Floods in Canada to Cost $673 Million Per Year

The Canadian parliament anticipate that the effects of climate change will rocket over the next five years, costing over $900 million dollars per year.

Floods, hurricanes and storms are on in the increase, and the predicted cost is hugely over average budgets for such extreme weather in the past. Storms alone will cost the government $229 million per year, but flooding will be even more expensive at $673 per year over the next five years.

The report was released from the parliamentary budget office, and has pointed to global warming and climate change as a probable cause for the sharp increase in extreme weather and flooding of the Canadian prairies.

The report states that “the warming in the Arctic has been associated with persistent weather systems in the mid-latitudes as well as extreme weather events. Consistent with this, multiple-day rain events have significantly increased in the Prairie provinces and in the Rockies. The recent record setting multiple-day rainfalls in southeastern Saskatchewan in 2010 and 2014 are likely examples.”

The Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements is a government fund which will inject money into areas that are hit by flooding and extreme conditions. One of the contributing factors to the high outlays from flooding is a problem with insurance. Many Canadians living in at-risk areas cannot afford a decent insurance plan which will cover flood damage.

“In addition, the program’s design does not incentivize active flood damage mitigation in many of the affected areas.  For example, over the past 10 years (2005-2014), Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta have accounted for 82 per cent of all DFAA weather event costs, almost all of which are a result of flooding, despite accounting for only 18% of Canada’s population.”

Another factor is the regulation of the floodplains in the region.

“Furthermore, Saskatchewan has unlicensed drainage of wetlands that increases peak flows during floods and Alberta appears to have inaccurate flood maps. Furthermore, in creating flood maps, Alberta does not take into account rising groundwater and debris floods on steep mountain creeks,” the report states.
But these increasing figures are not a new occurrence for the Canadian government. Natural disasters caused by extreme weather have been on the rise for the past twenty years, and therefore, so have the costs. The federal disaster fund increased from $54 million per year between 1970 and 1994, to $290 million between 1995 and 2004, and an incredible $410 million since 2005.

The sharp rise can be attributed to certain events which ended up being major Canadian disasters. Saskatchewan experienced a period of extremely heavy rain in 2014, Toronto suffered from an ice storm in December 2013, Alberta and British Columbia were hit by serious flooding in June 2013, and Manitoba’s Assiniboine River burst its banks in 2011. The reason these past events have such an impact on the predictions of the report is because actual transfer of funds to the areas hit may take up to eight years.

Extreme weather included in the report were hurricanes, convective storms and winter storms, but the most costly was that of flooding. The costs of all these disasters have had a significant effect on the government, and the report reflects the increase in events with an increase in cost.

Floods in Calgary, Alberta, Canada  2013 Looking across the Bow River at the Calgary downtown core towards Prince's Island Park from Crescent Heights during the flood of June 21, 2013. Photo credit: Wilson Hui, CC BY 2.0
Floods in Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2013
Looking across the Bow River at the Calgary downtown core towards Prince’s Island Park from Crescent Heights during the flood of June 21, 2013.
Photo credit: Wilson Hui, CC BY 2.0