The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is warning that extreme weather due to climate change is taking its toll on the province’s infrastructure, accelerating the need to overhaul roads, bridges, waterworks, and other essentials that are already overdue for repair or replacement.
“Costly damage to infrastructure because of extreme weather events has become common in recent years,” the 60,000-member Chamber states in a report released last week. It warns that “damaging and costly events are expected to increase, in both number and scale, as the climate warms, increasing pressure on current infrastructure and demanding new assets that can respond to extreme events.”
The 39-page report connects the environmental impact of extreme weather to the economic costs that result.
“The average natural disaster costs the economy C$130 billion and lowers GDP by approximately 2%,” it notes. “This is attributable to the rising occurrence of severe weather affecting urban areas that have high-density populations and high-value assets.”
After a disaster, “lost tax revenue and demands for relief and reconstruction place enormous fiscal strain on governments,” the Chamber adds. “On average, it is estimated that natural disasters increase public budget deficits by 25%.”
The Toronto Star says Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli is expected to release a new long-term infrastructure plan for the province by the end of the year.
“It’s no secret that decades of underinvestment have created a significant infrastructure deficit,” said press secretary Alex Benac. “That’s one of the reasons we have committed to an unprecedented C$190-billion, 13-year infrastructure investment that will result in new and renewed hospitals, schools, roads, and public transit across the province.”