Seventh Annual National Roundtable on Disaster Risk Reduction
Understanding Disaster Risks

Letter from the Advisory Committee

The Seventh Annual National Roundtable for Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) was held on November 21-22, 2016. The event was hugely successful, with over 200 participants attending in person and countless others who participated virtually.  At one point, the hashtag, #CDNdrr, was trending on Twitter in Montreal and tweets from Public Safety Canada and participants reached over 1.1 million people! The success of this Roundtable could not have been achieved without our knowledgeable panelists and speakers and your active participation both at the event and on social media. A big thank you to you all!

This Roundtable brought together participants from all levels of government, the private sector, non-government organizations, and individual Canadians to discuss innovative ways to collectively advance DRR. The event launched with a video message from Minister Goodale, and remarks by then Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Michel Picard.

Discussions focused on community and youth resilience, post-disaster violence, translating science to risk knowledge, the importance of public-private partnerships in DRR, and other related topics based on this year's theme of “Understanding Disaster Risks,” the first of four priorities for action under the United Nation's Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. 

During the Roundtable Public Safety Canada also launched its latest campaign: Flood Ready! This campaign was created to encourage Canadians to take action to protect their homes from the potentially devastating risks from overland flooding events. Test your knowledge and find out if you're Flood Ready.

The Eighth Annual National Roundtable will be held on October 23-24, 2017 in Halifax, Nova Scotia and will focus on Building Back Better, one of the four priorities of the Sendai Framework for DRR. Next year's roundtable will be co-hosted for the first time in partnership with Natural Resources Canada's Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) Platform, and will provide a fantastic opportunity to discuss the linkages between CCA and DRR during Canada 150.

We're looking forward seeing you in Halifax!

Stéphanie Durand
Chair, Advisory Committee
Director General, Policy and Outreach Directorate
Emergency Management and Programs Branch
Public Safety Canada

Program at a Glance

Master of Ceremonies:
Stéphanie Durand, Director General, Policy and Outreach Directorate, Public Safety Canada and National Chair of Canada's Platform for DRR.

Day 1 - Monday, November 21, 2016



12:00 – 13:00


13:00 – 13:40

Opening of the Roundtable

13:40 – 15:00

Talk Show – Resilient Communities

15:00 – 15:15

Health Break

15:15 – 15:35

In Focus: Stepping up Youth Engagement

15:35 – 17:00

Interactive Session: Understanding the Risk of Post-Disaster Violence Across Generations, Gender and Relationships

17:00 – 17:15

Closing of Day 1 and Preview of Day 2


Site Visit #1 – Emergency Measures Coordination Centre, Montreal

Day 2 - Tuesday, November 22, 2016



8:00 – 9:00

Registration (continued)

9:00 – 9:20

Opening Remarks

9:20 – 9:30

Recap of Day 1

9:30 – 9:45

Presentation from Ouranos

9:45 – 10:25

Keynote Address: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

10:25 – 10:45

Sendai Implementation and Regional Platform

10:45 – 11:00

Health Break

11:00 – 12:30

Parallel Sessions

Parallel Session 1:
Wildland Fire Strategy

Parallel Session 2:
Understanding Disaster Risk in Indigenous communities

Parallel Session 3:
Moving Forward with Sendai: A Workshop on Canadian Youth Perspectives

12:30 – 13:30


13:30 – 14:45

Talk Show: Translating Science to Risk Knowledge

14:45 – 15:00

Health Break

15:00 – 16:10

Interactive Session: Public-Private Partnership in Disaster Risk Reduction

16:10 – 16:30

Roundtable Closing Remarks


Site Visit #2 – Emergency Measures Coordination Centre, Montreal

Summary of Proceedings

The Seventh Annual National Roundtable of Canada's Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction

Hyatt Regency Hotel
Montreal, Quebec
November 21 - 22, 2016

Opening of the Roundtable

Stéphanie Durand, Director General, Emergency Management and Programs at Public Safety Canada and the National Chair of Canada's Platform for DRR, was the master of ceremonies throughout the two-day event.

Ms. Durand presented a video message from the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, as he was unable to attend the event in-person. The Minister expressed his support for the Roundtable, the collective efforts towards DRR as well as officially launching Public Safety's FloodReady! Campaign.

Ms. Durand proceeded to introduce Michel Picard, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.

Mr. Picard provided opening remarks by acknowledging the presence of Elders Amelia McGregor and Celine Thusky of the Mohawk and Algonquin Nations. He expressed his enthusiasm for the strong participation of Indigenous communities in this year's Roundtable.

Traditional Welcome

Amelia Tekwatonti McGregor, an Kanien'keha:ka Elder from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory and member of the Bear Clan, provided a traditional welcome. Elder McGregor welcomed everyone and shared her thoughts and words of wisdom in the Mohawk language. She encouraged participants to work in collaboration and respect one another.

