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Canada gets failing grade from environment commissioner on climate change prep

Last Updated Oct 3, 2017 at 8:54 am MDT

Environment and Sustainable Development Commissioner Julie Gelfand holds a news conference at the National Press Theatre in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2016. The federal nuclear safety watchdog needs to get better at managing its inspection of nuclear power plants, says the commissioner of environment and sustainable development. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA – Canada’s environment commissioner says the federal government is nowhere near ready for the massive storms and more frequent floods and fires expected to result from climate change.

In her autumn annual reports, Julie Gelfand says Ottawa has not done enough to identify the risks climate change poses to more than $66 billion in physical assets or determine how it can keep providing services to people when a major event takes place.

Only five of the 19 departments she looked at have even figured out what their risks are, let alone developed plans to deal with them.

The other departments all indicated it would be nice to have such risks identified, but haven’t done anything about it.

Gelfand is also critical of the government for making four international commitments to cut emissions since 1991, while never coming close to meeting a single one.

Many of the concerns Gelfand raises date back to previous governments and she says that while the current Liberal government has done some positive work in these areas, concrete targets and priorities are needed so all departments and provinces know what they need to do and by when.