Q and A with the experts: Bill 56, Fewer Floods Safer Ontario Act 2022

Bill 56 will benefit homeowners and renters in Ontario

Severe weather in 2022 caused $3.1 billion in insured damage - making it the 3rd worst year for insured damage in Canadian history. Kathryn Bakos of the University of Waterloo’s Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation discusses the recently tabled Bill 56, which addresses the need to prevent residential basement flooding - the most financially costly climate disaster impacting Ontario. 

What are the costs of climate change-related weather events in Canada? 

Extreme weather risk is becoming more severe and costly across Canada. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada (2023), insured damage for severe weather events reached $3.1 billion in 2022. This ranks as the third worst year for extreme weather-insured losses in Canadian history. 

In Ontario, residential flooding - specifically basement flooding - is the most financially costly climate disaster. The average cost of a flooded basement is $43,000, yet insurance coverage cap limits for basement flooding have generally decreased into the zone of $10,000 - 20,000. If a basement floods, with a cap limit of $10,000, an Ontario homeowner would be on the line for $30,000.

Over the period 2010-2020, homes across Canada experienced an 8.2 percent reduction in sold price in communities impacted by catastrophic flooding ; this trend is true in Ontario. In addition, 10 percent of Canadian homes are uninsurable relative to basement flood risk.

What is Bill 56, and what problems is it trying to solve?

Flooding puts Ontario residents’ homes, and financial security, in peril. In response,  homeowners and renters need guidance to reduce these risks.

Bill 56 calls for the last week of March each year to be Flood Awareness Week in Ontario. In addition, the Bill requires the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to publish information on a government website about flooding issues and supports distributing the infographic " Three Steps to Home Flood Protection "  to homeowners in their yearly Property Tax Notices.

Since the Government of Ontario does not currently provide sufficient flooding education and prevention tools to Ontarians, a comprehensive educational campaign would help educate homeowners and renters on ways to prevent basement flooding.

What are some benefits of the Bill? Are there any drawbacks?

The benefits of Bill 56 include only an upside for homeowners and renters in Ontario.

By creating a residential flood risk awareness program, homeowners and renters across Ontario will be better equipped to avoid the otherwise unrelenting costs of flooding.