VANCOUVER, B.C. – Today marks UN International Disaster Risk Reduction Day, a day to acknowledge progress being made on the international agreement to scale back risk and loss to disasters. This 12 months’s theme is about improving access to early warning systems (EWS), disaster risk information and assessments.
Hurricane Fiona is a reminder that Canada just isn’t proof against large-scale devastation of climate change with the destruction of homes and livelihoods, in addition to shorelines and forests which are the habitat of many key species. Fiona reminds us that governments are failing to develop adequate disaster response and risk mitigation plans, and constructing for the long run of climate chaos that’s here today.
Canada’s entire disaster readiness and response system is underpinned by individual responsibility. As disasters approach, individuals 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 actually beyond 500 hours attempting to survive without power. Within the aftermath many are forced to depend on themselves and their neighbours to wash up and survive, and plenty of turn to personal insurance (in the event that they can afford it and if their claims aren’t denied) for aid of 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’s, by the Chief of Defence Staff’s own admission, ill-equipped to cope with the increasing frequency and scale of disaster cleanup.
We’ve got seen this story play out many times as over many years Liberal, Conservative and NDP governments in every region of the country have shown a whole lack of preparedness and timeliness to reply to climate disasters. Canada ought to be using its abundance to assist communities ready themselves for disaster, particularly marginalized and Indigenous communities who are sometimes disproportionately impacted by disasters.
The Green Party of Canada calls on the federal government, within the spirit of UN International Disaster Risk Reduction Day and the calls for improving access to early warning systems and data, to construct a really world class national early warning system for natural disasters, to stop funding climate chaos and fund climate resilient communities as a substitute, so individuals are informed and able to cope with disasters at any time when and wherever they may occur.
The Green Party of Canada believes a safer, more resilient and sustainable path is feasible and is crucial on this era of accelerating disasters. Constructing for climate resilience would require time, investment, and collaboration, but is is feasible. We’ve got 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
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