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  • Kyle Bolt

Changes to Disaster Financial Assistance Program

The provincial government has made changes to how disaster financial assistance is provided to address the financial implications of more frequent and larger-scale events.

In New Brunswick and across Canada, the frequency and severity of heavy rain, spring freshets, ice-jam flooding, freezing rain, severe winds, tropical and post-tropical storms, and sea-level rise are causing increased flooding, erosion, power interruptions, damage to infrastructure and property, and pressures on emergency response.

“In New Brunswick over the past nine years, there have been 12 events that have prompted the need for disaster financial assistance,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin. “Over that span, New Brunswick has sustained an estimated total of $369 million in damage. All the provinces and the federal government are struggling with the rising costs and how to address them.”

Three changes are being made to help people leave areas prone to flooding and encourage property owners to manage their own risks:

•Increasing the maximum payout for structural damage.

•Setting a cap on the amount of assistance paid for any property for the same type of disaster.

•Lowering the threshold for buyouts for those affected by floods.

Until now, the maximum a homeowner could file for under disaster financial assistance was $160,000 per incident causing structural damage. This limit has been increased and capped at $200,000 for private homes for claims related to the same type of disaster (flooding, coastal storm surge, etc.). If a property is damaged three times by overland flooding, for example, and the property owner makes claims of $60,000, $60,000, and $80,000, the property owner can no longer make another claim related to overland flooding.

Once the $200,000 limit has been reached, a notice will be placed on the provincial government’s land registry, stating the property is no longer eligible for the government’s disaster financial assistance funding for inland or coastal flooding.

Previously, for a homeowner to be offered a buyout, damage had to be 80 per cent of the property’s fair market value; for example, a $200,000 property had to have sustained $160,000 worth of structural damage. For future disasters, the threshold has changed to 50 per cent arising from one event, or 80 per cent accumulated across multiple disasters, such as flooding.

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