Fourth Annual Roundtable Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Letter from the Advisory Committee

As the Advisory Committee for Canada’s Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, we are pleased to present you with the final report for the Fourth National Roundtable on Disaster Risk Reduction, which took place in Regina, Saskatchewan on November 5, 2013. The Roundtable facilitates coordination and implementation of Canada's Platform activities and is the means through which the Platform membership communicates its views, perspectives, concerns and priorities on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

Some 140 participants from all sectors, including a strong aboriginal presence, took part in the Roundtable’s diverse program. The contribution of participants to the day’s proceedings is a testament to the vibrancy of the Platform membership and demonstrates the value of the Roundtable as a mechanism for consultation, information sharing and collaboration to advance DRR in Canada.

A highlight of the day was the talk-show format discussion on resilience that was moderated by CBC journalist Stefani Langenegger.-Through the talk-show, senior level representatives from different sectors helped to frame the day’s dialogue on resilience and how to find innovative ways of addressing existing and new risks that may impact Canadians. As well, a consultation session on the principles of resilience provided for group discussion on personal examples of emergency situations and enabled the compilation of a repertoire of cases studies from the point of view of the membership.

A key objective this year was to increase the relevance of the Roundtable as a tool for the Platform membership and stakeholders to consult or share information on specific issues and initiatives of importance to them. The afternoon of parallel sessions were made available for interested parties to bring forward issues and to seek the views of Roundtable participants. In total, eight parallel sessions were held on a wide variety of subjects, including climate change adaptation; knowledge management; land use; risk assessment; financial implications of disasters; aboriginal resilience; and developing a new United Nations framework for DRR.

We would like to thank all the speakers, panelists, session chairs, participants, members, and volunteers. The Roundtable would not be possible without their contributions to the planning and their active involvement during the day.

We look forward to seeing you at the Fifth Annual Roundtable to be held in Toronto, Ontario, on October 21, 2014.


Canada's Platform Advisory Committee

Canada's Platform

In January 2005, 168 Governments, including Canada, adopted the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), under the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). The HFA is a non-binding international guidance tool which seeks to reduce the human, social, economic and environmental costs of disasters.

In June 2009, as part of its commitment to deliver on the HFA, Canada announced the establishment of a National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction to build multi-stakeholder coordinated leadership in DRR. Canada's Platform has been organized to comprise four interconnected components: an Advisory Committee; general membership; working groups; and a secretariat, which is housed at Public Safety Canada.

Platform Vision
A safer and more resilient Canada through the reduction of risks and leveraging of capacities and opportunities across all levels of government, the private sector, academia, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), professional associations, Aboriginal groups, and the general public.

Platform Aim
To provide a gathering place for ideas where members can connect in a way that facilitates dialogue and enables objective consideration of the current state of DRR activities, as well as new perspectives on trusted roles and partnerships, while spurring exploration of new ideas and collaborative opportunities.

Platform Objectives

Annual National Roundtable

The purpose of the Annual National Roundtable on Disaster Risk Reduction (the Roundtable) is to bring together the general membership of Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in an open, inclusive, equitable forum. The Roundtable serves as a venue for Canada's ongoing national dialogue on DRR, the administrative annual general meeting for the Platform, and an opportunity for deliberative dialogue among DRR stakeholders.

Roundtable 2013 is the Fourth Annual National Roundtable of Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction and is themed:  Building Blocks of Resilience - Local, National and Global Perspectives.

Objectives and Outcomes for Roundtable 2013

The main objectives of the 2013 Roundtable were to engage, empower and enable individuals, groups, communities, and organizations in DRR activities. The Roundtable employed teleconference services for people to listen in on the talk-show while many others joined the conversation via Twitter. One of the sessions was accessible by web-conference and the Platform Secretariat hopes to continue to expand the use of technology to engage participants in the future. Introductions were facilitated among the wide variety of experts in attendance, empowering stakeholders to develop relationships, to consider new perspectives and to strategize on shared DRR concerns. Sessions on information and tools provided attendees with knowledge on the state of DRR data and resources enabling immediate feedback to presenters on the use, expansion and way forward for such tools.

A key focus of the 2013 Roundtable was to explore the fundamental building blocks of resilience. The basic principles and concepts that contribute to building, nurturing and maintaining community resilience and advancing DRR were examined, debated and captured to inform future policy direction among all levels of government. This report provides a summary of the proceedings.

Agenda at a Glance

Agenda at a Glance
Timing (CST) Activity

7:30 -  8:30


8:30 -  8:40

Traditional Welcome – Mr. Tim Eashappie, Elder, Carry the Kettle First Nation

8:40 - 8:50

Opening Remarks - Ms. Roxanne James, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

8:50 - 9:00

Local Welcome – Mr. Al Hilton, Deputy Minister of Government Relations, Saskatchewan

9:00 - 9:15

A Year in Review - Canada's Platform Advisory Committee

9:15 - 9:20

!gnite Stage - Aboriginal Resilience (Canada's Platform)

9:20 - 10:50

A Talk-Show of different perspectives: Building Blocks of Resilience

  • Mr. François Guimont, Public Safety Canada
  • Mr. Al Hilton, Ministry of Government Relations, Saskatchewan
  • Mr. Nikhil daVictoria Lobo, Swiss Re
  • Mr. Ricardo Mena, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (Americas)

Moderated by: Ms. Stefani Langenegger, CBC Regina

10:50 - 10:55

!gnite Stage - Private Sector Partnerships Working Group (Canada's Platform)

10:55 - 11:10

Health Break

11:10 - 11:15

!gnite Stage - “My City is Getting Ready” campaign of the UNISDR (Canada's Platform)

11:15 – 11:20

!gnite Stage - 100 Resilient Cities Rockefeller commitment to Clinton Global Initiative (Swiss Re)

11:20 - 12:20

Consultation session on the principles of resilience

12:20 - 12:25

!gnite Stage - Earthquake Preparedness in Canada (Insurance Bureau of Canada)

