B.C. Auditor General Russ Jones has said in a new report that British Columbians are at a significant risk if a catastrophic earthquake were to occur today.
The audit found that Emergency Management BC, (EMBC), tasked with preparing the government’s response to an earthquake, is not adequately prepared and that neither the Province nor EMBC has made preparing for one a priority.
Last year, the Insurance Bureau of Canada released a study that suggested we are not prepared physically or financially for a major earthquake in British Columbia.
It said the total economic loss after a magnitude 9 earthquake in the region off the coast of Vancouver Island would stand at $75 billion.
In a 1997 report from B.C.’s Auditor General, it reached a similar conclusion on emergency management and Jones’ report states over the last 17 years EMBC has not made significant progress.
“Successive governments have decided to allocate scarce public resources to meet more immediate pressing demands, rather than to adequately prepare the province for a catastrophic earthquake that may or may not occur,” said Jones. “EMBC’s current operating budget for emergency activities is approximately the same as it was in 2006. In addition, EMBC staff is busy with daily emergencies such as floods and fires so catastrophic earthquake planning is done as a side-of-desk activity.”
In a press release from the Office of the Auditor General, it stated that EMBC appears to have taken the report quite seriously and is working to develop and implement strategies to address the deficiencies noted in this report.