For Immediate Release
Recently in New Brunswick, we saw more Canadian Armed Forces deployed in Canada fighting flooding than we have currently deployed on missions abroad. Our federal government did not hesitate to step up when help was urgently requested by the province. True leadership in any public office involves pulling people together to find solutions, particularly at times when so many New Brunswickers are struggling with changing weather patterns leading to too much water.
I was very much reminded of that when I met recently with Armed Forces personnel at flood zones along with NB Premier Blaine Higgs, Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan, and fellow MPs and MLAs whose ridings were affected by recent flooding. Countless people have shared their worries and anxieties about their homes and what to do in the future. They’re right to worry. What do we do in the future and for the future?
We live in a period of fast environmental change; this is the new normal. We need to work together quickly to adapt. Solving these issues is complex, it takes leadership and the cooperation of insurance companies, federal, provincial and municipal governments, and most importantly, us.
The Premiers of Quebec and New Brunswick have suggested that major changes are needed to minimize the impacts on people affected by more frequent flooding events. Quebec Premier François Legault is considering the idea of offering homeowners $200,000 in his province to leave flood zones. Premier Higgs stated the following recently: “I think we’ve got to look seriously at the impacts we’re seeing with changing weather conditions and how we evaluate building sites, and how we encourage people to actually relocate.”
I agree with Premier Higgs that we need to address extreme weather events in our province, and I look forward to collaborating with the provincial government to support a made in New Brunswick climate action plan. We must look at multiple short-term and long-term actions, more than simple political slogans. We are at a tipping point.
Immediately, we need to help hundreds of property owners affected by what seems to now be an annual event. We must look at scientific data, evidence and financial considerations and the roles of each level of government, insurance companies and property owners.
Long term, we must work together to address our fast-changing climate. The Federal and Provincial governments have introduced several programs to help people and businesses save energy and reduce their carbon footprint. But there’s so much more that we all need to do.
We must look at addressing the impacts of climate change on our economy, focusing on protecting jobs that rely on our current climate, economic growth opportunities and our cost of living.
We need to protect the thousands of jobs in New Brunswick that rely on the biodiversity and health of the Bay of Fundy. The water here is warming faster than virtually anywhere else on the planet. For example, lobster catches have gone up recently, but they can just as easily decline as the population moves further north to seek colder waters.
We also need to be part of the global economy when it comes to developing energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies, as well as infrastructure business opportunities. New Brunswick has a long history of engineering and inventive excellence – let’s put that expertise to even greater use!
As the rate of climate change increases, the impact on our cost of living increases. This is evident now in the price of fruit and vegetables we import from places like California and Mexico where long-term droughts (recall the devastating fires of last year) impact crop production.
Climate Change is also contributing to double digit home insurance rate increases. According to a recent report by the Insurance Bureau of Canada, damage claims for floods, windstorms, ice storms and tornadoes totalled $1.8 billion in 2018. Ten years ago, that number was closer to $400 million. Basically, the more we pollute our country and our planet, the more household prices and extreme weather anxiety go up. We need a solid plan of action to join the rest of the world in fighting climate change and its effects.
First and foremost, we must help those in immediate need, but we also must help protect and develop our social, environmental and economic prosperity. Climate Change is not a partisan issue; it is a moral issue that requires real leadership.
Karen Ludwig, MP New Brunswick Southwest