12:25 - 12:30

Instructions for afternoon sessions

12:30 -13:30


13:30 - 15:00

Parallel sessions


Session 1: Tools

  • Risk Assessment

(Public Safety Canada)

Session 2: Local Issues

  • Building Local Business Resilience through Information and Partnerships

(Private Sector Partnerships Working Group - Canada's Platform)

Session 3: National

  • DRR Capacity Building for First Nations, Inuit and Métis

(Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada)

Session 4: Global

  • How Will We Pay for This? The Risk of Complacency & the Rising Costs of Disasters

(Swiss Re)

15:00 - 15:15

Health Break

15:15 -16:45

Parallel sessions

Session 5: Tools

  • Information and Knowledge Management for DRR

(Public Safety Canada)

Session 6: Local Issues

  • Land Use Planning Guide

(Laurie Pearce – Royal Roads University)

Session 7: National

  • Linking Climate Change Adaptation and DRR

(Natural Resources Canada)

Session 8: Global

  • DRR at the International level: Global Platform and HFA2 development

(Public Safety Canada)


Wrap up and concluding remarks

Summary of Proceedings


The 4th Roundtable of Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Radisson Plaza Hotel Saskatchewan
Regina, Saskatchewan
November 5, 2013
8:30 - 17:00

Parliamentary Secretary Roxanne James
The Fourth Roundtable was opened with welcoming remarks from Ms. Roxanne James, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Ms. James commented on the high level of participation and delivered greetings from Minister Blaney, noting that the Minister looks forward to hearing about the outcomes of the Roundtable. Ms. James remarked on the uniqueness of the national forum as one including participants with a wide range of backgrounds. In addition to recognizing that each one of the participants is concerned with the impacts of devastating natural disasters, she imparted that each one of us has a part to play. In the past year alone, with a record one-day rainfall in Toronto, flooding in Calgary, tornados in Ontario, and non-natural disasters such as a toxic spill caused by a freight-train derailment in Alberta and the tragic explosion in Lac Mégantic, many attendees came face-to-face with challenging situations. Ms. James complimented participants on their passion and offered an optimistic outlook for productive discussions.

Deputy Minister Al Hilton
Deputy Minister Hilton provided a very warm welcome to Saskatchewan. While truly representing the Saskatchewan spirit, Deputy Minister Hilton alluded to the passion that Saskatchewanians have toward their Canadian Football League team the Rough Riders, and recognized this same passion, supported with risk knowledge and coordinated partnerships are important components of emergency management and DRR. Deputy Minister Hilton wished participants a successful day of discussions.

Year in Review

Canada's Platform Advisory Committee, Co-chair Ms. Stephanie Durand
On behalf of Canada's Platform Advisory Committee, Co-chair, Ms. Stephanie Durand presented an overview of the past year, noting Canada's Platform's contributions to the Hyogo Framework for Action and participation at the Global Platform in May 2013. Highlights also included accomplishments of the working groups as well as future planned initiatives and activities.

In addition to announcing the establishment of a new Aboriginal Resilience Working Group under the Resilient Communities Working Group, Ms. Durand encouraged participants to get involved by joining an existing working group or starting a new group where there is an initiative, issue or priority that needs attention. Contacting Canada's Platform secretariat at is one way to learn about how to get involved.

The importance and relevance of Canada's Platform for DRR is becoming increasingly apparent to all stakeholders and although membership continues to grow, outreach activities must continue to ensure Canada's Platform is an inclusive forum for all. Ms. Durand spoke of a new website for Canada's Platform, which is hoped to facilitate enhanced communication and engagement among Platform members and interested parties.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Image Description

The above image is a slide, entitled “Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction”. There is a box with the words “350+ Members” written inside. To the right of that box is an arrow pointing to the right, with four bullets inside. The four bullets say “Advisory Committee”; “General Membership”; “Working Groups”; and “Secretariat”. Below the arrow is a main bullet that says “Annual Roundtable meetings:”, with fivesub-bullets, saying “New Brunswick (2010); Ontario (2011); British Columbia (2012); Saskatchewan (2013); and Toronto (2014). At the bottom left corner of the slide is the Twitter hashtag #CDNDRR

Ignite Presentations

A series of short, engaging !gnite presentations occurred throughout the morning of the Roundtable, informing participants on hot new issues in DRR.

Ignite Stage - #1 - Aboriginal Resilience (Canada's Platform)

A new sub-working group has emerged under Canada's Platform's Resilient Communities Working Group (RCWG) to focus on issues of Aboriginal Resilience. Starting by adapting the United Nations' "My City is Getting Ready" campaign to be more relevant to First Nations, Inuit and Metis groups, the RCWG-AR is also looking to explore ideas to access funding and develop new DRR-related projects.

Information about the RCWG-AR and how to participate can be obtained by contacting Canada's Platform secretariat at or by contacting the co-chairs: David Diabo, Assembly of First Nations, or Brenda Murphy, Wilfred Laurier University,

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Image Description

The image to the left is the emblem of the Assembly of First Nations.
The image to the right is a photo of individuals of a First Nations community sitting at tables while participating in a community meeting on resilience planning.

Ignite Stage - #2 - Private Sector Partnership Working Group (Canada's Platform)

The co-chairs of Canada's Platform's Private Sector Partnership Working Group (PSPWG) presented their desired outcomes for moving forward with the working group and made a call to private sector representatives to consider joining the working group. In addition to sharing information on supply chain vulnerabilities and business continuity, the PSPWG would like to explore initiatives that will help foster private/public relationships to enable pre-disaster planning on a larger/corporate scale.

