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Insurance Bureau of Canada pushes for more seismic protection

Civil and structural engineers are deeply familiar with designing buildings and infrastructure to withstand earthquakes, but a new study from the Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests that engineers may still have their work cut out for them.


Civil and structural engineers are deeply familiar with designing buildings and infrastructure to withstand earthquakes, but a new study from the Insurance Bureau of Canada suggests that engineers may still have their work cut out for them.

The “Study of Impact and the Insurance and Economic Cost of a Major Earthquake in British Columbia and Ontario/Québec” published in October by the IBC, leaves “no doubt” that Canada is not prepared if an earthquake should hit. And it says such an event “could happen any time.”

The peer-reviewed study was commissioned by AIR Worldwide, global experts in catastrophe modeling. AIR looked at two possible scenarios: a major seismic event happening in British Columbia, and another in the Quebec City-Montreal-Ottawa corridor. These areas account for 40% of Canada’s population.

The researchers estimated that a 9.0 magnitude earthquake off the coast in B.C. would create economic losses totalling $75 billion. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake near Quebec City would result in overall economic losses of almost $61 billion.

Prompted by the research, the Insurance Bureau wants to advance a “national conversation” on mitigation efforts, specifically on how to prepare for a mega-earthquake, which is a greater than 1-in-500-year event. The bureau said it “wants to work closely with governments, the financial services industry and non-government organizations to ensure that a national response framework is in place before such an earthquake hits.”

Don Forgeron, IBC President and CEO, said: “The risk of a major earthquake affects us all, not just those living in high-risk areas…. Events of this magnitude have a domino effect on the Canadian economy triggered by property damage, supply chain interruption, loss of services, infrastructure failure and business interruption.”

Following from the report, AIR has a newly updated Canadian earthquake model that provides a complete view of seismic risk to residential, commercial and industrial properties and infrastructure.

To read the AIR report, click here: