Question Period Note: Flooding in British Columbia


Reference number:
Date received:
Nov 16, 2022
Public Safety Canada
Name of Minister:
Blair, Bill (Hon.)
Title of Minister:
Minister of Emergency Preparedness


Flooding in British Columbia

Suggested Response:

• As we approach the one year anniversary of the atmospheric river event that disrupted the lives and economy of British Columbians, we are reminded of the need to take decisive action to address the changing disaster climate.

• Flooding continues to be the most frequent and costly natural disaster facing Canadians, causing over one billion dollars in direct damage to homes, property and infrastructure annually.

• Flood risk is expected to rise in the coming years due to climate change, and this is why the Government of Canada is taking concrete steps to prioritize flood risk, and ensure that Canadians are better protected and better able to recover from flood events.

• The federal government is working closely with all partners, including provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities in advancing several initiatives designed to improve Canada’s resilience to flooding, and to disasters more generally.

• These include advancing residential home insurance, funding to improve flood mapping nation-wide, providing better flood risk information to Canadians, mitigating risk for future flood events, and reviewing the federal government’s disaster recovery funding program, the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA).

• We are also developing our country’s first-ever National Adaptation Strategy, which will outline a shared vision for building a more resilient Canada.

• The Economic and Fiscal Update 2021 announced a provision of $5 billion dollars towards the DFAA for financial assistance for the extreme weather events that British Columbia experience.

• Over the last year, over $870 million dollars has been provided to the province under DFAA towards flooding events that occurred since 2020.


In the event of a large-scale natural disaster, the Government of Canada provides, upon request, financial assistance to provincial and territorial (PT) governments through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA), administered by Public Safety Canada (PS).

Flood assistance is the single largest draw on the federal DFAA. Approximately 75 per cent of all DFAA events are flood-related, amounting to about two-thirds of all DFAA payments. A review of the DFAA is being conducted, and an advisory panel has been formed (March 2022) to provide independent critical reflections on the program objectives, structure and emerging trends impacting disaster risk reduction in Canada.

PT governments also share risk exposure by providing financial assistance to municipalities and their citizens for flooding events through their respective disaster recovery programs.
It is expected that flood-related costs under the DFAA will continue to grow significantly as Canada continues to see the impacts of climate change, increasing urbanization, and aging infrastructure.

PS has been working closely with stakeholders to advance work on addressing the growing risk and associated costs of flooding.

In January 2019, FPT Ministers approved the Emergency Management Strategy (EMS) for Canada: Towards a Resilient 2030, which seeks to guide FPT governments and emergency management partners to strengthen Canada’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. The EMS provides a long-term, strategic vision for emergency management over the next 12 years and establishes five priority areas for action, aligned with the United Nations Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. On March 17, 2022, FPT Ministers responsible for emergency management endorsed the 2021-2022 federal provincial and territorial emergency management strategy interim action plan outlines steps each jurisdiction will take to strengthen resilience to disasters.

Flood Mapping and Risk Awareness

Public Safety (PS) is in the process of collaborating with Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada to help Canadians better understand their flood risk. To achieve this there is a need to advance flood mapping in Canada and to make available open and authoritative flood and risk maps. The Minister of Natural Resources Canada has received a mandate commitment from the Prime Minister to advance the completion of flood mapping nation-wide. This commitment will require close collaboration and coordination with the Ministers of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

These efforts are widely supported by our Federal, Provincial, Territorial and Indigenous (FPTI) partners. In July 2019, the Council of the Federation called for increased funding for federal programs meant to address climate change, adaptation measures and disaster mitigation efforts.

Flood risk reduction efforts are aligned with the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada. Through the Strategy, the Government of Canada has committed to better identify, plan for and reduce the impact of weather-related emergencies and natural disasters.

Among the strategic priorities of the EMS, it identifies “improving understanding of disaster risks in all sectors of society”. To support this strategic priority, PS is advancing work on a National Risk Profile (NRP), which is a strategic national risk and capability assessment that uses scientific evidence and stakeholder input to inform prioritization, decision-making and federal investments. The NRP includes a hazard-specific stream focused on flooding, which coordinates the development of whole-of-government flood risk policy and direction on activities related to flood risk awareness, engagement and education.

The mandate letter for the Minister of Emergency Preparedness in December 2021 also outlined the need to advance a flood risk portal to provide better flood risk information to the public. Work is now underway on the creation of this tool for Canadians.

Related Investments in Flood Mitigation and Emergency Management

Funding has also been made available to PS to support the extension of the National Disaster Mitigation Program (NDMP) to March 2022. The NDMP aims to reduce the impacts of natural disasters on Canadians by focusing on investments which address recurring flood risks and costs.

PS continues to work closely with other government departments to ensure that existing federal infrastructure funding is targeting areas at high risk of flood. For example, the department participates in the project selection committee for the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (DMAF), which is administered by Infrastructure Canada. Budget 2021 provided an additional $1.375 billion to the $2 billion originally provided in 2018 for this program. DMAF is designed to support both small- and large-scale infrastructure projects to help communities better prepare for and withstand natural disasters, extreme weather events, and climate change impacts. The majority of these projects are related to flood mitigation.

Public Safety Canada continues to work with federal partners, other orders of government, Indigenous partners, non-government organizations, and the insurance industry to determine how best to advance flood risk awareness, increase physical and financial flood resiliency, and encourage communities to mitigate their risk.

Residential Flood Insurance and Relocation

December 2021’s mandate letter for the Minister for Emergency Preparedness committed to ‘‘take action to help Canadians be prepared for, and recover from, the impact of floods in high risk areas; Creating a low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and do not have adequate insurance protection; Developing strategies, in partnerships with the insurance industry and private sector, to lower insurance premiums and identify cost-effective ways to protect communities and homes from climate impacts; and Co-Chairing on behalf of the federal government, the joint Committee of British Columbia and Government of Canada ministers on disaster response and climate resilience, ensuing effective coordination across all orders of government, including with Indigenous communities, and that lessons learned from the recent climate-related floods and fires are translated into effective policy action.

This is also supported by the December 2019 mandate letters to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, and the minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which also listed a mandate from the Prime Minister to create a new, low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners at high risk of flooding and without adequate insurance protection as well as a national relocation action plan to assist homeowners with potential relocation for those at the highest risk of recurrent flooding.

This mandate commitment was advanced in part through a Public Safety Canada-led task force on flood insurance and relocation, set up in January 2021. The task force brought together representatives from Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) governments and the insurance industry with a view to examine alternative viable options for the insurance program and potential ways that relocation can support risk reduction. The report, which was made public via the Public Safety Canada website in August 2022, provides a common understanding of the evidence and information required to implement viable arrangements for a national approach to flood insurance, with special considerations for potential strategic relocation of those at most extreme risk. [Redacted]

The interdisciplinary Task Force finalized its work to explore and analyze different insurance arrangements and measures to support potential relocation.

Additional Information: