VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today marks UN International Disaster Risk Reduction Day, a day to acknowledge progress being made on the international agreement to reduce risk and loss to disasters. This year’s theme is about improving access to early warning systems (EWS), disaster risk information and assessments.
Hurricane Fiona is a reminder that Canada is not immune to large-scale devastation of climate change with the destruction of homes and livelihoods, as well as shorelines and forests that are the habitat of many key species. Fiona reminds us that governments are failing to develop adequate disaster response and risk mitigation plans, and building for the future of climate chaos that is here today.
Canada’s entire disaster readiness and response system is underpinned by individual responsibility. As disasters approach, people are told to shore up their defenses at home, to stockpile enough food, water and fuel for 72 hours, although as we’re seeing on the east coast many are now beyond 500 hours trying to survive without power. In the aftermath many are forced to rely on themselves and their neighbours to clean up and survive, and many turn to private insurance (if they can afford it and if their claims are not denied) for aid in their individual recovery efforts. Where insurance fails government reacts by modestly matching donations to charities who erect barriers to access much needed funding, and call in a military that is, by the Chief of Defence Staff’s own admission, ill-equipped to deal with the increasing frequency and scale of disaster cleanup.
We have seen this story play out again and again as over decades Liberal, Conservative and NDP governments in every region of the country have shown a complete lack of preparedness and timeliness to respond to climate disasters. Canada should be using its abundance to help communities ready themselves for disaster, particularly marginalized and Indigenous communities who are often disproportionately impacted by disasters.
The Green Party of Canada calls on the federal government, in the spirit of UN International Disaster Risk Reduction Day and the calls for improving access to early warning systems and information, to build a truly world class national early warning system for natural disasters, to stop funding climate chaos and fund climate resilient communities instead, so people are informed and ready to deal with disasters whenever and wherever they will occur.
The Green Party of Canada believes a safer, more resilient and sustainable path is possible and is necessary in this era of increasing disasters. Building for climate resilience will require time, investment, and collaboration, but is is possible. We have the technology, tools and resources to do it, we just need government to act.
Dr. Farrukh Chishtie, Green Party of Canada Emergency Preparedness co-critic
Dr. Devyani Singh, Green Party of Canada Climate Change and Environment co-critic
Dr. Amita Kuttner, Green Party of Canada interim Leader
For more information or to arrange an interview: