Treating the Symptom, not the Cause

On February 11, 2014 the federal government tabled the 2014 – 2015 federal budget. In addition, Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty, announced a federal plan to create a National Disaster Mitigation Program where, over a period of five years, the government would contribute $200,000,000.00.

This follows on from my post, yesterday, where I commented on the $1,700,000,000.00 damage caused by the June 2013 Alberta floods. What I did not mention was that, as the flood waters receded in Alberta, torrential downpours in Ontario caused flood damage in Toronto estimated to be in the region of $940,000,000.00 and that, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, bad weather in 2013 cost Canadian insurers approximately $3.2 billion (yes, that’s $3,200,000,000.00).

In fact, the Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that the 2013 losses came in the wake of four straight years of natural disasters where losses exceeded $1 billion.

The $200,000,000.00 investment announced by the government is to “support mitigation measures, such as infrastructure to control floods that can reduce the impact of severe natural disasters.” In addition, the government will consult with the insurance industry on how best to create a national approach to residential flood insurance.

Adaptation and preparedness for future natural disasters is a positive step taken by the government. It equates, though, to addressing the symptoms of climate change and not the causes.

On that issue, the government is falling behind. While Environment Canada suggests that “significant progress” is being made on Copenhagen Accord targets, the truth is that in its own report, entitled “Canada’s Emissions Trends”, it acknowledges that emissions, by 2020, are projected to be 122 megatonnes higher than the target set by the Accord.

Perhaps the government’s announcement of the National Disaster Mitigation Program is an attempt to cushion the blow of another failure to live up to an international treaty on emissions reductions?

By James Early.