Flooding Preparedness and the Role of the Government Operations Centre (GOC)

Classification: Unclassified

Branch/Agency: EMPB

Proposed Response:

2020 Flood Season

GOC Roles and Responsibilities

Public Safety Canada:

Canadian Armed Forces:

Environment and Climate Change Canada:

Indigenous Services Canada:

Natural Resources Canada:

2019 Flood Season

The Provinces of ON, QC, and NB requested federal assistance due to historically high flood waters. Requests for Federal Assistance (RFAs) were for evacuations; support to vulnerable people; wellness checks; water patrols; mitigation efforts to protect property and infrastructure (e.g. sandbagging); sourcing and deployment of flood control assets; and planning and coordination of relief efforts.

Lessons Identified

Throughout the 2019 Flood Season, the Continuous Improvement of Federal Event Response program, housed within the GOC, collected observations on best practices and areas for improvement.

Best practices

Areas for improvement

Preparedness Activities – 2020 Flood Season

(3) information requirements framework, and (4) identification of partners’ key capabilities. These items were discussed with other government organizations and have been included in the Government of Canada Cyclical Event Response Plan.

Impact of COVID-19

2019 Spring Flooding by the Numbers

Image description

This infographic summarizes notable statistics from the 2019 Spring Flood Season.

These statistics are as follows:

  • 23.3 million dollars requested through Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements by the province of New-Brunswick.
  • 1200 deployments of Canadian Armed Forces members in Ontario.
  • In Quebec, 14229 flood victims registered by the Canadian Red Cross.
  • 150 dwellings flooded or at risk in South-Central Manitoba.
  • 428 million dollars in uninsured losses reported by the Province of Quebec through Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.

Flooded area by affected region (Pie Chart):

  • 10 km2 – Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-lac
  • 91 km2 – Ottawa-Gatineau Region
  • 124 km2 – Red River Valley
  • 383 km2 – Fredericton-Saint John Region
  • 609 km2 total

At risk or flooded roads by affected region (Bar Graph):

  • Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-lac – 53 kilometres of road affected
  • Ottawa-Gatineau Region – 101 kilometres of road affected
  • Fredericton-Saint John Region – 238 kilometres of road affected
  • Red River Valley – 70 kilometres of road affected

Affected Provinces

In 2019, spring flooding in Canada most significantly affected the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Manitoba. In conjunction with provincial and federal partners, the GOC coordinated a whole-of-government response effort to this event.


Flood impacts for the 2019 Manitoba spring flood season were most notably observed in the Red River Valley. The Regional Municipality of Montcalm declared a state of emergency due to localized flooding on April 22nd, which resulted in the mandatory evacuation of a number of residences. The Roseau River First Nations Reserve was also affected by heightened water levels.


The 2019 spring flood season in Ontario was record-breaking, and produced widespread impact across the province. The Muskoka region, the National Capital Region, Lake Nipissing, and many northern First Nations communities bordering Hudson Bay were most significantly impacted. Heightened water levels on the Ottawa River began on April 18th, and resulted in the closure of the Chaudière Bridge on April 28th.


Impacts from the 2019 Quebec spring flood season were extensive, with over 250 municipalities affected. Towns bordering the Ottawa River and the Saint Lawrence River were most severely impacted, including Pointe-Calumet, Rigaud, and Sainte-Marthe-sur-le-Lac - where one third of the city was flooded due to a levee rupture. The province requested federal assistance to conduct recovery activities and for flood mitigation.

New Brunswick

Spring flooding in New Brunswick was largely concentrated in the southern portion of the province. Saint John, Fredericton, and Oromocto were most significantly impacted. Damage from localized flooding resulted in the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway and the registration of over 1,200 victims by the Canadian Red Cross.

Historical Mean Water Levels of the Ottawa River at Gatineau

A line graph shows the mean water level measurements recorded by the Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board for May from 2000 to 2019. The graph indicates that spring flood water levels are rising. In 2000, the mean water level was 42.02 metres. Over the last 20 years, this level has been steadily increasing. 2019 spring flooding was record-breaking, where mean water levels reached 44.59 metres - a 1.78 metre rise from 2018 levels.

Data source: Ottawa River Regulation Planning Board

2020 Flood Season Update No. 1

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY – 2020 PRELIMINARY Spring Flooding Risk Assessment

The information currently available for the 2020 Flood season is preliminary; assessments of potential risks of flooding are ongoing. This assessment is based on data collected from various key stakeholders such as ECCC, NRCan, ISC, and provincial emergency management offices. Federal and provincial forecasters are developing models based on snow accumulation, soil saturation, temperatures, precipitation, and river ice conditions, to identify areas where significant flooding could occur. In addition to those indicators, inclement weather could affect the potential for flooding.

DISCLAIMER: This risk assessment is based on flood indicators such as snow water equivalency, soil saturation, and river ice conditions. However, other flood indicators such as temperature and precipitation are less predictable in a long-term forecast and could affect the overall risk assessment. An update of this risk assessment will be provided in the GOC Daily Operations Brief, starting 6 Apr 2020

High Risk

MB - Southern Manitoba, particularly the Red River (RR) basin, presents a High risk of spring flooding due to near record high level soil moisture in the

U.S. portion of the RR watershed. There is a High risk of moderate flooding on the Pembina River and the Roseau River, as both basins have above normal soil moisture.

BC - The South Interior and southern Peace regions are at high risk of flooding due to above normal wet precipitation and higher than average snowpack.

Medium Risk

NB – St. John River valley and its tributaries are at Medium risk of ice jam flooding above the Mactaquac Dam, and fluvial flooding below. Water levels are greatly influenced by the high tides in the Bay of Fundy.

QC – Conditions leading to flooding are in place due to very high water levels in the 5 Great Lakes, as well as Lake St-Pierre, Lake St-Louis and the St. Lawrence River. Areas at Medium risk are Central and Eastern Quebec

ON – Conditions leading to flooding along the shores of the Great Lakes and the Ottawa River are in place, since water levels in most of the Great Lakes have been above normal and near/above historical extremes for several months, and total precipitation over these areas has been above normal for at least 6 months.

2020 Flood Season Update No. 1 – Flood Risk Map

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This map is displaying the 2020 preliminary spring flooding risk assessment across Canada. Areas at high risk include British Columbia and Manitoba. Areas at medium risk include Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. The map also shows First Nations communities at medium risk. These communities are Attawapiskat 91A, Kashechewan and Moose Factory in Ontario, as well as Roseau River in Manitoba and Metepenagiag in New Brunswick.

Spring Flooding Risk Assessment across Canada
Region 2020 PRELIMINARY Risk Assessment
Alta. LOW
Sask. LOW
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