Information about the PSPWG and how to participate can be obtained by contacting Canada's Platform secretariat at or by contacting the co-chairs: Mark Baker, BCP Risk Management, or Rodney Yip, IBM Canada,

Ignite Stage - #3 - "My City is Getting Ready" campaign of the UNISDR (Canada's Platform)

Laurie Pearce, Chair of Canada's Platform's Resilient Communities Working Group (RCWG) provided an overview of the "My City is Getting Ready" campaign of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. The campaign website makes it very simple for communities - small or large - to learn how to become more resilient to disasters, by providing a list of 10 essential points for making cities resilient, as well as a tool-kit with self-assessment information, case studies and many more important resources.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction
Image Description

The above image is a screen capture of a portion of the UNISDR webpage with the words at the top reading: Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready

For information about the RCWG or the Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready campaign, contact Canada's platform secretariat at or the Chair of the RCWG, Laurie Pearce, Royal Roads University, at

Ignite Stage - #4 - 100 Resilient Cities Rockefeller commitment to Clinton Global Initiatives (Swiss Re)

Mr. Alex Kaplan, Swiss Re, informed Roundtable participants about the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) commitment to action to build resilience in 100 resilient cities. The Commitment to Action, led by The Rockefeller Foundation and shared by Swiss Re, the American Institute of Architects (AIA), Architecture for Humanity, and Palantir, will support at least 100 cities to hire a Chief Resilience Officer (CRO), create a resilience strategy, and provide access to tools, technical support, and resources for implementation including access to innovative finance for infrastructure development. 100 Resilient Cities will also create a network for CROs to share information and best practices.

Ignite Stage - #5 - Earthquake Preparedness in Canada (Insurance Bureau of Canada)

On October 29th, 2013, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) released a major study on the need for greater earthquake preparedness in Canada. Mr. Chris White provided an overview of the report, which is the first report on this issue since 1992. IBC will use this research document to engage various levels of government on a policy discussion regarding how governments, private sector and consumers can be better prepared in the event of a major earthquake in Canada.

Talk-Show Panel Discussion - Building Blocks of Resilience

Moderator: Ms. Stefani Langenegger, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Regina

Panel Members:

The intent of the panel discussion was to examine the current state of DRR and hear views of high-level executives in the DRR field who are exposed to local, regional, national and global issues that could inform Canada's Platform and membership on challenges and considerations moving forward. A highlight of the Roundtable program, the talk-show was accessible for off-site participation through teleconferencing services. The discussion addressed significant challenges facing Canadian communities in DRR; ways to enhance an equal playing field; the role of private sector; and issues specific to First Nations communities.

CBC reporter Stefani Langenegger moderated the talk-show and elicited thoughtful insights to these issues which resulted in the following common themes.

Accumulation and Inherited Risk

In response to the first issue raised by Ms. Langenegger, Mr. Mena commenced the panel discussion with his views on the most significant challenges being faced in combatting the increasing rate of disastrous events. Mr. Mena asserted that the idea of risk, including how it is assessed, as well as its prioritization for mitigation investment, are critical aspects of the DRR dilemma. Further, that challenges are compounded by the risks that have accumulated over the years, such as old development models that have not taken risk into account in the past or old issues of improperly zoned land or simple lack of planning for harmony in nature and human activity.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Deputy Minister Hilton discussed challenges in the context of geography. In Saskatchewan, as well as across the rest of Canada, small communities are dispersed over a large amount of land. Remoteness, as well as distance from EM support services is an inevitable risk factor brought about by migration and settling trends. Deputy Minister Hilton referred to mutual aid agreements among communities and planning for provincial and federal government assistance among the mechanisms to address this type of risk.

It was noted that another part of inherited risk includes the unequal distribution of wealth, which is a common contributing factor in decision making as it relates to housing in poorer communities on the global scale. In other countries, poor communities may sometimes live in areas more exposed to natural hazards due to the inaccessibility of affordable land; and this scenario is relevant to Canada as well. Although often willing to help each other, resource-barren communities are left dependent on local authorities to enable access to safer areas as well as to provide solutions such as evacuation or new housing in the event of a disaster.

Mix of Investment and Focus

Mr. da Victoria Lobo's opening comments on significant challenges to DRR commenced with analysis from a global view, in which large events are typically reported while smaller scale events are ignored. Assumptions on the largest impact on loss are challenged; however, when compiled together, smaller scale events actually make up a very large portion of global disaster losses. Disaster losses from more frequent, small scale disasters are equally or sometimes more economically debilitating than low probability high impact disasters that make news headlines. Mr. da Victoria Lobo contributed that assessing risk needs to take into account the many methods of measuring loss.

As for measuring loss, Deputy Minister Guimont expressed the complexity of calculating the 'right mix' of cost-effective mitigation approaches due to the different perspectives of interest groups, associations, global financial industry and the general public. Impacts of disasters are measured in loss of life, impacts on the economy, effects on the environment and structural and social damage. Deputy Minister Guimont noted that the right mix of approaches need to include mitigation measures such as updates to infrastructure or changes to urban development, as well as important psychological measures to make society more resilient as a whole.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Deputy Minister Guimont also noted that in addition to mitigative financial investment, the right mix of activities need to be focused appropriately. Psychological aspects alone can play an immense part of returning to a functioning normal state. The issue of addressing immediate impacts of a catastrophic event may take priority in one community's plan, whereas longer-term psychological impacts may effect long-term changes in behaviour and influence trends that have larger economic ramifications. These challenges to effective recovery compound a complicated risk landscape.

Discussion regarding the risk landscape led to the subject of available resources to avert those risks. Although the panel members largely agreed that it is incumbent upon individuals and governments to take responsibility, it was highlighted that the insurance industry needs to offer the right structures of insurance to empower individuals to made good decisions while discouraging negative behaviours.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Moral Obligation

While recognizing the existence of a moral obligation to ensure equal access to housing safe from hazards (whether through housing policy, land use or availability of an extensive suite of insurance policies), Mr. Mena recounted that poorer communities have competing priorities for their income that may force insurance out of their financial reach or categorize it as a luxury item. With insurance being such a complicated tool, remote or poorer communities may not have the resources to adequately leverage appropriate insurance for their needs.