Talk Show: Resilient Communities

Moderator: Alex Kaplan, Swiss Re


Session Objective: To learn the various approaches being deployed across various communal settings to tackle the greatest resilience challenges in an evolving landscape.

Alex Kaplan kicked off the talk show with a video on 100 Resilient Cities initiative. He noted that the objective of this initiative, which began in 2013, wasn't to simply identify one hundred large cities around the globe, but to create a message that would transcend throughout communities and influence and countries to adopt methodologies and thought processes that would help strengthen community resilience in a cohesive manner. Mr. Kaplan shared current global statistics indicating that currently 50% of the global population lives in cities and this number is expected to increase to 75% by 2050.

Following the opening statements from the panelists, Mr. Kaplan observed that the common theme was mentioned was risk of complacency. In other words, the further away a community is are from their last disaster, the harder it is for them to keep their momentum to implement changes.

"In this world with increasing urbanization, globalization and climate change, a risk anywhere is a risk everywhere."

- Alex Kaplan, SwissRE

Questions from the moderator: “How are communities continuing to keep DRR messages relevant to people and to influence political will behind strategies?”

Fiona Dercole shared that one way to keep important messages in people's forefront, particularly regarding earthquake risk, is by using modeling. She explained that simulating the effects and potential damages of an earthquake can keep the messages relevant and can also help communities identify actions that can be taken to lessen the impacts of disasters. She added that one way to keep the political momentum going is to celebrate their successes.

Louise Bradette noted there are many public awareness campaigns launched throughout the year that help inform people about disaster risks in Montreal. She explained that taking the opportunity to show the impacts of disasters, explaining what is being done at the local and municipal level and informing citizens of what they must do to protect themselves is essential. Tabletop and training exercises are also a good way to keep the messages relevant.

Toby Bellis spoke about Calgary's community outreach programs, including their flagship program “Ready Calgary” which focuses on building resilience by promoting community and individual preparedness initiatives such as emergency management training that has implemented across 700 schools.

Yvonne Doolittle spoke about the resiliency projects undertaken in certain communities that align with Indigenous traditional knowledge and practices. She spoke about the Dene laws and how aligning these with resiliency projects has been a successful factor to informing guidelines and decision making within the government of the Northwest Territories.

Questions from the moderator: “In the field of emergency management, what is done post-event versus pre-event? How have jobs in this field evolved and what has been the force of change behind that?”

Mr. Bellis shared comments there has been a progression from the 1940's-50's when paramilitary organizations responded to disasters, through to the 80's where the field became more professionalized when an incident command system was adopted and dedicated emergency management organizations were created.

"To effectively build resilience we need to shift our focus to address the underlying vulnerabilities."

- Toby Bellis, City of Calgary

Ms. Bradette noted that the role has evolved from emergency management into risk management.  The increased complexity of disasters is diminishing communities' ability to copy with disasters. The City of Montreal develops emergency plans by consulting a wide variety of partners and is currently developing a resilience strategy.

Mr. Kaplan defined resilience as a three legged stool:

Mr. Kaplan spoke about risk convergence, and identified the need for communities to identify their strengths, and in turn determine when they can become weaknesses. He provided a few examples:

Question from the moderator to Ms. Doolittle: “Is the 72 hour preparedness message sufficient for communities in your region or do communities need to plan for a longer term?”

Ms. Doolittle explained that many northern communities aren't restricting their planning based on the 72 hour message. This belief is considered to be a strength, however planning and preparedness messages needs to be promoted for longer than 72 hours. In a number of northern communities people still hunt and depend on land, therefore any acute changes in migration and water levels can affect the level of preparedness of these communities.

Question from the moderator to Mr. Bellis: “The unemployment rate has increased in Calgary. How does that affect how the city can prepare for the next disaster?”

Mr. Bellis stated that the unemployment rate is definitely a factor in Calgary's emergency management planning. He explained that in 2014, the City of Calgary was expecting 50 000 people per year that would migrate to Calgary following the launch of the Build Calgary initiative. Calgary was growing and oil prices were strong. However, between 2014 and 2016 the price of oil has decreased. The city had to shift to an economic resilience strategy by investing in economic strategies and infrastructure programs all with the goal to get people back to work while investing in resilient infrastructure for the future.

Questions from the audience: How do communities engage with the private sector? What is their role in responding or helping the community respond to a disaster?

Ms. Bradette explained that the strongest linkages between the governments and with the private sector lie with the service providers, especially food and water. When developing resilience strategies, these are the areas that need to be focused on.

Ms. Dercole explained that in the event of an earthquake in the City of Vancouver, they are prepared to mobilize disaster hubs. In the first few days following a disaster, governments will be assessing the needs required. In the meantime, the municipality will respond by setting up locations to hold community meetings and engage with the private sector to contribute their resources and assess vulnerabilities.

