New Campaign Addresses Lack Of Preparedness Amongst Canadians For Flood Season

File Photo From Gravenhurst in 2020
File Photo

A new national advertising campaign from Public Safety Canada will seek to inform Canadians on the prevalence of weather-related disasters and educate them on how to mitigate potential risks for flooding as we approach the spring thaw.

A nationally representative poll of Canadians aged 25-55 was recently conducted by IPSOS to gauge the level of awareness and readiness of Canadians when it comes to their risk of natural disasters and how to best respond. The data shows a lack of readiness for emergencies, given that currently only three in ten (29%) Canadians aged 25-55 have a household emergency plan. And despite having just lived through a highly unprecedented year of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half (45%) say the pandemic has not affected their planning for future disasters.

For much of Canada, spring is the peak flood season. Floods can also be caused by ice jams, which occur when upstream water is blocked by accumulations of ice, and heavy storms can cause floods in the spring and summer months, especially in small watersheds. The campaign highlights the need for flood preparedness due to these factors and also addresses other hazards to be aware of, such as earthquakes in British Columbia, blizzards in Nunavut, and tornadoes in Ontario. Due to climate change, natural disasters are happening more frequently every year and are becoming an increasing concern. “The poll identified a weakness when it comes to understanding the disastrous consequences of weather-related emergencies in Canada,” said Tim Warmington, Media Relations Manager, Public Safety Canada. “Given the vast majority of Canadians are either unaware of the specific risks to their community or not concerned about them, we needed to find a way to bolster collective awareness and action around this important subject. As we continue to see in other parts of the world, the cost of not being prepared is far too great.”

The awareness campaign was developed to encourage Canadians to start thinking about their individual circumstances, seek out information on their risks based on geographic region, and develop a response plan accordingly for both floods and beyond.


  1. The vast majority of Canadians (76%) are either unaware of the specific risks to their community or not concerned about them.
  2. One-quarter of Canadians (27%) say they have looked online for resources and information to help prepare themselves against weather-related emergencies or natural disasters.
  3. 74% of participants do not believe they are residing in a moderate to high-risk area.
    1. Half of Canadians (53%) believe they live in a low-risk area for a weather-related emergency or natural disaster. 12% don’t know about the specific level of risk, and 9% have never thought about it.
  1. Half of Canadians (55%) say the experience of COVID-19 has affected the way they prepare for emergencies, including storing additional food and essential items (34%) and putting money, or more money, aside for unexpected expenses (29%).
  2. Nearly half (45%) of respondents say the pandemic has not affected their planning. Data suggests that those who say COVID-19 has affected their preparedness tend to be those who are already preparing (e.g., have an emergency plan (68%) vs. no emergency plan (49%).

Small populations and residents of rural areas are more prepared than those living in larger centers, but still, very few are prepared. Regionally, Atlantic Canadians are more prepared than others across Canada, but very few are actually prepared –19% have taken steps to reduce the risk that their home will be affected, when compared to only 4% of Quebec residents, 9% in Ontario and Alberta respectively, 11% in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and 13% in British Columbia and the Territories.

Ultimately the goal of the campaign is to increase the number of Canadians who feel well-informed about the ways in which they can be prepared to mitigate the effects of floods and natural disasters.

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