Natural Disasters In Canada – Facts

Background

  • The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimate that in the 1990s alone 2,500 events killed more than 6,500,000 people around the world, while two billion others were injured or displaced. This includes more than 5 million Canadians affected by the 1998 ice storm, the 1997 flood in the Red River Basin, the 1996 Saguenay flood and other events across the country.
  • Disasters around the world in the 1990s caused more than C$1 trillion in damage.
  • Disaster damage has been doubling every 5 to 10 years in Canada and elsewhere around the world. This represents a 14-fold increase over the past 40 years. Many factors contributed, including an increase in the frequency and severity of many natural hazards, our aging infrastructure, and an increase in the number of people living in areas of high risk.
  • The number of natural disasters recorded in Canada increased almost every decade throughout the past century. More frequent severe weather events account for most of the increase, and this is influenced in part by changes in global climate patterns.
  • Spending has declined dramatically on new infrastructure, and on upkeep for existing systems. As measured in relation to overall economic activity, many tallies of infrastructure spending in Canada are less than half those of 40 years ago.

Major Disasters in Canada

  • Canada’s three most severe natural disasters all occurred in the last decade. In each instance, there were tremendous personal losses and a strain on emergency services.
    • The ice storm that hit Quebec, Eastern Ontario and Atlantic Canada in 1998 resulted in $5.4 billion in losses.
    • The Red River, Manitoba flood of 1997 led to $815 million in losses.
    • The Saguenay, Quebec flood in 1996 cost $1.6 billion in losses.
  • A summer, 1991 hail storm in Calgary resulted in $343 million in insured losses through damage to cars and trucks, home and business roofs, siding, fences, decks, furniture and landscaping.
  • A May rainstorm that blew through Southern Ontario in 2000 left $101 million in insured losses as clean-up of water and sewer-backup-damaged goods began.
  • Snowstorms in January 1999 led Southern Ontarians to turn to their insurers for $120 million to repair and replace damaged property.
  • The Edmonton tornado of 1987 cut a $148 million swath through the area. In today’s dollars that’s $215 million in insured losses.
  • Canada has experienced five major earthquakes in the past 20 years. All of them measured at least 6.0 on the Richter scale.
  • The largest earthquake recorded in Canada, at a magnitude of 8.1, struck just off the Queen Charlotte Island’s on Canada’s West Coast on August 22, 1949. It ruptured a 500-km-long segment of the Queen Charlotte fault and was felt over almost all of British Columbia, as far north as the Yukon Territory and as far south as Oregon State.

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