Mitigation efforts need to be clearer

THE VALUE of risk mitigation needs to be clearer if governments are expected to invest large sums of money into such projects, delegates heard at the recent National Insurance Conference of Canada in Quebec City.
Lee Spencer, Manitoba’s assistant deputy minister of emergency management and public safety, said governments need to see that dollar value.

“If you want to encourage government to invest in mitigation — and I know we do — it is a fight for the dollar every time,” he said during a session on flood risk.

He said it is easier for government to unveil a multi-million dollar mitigation project when it can pinpoint what the exact savings are on the homeowner level.

“Say (a mitigation project) cost $20m and every person had home insurance reduced by $100 because the risk was mitigated,” Mr. Spencer said. “That is putting value on mitigation and that is going to work when dialoguing with politicians.”

He said every property owner in Canada has seen or will see home insurance premiums go up.

And that will create an interesting dialogue between government and the public because homeowners are already starting to see the value of flood risk now that it is being added at renewal.

“It’s a stated outcome of the public safety minister to move that billion-dollar (flood) risk out of the government and into the private sector,” Mr. Spencer said.

“But up until now people didn’t recognize the risk (and thought) the government was going to show up and ‘make them whole again’ or government is going to make sure the risk was managed for them.

“And now that the risk has a value . . . the dialogue with the local official is going to be a bit different than it used to be.”

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