IBC head calls for openness in disaster mitigation funding and improved industry sharing

Published: April 12, 2019



Don Forgeron, CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC), says the government must simplify the process of gaining funds for flood mitigation projects. Furthermore, insurance companies can do better and make their flood risk maps publicly available.

Forgeron admits the federal government’s Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund has been relatively successful. Started in 2017, the fund aims to deliver $2 billion towards flood infrastructure over the next 10 years.

Despite its success stories, Forgeron believes more can be done. Speaking at the Swiss Re Canadian Annual Outlook Breakfast, the IBC head said provinces are struggling to keep pace with their own funding requirements. Under the Disaster Mitigation and Adaption Fund, projects are partially funded by the federal government and partially by provinces and/or municipalities.

Communities that apply for federal funding must contribute a minimum of $20 million, which Forgeron says is too high.

“More realistic expectations from the federal government could help to put shovels in the ground,” said Forgeron.

“Part of the problem right now is that infrastructure money that has been set aside by the federal government isn’t getting out the door quickly enough.”

The CEO pointed to four steps which can be taken by the federal government to mitigate risks: target priority infrastructure investment, educate consumers on flood risk, improve land use planning and building codes and restore natural wet lands.

Looking inwards at the insurance industry, Forgeron said companies can do more when gathering and sharing information on floods, such as maps.

“If we are going to encourage government to make smarter planning decisions and if we are going to educate consumers about the potential risks, we need to be working with the best available mapping data and we need to ensure this data is accessible and widely available.”

“We must incorporate provincial and municipal data and account for lowering of risk once flood defences are put in place,” added Forgeron.

“Today the data from risk modelling companies is good, but we really need to take it to the next level, including higher resolution maps and richer data sets. More information means better risk assessments. This means insurers are better able to price risk in specific areas.”