Mr. Bellis mentioned a number of key initiatives that demonstrate the strong relationship between the City of Calgary and the Calgary Chamber of Commerce. Small businesses are hit hardest during disaster events and many do not recover. To address this issue, the Calgary Chamber of Commerce created an emergency contact database that delivers notification to small businesses in the event of a disaster to assist in their response and recovery.

Ms. Doolittle noted that most private sectors in the north are small but well connected within the communities. Municipalities often invite the private sector when developing emergency planning processes.

Question from the moderator: It is projected that in 30 years there will be more people over the age of 65 than under the age of 15 in the world. How does that impact your thinking?

Mr. Bellis noted that this definitely factors into our decision making. Senior citizens are highly vulnerable during disaster events, and it is imperative that communities plan accordingly.

Ms. Dercole suggested that senior citizens are an untapped resource in terms of volunteerism. Some could be engaged as volunteers in the community.

Questions from audience: How should the public sector engage with the private sector in order to help them understand what would be in their best economic interest?”

Mr. Kaplan explained that companies are driven to protect their assets. When engaging the private sector, the conversation needs to be focus on an economic angle. The public sector needs to engage with the private sector as they invest in infrastructure and to ensure that they are taking into considerations the location of their potential employment base. This can potentially help mitigate risks to companies that function during an emergency without an available workforce.

In Focus: Stepping up Youth Engagement

Moderator: Dr. Robin Cox, Royal Roads University

Objective: To spark a conversation about how to more meaningfully engage and empower youth in policy and decisions related to Canada's Sendai Framework commitments.

Dr. Robin Cox discussed the topic of youth engagement in DRR. She introduced her team from the ResilienceByDesign Research Innovation Lab and explained that they are working to bring together youth and researchers focused on DRR, CCA, and resilience and examine how to meaningfully engage youth in those spaces. Dr. Cox noted that the youth are an untapped resource when it comes to these issues.

Dr. Cox opened the session by presenting a short video entitled “Step Up”, in which researchers asked youth why it is important to engage them in DRR and CCA. The small sample of youth in the video spoke of the importance of youth engagement and issued a call for governments to step up and include them in discussions and decision making. Dr. Cox then proceeded with the following polling questions to the audience:

Interactive Session: Understanding the Risk of Post-Disaster Violence Across Generations, Gender and Relationships

Moderator: Sarah Sargent, Canadian Red Cross


Objective: To consider best practices that can be implemented before, during, and after disasters in order to reduce the risk of community-based violence.

Sarah Sargent opened the session by sharing her personal experience working for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in Sri Lanka in 1992. Ms. Sargent worked in conflict zones with populations that were in need of support and services. She explained that when examining the issue of violence, it is important to understand that the vulnerability increases with the complexities of the environment.

Three different perspectives were presented that describe the impacts of post-disaster violence: an international perspective, a North-American perspective, and a local perspective.

The International Perspective

In 2002, the World Health Organization published a report stating that violence was a public health issue that needs to be addressed by governments.

Judi Fairholm shared her personal journey with the Red Cross on the issue of post disaster-violence. She started by stating that the 2004 Tsunami, which impacted 14 nations surrounding the Indian Ocean and resulted in the death of 230 000 people, was a pivotal event for the Canadian Red Cross and other humanitarian agencies around the world. For the first time, The Red Cross was requested to support psycho-social issues and post-disaster violence.

"World Health Organization statistics demonstrate 4200 people are dying of violence per day. Of those, 58% are self-directed, 36% interpersonal violence and 6% collective violence. In the event of an emergency these the stats would rise."

- Judi Fairholm, Canadian Red Cross

Ms. Fairholm explained that to understand the risk violence it is important to analyze the surrounding context in which violence occurs. When the context is a disaster, people lose their sense of community protection, this leads to an increase level of stress at the community and individual level, which can then lead to an increase domestic violence.

Ms. Fairholm stated that post-disaster violence prevention is now the core of their work and stressed the importance for governments to understand who the vulnerable populations are, what their plan is for them; and how to prioritize their protection in throughout the response and recovery phases.

"If violence can be predicted, it can be prevented. This is not an article of faith, but a statement based on evidence."

- World Health Organization

The North American Perspective

Dr. Laurie Pearce noted that Canada's first major study on family violence was from research by Dr. Enarson's, Women, work, and family in the 1997 Red River valley flood: Ten lessons learned. During this disaster, women were at increased risk of post-disaster violence due to the lack of shelter. Domestic violence against women increased as there was an evident 65% increase of protection orders obtained by women.

Dr. Pearce then provided the example of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and stated that there was a 300% increase in gender based violence, including a sustained increase two years later.

She continued by presenting the following facts from the Canadian Women's Foundation that provide an overview of what is taking place in Canada today without considering disasters:

It was pointed out there is currently no evidence-based research on the issue of post disaster violence. She emphasized the need to engage with communities on the impacts and potential ways to minimize their post-disaster violence before, during and after disasters.

The Local Perspective: Regional municipality of Wood Buffalo

Tina Burian shared her local experience following the massive wildfire in the municipality of Wood Buffalo that occurred in May of 2016. Ms. Burian provided an overview of the community by noting its remote location with only one road in and out of the community, and the nearest city is 5 hours away. It is a well-resourced community in terms of support services; however its economy is dependent on oil, and has experienced an economic downturn which has increased stress on the community before the disaster.

On May 3, 2016, the wild fire disaster severely impacted the community. 8,800 residents were evacuated and displaced for at least a month, returning between June and November 2016. Six months later, there was a notable increase in requests for transitional housing, counseling, self-directed harm, anxiety, depression and substance abuse. Ms. Burian remarked that they expect an increase services to assist with in family violence, financial strain, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In addition the wildfires posed a strain on support structures, causing structural damages and extreme workforce shortages for the private sector.

To address these issues the community opened service centers and walk-in clinics, stood up a community wellness committee, deployed mobile crisis teams, offered courses to service providers to increase community capacity, and provided additional free counseling services. Ms. Burian underlined the importance of increasing support services and community collaboration will help address the expected rise in post-disaster violence and the well-being of the community.

Closing Remarks - Day 1

Lori MacDonald, Assistant Deputy Minister Public Safety Canada, provided closing remarks for Day 1 of the Roundtable. She thanked the hosts from the City of Montreal, Mohawk Elder Amelia Tekwatonti McGregor, Minister Goodale, Parliamentary Secretary Picard and all of the moderators and panelists.

She also thanked all of the attendees for making the first day of the Roundtable a tremendous success.

Site Visit #1 – Emergency Measures Coordination Centre, Montreal

A site visit was planned following the first day to the Emergency Management Coordination Centre in Montreal. The Centre is the operational heart of Montreal's Civil Protection Organization. It supports the coordinated and strategic response of various emergency services and municipal organizations in the event of disasters.

Participants were invited to a scheduled tour of the center. Members of the civil protection team greeted and provided an overview of Montreal's civil protection activities and challenges, past disasters, current risks, fundamentals of the agglomeration's civil protection plan, current projects, and the various coordination and communication tools used during emergencies and disasters.

Opening Remarks - Day 2

Ms. Gina Wilson, Associate Deputy Minister, Public Safety Canada, welcomed participants and took the opportunity to recognize that they were gathered at the meeting point of various First Nations including the Mohawks and Algonquins. Ms. Wilson noted that emergency management is a responsibility that is shared across all sectors of society and acknowledged the frequency, magnitude and cost of disasters are increasing due to factors such as climate change, urbanization, technology dependence and aging infrastructure.

This shared responsibility was demonstrated recently in Fort McMurray and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo where wildfires caused devastating consequences for the surrounding communities. She noted the incredible leadership of our colleagues from the province of Alberta who successfully coordinated with first responders, Indigenous communities, the Canadian Red Cross, individual Canadians and many others to provide communities with the support and services they needed.

Ms. Wilson shared that she is confident that the knowledge sharing and conversations that take place during this year's Roundtable will help Canada advance our DRR priorities and strengthen the partnerships that are the foundation of effective emergency management.

Mr. Louis Morneau, Associate Deputy Minister, Civil and Fire Safety Branch, Ministry of Public Safety for the Province of Quebec provided welcoming remarks and expressed the Government of Québec enthusiasm to participate in this years' Roundtable.

Mr. Morneau spoke of the Quebec's Civil Security Policy which draws heavily on the Sendai Framework and is designed to strengthen the provinces' resiliency towards disasters. He further stressed the need to improve risk awareness as a mechanism to reduce the impacts of disasters and explained that the province often works in partnership with universities to conduct specialized research in field of erosion, flooding, landslides to help to improve risk knowledge.

Traditional Welcome

Elder Celine Thusky provided a traditional Algonquin welcome. She shared her thoughts and teachings with the group. She stressed the importance of family and youth, open communication and inclusive education.

Recap of Day 1

Sarah Sargent, Dr. Laurie Pearce and Ms. Burien provided a recap of the previous day by presenting a summary of the strategies to address family violence within the framework of DRR key findings from the group activity undertaken during the Interactive Session: Understanding the Risk of Post-Disaster Violence Across Generations, Gender and Relationships. Key findings can be found in Annex C.

Presentation from Ouranos

Presenter: Alain Bourque, Ouranos

Mr. Bourque provided a summary on the science of climate change and discussed some of the issues in transforming science into action. Ouranos is a Research Centre on climate change and adaptation that includes a broad network of experts. He stated that the earth is warming at different rates in different regions and that Canada is no exception. He noted that some indicators of a changing climate are; increased precipitation trend, decreased snowfall trend, increase in sea levels and decrease in ice extent in the arctic region.

