Hon. Joseph A. Day (Leader of the Senate Liberals): Good afternoon, minister, and thank you for being here this afternoon.
My question is with regard to the effects of climate change particularly being felt in the Atlantic region.
As a senator from Atlantic Canada, I have the privilege to represent a region with some of the most iconic and breathtaking landscapes in all of Canada. Its natural beauty is not only important to those who live there but to tourism, and it’s a sense of pride to all Canadians.
The shore along the East Coast is one of our main attractions, and off those shores is a very important fishery that is suffering. Scientists are warning that the warmer climate in the north Atlantic will result in rising water levels, increased flooding, and the erosion of our shorelines. We have seen record flooding already along the Saint John River last spring and its huge devastation. Many people were forced to leave their homes.
Could you tell us, Madam Minister, what your government is doing to work with the governments of New Brunswick and the other Atlantic provinces to better protect our shorelines?
Hon. Catherine McKenna, P.C., M.P., Minister of Environment and Climate Change: I appreciate your interest and your work, senator. It is very important that we all work together, with the provinces and territories, to tackle climate change.
You’re right. There was a report that just came out that talked about coastal erosion, which is a huge issue, as you know, threatening people’s lives and livelihoods. Also, ocean acidification is a huge issue with a warming climate.
We had a report that came out just yesterday that you probably saw, talking about how Canada is warming at twice the global average.
It’s imperative that we work together, both on mitigating climate change, but also when it comes to adapting to climate change. If we don’t think about the communities and the people in New Brunswick on the East Coast and across the country, we will see more flooding.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada now estimates that the costs of climate change have risen from $400 million a year in insured costs to sometimes over $2 billion for a particular incident. So we’re paying the costs of climate change right now. It’s only going to increase. We need to be taking ambitious action.
I’m proud of the Government of Canada’s plan to tackle climate change, to work with the provinces and territories, Indigenous peoples, municipalities from coast to coast to coast, businesses, hospitals, schools and Canadians. We have no choice. It is the most serious challenge we face, not just to our environment but to our economy.