Case Study #1: What is the Impact of Natural Disasters in Canada?

2017

Date Source: 

The Canadian Disaster Database (CDD)

Organizer: 

Lisa Lix

Background: The number of natural disasters occurring in Canada, as well as internationally, is increasing. Economic losses associated with natural disasters also appear to be increasing, which is concerning for governments. 

Data about natural disasters are a valuable tool to develop policies and actions to assess and manage the risks associated with natural disasters. Even if it is not always possible to prevent natural disasters, much can be done to build capacity to reduce their impact. This includes preventive activities to avoid the adverse impact of hazards, disaster mitigation actions taken in advance of a disaster aimed at decreasing its impact on society and the environment, and disaster preparedness activities such as pre- and post-emergency measures.

 

Research Question: 

For this case study you will use the Canadian Disaster Database (CDD) to address the following questions:

  1. How has the impact of natural disasters changed over time in Canada? 
  2. Has the impact been the same across all provinces or regions of Canada? 
  3. What might be the impact of natural disasters on Canadians in the future?

Variables: 

Canadian Disaster Database Fields and Description
 

Field

Description

Event Subgroup

The subgroup of disaster (Biological, Geological, Meteorological-Hydrological) that occurred.

Event Type

The type of disaster (e.g. flood, earthquake, etc.) that occurred.

Place

The city, town or region where a specific event took place.

Event Start Date

The date a specific event started.

Fatalities         

The number of people killed due to a specific event.

Injured/Infected

The number of people injured or infected due to a specific event.

Evacuated

The number of individuals evacuated by the government of Canada due to a specific event.

Estimated Total Cost

A roll-up of all the costs listed within the financial data fields for a specific event.

Normalized Total Cost

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to normalize the financial data.

Event End Date

The date a specific event ended.

Federal DFAA Payments

The amount, in dollars, paid out by Federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (Public Safety Canada) due to a specific event.

Provincial DFAA Payments

The amount, in dollars, paid out by Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements due to a specific event.

Provincial Department Payments

The amount, in dollars, paid out by a Province or Territory due to a specific event.

Municipal Costs

The cost, in dollars, to a Municipality due to a specific event.

OGD Costs

The cost, in dollars, as reported in Open Government Data sources.

Insurance Payments

The amount, in dollars, paid out by insurance companies due to a specific event.

NGO Payments

The amount, in dollars, paid out by a Non-Governmental Organization due to a specific event.

Utility – People Affected

The amount of people whose utility services (power, water, etc.) were interrupted/affected by a specific event.

Magnitude

A measure of the size of an earthquake, related to the amount of energy released.

 

Data Access: 

Data Source: The Canadian Disaster Database (CDD) contains detailed disaster information on more than 1000 natural, technological and conflict events (excluding war) that have happened since 1900 and have directly affected Canadians. For this case study you will be working only with the natural disaster events in the CDD. 

The CDD tracks significant disaster events which conform to the Emergency Management Framework for Canada definition of a disaster and meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • 10 or more people killed;
  • 100 or more people affected/injured/infected/evacuated or homeless;
  • an appeal for national/international assistance;
  • historical significance;
  • significant damage/interruption of normal processes such that the community affected cannot recover on its own,

The CDD describes where and when a disaster occurred, the number of injuries, evacuations, and fatalities, as well as an estimate of the costs.  As much as possible, the CDD contains primary data that is valid, current and supported by reliable and traceable sources, including federal institutions, provincial/territorial governments, non-governmental organizations and media sources.  Data is updated and reviewed on a semi-annual basis.

The CDD displays cost data in the dollar amount of the year that the event took place or the year a specific payment was made. A conversion tool is available to convert this raw data into the dollar amount in effect for the year of their choosing to determine whether costs have increased or decreased over time, or whether preventative/mitigative measures have helped to lower the cost of disasters. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) is used to normalize the financial data because it is widely used and accepted.  However, for events that occurred before 1914, the 1914 CPI must be used.  Also, as the CPI cannot be applied to the current year, users should use the year previous to the current year to normalize cost data.  

Additional Information: For more information about the CDD see: 

https://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/cndn-dsstr-dtbs/index-eng.aspx


You may also find it helpful to look at the International Disaster Database (EM-DAT) and its associated resources. EM-DAT contains international data that are comparable to the CDD. Please see: http://www.emdat.be/

Data Files: