New funding to improve Canada’s resilience to flooding
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The Honourable Bill Blair, President of the King’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, announced new federal funding of over $585,000 for a research project that will examine how much flooding will cost in the future and how public policy can contribute to Canada’s resilience to climate change.
This project, completed as a partnership between l'Université du Québec à Montréal, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), the Université Laval and the University of Waterloo, builds on Dr. Daniel Henstra and Dr. Jason Thistlethwaite’s previous work with Canada's Task Force on Flood Insurance and Relocation and the recently published report Adapting to Rising Flood Risk: An Analysis of Insurance Solutions for Canada. The report provides the evidence and information required to support decision-making and the way forward on a national flood insurance program, with special considerations for potential strategic relocation of those in higher-risk areas.
"Climate change is increasing flood risk across Canada and recovery costs are rising,” said Henstra. “To strengthen climate resilience, we need to explore ways to share these costs efficiently and equitably. This research will build the analytical foundation to develop policy options for flood risk-sharing."
Henstra, a professor in the Department of Political Science, and Thistlethwaite, professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development, are Waterloo Climate Institute members and have been part of the Task Force since its inception in November 2020. In 2021, they each authored a comprehensive background report to support Public Safety Canada's work on flood insurance. Henstra’s contribution compared the design and performance of international flood insurance models and Thistlethwaite’s outlined and compared several potential flood insurance schemes for Canada. Their work also includes research on relocating households through property buyouts, illustrated in a policy brief and an article in Environmental Hazards.
“It’s imperative that funding for adaptation goes to the people who need it most, particularly those most vulnerable to climate change,” said Thistlethwaite. “To ensure this happens, we will identify Canada’s highest risk communities and provide data and tools that ensure their interests are part of decision-making over adaptation.”
Moving forward, their role in the new project will be to evaluate different flood risk-sharing models based on considerations such as their political viability, cost-effectiveness, and social acceptability. They will also produce a national socioeconomic vulnerability index to assess areas of potential high and low demand for flood insurance and to identify areas where relocation is justified.
Discovering solutions to environmental challenges impacting our world is a key priority at Waterloo. In addition to this announcement and the release of the Task Force’s report, the Government of Canada is developing the country’s first National Adaptation Strategy. This strategy will outline how the Canadian economy and society can be more resilient and prepared for the impacts of climate change.
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