Federal disaster aid program being overhauled to include climate adaptation

OTTAWA — Canada's overworked disaster assistance program is being overhauled so that future projects would only be eligible for aid if they take into account the need to adapt to climate change.

Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair says the program's costs are soaring as climate change increases both the frequency and severity of extreme weather events.

He says the federal Disaster Financial Assistance program spent about $7 billion helping provinces recover following major events like floods, fires and hurricanes in its first 50 years.

But he expects the program to hit that same total again to cover just two years in damages from fires, floods and post-tropical storm Fiona in 2021 and 2022.

Blair says going forward, it is not acceptable to spend that much money without making sure communities are more resilient to extreme weather caused by climate change.

Blair, who is reviewing the program and will update its parameters in the coming months, says efforts to include climate adaptation are already part of the recovery conversations he's having with provincial governments.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.

The Canadian Press