A report from the CBC has brought to a light a poll conducted on behalf of Public Safety Canada in summer 2016, which found that 40 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement: “The government will take care of me and my home if there’s major overland flooding.”
The survey of 1,234 respondents over the age of 25 found that 54 per cent were not concerned about flooding while 74 per cent had taken no action to protect their homes from flooding, reported Dean Beeby for the CBC.
Problems arise, Beeby reports, in that the federal government has traditionally compensated homeowners for afflicted by major disasters by way of support for provincial programs. However, the government programs will not compensate for damage that could have been covered by insurance, and as Water Canada reported in its piece Insurance Co. Partners to Build More Flood-Resilient Communities, insurers have implemented policies that address overland flooding. As such, many homeowners who are expecting government compensation might not be prepared for the consequences of the next major flood in their region.
The National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) was created in 2015 in order to put the federal government and Canadians on a pro-active footing to address natural disasters, specifically flooding. According to a press release issued at the launch of the program, it was implemented to:
- Help reduce flood-related risks and losses by supporting provinces and territories in identifying and mitigating high-risk flood areas;
- Contribute to establishing conditions for the introduction of a residential flood insurance market in Canada;
- Collect disaster risk information that will inform future investments; and
- Facilitate greater knowledge-sharing across emergency management stakeholders.
The program has, at least, been effective in driving a residential flood insurance market. And in November, 2016, Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, launched Flood Ready, “a new public awareness campaign to increase Canadians’ knowledge of flood risks.” The campaign provides Canadian with information, guides, and quizzes that assist in the understanding of personal flood protection.
The campaign’s public engagement is necessary, according to Blair Feltmate, director of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the Univsersity of Waterloo. When interviewed by the CBC on the results of the Public Safety Canada survey, Feltmate said, “For the vast majority of people, this is not the case [federal compensation for flooding]; this perception highlights the need for continued consumer education and the need to set the right expectations to ensure homeowners prepare financially to support themselves in the event of flooding.” The survey results, reports Beeby, were used to direct the messaging in Goodale’s Flood Ready campaign.