This moral obligation extends from planning and mitigation to response and Deputy Minister Guimont assured that although geographic realities play a role, there should be no difference in the standards of response received among Canadians, whether communities are located in different jurisdictions, or whether First Nation or non-First Nation.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Research, Outreach and Conveying Information

DRR comprises the ability to understand and work within the context of a variety of disasters, where working against floods, droughts and forest fires requires extremely extensive plans for each risk. Mr. da Victoria Lobo cited examples of people who live in scenic areas for the beauty while exposing themselves to hazards and mentioned that the nature of the current state of mitigation and risk reduction in Canada (as well as other nations) have yet to require adequate accountability from land-use planners, developers and home buyers in order to avoid negative behaviours.

Deputy Minister Guimont promoted the use of information as a tool and supported that Canadians are generally motivated to use information to their advantage. The panelists agreed that there is a wealth of research in the various streams of hazards and risks that can be used to support sound decision making among individuals as well as support businesses and governments. Mr. Mena added that equipping individuals with sound information is empowering, and with this in mind, and assuming agreement that the essence of resilience lies with the individual, family and community, it is imperative to democratize information and make it widely available.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Deputy Minister Hilton highlighted Canada's Platform and the Roundtable as one of the many tools to enable the public to self-inform and  proposed that the type of dialogue experienced at the Roundtable could be replicated and used to generate action at the local and regional levels.

The Role of The Private Sector

Deputy Minister Hilton continued his support for the model of the Roundtable when Ms. Langenegger asked the panel about ways to engage the small business owner upon whom the community is reliant to remain operational during a disaster. An ideal forum for business owners to come together to consider their level of resilience and their role in the resilience of the whole community, the Roundtable concept still needs to grow to capture more critical players.

The private sector entails such diverse players that the role of the private sector in DRR was not summed up in one or two comments. Mr. da Victoria Lobo described the private sector on a scale, comprising small businesses accountable to serving communities locally to global corporations with responsibilities in self-preservation, risk-sensitive investing and supply chain management to ensure continued market economy viability. The range of responsibilities span from planning and mitigative efforts to local, national and global recovery to disasters.

As well as ensuring the physical security of the workplace through business continuity planning, Mr. Mena agreed that corporations also have a role in supporting resilience at the community level, such as responding to communities they serve and lessening the suffering of people who have been affected. As part of the supply chain, it is important that businesses understand the risks of their partners and know whether their supply links are resilient. Panelists agreed that it is important for industry and the private sector to be mindful of the repercussions that being out of business could have for others.

Supporting Change of Attitude

Following the panel discussion, there was opportunity for questions from the audience. A question received via the Public Safety Canada Twitter feed, hashtag #CDNDRR #CDNRRC, inquired as to how the private sector could be enticed by government to pursue business continuity planning practices. Deputy Minister Guimont responded, explaining the role of government as it relates to shifting ideas about accountability, by creating an environment where organizations, individuals and industry assume responsibility for their own resilience because it is to their own advantage. Governments can help Canadians get the information they need to protect themselves.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

For those who make personal decisions to live near hazard-prone areas, whether due to the desirability of a beautiful landscape or other reasons, Mr. da Victoria Lobo suggested firmness in drawing the line on what type of insurance or assistance can be expected from governments. Mr. Mena agreed and supported the need for legislative and regulatory frameworks as an important component in encouraging people to understand their personal responsibilities.

Lastly, it was asserted that the same applies to businesses, whether through management of loans to businesses or other mechanisms, that requiring compliance to risk responsive continuity plans would demonstrate that complacent attitudes towards DRR, which leave economic expectations on the taxpayer, will not be tolerated.

Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Prior to the lunch break, Tim Eashappie an Elder from Carry the Kettle First Nation warmly welcomed the Roundtable participants to traditional Cree territory and offered prayers for successful proceedings.

Consultation - Principles of Resilience

The intent of this session was for the federal government to consult the Platform membership, as a body representing the private sector, academia, non-government organizations, and individuals, on principles of resilience that would inform future discussions on resilience and guide policy development.

A whole-of-community resilience approach recognizes that governments can no longer act alone to meet the challenges posed by complex disasters. Recognizing that responsibility for reducing disaster risks must be more equitably borne, all parts of Canadian society must be empowered to keep hazards from becoming disasters.

Public Safety Canada has been developing participatory methodology to build a sense of shared ownership to address the complexity of the cross-cutting nature of whole-of-community resilience. To better focus on addressing resilience within communities, seven Guiding Principles have been established:

  1. Adapt to understand and meet the actual needs of the whole community.
  2. Involve, engage and empower all parts of the community.
  3. Build on actions, structures and key leaders already in place in the community.
  4. Learn about the complex and integrated nature of risks.
  5. Improve awareness of resilience and risk information in the whole community, share broadly (mainstreaming).
  6. Foster shared ownership for action to address short and long-term risks.
  7. Establish a holistic governance approach.

Participants were asked to review the "Guiding Principles of Resilience" and consider instances where they were personally involved in a particular disaster or emergency situation. Individuals at the table then volunteered to share their experiences and group discussion followed regarding the aspects that contributed to successes and failures in the various stages of the incident. While examining decisions throughout the scenario, the group identified which principles of resilience were applied and their effect on the final outcomes. The group captured salient points about the incident itself and key points about the effectiveness of the specific principles.

These discussions resulted in the consolidation of 18 summary case studies and that contain important qualitative data and provide an in-depth view of how concepts in resilience are applied and how priorities throughout emergency scenarios evolve. This information now provides knowledge that can inform ongoing policy discussion in emergency management in Canada.

Scenarios Discussed
Case/Incident Issue/Goal/Outcomes

Establishment of EM Protocols in school and community environments

Enhanced awareness, preparedness, and engagement in primary  and secondary school environments to increase the safety of children and families.

2005 North Vancouver Landslides

Mitigation of known risk.

2013 Lac Mégantic Rail Explosion

Exemplifying leadership in communications.

Lac Mégantic leadership

Community inspiration from exemplary mayoral leadership.

2012 Hurricane Sandy

Exemplifying leadership in communications.

Watershed Resiliency

Accessing relevant risk information to mitigate risk and damage from flood, exploiting lessons learned from successes.

2010 Flood - Town of Maple Creek

Inclusivity involving community neighbourhoods as well as regional, provincial and federal experts in communications and response.

