It's time to communicate - lessons from CATIQ's Canadian Catastrophe Conference

Monday, February 5, 2018

From January 31st to February 2nd, Partners for Action (P4A) participated in CatIQ’s Canadian Catastrophe Conference (C4) in Gatineau-Ottawa. The conference brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from a range of sectors, including representatives from academia, the insurance industry, government agencies, emergency response groups, and media organizations, among others.


With the frequency, severity, and costs of catastrophic events in Canada continually increasing, the conference provided an opportunity to explore sector perspectives and foster collaboration in disaster management. Panel sessions and an interactive workshop helped facilitate critical discussion on issues and strategies that address preparedness and resiliency, available tools, and risk ownership.

P4A’s Director, Shawna Peddle, moderated a powerful session - Public Communication in Times of Crisis - that highlighted the need for more effective messaging and communication before, during, and after disaster events. Panelists included representatives from Canadian Red Cross, Insurance Bureau of Canada, Public Safety Canada, and the University of Western Ontario. The session emphasized the need to make Canadians more aware of their risks and to empower them with the knowledge and tools to prepare, respond, and recover accordingly. Important takeaways include:

  • the importance of personalizing risk,

  • the importance of using simple language when communicating messages and providing information to the public,

  • the importance of building trust and relationships between stakeholders and Canadians well in advance of disaster events, and

  • the need for coordinated, consistent messages across multiple platforms from multiple stakeholders.

Other key themes that emerged from the conference include the need for risk information and models, such as flood maps, to be open-sourced, transparent and accessible to everyone, and the need to establish clear roles and responsibilities for risk ownership. Conference attendees were ultimately encouraged to collaborate to achieve common goals.

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