Canadian wildfire resiliency initiative led by co-operators

Wildfire Community Preparedness Day brought people together on May 4 in Ontario in an attempt to make communities more resistant to wildfires. With over 6,000 flames breaking out across the country, 2023 was one of Canada’s worst wildfire seasons on record.

Wildfire education and prevention are of the utmost importance for homeowners and communities nationwide, according to Maya Milardovic, assistant vice president, government relations at Co-operators. Maya Milardovic made this statement as the current wildfire season begins.

On what day is Wildfire Community Preparedness Day celebrated?
Co-operators, in partnership with FireSmart and the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR), spearhead an annual campaign that equips residents to protect their homes and neighborhoods from the dangers of wildfires.

Local fire safety activities can raise awareness and provide funding for $500 in an annual competition. The program distributed grants to 378 communities across 10 states and 2 territories this year.

During his speech on the importance of Wildfire Town Preparedness Day, Milardovic stated, “If you’re not aware, and if you don’t think wildfires will impact you, your home, or your community, you’re not going to act.”

“Significantly, this day is bringing attention to the effects of wildfires while simultaneously encouraging people to band together as communities,” she continued.

How crucial is it to be able to withstand wildfires?
The impact of wildfires goes beyond only destroying property. Milardovic highlighted the potential loss of people’s cherished possessions and the detrimental effects of smoke on their physical and mental health.

The Canadian Climate Institute estimates that a week of smoke from wildfires in Ontario costs about $1.3 billion in health care expenditures. This highlights the far-reaching effects of catastrophic disasters.

Similarly, projections indicate that British Columbia’s catastrophic wildfire season of 2023 will cost the province over $720 million in insurance premiums.

“Last year was a devastating year for wildfires and we’re expecting this year to be the same,” Milardovic added, recognizing the reality of the situation. Being aware of the issue and taking action as a community are critical.

After formally launching on May 4, Wildfire Community Preparedness Day will likely continue throughout the summer, according to Milardovic.

“The Canadian landscape is truly unique,” she remarked. It’s possible that places like Calgary will still have snow on the ground. This should not restrict events to a single day. The summer and fall are both great times to host a community event or participate in an activity.

Promotion of security
Co-operators introduced insurance reductions for homes in 2015, in partnership with FireSmart, to encourage preventative safety measures.

In his remarks, Milardovic reaffirmed the firm’s dedication to helping Canadians in concrete ways.

She made the bold assertion, “I don’t know if other insurers are doing it, but I know that we are the first insurer in Canada to create the FireSmart discount.” It’s one of many quantifiable things we can do to help Canadians, I believe.

The Co-operators and FireSmart B.C. have also started a pilot program to help advisers promote fire-resistant roofing and landscaping to their clients by providing them with the knowledge of FireSmart assessors.

In addition to offering incentives to customers, the co-operators are highly involved in lobbying with government authorities to reform construction rules across the country. This highlights the need for everyone to do their part to educate themselves and prevent wildfires.

The most frustrating thing is being aware of a potential danger but unsure of how to proceed. What Milardovic meant was that there is a connection between knowing what a danger is, being able to identify it, and then being able to do something about it to empower people and communities.