Small aircraft crash in remote community

Effectively responding with limited resources and accessing partners.

H1N1 Vaccinations

Public outreach.

Flooding in Carry the Kettle First Nation

Applying cultural knowledge in planning and mitigation process.

Cumberland House floods and droughts

Changes to traditional weather indicators due to industrialization and disruption of nature.

Generalized social complacency

Learned dependency across society.

High water in Brandon, Manitoba

Ramifications of delay in mobilizing military resources.

Heat alerts in Toronto

Success of systematic notification of the public to empower and enable mobilization.

Montreal drill on industrial warning sirens

Enabling whole-of-community recognition of warning system and appropriate response.

Ice Storm Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec

Prioritizing urgent needs such as heat, food, shelter, medical requirements for vulnerable populations.

Slave Lake Forest Fire

Strong leadership of, and communication from, the mayor addressed divers demographics and mitigated anger of the community, while promoting teamwork.

2012 Richelieu Flood

Economic drivers force ignoring of modernized knowledge and build recommendations.

Parallel Session #1 - Risk Assessment

Session Chairs

This session sought to explore issues relating to the wide variety of risks faced by Canadians and the move toward an all-hazards approach to DRR.

Background on current risk tools was provided in an overview that helped facilitate the discussion.

The All Hazard Risk Assessment (AHRA) model was developed by Public Safety Canada in collaboration with Defence Research and Development Canada, Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS). The AHRA is an integrated approach towards emergency management planning. More importantly the AHRA analyzes and evaluates threats and hazards regardless of source or vector. HAZUS is a unique, qualitative, tool that is based on a U.S. model and adapted for Canada.

The Regional Resilience Assessment Program (RRAP) is linked to the Department of Homeland Security and the Beyond the Border initiative. It assesses areas of vulnerability and safety requirements. In addition, it assists in supporting security management for example, business continuity plans and critical infrastructure operators. Furthering the utility of the RRAP, it engages federal, provincial and agency counterparts in dialogue that equates to results in the area of building resilience as change occurs. Another example is in the Province of New Brunswick where the tool is used within the energy sector between Canada and the U.S.

The highlight of the session was the discussion concerning the Risk Assessment Users Group (RAUG) and exploring the possibility of a national platform for a RAUG.

It was largely agreed that there could be many potential users of a RAUG for risk practitioners and that the development of any such platform or user group must reach beyond government institutions. The Canada Safety and Security Program (CSSP) was suggested as being able to assist in a dialogue among government and other stakeholders, as an AHRA Community of Practice (CoP) has recently been established under the DRDC CSS.

The AHRA CoP Charter, which was developed in support of the CSSP initiative allows the federal Interdepartmental Risk Assessment Working Group to review and revise the AHRA methodology, develop scenarios and provide an open process to solicit input regarding the way forward on the AHRA.

Certain critical components of a RAUG included:

Government of Canada WebEx and teleconference capabilities were available for this session, enabling an additional 20 individuals (approximately) to participate in the session remotely.

Parallel Session #2 - Building Local Business Resilience through Information and Partnerships

Session Chairs

This session served to revisit the roles of private sector in DRR and consult with Platform stakeholders on initiatives that should be pursued by Canada's Platform's Private Sector Partnership Working Group (PSPWG) in order to engage businesses in DRR activities.

In addition to some members of the private sector, this session primarily included participants from the public sector interested in the issue of development of private-public relationships in DRR.

Discussion centered on the challenge of bringing the right companies to the table and to engage companies through the Roundtable or through Canada's Platform and the PSPWG.

It was noted that strategic objectives and outcomes need to be established and clearly communicated in order that private sector stakeholders understand the value proposition for their participation.

Moving forward, the PSPWG will continue to work on key priorities including:

To share ideas or become engaged with PSPWG activities, contact the co-chairs:  Mark Baker, BCP Risk Management, and Rodney Yip, IBM Canada,

Parallel Session #3 - DRR Capacity Building for First Nations, Inuit and Metis

Session Chairs


Many First Nations communities are on the front lines of disaster, with some evacuated annually due to flood or forest fire. This session brought interested individuals together in a traditional circle discussion to share thoughts on DRR as it relates to the perspective and experiences of First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities.

The session was very well attended with over 30 participants in a sharing circle. The session began and closed with a ceremony led by Elder Tim Eashappie, Carry the Kettle First Nation, setting the tone for an informative and respectful session with participants of diverse backgrounds.

A number of First Nations communities that were supplied with materials and training have now become resilience success stories both increasing the feeling of self-sufficiency on reserve and lessening the need for government assistance. Resources are a key issue, equipping community members with the skills and desire to pursue building resilience.

Key Discussion Points

Parallel Session #4 - How Will We Pay for This? The Risk of Complacency & the Rising Costs of Disasters

Session Chair

Speakers / Panelists

The intent of this session was to explore the true exposure of taxpayers to natural disasters and some of the initiatives governments are leading around the world to soften the impact and build financial resilience.

Opening Remarks

Economic cost of natural disasters is growing exponentially, due to economic development, population growth, higher concentration of assets in areas that are exposed and increasingly, climate change. The gap between economic damage and insurable damage is treacherous and is the crux of the issue. Who is paying for the gap? The effects of the economic toll created by these disasters can be long-lasting. This was the first discussion held at the Roundtable addressing the issue of the rising cost of risk involving notable senior financial and insurance experts in Canada.

Glenn McGillivray presented some background and the current situation of catastrophic loss in Canada, which seems to have been increasing since the 1970's with emphasis on meteorological-hydrological events and noting that seismic events remained constant. In 1998 and 2005, Canada experienced catastrophic losses of $1B each. Subsequently, in years 2009 to 2013, Canada underwent an unprecedented four year string of >$1B events. The gaps between insured and uninsured losses are unsustainable and the time has come to start recognizing the new normal.

