Insurance in Canada is regulated provincially, and the federal election doesn't necessarily have a lot to do with the price of home and car insurance in your province. However, insurance companies and the Insurance Bureau of Canada point out that climate change is having a significant impact on the costs faced by insurers right across our nation.
Anyone following the federal election knows that climate change is a major issue. New weather patterns have become a concern for voters, as they have felt the effects of flooding and storms more than in the past. Perhaps more than ever before, Canadians have had to put in claims on their home insurance and auto insurance for damage that's linked to climate change.
What Can Insurance Tell Us About Climate Change?
Many Canadians may cite anecdotal evidence to prove that climate change is only getting worse. But there is revealing data to support this idea. That data comes from the amount of money insurance companies payout for damage caused by natural disasters. It's been an upsetting trend for the past 30 years.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) reports that two natural disasters in 1983 produced about $88.3 million in damages (in 2018 dollars). By 2018, those numbers had skyrocketed. Reviewing the data that year, the IBC found that there were no fewer than 12 natural disasters in each of the prior three years. In 2016, the insured losses amounted to $5.26 billion, in 2017 the tally was $1.26 billion, and in 2018 it was $2.07 billion.
So far 2019 is on the same track. By September, the IBC found that insured losses were already approaching $900 million.
Unfortunately, not everyone has the insurance they need, in light of climate change. Flood protection is the most common example. So what does this mean for the 2019 Canadian federal election? Only the Liberals have so far discussed flood insurance. They have committed to a low-cost national flood insurance program, through the CMHC. This is designed to help those without enough insurance but who are nonetheless at risk for flood damage.
Canadians Are Concerned About Climate Change
A number of research firms and news outlets have surveyed Canadian voters in advance of the election. There is a consistent result when it comes to climate change: voters want those in power to pay more attention and to take action.
- A CBC News poll in June found that climate change was among the greatest concerns for respondents, at 19 percent, second only to cost of living at 32 percent.
- A Forum Research survey, also in June, found that 26 percent of respondents identified the environment as the most important issue of this election.
- An Angus Reid survey in August found that 69 percent of Canadians say climate change should be a priority for whichever party forms the government.
- A September Ipsos poll found that Canadians ranked climate change as the third most pressing issue in the country. It was behind only healthcare and cost of living.
Since Canadians are worried about climate change, the major parties have addressed the issue in their platforms. Here is a sampling of what they have to say.
Liberal Party Platform
The plan put forth by the Liberals during their campaign to tackle climate change, includes:
- Committing to net-zero emissions by 2050 as agreed to at the UN's 2019 Climate Action Summit that took place at the end of September. (Note: Net-zero emissions means that the carbon dioxide that is emitted into the air is offset by something-like planting new trees-that removes an equal amount of it.)
- Setting legally binding five-year milestones to reach the 2050 net-zero emission target.
- Exceeding Canada's 2030 emissions goal (which is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 3 percent below 2005's levels).
- Cutting corporate taxes in half for companies that develop technologies or manufacture products that have zero emissions.
- Ensuring all federal buildings run on clean electricity by 2022.
- Providing homeowners and landlords with access to interest-free loans for up to $40,000 to retrofit properties so they're more energy-efficient and better protected from climate-related risks.
- Encouraging people to buy newly built homes that are certified zero-emissions with the Net Zero Homes Grant that could be as much as $5,000.
- Creating a low-cost national flood insurance program that protects homeowners who are at high risk of flooding and don't have adequate insurance protection.
- Working with the provinces and territories to finish all flood maps in the country so homebuyers will know the flooding risks of a prospective new home.
- Protecting 25 percent of Canada's land and 25 percent of its oceans by 2025, and come 2030, protecting 30 percent of each. Currently, about 11.2 percent of land and 7.9 percent of marine area is conserved in Canada.
Conservative Party Platform
Some of the initiatives the Conservatives plan to undertake include:
- Setting emissions standards for major emitters that will lower greenhouse gases. Those that emit more than is allowed will be required to invest in certified green research, development, and adoption of emissions-reducing technology.
- Creating a two-year Green Homes Tax Credit for homeowners to help pay for energy-saving renovations. The income tax credit is 20 percent and could save homeowners as much as $3,800 each year of the program for eligible renovations.
- Establishing a voluntary net-zero energy building standard. (These are buildings that produce as much clean energy as they consume.)
- Encouraging the use of green products like wood and low-carbon cement to reduce the carbon footprint of buildings and other infrastructure projects.
- Reducing the business tax rate to 5% (from 15%) for income that is earned from green technology developed and patented in Canada to foster innovation.
- Facilitating the development of faster charging electric vehicle batteries, longer-range batteries, recycling used batteries, and the infrastructure needed to recharge.
- Working with farmers to increase fertilizer efficiency and land-use methods, maximize the potential of agricultural land to retain carbon, and ensure best practices evolve with advancements in technology.
- Fostering the adoption of smart grid technology, the strategic interconnection of electricity grids, and renewable power technologies.
- Pursuing natural infrastructure projects, like enhancing or constructing wetlands, that provide low-cost protection against floods, drought, and water quality issues.
- Committing to set aside 17 percent of Canada's land and 10 percent of marine area as protected areas.
According to the NDP's plan, some of the initiatives they plan include:
- Adopting ambitious targets for greenhouse gas reductions that are science-based.
- Maintaining carbon pricing to encourage greenhouse reductions at the source, while keeping household rebates.
- Ensuring the federal government buys from clean technology Canadian companies, its buildings use renewable energy, and its vehicles are all-electric by 2025.
- Funding energy-efficient building retrofits to reduce energy demand, beginning with social housing units and provincial or territorial government buildings.
- Providing low-interest loans for home upgrades that improve energy efficiency.
- Requiring new buildings to be net-zero energy ready by 2030.
- Providing federal transit funding to help low-carbon transit projects, like zero-emissions buses and electric trains, with the goal of electrifying transit by 2030.
- Assisting Canadian auto manufacturers in producing more zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) with the target of ZEVs being 100 percent of new vehicle sales by 2040. Extending and growing ZEV federal incentives for drivers.
- Adopting a target for net carbon-free electricity by 2030 and wholly emission-free electricity by 2050.
- Protecting 30 percent of our land, freshwater, and oceans by 2030 and back those protections with funding and enforcement.
Green Party Platform
According to the Green Party's plan, some of the initiatives they plan to undertake include:
- Legislating a 60 percent cut in emissions by 2030, reaching net-zero in 2050. Interim targets would be set at five-year intervals beginning in 2025.
- Setting legal emissions limits for industries that decline over time, with penalties for those who exceed the limits outlined.
- Rejecting all new proposals for pipelines, or coal, oil or gas drilling or mining, and cancelling the Trans Mountain pipeline as well as subsidies that go to fossil fuel industries.
- Implementing a national electrical grid strategy to enable the flow of renewal of electricity across provincial and territorial boundaries.
- Investing in renewal electricity so that come 2030, 100 percent of Canada's electricity will come from renewable resources.
- Launching an energy efficiency retrofit of residential, commercial and institutional buildings. There are also plans to change the national building code to require new construction to meet net-zero emission standards by 2030.
- Banning the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030.
- Exempting new and used electric and zero-emission vehicles from federal sales tax and expanding the charging station network.
- Implementing national standards for reducing the use of nitrogen fertilizers in crop agriculture, reducing erosion, and rebuilding soils to retain carbon.
- Investing in climate-proofing essential infrastructure, prioritizing upgrades to drinking water and wastewater systems to protect against flooding, droughts, and contamination.
The Voters Will Have Their Say on Election Day
The 2019 federal election will take place on October 21.