The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is tallying the costs of the summer fires in Yellowknife and Hay River.
Based on IBC’s initial estimates, the wildfires resulted in over $60 million of insurable losses. The forest fires in the Northwest Territories led to the evacuation of nearly 25 thousand people over the summer, and the Hay River blaze razed over 75 percent of the community of Enterprise.
Rob de Pruis, National Director, Consumer and Industry Relations with IBC says the fires could have been much worse.
“We owe a debt of gratitude to the firefighters and first responders who helped to protect lives and property,” said de Pruis.
“Canada’s insurers are still working diligently to help their customers repair and rebuild following this devastating loss.”
IBC says Canadians are experiencing more frequent and severe weather events – including floods, wildfires, heatwaves, and windstorms.
“This wildfire season set new records in terms of the amount of land burned and damage caused to personal and commercial property,” said Craig Stewart, Vice-President of Climate Change and Federal Issues, IBC.
“No part of the country was spared.”
IBC is calling on the federal government to invest at least $5.3 billion annually in the National Adaptation Strategy (NAS) over the next six years to shore up Canada’s defenses against climate change.
IBC and its member insurers say they have been working with federal and provincial governments to set achievable targets in the NAS.
“Stable and predictable funding will, among other things, empower Canadian communities to better assess their vulnerability to growing climate threats and invest in more resilient infrastructure,” said Stewart.
In 2016 the wildfire that forced the evacuation of Fort McMurray and surrounding communities cost over $3.5 billion in insurable losses.