Mark Prefontaine discussed Alberta's recent history with natural disasters; with the upside being that extensive experience has been accumulated. Mr. Prefontaine suggested that the ability to respond to the 2012 southern Alberta flooding was bolstered by the knowledge and experience gained from dealing with the 2011 Slave Lake Fire. The gap between consumer expectations and what the public is able to provide is being witnessed in real-time. These expectations need to be managed during an event but importantly expectations need to be dealt with in a forward plan. Alberta is at the beginning of what will be a lengthy discussion on finding the right balance while managing a balance sheet, recognizing that there is only one citizen that is paying taxes and insurance premiums as well as possibly absorbing leftover damage costs themselves.

Gregor Robinson spoke about the policy and research undertaken at the IBC and its Disaster Risk Management approach to risk assessment. Key takeaways from recent research include earthquakes as a prime example of uncertainty. Canada does not have adequate insurance coverage for catastrophic risk and is in need of a robust institutional risk sharing arrangement to back up the insurance industry. IBC believes there needs to be a contingency, through a national fund to address the potential for industry insolvency.  There is also a need to increase take up of general earthquake insurance where it is most needed. Regarding floods, they are not random events and frequently occur in the same location year after year. Adverse selection does not work well with the pooling principle, as it produces premiums that are not affordable. After flooding in Alberta and Toronto this year, the industry is being called upon to play a role. IBC is looking at elements that need to be in place if habitational overland flood insurance were to be made available in Canada. Improved flood mapping, better zoning land use controls, better mitigation, as well as a mechanism for ensuring that a low-frequency high-severity tail event does not threaten the solvency of exposed companies. IBC's role in risk reduction is to help develop insurance as a tool to support individuals and businesses in taking control of their own risk and where industry can provide the price incentive.

Nikhil da Victoria Lobo shared information about the team Swiss Re has developed to help governments deal with massive catastrophic losses that disrupt federal budgets. In the larger picture, Swiss Re would want individuals and corporations to have access to insurance that makes sense. Part of the solution lies in governments accessing the appropriate mechanisms to address their own risk, enabling an active market that can develop and secure appropriate instruments to help them hedge exposure to disastrous events.  Although Canada already has a robust system in place, there are still constituents for whom insurance is not accessible. Catastrophic events are becoming more complex and timing is only getting tighter.

Highlights from Questions and Answers
Relating to the suggestion that an increase in catastrophic losses can be attributed to demographic growth, economic growth and climate change; do these issues inevitably have to be associated with growth in disaster losses?

Some key points responding to this question are that "a hazard does not have to be a catastrophe," although society needs to be more careful about what we build, where and how we build it. Catastrophic losses are indeed partially preventable and we can start to build a framework for 2030 or 2050.

The second lowest number of disasters in the decade occurred in 2012. What is getting so expensive?

There was discussion about the validity of global data repositories such as the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters known as CRED and the data it contains, which raised the issue about the methodologies in calculating loss (e.g., life versus economic impact). It was noted that the primary costs are accumulated from losses to physical infrastructure, business interruption, lost circulation of tax revenues and economic growth. While recognizing the financial costs, mitigation is helping save lives which is still the primary concern. Finally, a dialogue needs to occur on what is the sustainable threshold for the federal government. For example, Alberta did indeed purchase reinsurance coverage for wildfire response several years ago. The "stop-loss treaty" funds were accessed for each of the two years the agreement was in force.

Is the private sector satisfied with evidence over the past five years that informs the public policy domain?

The evidence demonstrates that the status quo is unacceptable. However, mitigation activities need to address more than examples of past events, rather, include calculation of risk of underestimating mitigation requirements and the potential of damage from failed mitigation efforts.  The example was provided of an Alberta town in which a berm was built to accommodate a 1 in 100 year flood, and when a 1 in 500 year flood occurred, and the water surpassed the berm and became trapped within the community, unable to recede, extending the recovery time and creating more damage.

The role of the private sector in addressing their risk.

The private sector has a critical role. Alberta has used a private-public partnership approach and is looking at how to expand the mechanism as well as what other mechanisms exist. The private sector bears a lot of risk and must be included in any of these conversations about sharing risk. It was proposed that there are four specific and important areas that need to be addressed jointly with the private sector: 1) better mapping in order to better assess and price flood insurance; 2) better zoning controls; 3) measured infrastructure flood controls; and 4) greater public awareness.

Parallel Session #5 - Information Knowledge Management for DRR

Session Chairs and Presenters

The Information and Knowledge Management (IKM) session provided attendees with an update on the current state of IKM relating to DRR. Scientifically based factual data is integral to risk assessment and necessary to inform decisions. The data and tools currently used to support DRR in Canada are varied and not consistently available to all types of users. The DRR community in Canada is in need of a single-window entry point to access methodologically sound data that is supported and adopted as the acceptable science-based standard.

Sean Norton, DRDC CSS presented the issue of resilience and suggested that dysfunction is intrinsic to the discussion. Measurable resilience outcomes need to be articulated in a way that can be supported with empirical data. For example, how many resilience outcomes would need to be present before a community could be confidently classified as resilient? Vulnerability, protective factors and resilient outcomes are dependent on the level of risk knowledge and its analysis.

A case study of a recent ice storm in Kingston, Ontario was discussed, identifying both risk and protective factors in the specific example. Key situational realities included the amalgamation of the city ten days before the ice storm, social connections between officials, spirit of volunteerism/ initiative, leadership at all levels, resourcefulness (local people,  local problems), local people tackling problems, twinning (pairing effective communities with ineffective communities) and white flag campaigns (adaptation during extreme conditions).

Marika Morris, PS, presented on the Survey of Emergency Preparedness and Resilience, developed by PS, Statistics Canada, and DRDC to help governments, communities, first responders, businesses and NGOs better understand the level of resilience in over 60 communities. The survey is to be executed between January and June 2014 across 72,000 households in 10 Canadian provinces.

