IBC President & CEO Highlights need for Canada to be Better Prepared for Natural Disasters

OTTAWA, May 18, 2016 /CNW/ - Today at an Economic Club of Canada event, Don Forgeron, President and CEO of Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), outlined the significant costs of climate change to Canadians,  provided a private sector perspective on lessons learned from past and ongoing natural disasters and discussed how the insurance industry and governments can collaborate to increase the financial and physical preparedness to protect Canadians.

"The devastating wildfires, which continue to burn in Northern Alberta, are the most recent and alarming evidence that extreme weather events have increased in both frequency and severity, in Canada. Storms, causing flooding and wildfires in recent years, have turned extreme and at times, tragic," said Forgeron. "A thoughtful, sustainable approach that puts Canadians at the centre of the solution cannot wait. Severe weather is a fact beyond our immediate control. Floods and fires are going to continue to be a growing problem."

The annual economic costs of disasters around the globe have increased five-fold since the 1980s, increasing from $25 billion a year in the '80s, to $130 billion a year in the 2000s. Canada has not been immune to these escalating costs. Federal disaster relief spending has risen from an average of $40 million a year in the 1970s to $100 million a year in the 1990s, reaching over $600 million a year this decade.  In Alberta alone in 2013, both federal and provincial spending reached more than $3 billion following the floods.

Recently, a report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer estimated that over the next five years, the financial cost of natural disasters, driven in part by climate change, will be far greater than previously estimated. And this was before the wildfire in Northern Alberta, which is likely the largest-ever loss of property in Canada.

"By taking action now, we can help minimize the human toll these events have on Canadian families and homeowners, mitigate costs to taxpayers and better equip local communities for the increased severe weather risks," continued Forgeron. "The federal government has shown their commitment to combatting climate change, as evidenced by the Prime Minister formally signing the Paris Agreement on Earth Day, marking an opportunity to move forward in a way that will make a profound difference in the lives of many. We can help."

"The time has come for our country to take a more disciplined and sustained approach to how we help prepare people for fires and floods," added Forgeron. "We need to work together to create a new framework that will allow us to build a more resilient country and better assist those affected by the fallout from our changing climate. By taking action now, we can minimize costs to taxpayers and better equip homeowners for the risks and challenges that lie ahead."

For more information about IBC's work to prepare Canadians for severe weather and disasters, visit http://www.ibc.ca.

For full text of the speech please go to ibc.ca.

About Insurance Bureau of Canada
Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is the national industry association representing Canada's private home, auto and business insurers. Its member companies make up 90% of the property and casualty (P&C) insurance market in Canada. For more than 50 years, IBC has worked with governments across the country to help make affordable home, auto and business insurance available for all Canadians. IBC supports the vision of consumers and governments trusting, valuing and supporting the private P&C insurance industry. It champions key issues and helps educate consumers on how best to protect their homes, cars, businesses and properties.

P&C insurance touches the lives of nearly every Canadian and plays a critical role in keeping businesses safe and the Canadian economy strong. It employs more than 120,000 Canadians, pays $8.2 billion in taxes and has a total premium base of $49 billion

For media releases and more information, visit IBC's Media Centre at www.ibc.ca. Follow IBC on Twitter @InsuranceBureau  or like us on Facebook. If you have a question about home, auto or business insurance, contact IBC's Consumer Information Centre at 1-844-2ask-IBC.

If you require more information, IBC spokespeople are available to discuss the details in this media release.

SOURCE Insurance Bureau of Canada

For further information: To schedule an interview, please contact: Ariella Kimmel, Manager, Media Relations, 416-362-2031 ext. 4312 (office), 416-550-9062 (after hours), akimmel@ibc.ca

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