Goodale said devoting a portion of infrastructure spending to disaster readiness will stimulate the economy. (The Canadian Press)
Goodale's mandate letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau directs him to work with the provinces and territories, indigenous peoples and municipalities to develop a comprehensive action plan that allows Canada to better predict, prepare for and respond to weather-related emergencies and natural disasters. "There's a wealth of knowledge and ability. At the moment, it's not very well co-ordinated," Goodale said. "So you've got to get all different orders of government working together here." Despite the upfront costs, mitigation measures have yielded significant savings in Canada and worldwide, Public Safety officials have pointed out. For example, as of 2012, the Red River Floodway, built in the 1960s at a cost of $60 million, had been used over 20 times and prevented some $30 billion in damages.
"Weather events are going to get more severe."
Identifying high-risk areasThe remoteness of indigenous communities, aging infrastructure on reserves and lack of money for emergency preparedness make these settlements more vulnerable to natural disasters, say internal Public Safety notes disclosed under the Access to Information Act. One measure of a community's readiness is the ability of critical assets — such as water, power and communication grids — to recover quickly from a catastrophe. But departmental officials are working to come up with a comprehensive set of "indicators of vulnerability and resilience" to identify high-risk areas in advance of disasters as well as the kinds of adverse events that severely strain a community, says an internal policy paper. Without reliable measurements, "it will be difficult to target programs and resources to 'bake resilience in' or to demonstrate the benefits of doing so," the paper says.
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