The survey measures people's awareness of the risks their community faces, their prior experience of an emergency or disaster and where people turned to for information and help, what specific actions they have taken to prepare for an emergency/disaster, and a number of other aspects of resilience which are tied in the academic literature and in pre-survey consultations with emergency management stakeholders as being related to capacity to prepare for, mitigate, respond to and recover from disaster:  social networks and resources, income, education, health status, trust in authority and trust in neighbors, and volunteerism/willingness to help others. Socio-demographic variables such as gender, age, immigration status, ethnic background, language and religion will also be collected. The survey is one information tool of many, which complements other tools such as rural risk and resilience assessments and critical infrastructure risk and resilience assessments.

The results of the Survey will be released by Statistics Canada in an analytical report in October 2015, and the raw data will be made available across Canada in Statistics Canada's Research Data Centres. Although community-level data will be available for the 63 largest communities in Canada, neighbourhood level data, due to smaller numbers of respondents, may be subject to Statistics Canada's confidentiality policies whereby data pertaining to a small number of respondents is suppressed.

There is funding for data collection in 2014, but funds will have to be found to repeat the survey in future years. At the time, a consultation was being undertaken to determine the feasibility of expanding the survey to the territories.  

Simona Verga, DRDC CSS, discussed the need for knowledge management for DRR. Although trends in disaster losses in Canada appear to be increasing, a consistent, methodological approach to gathering and maintaining data needs to take place in order to empirically support research and inform decision making. As well, although data collection is essential, open access to the data is important to inform situational and risk assessments.

Certain tools for data collection and sharing currently exist, such as the Canadian Disaster Database, the Federal geo-spatial platform and HAZUS; however, there is dire need for a framework to enable collaborative information gathering and validation, as well as define consistency in reporting to ensure measurable risk factors and outcomes.

DRDC CSS is looking for ways to maintain and support initiatives with national reach but without an obvious “owner”, as well as transition them to a more permanent home organization when one is found.

Parallel Session #6 - Land Use Planning Guide

Session Chairs

The intent of this session was to further consult and review a Risk-based Land-use Guide developed to assist municipalities in evaluating proposals for development.

The Land-Use Guide was developed with the support of Simon Fraser University's Centre for Natural Hazard Research,  NRCan's Quantitative Risk Assessment Project, Pearces 2 Consulting, the Justice Institute of British Columbia, the District of North Vancouver and PS. It was designed as a tool to assist municipalities in achieving sound decisions on proposals for development within their communities. The risk management process is based on a national standard that has proven results. An advantage to this risk based process is that it can be applied to small or large projects.

A scenario was provided whereby participants were asked to consider a proposal just outside the 1:100 year flood zone. Working through the six steps of a risk management process, participants were able to learn more about the overall process and to also make suggestions and identify possible gaps in the guide for future updates.

It was noted that putting together a Hazard Risk Management Framework Team can be challenging dependent on the size of the city and the resources available. Involvement of local community association representatives early on was seen as essential to the overall process. Outlining a strong communications plan and developing a workplan were also critical components identified in this process. Although the scenario outlined the 1:100 year flood, it quickly becomes apparent that an all-hazards approach must be applied in the evaluation of the land-use proposal.

Participants in the room were engaged and interested in this process, which led to a wholesome discussion and review of the guide.

Parallel Session #7 - Linking Climate Change Adaptation and DRR

Session Chair


Two presentations were delivered providing an overview of the national and regional perspectives from the climate change adaptation community, followed by brief statements from panelists and a discussion open to capturing concrete suggestions and next steps.

Representation at the session was robust, including representatives from First Nations, municipal, provincial, territorial and federal government departments, members of the general public, academics, and members of the DRR industry.

The need for increased emphasis on analysis of natural disasters was discussed with suggestions for the creation of a federal board to both respond to and manage information about natural disasters. It was proposed that more focus is needed on studying commonalities between natural disasters, particularly in terms of causes, instead of treating each one as a separate event. Enhanced flood mapping, including flood categorization was also highlighted as a considerable gap for information in Canada.

Another key point was that although programs and funding are typically at a federal level, disasters occur at a municipal level with primary assistance coming from the province. It was suggested the  focus stay at the municipal level, “where the rubber meets the road.” With this in mind, provinces need to have more input on these federal programs and initiatives, in order to maintain the local focus.

One of the most broadly executable suggestions was that municipal governments should talk with and cooperate with their insurance companies. Instead of an antagonistic relationship, this sort of cooperation promotes DRR initiatives and brings together bodies of knowledge which can greatly benefit each other. DRR initiatives also help bring other industries to the table, as this makes academic studies more applicable, and puts their value into dollars and cents.

Parallel Session #8 - Global Platform and Hyogo Framework for Action

Session Chair

Speakers / Panelists

Issue Discussed
As part of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction held in Kobe, Japan in 2005, created the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disaster. The Framework was endorsed by the General Assembly of the United Nations and adopted by 168 nations, including Canada.

The HFA is a plan that outlines concepts in cooperation and activities required from all sectors in order to reduce disaster losses. With the main objective of increasing the resilience of nations to disasters, the HFA provides guidance and practical steps for achieving disaster resilience. With the HFA coming to an end of its lifespan in 2015, it is time to assess successes and challenges of implementation of the HFA in a Canadian context and to consider the way forward for continued support of DRR efforts and essentially national resiliency building.

In order to set the context for the discussion surrounding the way forward for a new framework, Stéphanie Durand provided background on the HFA outlining the three strategic priorities and five priorities for action.

Strategic Goals

These strategic goals are followed by five Priorities for Action.

Priority Action 1: Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation.

Countries that develop policy, legislative and institutional frameworks for DRR and that are able to develop and track progress through specific and measurable indicators have greater capacity to manage risks and to achieve widespread consensus for, engagement in and compliance with DRR measures across all sectors of society

Priority Action 2: Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning.
The starting point for reducing disaster risk and for promoting a culture of disaster resilience lies in the knowledge of the hazards and the physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerabilities to disasters that most societies face, and of the ways in which hazards and vulnerabilities are changing in the short and long term, followed by action taken on the basis of that knowledge.

Priority Action 3: Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.
Disasters can be substantially reduced if people are well informed and motivated towards a culture of disaster prevention and resilience, which in turn requires the collection, compilation and dissemination of relevant knowledge and information on hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities.

