Canada must do more to mitigate climate disasters: watchdog

Reuters News
|
Posted: May 31, 2016 12:02 PM

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The Canadian government needs to do more to mitigate climate disasters such as floods and wildfires, a top green watchdog said on Tuesday as the Alberta town of Fort McMurray struggled to recover from a huge inferno.

Environment Commissioner Julie Gelfand said Ottawa should share more data with provincial policy-makers about long-term severe weather effects such as increased rainfall and ensure climate change trends were incorporated into building codes.

She also said federal programs had failed to encourage the country's 10 provinces to invest in projects that reduced the impact of floods, storms, droughts and fires.

"Overall, we found that the federal government had not done enough to help mitigate the anticipated impacts of severe weather events," she said in a report.

The Environmental Commissioner is an independent auditor who provides legislators with analysis and recommendations on the federal government’s efforts to protect the environment.

As climate change starts to bite Canada will have to set aside more money to deal with natural disasters, property insurers said earlier this month.

Fort McMurray's 90,000 inhabitants were evacuated in early May as an uncontrolled wildfire ripped through the town, destroying about 10 percent of the homes.

The audit covered the period from April 2010 to May 2015, when the former Conservative government was in power. The Conservatives lost a federal election to the Liberals of Justin Trudeau in October 2015.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale - in charge of coordinating the federal response to natural disasters - planned to comment later on Tuesday on Gelfand's announcement of the audit's findings, a spokesman said.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren Editing by W Simon)