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Experts: Adapt to climate change with resilient infrastructure and faster disaster recovery

Experts: Adapt to climate change with resilient infrastructure and faster disaster recovery

Resilient infrastructure, faster disaster recovery needed to adapt to climate change: experts

Katie Powell, president and founder of Save A Dog Network receives a kiss from a puppy after bringing canoe bags of dog food to stranded households during flooding in Peguis, Man.David Lipnowski/The Canadian Press

Experts advising the government on climate change adaptation say Canada must do more to prepare for extreme weather and help Canadians recover from flooding, fires, and major storms.

Monday’s launch of the second and final development phase of the national adaptation strategy by Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault will be held. The Liberals promise that it will be complete by the end the year.

The plan is intended to demonstrate how Canada can become more resilient against the effects of climate changes. It also includes a national monitoring/evaluation system to measure progress.

Five expert panels from health, the economy and disaster resilience provided advice to the minister about where they felt the government should focus their efforts in the first phase.

These plans were made public Thursday. Many are hoping for major transformations or improvements before the end this decade.

According to the health panel, by 2030, health authorities will need to be able to understand and address climate-related risks to their health, including mental and infectious diseases.

New standards are needed in the design and management all infrastructures to make them low-carbon and resilient to extremes.

Experts agree that Canada must do more to prepare for extreme weather.

Lytton residents can confirm this firsthand. The wildfire that erupted in June after the highest temperature recorded in Canada decimated the 250-person town. Two people were killed and 10 months later, restoration work still hasn’t begun.

Lytton was visited Thursday by Bill Blair, Emergency Preparedness Minister. He promised that disaster assistance of at least $416 millions will be provided.

But Lytton’s rebuilding has been stymied by a number of factors including more extreme weather. The roads to the town were washed away by floods last November that caused $5 billion of damage across British Columbia.

Lytton experienced its largest snowfall in over three decades when it was hit by the winter.

The expert panel on disaster resilience said by 2030 Canada should be able to show a measurable reduction in the number of Canadians exposed to danger from extreme weather, and be able to make every victim of a natural disaster “whole again” within one year.

Lytton was not the only Canadian city to be affected by multiple disasters. Red Lake, Ont. and several First Nations nearby were struck by forest fires last summer. This caused evacuations and destroyed thousands of hectares.

Thunder Bay, located 500 km northwest of Thunder Bay declared a state emergency on May 10th because of flooding that has washed out portions of the highway leading to the town.

Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Natural Resources, stated Friday at a news conference about forest fire preparations, that no matter how effective Canada is in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the effects are already upon us and that this country must do more to adapt.

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“Canada is experiencing more frequent and more extreme wildfires and unfortunately that is not going to get better,” he said. “This is a product of climate change and climate change that is baked into our future.”

Public Safety Canada was called 14 times in the last two years to assist with out-of-control fires. It was only four times needed in the five previous years.

More than 4.3 million hectares of land were burned in the country last summer, 1.5 times the 10-year average of 2.6 millions.

Forecasters indicated that Friday was a good day for Canadians living in B.C. Western Quebec can expect to face higher than average fire risk in June and Jul this year.

Flooding is also a risk. Larger flood events are occurring more often. Last week, floods caused evacuations in Manitoba (Alberta), Northwest Territories (Northwest Territories) and northern Ontario.

Canada was responsible for about 30 climate-related disasters each decade up until the 1960s. Now it’s more than 100.

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