Canadian Consulting Engineer

Study gives Canada a C for flood preparedness, up from C-

August 10, 2020

Improvements were found in many provinces and territories.


Photo courtesy University of Waterloo.

The Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at Ontario’s University of Waterloo has released the results of a two-year national study on flood preparedness. The report gives Canada a ‘C’ grade, up from a comparable study’s ‘C’- in 2016, suggesting progress has been made in limiting flood risk.

The centre interviewed 139 provincial and territorial government representatives responsible for managing floods, climate-related risks and emergency services from across all regions of Canada. Their flood preparedness was evaluated relative to land use planning, critical infrastructure, efforts to retain natural infrastructure, public health, emergency management capacity and the state of readiness for flood plain maps. The new study was completed in 2019.

The following are the grades for each province and territory in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

  • British Columbia: D, C+
  • Alberta: C+, C+
  • Saskatchewan: C, C
  • Manitoba: C, C-
  • Ontario: B-, C
  • Quebec: C, C
  • New Brunswick: C-, C
  • Nova Scotia, C+, C
  • Prince Edward Island: D, B-
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: D+, C+
  • Yukon: D+, B-
  • Northwest Territories: NA, C
  • Nunavut: NA, C-

In particular, the study noted progress in maintenance of flood forecasting, warning and alert systems and diligence in retaining wetlands within new community developments, although land use planning received relatively low scores. The report points to a need to (a) review system interdependencies—e.g. wastewater treatment, electrical, telecommunications, transportation and fuel supply—to avoid cascading failures during a flood and (b) develop further mapping efforts beyond riverine to urban, coastal, groundwater and ice jam sources of flooding.


Overall, the study concludes the understanding of flood risk mitigation is high across the country.

“Canada is heading in the right direction,” says Blair Feltmate, the report’s author and head of the Intact Centre. “The challenge will be to continue to deploy measures to limit future risk.”

To access the full report via Google Drive, click here.


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