Federal natural disaster bills now average more than $430 million a year

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Ottawa’s bills for dealing with natural disasters neared half a billion dollars in two of the last three years.

Data from Public Safety Canada shows the average annual bill for financial disaster assistance was $430 million over the last three years.

In the previous five years, Ottawa’s average annual disaster clean-up bills were $360 million, which was three times the average costs in the five years before that.

The federal program helps provinces when the costs of major events like floods and forest fires exceed a predetermined amount based on a province’s population.

Almost one-quarter of an estimated $5.4 billion in funds approved under the program since 1970 were distributed in the last three years for disasters that occurred between 2012 and early 2019.

Government records show disaster funds were approved for 40 severe weather-related disasters between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2019, including the 2017 British Columbia wildfires and major spring flooding in Quebec and New Brunswick that same year.

The Canadian Press