Establishing a national flood program would help speed up recovery and rebuilding for displaced families and businesses in flooded communities, according to Power’s statement, and would reduce unplanned disaster costs facing the federal government.
Power also called it “the single most important step Canada can take to better prepare for the impacts of climate change,” adding that most G7 countries already have such a program in place.
“Canada needs decisive action to reduce damage and risk by better understanding where and how to build, rebuild or relocate,” she said. “At the same time, Canadians need affordable flood insurance to protect those at risk while reducing the financial burden on taxpayers.”
Power noted that Canadian insurers are “ready to partner” with federal and provincial governments to set up a program for affordable flood insurance, especially as coverage for areas highly exposed to flooding increases in cost.
“Without such a partnership, Canadians, who are already reeling from cost-of-living pressures, will be increasingly challenged to find affordable insurance solutions,” Power said.
In addition to a national flood insurance program, the IBC urged the federal government to finalize and fund its National Adaptation Strategy by spring.
Policy work for this initiative has already been completed, according to Power, with the IBC and members of the Climate Proof Canada coalition assisting in its development.
“It’s now time for investment and implementation,” she said, adding that the government itself referred to the strategy as a “shared path to a more climate resilient Canada.”