Priority Action 4: Reduce the underlying risk factors.
Disaster risks related to changing social, economic, environmental conditions and land use, and the impact of hazards associated with geological events, weather, water, climate variability and climate change, are addressed in sector development planning and programmes as well as in post-disaster situations.

Priority Action 5: Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.
At times of disaster, impacts and losses can be substantially reduced if authorities, individuals and communities in hazard-prone areas are well prepared and ready to act and are equipped with the knowledge and capacities for effective disaster management.

Ms. Durand noted that Public Safety Canada is in the process of consulting on the next iteration of the HFA in the form of a post-2015 Framework, a process which will continue throughout the year. Today’s discussions will inform on priorities, whether they reconfirm existing assumptions or provide insight to new ideas for achieving resilience.


Findings of three cycles of national reports of implementation of HFA for the Regional Platform indicate that much progress has been made since the implementation of the HFA. Especially as it relates to the establishment of normative structures that support DRR principles. The other priority areas have seen varying degrees of progress. It was agreed that with the end of the HFA comes the opportunity to celebrate achievements, especially as indicators show that in 2012 there was an overall reduction in the global lives lost due to disasters and there is hope for a continued positive trend in this direction.

Sustaining momentum

The HFA will continue to be maintained in the Americas region as a core guiding document as many governments have only started to address these issues.

In addition to the establishment of a new or follow-on framework, desires for the World Conference on DRR include political statements of commitment as well as commitment from stakeholders. Although a non-binding document for governments, by having private sector or other stakeholders make commitments, that could be annexed to the post-HFA 2015 Framework , the new framework will bear more weight than if it were reserved for government signatories. In this way, momentum will continue among all partners.

The Government of Canada is constantly advocating internationally for DRR in different ways. Awareness-raising is one activity that is being undertaken through targeted investments in different regions in the Caribbean. Helping other regions tackle these issues and make advances themselves is another important component.

Drafting a global document sensitive to the challenges and economic conditions of the full breadth countries

Monitoring will be an important component of an HFA succession framework. With the need to recognize the different stages of progress and without losing the momentum of smaller advancements that have been made toward HFA priorities, merging the new framework while maintaining current ongoing priorities for action into one single instrument will be critical to continued success.

As for the next stage of HFA post 2015, focus will need to continue to seek private sector engagement, enhanced DRR governance, accountability, health, and issues relating to vulnerable groups.

Moving forward we need to make sure we address issues in an operational framework so that the process enables development of 'how to' guidance rather than dictate expectations.

Understanding how DRR funding is taking place in different countries will help us create an evidence-based marker. Governments as well as other stakeholders need to set targets, which can guide expectations and help monitor achievements against outputs.

Focussing on DRR among other global initiatives

Mainstreaming DRR programs abroad is part of Canada's role in international development. The fast pace of urbanization is a challenge and how we internationally address that is an important issue. 2015 promises to be a big year in terms of millennium development goals and the World Humanitarian Summit. It will be important to seek opportunities to leverage other global conferences or initiatives with shared fundamental priorities.

A scan of DRR expectations among the CRC, the Global Network for Disaster Reduction, and various governments highlighted five important themes for the successions framework: local perspective;

connection with influencing factors; emphasis on increasing knowledge and education (previously weak in HFA 1); governance and accountability; and targets.

Emphasizing social responsibility

Some of the success of the Platform has been due its organic nature and not being overly bureaucratized. Those who gather are those with a passion for resilience. The cause needs to be made real by finding a way for individuals to internalize the message and translate the terms into a social responsibility. How can I make a difference in my social circle? Going forward, we do need to focus on education and instilling individual responsibility.

Peru is an excellent example of actual changes countries are making recognizing DRR as a responsibility. In addition to requiring public investments to be assessed for risk, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has made it obligatory for all levels of government to include a budget line item dedicated to DRR in addition to, and separate from, response and recovery.

Ten years ago the issue was discussed mainly by governments. Now, DRR has started being included in local election campaigns, a stellar way for politicians to bring the message to the people.

Next Steps

Positive steps such as small, local municipalities (Metchosin) reporting to UNISDR about their DRR accomplishments are the right way forward. There is no reason why more communities could not be reporting at the global level.

Consultations such as this are an integral component of gaining the insight required to ensure the priorities of community and stakeholder issues are adequately represented. Continued engagement is critical.

Shared responsibility and forums such as these to engage partners are important as we need to continue to focus on gaining knowledge and obtaining objectives from fora such as these.

Concluding Remarks

Shawn Tupper, Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) of Emergency Management and Regional Operations, Public Safety Canada, closed the Roundtable with remarks highlighting the very positive outcomes that had arisen from the high-calibre subject matter experts who participated in panel discussions and the passion of the attendees who actively participated and enriched the discussions. The personal introductions and engaging discussions both in-session and on the sidelines are evidence that this forum is an important venue for stakeholders to bring forward their ideas and to meet and continue to innovate with other like-minded partners.

The statements made from panel participants and session participants, as well as the commentary from the membership will be captured in the Roundtable final report and will continue to be a valuable source of information for policy and decision makers.

ADM Tupper recognized the use of Twitter to communicate throughout the event and especially during the talk-show, which proved quite engaging, as several questions to the panel members arrived via the social media tool. There were 274 tweets issued using the #CDNDRR or #CDNRRC hashtag which reached more than 350,000 Twitter followers!

ADM Tupper thanked the membership for their active participation, the fabulous Tweets and encouraged continued efforts in DRR from all stakeholders, inviting them to return to the next Roundtable in Toronto, Ontario in 2014 with news of continued positive steps in DRR.

As with previous years, the Roundtable was followed by the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network (CRHNet) annual symposium on November 6-8, 2013. This partnership enabled participants to benefit from complementary program sessions while further supporting overall DRR goals by providing opportunities to develop DRR relationships, strategies and initiatives.


Special thanks to contributors supporting the organizing committee of the Fourth Annual National Roundtable on DRR :

Date modified: