Madam Speaker, just before we rose for the summer break, I asked a question about climate adaptation, about being better prepared for the increasingly destructive climate disasters that are affecting our country.
We have had a series of terrible years of catastrophic weather in Canada. Last year was a terrible year in my home province of British Columbia, with a heat dome that killed 619 people in metro Vancouver, a series of fires that destroyed the town of Lytton and many other rural areas, and then a rainfall event that destroyed all of the highways through the Coast and Cascade ranges. It flooded a huge area around Abbotsford and the interior communities of Princeton and Merritt.
This year brought the derecho storm in May that devastated the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, with winds of up to 190 kilometres per hour, intense thunderstorms and several tornadoes. The damage to the power system from that storm was greater than that of the 1998 ice storm. It was the sixth-costliest weather event in Canadian history, with insured losses of $875 million.
This fire season in B.C. was quieter than last year. One fire on the edge of my riding evacuated some rural communities and destroyed one house. Another just over the hill from my house gave me and my neighbours some nervous moments, but the heat was in many ways longer lasting than last year and there is still a series of fires burning in coastal forests in British Columbia that rarely face that threat.
Now the east coast is bracing for Hurricane Fiona, one of the strongest storms in years to threaten the Atlantic provinces, with wave height predictions of up to 30 metres. That is 100 feet. It is clear that we are not talking about the impacts of climate change in the future tense anymore. This is happening now.
At present, Canadians, whether governments, businesses or individual citizens, spend more than $5 billion every year to repair the destruction from weather events. This is predicted to balloon to $40 billion by 2050. The federal government has been covering less than 10% of these costs. It is time that we faced up to the costs of climate change and made significant investments with provinces and communities to minimize the impacts that we know are coming. The federal government has to be a better partner with communities, especially small, rural communities that cannot pay for these costs themselves or even put up front a significant portion.
Princeton and Merritt, which were flooded last year, had to face 20% of cleanup costs. That was more than double their annual tax base. Grand Forks, a community in my riding that was flooded in 2018, faced costs of $60 million to repair the damages. The federal government promised $20 million, but even now, four years later, there was a year delay in getting the first payment to the municipality. Ten public servants consecutively handled the file, each requiring the submitting of claims and supporting documentation that had been lost or not passed on. The federal government provided claim template forms, only to have completed forms returned with requests for additional details that were never originally requested or required, and despite a clear contribution agreement signed in 2019, federal infrastructure officials have repeatedly and unilaterally changed the scope of allowable expenses.
The government must do better to support communities and their citizens who are being forced to deal with the impact of climate disasters.