Climate change means emergency responders need specialized, updated training according to wildfire expert
The excerpted article was written by Anne Gaviola | Vice.com
According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC), eight specialists left for Victoria Monday night and another 21 arrived in New South Wales—the area hardest-hit—this weekend. Each round of deployments ranges from 31 to 38 days. A total of 95 Canadians are scheduled to help crews in Australia’s Rural Fire Service, which are mostly volunteers who have been stretched by bush fires fuelled by the country’s longest and driest year ever recorded.
Alberta Agriculture and Forestry spokesperson Adrienne South said in an email, “This is the first time a multi-province Canadian crew is going to Australia.”
Even though Canada hasn’t dealt with bushfires as deadly as Australia’s, Canadian wildfire experts say our experience is valuable for fighting the fires now, and also for dealing with the aftermath.
Twenty-five people have been killed as well as an estimated 480 million animals. Millions of acres have been destroyed in fires that have been raging since September and their summer has only just begun. The Insurance Council of Australia estimated that insurance claims have already reached $485 million.
According to wildfire researcher Mike Flannigan, the types of blazes they’ll be dealing with are similar to very large, high-intensity fires that Canadians have seen recently, and more frequently, in British Columbia and Alberta. “These are erratic, hard to predict and dangerous. It has climate change fingerprints all over it,” said Flannigan.
The 2016 blaze in Fort McMurray, Alberta, brought an estimated $9 billion in damages and was the costliest disaster in Canadian history. The historic wildfire seasons of 2017 and 2018 in British Columbia also saw large-scale devastation, which Australian crews helped battle. The two countries have a history of helping each other out and it helps that we have opposite seasons, though fire seasons in both countries have gotten longer in recent years.
The specialists from Canada won’t be frontline firefighters—Australia hasn’t asked us to send those, at least not yet. We’ve sent managers and people behind the scenes in charge of logistics, strategy, and tracking equipment and planes. There’s a lot more to fire response than putting out blazes and Canadian expertise can play an important role in dealing with the humans and the trauma that comes with this kind of extreme destruction.
READ MORE HERE: Canadian Fire Crews Are Now Fighting the Australia Fires, Returning a Favour
TORONTO _ The Environment Canada forecast says Ontario is in for a blast of heavy winter weather today.
Snowfall warnings, and special weather advisories have been issued for most areas of the province.
A weather system moving from west to east is expected to dump five to 15 centimetres of snow across the region starting this morning. As much as 25 centimetres could fall on parts of the Greater Toronto Area.
Winds gusting to 50 kph are expected to blow the snow around, making for treacherous driving conditions.
And it will be cold, with frostbite inducing wind chill values of minus 20 C to minus 30 C.
Extreme cold warnings have been posted across northern Ontario. The forecast high today for Thunder Bay is minus 21 C with wind chill values ranging from minus 28 to minus 50.
Summary: The number of Canadians with disability coverage through workplace benefits has fallen significantly since 2015 – 48% vs 57%. Of those Canadians without disability coverage through their workplace, 84% have not bought coverage themselves. Yet, if faced with the possibility of becoming disabled and unable to work for three months, 68% admit they would face serious financial trouble. However, when it comes to accessing disability coverage, where and how Canadians find work are strong barriers, along with affordability.
The number of Canadians with disability coverage through workplace benefits has declined significantly since 2015, according to a recent RBC Insurance survey. Fewer than half (48 per cent) of employed Canadians say they have disability coverage through their workplace benefits, compared to 57 per cent in 20151. Of those without disability coverage through their workplace, 84 per cent have not bought coverage themselves, leaving them at financial risk if unable to work due to a disability.
“With the majority of employed Canadians indicating that they do not have disability insurance through their workplace benefits package, workers need to review what coverage they do have and take immediate steps to ensure that they are well protected in case something were to happen,” explains Maria Winslow, Senior Director, Life & Health, RBC Insurance. “Without the proper financial protection in place, Canadians are putting themselves and their families at risk if they are faced with a disability and have to take time off work.”
Being off work takes a financial toll that many people are not prepared to handle. A majority (68 per cent) of working Canadians acknowledge the possibility of serious financial implications for them and their family if they were to become disabled and unable to work for three months. In fact, when faced with a disability, 45 per cent of working Canadians would have liked to take time off due to disability but could not because of finances, and 51 per cent said they were forced to go back to work earlier than they wanted because of their financial situation.
“When confronted with a disability, the last thing that should be on your mind is worrying about finances. Purchasing individual disability coverage provides you with the security of knowing you will have money coming in to replace your lost income,” says Winslow.
Barriers to Accessing Disability Coverage
Increasingly, where and how Canadians find work are strong barriers to accessing disability insurance coverage. Those without coverage say:
- Their workplace doesn’t offer group benefits or disability insurance (35 per cent)
- They work part-time or on contract and aren’t eligible for benefits (25 per cent)
- They’re self-employed or freelance (22 per cent)
Cost is another key barrier – one in four (26 per cent) working Canadians without disability coverage feel they cannot afford it.
“There’s a misconception that disability insurance is expensive, yet it’s much less than you might think – generally costing between one and three per cent of your income,” adds Winslow.
Here are a few things Canadians should consider:
- The best time to buy disability insurance is before an injury or illness occurs.
- Don’t choose a policy on price alone. Be aware that the prices are aligned with the features and benefits of the policy. Make sure you know the policy’s definition of disability, as the definition may vary among carriers.
- Review the coverage available through your employer and consider whether you need additional coverage to fill in the gaps.
- Disability insurance is essentially an income replacement policy; it is designed to cover a portion of your income should you become unable to work.
About the RBC Insurance Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 2nd and January 4th, 2018 on behalf of RBC Insurance. For this survey, a sample of 1,505 employed Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are considered accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all working Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.
About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance® offers a wide range of life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth and reinsurance advice and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC Insurance is among the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organizations, with approximately 2,500 employees who serve more than four million clients globally. For more information, please visit rbcinsurance.com.
1 2015 RBC Insurance survey
What’s at Stake?
The body normally cools itself by sweating. During hot weather, especially with high humidity, sweating isn’t enough. Body temperatures can rise to dangerous levels if you don’t drink enough water and rest in the shade. You can suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job. Heat illnesses and deaths are preventable.
What’s the Danger?
Any worker exposed to hot and humid conditions is at risk of heat illness, especially those doing heavy work tasks or using bulky protective clothing and equipment. Some workers might be at greater risk than others if they have not built up a tolerance to hot conditions, including new workers, temporary workers, or those returning to work after a week or more off. All workers are at risk during a heat wave.
The three main heat related illnesses are heat stroke, heat exhaustion, and heat cramps. Heat stroke can be fatal and heat exhaustion and heat cramps can quickly lead to heat stroke if left untreated.
How to Protect Yourself
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
- Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
- Rest in the shade to cool down.
- Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
- Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
- Keep an eye on fellow workers.
- “Easy does it” on your first day of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.