Mr. Bourque explained that it is a challenge to find statistically significant signals in disaster events. Alternatively, we need to adapt to those disaster events instead of waiting for a statistically significant signal. He further noted the need to be concerned with the change in the frequency, intensity and duration of natural disasters. The impacts observed in Canada are increasing forest fires and increasing water temperature which causes problems with water quality and the drinking water supply.

"The focus must be on mitigation to better manage climate change issues, as the frequency and impacts of many hazards are going to increase because of a changing climate."

- Alain Bourque, Ouranos

Mr. Bourque noted two challenges when adapting to changing climate:

Keynote Address: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Presenter: Peter Colohan, NOAA

Mr. Colohan, Director of Service Innovation and Partnership for the Office of Water Prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) expressed his gratitude for being invited to the Roundtable. His organization is responsible to transform hydrologic predictions in the United States of America. He explained that the reason for the focus on water is because water is the delivery vehicle of climate change. It is how the world is experiencing climate change.

Mr. Colohan explained that the problems of floods, droughts and water quality have been traditionally approached separately when in fact it is an integrated problem. He noted some challenges the world should expect to observe in result of climate change:

He continued by identifying initiatives that could help communities adapt to climate change:

Mr. Colohan provided remarks on the integrated challenge of managing water risks in a changing climate, the interconnected challenges of flood, drought, and water quality, and emphasized the necessity to focus on community needs.  He concluded by describing current NOAA initiatives such as:

Sendai Framework Implementation and Regional Platform

Presenter: Lori MacDonald, Public Safety Canada

Objective: To present Canada's approach for domestic implementation of the Sendai Framework and provide an overview of the Fifth Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas.

Ms. MacDonald noted that Canada has been a signatory and strong supporter of previous DRR agreements, and we will build on this previous work to advance initiatives to address the increasing frequency, severity and cost of disasters.

The Sendai Framework for DRR (the Framework) was endorsed by 187 member states, including Canada, on March 18, 2015. The Framework and established a 15-year, non-binding agreement that complements other international agreements such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals.

The Framework establishes international priorities for DRR, takes into consideration the important linkages with CCA, and reflects the shared responsibility among all sectors of society to enhance resilience.

Specifically, the Framework puts in place a set of priorities to strengthen DRR measures, by:

In addition, the Framework establishes concrete targets and performance indicators to measure progress towards building safer and more resilient communities. Work is already underway in Canada to advance the priorities of the Framework domestically through a high-level phased approach, highlighted by the development of a Sendai Action Plan for Canada.

Minister Goodale was mandated to work with provinces and territories, Indigenous Peoples, and municipalities to develop a comprehensive plan that allows Canada to better predict, prepare for, and respond to weather-related emergencies and natural disasters. The development of the Emergency Management Strategy will include measures to advance each of the Sendai priorities and will be closely linked to the Sendai Framework plan of action as well as other complementary initiatives, in particular CCA.

Successful domestic implementation of the Sendai Framework and the Emergency Management Strategy will rely on the contributions from all sectors of society, including Canada's Platform for DRR and Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Management, which will be key forums engaged to seek input on these initiatives.

National Platform

Canada established its National Platform for DRR in 2009, and it has now grown in membership to over 500 individuals representing a diverse array of Canadian stakeholders. This includes an Advisory Committee as well as working groups, and a plenary body to facilitate dialogue with all sectors of Canadian society on DRR.

This National Roundtable is the flagship event that brings together representatives from across all of Canada to advance DRR.

The Eight National Roundtable will be hosted in partnership with Natural Resources Canada's Climate Change Adaptation Platform, and will provide a fantastic opportunity to discuss the linkages between DRR and CCA during Canada 150.

Global and Regional Platforms

Canada's platform has strong linkages with UNISDR's Global and Regional Platforms to help advance a cohesive approach to DRR globally. In fact, Canada will be hosting the next Regional Platform of the America's in March 2017 in Montreal. The next Global Platform will be held in Cancun, Mexico in May 2017.

Regional Platform of the Americas

The Government of Canada will host the Fifth Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas at the Palais des congrès in Montreal, Quebec, on March 7-9, 2017. Approximately 1,000 delegates from 55 countries and territories from across the Americas are expected to attend, including ministers, policy makers, practitioners, and experts.

The Regional Platform will help build regional capacity and advance the priorities under the Sendai Framework and other international agreements, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the UN Sustainable Development goals at a regional level.

Canada hosting the Regional Platform also provides Canada with an opportunity to demonstrate international leadership on issues such as DRR, CCA, gender equality, Indigenous engagement, and building community resilience.

A key aspect of the Regional Platform will be delivering tangible and measurable outcomes from each session to further the implementation of the Sendai Framework. This includes the development of a Regional Action Plan for the Americas to guide a regional approach to implementing Sendai priorities. Work on this Action Plan has already begun, in partnership with countries from across the region and Canadian stakeholders.

In addition, to the 3-day program, a public forum will be held to facilitate participation from across academia, industry, non-government organizations, governments, and the general public.

Parallel Session 1: Wildland Fire Strategy

Moderator: Michael Norton, Natural Resources Canada


Objective: To share perspectives on the nature of the risk and to discuss current or future actions from national to local scales.

Michael Norton opened this interactive session with a brief presentation on the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy (CWFS). His presentation discussed the impacts of climate change on forests, specifically the increase in fire severity and length of the fire season. He proceeded to discuss key components of the CWFS:

Julie Fortin presented on the risks of Forest Fires and Forest Management. Ms. Fortin explained that our forests are shared with citizens, industrial investments and community developments and therefore we must also share the risk management responsibilities, including sharing our collective experiences and expertise. Several stakeholder groups are working in collaboration to increase partnerships focused on prevention and preparation.

Paul Kovacs presented the views of Institute of Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), specifically on wildfire prevention. ICLR's mission is to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage from floods, storms & earthquakes. His recommendations focused on four areas:

Mr. Kovacs key message is re-construction through insurance must be built back better in order to increase resilience to withstand not only fire but other natural disasters.

Cliff Buettner presented on the Prince Albert Grand Council Forestry Program (PAGC) and the Saskatchewan Wildfire Risk & FireSmart Principles. He provided some background on the Saskatchewan wildfire season, some specific statistics related to the 2015 season including specific enhanced prevention and mitigation activities that were undertaken to protect communities. Mr. Buettner concluded by emphasizing that communities should work towards a common goal of creating fire resilient attitudes and properties by following FireSmart principles.  

Mike Flannigan provided an overview of fire management in Canada. He explained that the costs of fires have increased, including the costs associated to protecting the health and safety of Canadians and evacuations. Future climate change projections from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts up to a 60 C increase in global mean temperature by year 2100 with the greatest increases at high latitudes, over land and winter/spring except the Arctic Ocean when seasonally ice-free. In conclusions, Mr. Flanningan reverted to the importance of the CWFS, which encompasses both the wild land fire and community perspectives.

Parallel Session 2: Understanding Disaster Risk in Indigenous Communities

Moderator: Todd Kuiack, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada


Objective: To hear directly from the First Nation organizations about their experiences in understanding disaster risk in the Indigenous context, and subsequent best practices in relation to this.

The format of this session was a talking circle, which facilitated open and inclusive conversation amongst the participants. The participants started by providing brief comments based on the perspectives of their respective organizations and personal experiences.

Key feedback:

Parallel Session 3: Moving Forward with Sendai: A Workshop on Canadian Youth Perspectives

Moderators: Dr. Robin Cox, Royal Roads University and Dr. Leila Scannell, Royal Roads University


Objective: To discuss and develop a vision for a youth-centric and youth-designed declaration and action plan to guide Canada's implementation of DRR and resilience building in Canada.

The sessions began with an interactive activity where participants, in groups of eight, were asked to discuss the following three questions:

Each group created a drawing of a person in their group and used it to help guide their responses to the questions above, while reflecting on how people are influenced by different preferences and thoughts processes.

Key feedback:

Talk Show: Translating Science to Risk Knowledge

Moderator: Dr. Satyamoorthy Kabilan, Conference Board of Canada


Objective: To share insights around best practices for translating science into easily understood risk knowledge for decision makers.

Dr. Kabilan opened the session by noting the intent was to discuss translating science risk to knowledge and translating knowledge to action. He stated that one of biggest challenges faced when it comes to risk is being able to communicate it effectively.

Dr. Williamson discussed his experiences at Defence Research and Development Canada (DRDC) in regards to translating science and knowledge to end users and decision makers. He noted the importance of understanding the environments into which we are trying to provide advice and knowledge. He noted the landscape is characterized by; volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. The ultimate goal of the Canadian Safety and Security Program, led by DRDC in strong partnership with Public Safety Canada, is to support Canada's safety and security systems to make them evidence based, evidence informed, interconnected and resilient.

Dr. Williamson noted that there is currently an incomplete structure for accepting and receiving risk knowledge or advice and risk information must be delivered to decision makers in a timely manner.

"It is a complicated world out there; it is volatile, uncertain, ambiguous and complex. We could invest in science technology to reduce complexities and ambiguities, but we need to recognize there will always be surprises."

- Dr. Mark Williamson, Defence Research and Development Canada

Dr. Williamson concluded with the observation that conversations around risks tend to focus on what is the worst that can happen, however it is important to also identify what is the best that could happen. He stressed the importance of putting a positive spin on events.

Mr. Kovacs started his presentation by sharing initiatives that help translate science into risk knowledge:

He continued to explain that Canada is described as very low risk in terms of disaster losses. Insurance companies charge Canadian companies less because there are less disasters occurring compared to other parts of the world. However, recently, there is an alarming increase in economic losses. Canadian insurance disaster claims have risen in the billions of dollars.

