Ontario government to review disaster relief program: CTV News Exclusive
CTV News has learned that the Ontario government says it will review its disaster relief program and blames climate change for the rising number of severe weather events in the province.
The severe weather has cost municipalities, including many in our region, millions of dollars. And while the province is considering the implications of climate change, there is very little money for communities with big bills for flooding, tornado damage or frozen watermains.
Environment Canada’s David Phillips says extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe as the climate changes.
“So we have not seen the worst, we have the appetizer but not the main course and that’s the worry that we have these events that we are seeing, that they can come back and be worse than what we have seen before,” adds Phillips.
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Ted McMeekin says the province needs to be prepared for the impact of climate change in all its forms and its overhauling the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program after consulting the insurance industry and local municipal leaders.
“Right now we don’t have anything but a contingency allocation. Provincially it’s going to be more than that. We will have to my cabinet colleagues and my treasure board colleagues to see if they concur with going in a different direction,” says McMeekin.
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman is the current chair of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus, which represents 27 of the largest cities in the province. He says municipalities are looking for money to pay for climate change too.
“We need funds to adapt, to adapt to climate change if this is the new normal. For example the premier just announced they are going to cap and trade on carbon emissions, perhaps some of that money can flow back to municipalities so we can bury pipes deeper, to enlarge storm water channels, improve flood ways to do the things need to protect people,” says Lehman.
The review of the disaster relief program is expected to be completed over the summer with the recommendations expected to be made public this fall.