Three recommendations:

He concluded by stating that according to Canadian Disaster Database, Canada has experienced more than a dozen disasters per year; however we have never experienced a catastrophe. The evidence suggests that Canada is not prepared catastrophic events.

Mr. Lynch began by providing an introduction on the work undertaken by the World Council on City Data (WCCD). He explained that this council has built a network of cities that are reporting data in a standardized and verified way based on 100 indicators of social, environmental, economic performance of cities organized in 17 themes that help illustrate resilience, sustainability, quality of life and operational performance of municipalities. He emphasized that this initiative is an opportunity to promote data driven decision making, to showcase local initiatives and demonstrates governments' commitment to open data.

He concluded by stating that the WCCD is undertaking new initiatives, in collaboration with the UN, to help communities better understand the risks they face and translate that information for decision makers.  

Mr. Waller echoed the points made by the panelists and stated the following points:

First, he explained that a review of Canadian risk hazards developed in collaboration with multiple stakeholders including the federal government, provincial governments, indigenous communities, emergency managers, private and public sectors, can contribute to translating science into easily understood risk knowledge for decision makers. The knowledge often already exists, particularly when it pertains to historical data. This task shouldn't rely on one entity.

Secondly, he shared that a lesson that Canada can learn from the United States of America is that they collect good quality data and information, however community engagement to encourage the use of this data and information remains a challenge, and this also is a challenge in Canada.

Mr. Waller shared the following lessons learned related to data collection in tornado prone regions:

Question from the moderator: “What are one or two key initiatives that could help encourage people positively communicate risk information?”

Mr. Kovacs noted that appropriately framing the question can help to shape the conversation on risks in a positive way and create an opportunity for broader dialogue.

Mr. Williamson added that we need to focus on the dialogue and start off by discussing the best scenario that could happen, as well as emphasize the best practices and success stories.

Mr. Waller continued by stated that all events that affect Canadian communities can provide an opportunity to learn and identify which elements worked well so that we can keep on doing them, and also which elements didn't work so we can improve them going forward. With each one of these events there is opportunity to carry the discussion further.

Mr. Lynch ended by stating that even the best performing cities always have one or two indicators that have can be improved and governments need to be comfortable enough to share their data.

Mr. Kabilan concluded the talk show with four key messages steaming from the discussion:

Interactive Session: Public-Private Partnership in Disaster Risk Reduction

Moderator: Lori MacDonald, Public Safety Canada


Objective: To explore Canadian private-public joint efforts that contributes to DRR through actions and investments.

Ms. MacDonald introduced the panel members and noted that large scale disasters in Canada continue to become more frequent and costly. A cohesive and whole of society approach to disaster management is important as we continue the dialogue to identify ways to better manage disasters and extreme weather events in Canada.

David Greenall shared his thoughts from a private sector perspective on the evolution of DRR and how the private sector can contribute. He shared that in Canada, discussions are underway to encourage large scale infrastructure investment, therefore the ability of the private sector to take a risk awareness approach to investment decision making will have a significant impact on Canada's ability to achieve the targets and objectives of the Sendai Framework.

Mr. Greenall introduce ARISE a Global initiative launched in 2015. This initiative is chaired by the head of UNISDR and Price Waterhouse Cooper, and includes 8-9 global partners. The overall goal of ARISE is to create risk resilient societies by energizing the private sector, in collaboration with the public sector, to achieve the outcomes and goals of the Sendai Framework.

One of the key targets in the Sendai Framework is to increase adoption of DRR strategies at a national level. ARISE has adopted these strategies, and one of its objectives create national ARISE Networks at a national level.

David McGown offered some thoughts on public-private partnerships from a private sector perspective and provided an overview of the collaboration that existed during the Fort McMurray fires.

He noted that private insurers have a significant and direct role in disaster risk management as insurance is one way that Canadians manage risk. Following the Fort McMurray fires, insurers were deployed to evacuation centers within two days after the start of fire and provided hand written cheques to affected individuals, and answered questions. The cost to insurers was somewhere between 3 - 4 billion dollars, making the Fort McMurray fires the most expensive natural disaster in Canada.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) arrived in the community two weeks after the fires started, as evacuations were still underway and the fires were still burning. It is important to note that this was the first time that IBC was imbedded in the emergency response team. Insurers can help create partnerships by supporting the adoption of strategies such as FireSmart.

The Canadian Red Cross was an active participant in the Fort McMurray emergency taskforce played a critical role in the planning for re-entry and recovery.

Nikhil da Victoria Lobo provided recommendations to enhance the scope of disaster management frameworks:

Ms. MacDonald concluded the session with two key points:

Roundtable Closing Remarks

Ms. Durand provided closing remarks for the Roundtable by extending a special thanks to the Secretariat of Canada's Platform for DRR, the Advisory Committee, the workings groups and the general membership for their support in advancing our shared goals and vision on DRR and strengthening community resilience.

Ms. Durand concluded by encouraging everyone to participate in the Fifth Regional Platform for DRR in March and next year in Halifax, Nova Scotia for the Eighth RoundTable on DRR. The theme for next year will be Building Back Better.

Site Visit #2 – Emergency Measures Coordination Centre, Montreal

Similar to Day 1, a site visit was also offered on Day 2.

For a description on the site visit, please see page 16.

Annex A – Group Activity on Day 1

In the context of post-disaster violence following floods and fires, participants identified: 32 categories of vulnerable populations and 96 prevention and mitigation strategies.

Key Observations:

Annex B – Social Media

TweetReach Highlights

Throughout the Roundtable, participants were encouraged to ask questions and continue the discussions on DRR through social media using the hashtag #CDNdrr / #CDNrcc. The English hashtag, #CDNdrr, which was unique to the Roundtable, reached at a minimum, an estimated 1.1 million unique Twitter accounts, based on 946 total tweets. Please note, however, that this number is only an estimate due to the limitations of the TweetReach data analytics software as it only calculates the reach of the first 100 total tweetsnote 1.

The French hashtag, #CDNrrc, which was unique to the Roundtable, reached a significantly lower number of Twitter accounts than the English hashtag. There were 88 total tweets with a reach of 169,240 unique Twitter accounts.

Twitter Highlights

Between November 19 and November 22, PS issued 38 English tweets promoting the Roundtable that generated a total of 138,932 impressions (‘impressions' referring to the total number of times a post has been seen).  The social media campaign issued 36 French tweets promoting the Roundtable which generated a total of 17,873 impressions.

Engagement Highlights

Between November 19 and 22, PS English tweets promoting the Roundtable generated a total of 1,327 engagement actions (retweets, likes, replies, URL clicks and hashtag clicks). The French tweets promoting the Roundtable generated a total of 124 engagement actions (retweets, likes, replies, URL clicks and hashtag clicks).

Please follow the links below to see the English and French wrap-ups of the DRR hashtags.

Annex C – Evaluation and Statistics

The Roundtable garnered much interest, with over 200 hundred attendees in person and countless others who participated virtually via teleconference and WebEx across all levels of government, the private sector, Indigenous peoples, non-governmental organizations, academia, and the general public.

To gather feedback on the event and inform the planning of future events, an evaluation survey was provided at the Roundtable and electronically to participants.

The general feedback received from respondents indicated a significant level of satisfaction following the event.


Number of Roundtable participants: over 200
Number of survey respondents: 96

Figure 1: Participation by Sector

Survey respondents represented a number of different sectors of society. Of the participants who responded to the survey, 43% were from the public sector; 19% from academia; 14% from non-governmental organizations (NGO); 12% from private sector, and 12% other sectors.

Figure 2: Primary objective for participating in the Roundtable

The chart demonstrates that multiple objectives for participating in the 2016 Roundtable were identified by survey respondents. The main objectives were:

Figure 3: Previous Participation in Roundtables

The survey results demonstrate that 62% of respondents never previously attended a Roundtable event, and 38% of respondents previously participated in a Roundtable event.

Figure 4: 2016 Roundtable Experience

The chart illustrates the expectation levels of respondents following the Roundtable event. 29% of respondents' expectations were exceeded; 49% of expectations were achieved; 21% expectations were somewhat achieved; and 1% expectation were not achieved.

Figure 5: Most Valuable Roundtable Topics

This figure illustrates that the topics of “Resilient Communities” and “Translating Science to Rick Knowledge” generated the most interest and were identified as most value topics of discussion by the respondents.

Figure 6: Parallel Session

The graph illustrates the range of satisfaction levels from respondents related to the parallel sessions. The results were positive with 40% of respondents with exceeded expectations and a 41% of respondents with achieved expectations.

Figure 7: Attendance at 2017 Roudtable

Participants were asked if they plan on attending 2017 Roundtable. The results show that 42% of respondents desire to attend the event next year, 51% of respondents were unsure and only 7% or respondent answered that they were unable to attend.

Figure 8: Attendance at Fifth Regional Platform for DRR

Participants were asked about their interest in attending the Fifth Regional Platform for DRR in the Americas. The chart illustrates that 59% of respondents desired to attend, 27% of respondents were unable to attend; and 14% of respondents were unsure at this time.

The following is a list potential themes that identified by respondents for future Roundtable events.

  1. 1

    Although TweetReach displays the total number of English tweets using hashtag #CDNdrr at 946, it only provides “reach” data for the first 100 tweets. The “reach” data for 100 tweets was listed as 118,549. Since the data for the “reach” of 946 tweets is not available, it is possible to determine an estimated number through the following: If 100 tweets = 118,549, then each tweet generates a “reach” of 1,185.49; multiply the actual number of tweets (946) by 1,185.49 for an estimated total “reach” of 1.1million.

Date modified: