A couple stands in their home as it gets renovated, which was possible after applying for natural disaster relief.

After a natural disaster, affected communities come together to repair, rebuild, and help those around them get back to normal as quickly as possible. Over the past few years, the frequency and severity of hurricanes, flooding, and other major weather events in Canada has increased, causing more damage to homes and businesses than ever before. That's why it's more important than ever to prepare for severe weather events before they hit.

While home insurance will cover the damage outlined in your policy and Extra Expenses After a Loss coverage can cover out-of-pocket expenses while your home is being repaired, some damage caused by extreme weather might not be covered or might exceed the coverage in your home insurance policy. That's why federal and provincial governments also offer a variety of disaster relief programs for those facing significant uninsurable loss or damage. If you've recently been affected by a natural disaster or you know someone in need of support, here's what you need to know about applying for disaster relief in Canada.

What is disaster relief?

Disaster relief programs provide those affected by natural disasters with rapid and necessary assistance — whether it be in the form of supplies, emergency services, or financial support. The funds typically come from government or humanitarian organizations.

In Canada, disaster relief is provided through the government in each province or territory. When the costs of a large-scale disaster exceed the recovery funds available, the federal government will release additional funding through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA). These funds support the individual disaster relief programs managed by each province and territory and help residents recover from uninsurable loss or damage.

It's important to note that disaster relief funds aren't intended to replace insurance coverage — you still need an insurance policy with limits high enough to protect your property. Disaster relief will only be provided in situations when insurance coverage is insufficient to cover the essentials, and these programs are designed to compensate for basic needs only. Eligibility requirements, compensation limits, and deductible amounts will depend on your province or territory, as well as the extent of the natural disaster.

If you're in need of disaster relief following a climate-related event, check in with your provincial or territorial government for more information and to apply for assistance.

Provincial and territorial disaster relief programs

  1. Alberta – Including both the Disaster Recovery Program and the Municipal Wildfire Assistance Program, these funds provide applicants with financial assistance to recover from uninsurable loss and to mitigate future disaster risks. Visit the Alberta government website for more information and to review the application process.
  2. British Columbia – The British Columbia Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) program offers financial assistance for a variety of uninsurable losses that may impact one's home, livelihood, or community. Visit the British Columbia government website to learn more and begin the application process.
  3. Manitoba – The Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance program supports municipalities, private residences, farms, small businesses, and non-profits in the recovery of uninsurable loss after a wide variety of natural disasters. Visit the Manitoba government website to start the application process.
  4. New Brunswick – The Disaster Financial Assistance program helps communities recover from extensive property damage or delivery disruption of essential goods and services. If you experienced uninsurable loss or damage during a recent natural disaster, visit the New Brunswick government website to apply for assistance.
  5. Newfoundland & Labrador – The province's Disaster Financial Assistance program supports residents in need of financial support, housing, or other immediate support with uninsurable loss or damage. Visit the Newfoundland & Labrador government website to begin the application process.
  6. Northwest Territories – The Disaster Financial Assistance program supports residents after widespread flooding. The funds provide financial support for uninsurable loss once repairs are complete. To begin an application and find out if you're eligible, visit the Northwest Territories government website.
  7. Nova Scotia – The province's Disaster Financial Assistance program is currently providing financial support to Nova Scotians who experienced uninsurable loss from a severe weather event. Individuals, small businesses, non-profits, and residential property owners and tenants can visit the Nova Scotia government website to apply for financial assistance.
  8. Ontario – The Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program applies to uninsurable private property damage, cleanup costs, and evacuation costs caused by a variety of natural disasters. To find out if you're eligible to apply, visit the Ontario government website.
  9. Prince Edward Island – Prince Edward Island's Provincial Disaster Financial Assistance Program is available to individuals and families who require assistance covering the cost to repair or replace uninsurable assets that were lost in a natural disaster. Check out the Prince Edward Island government website for more information and to apply.
  10. Quebec – The General Indemnity and Financial Assistance Program Regarding Actual or Imminent Disasters helps homeowners and tenants recover from uninsurable loss following a natural disaster. Visit the Quebec government website to find out if you're eligible and to apply for support.
  11. Saskatchewan – The Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) helps residents, small businesses, farmers, First Nations, non-profit organizations, and communities with financial support to cover uninsurable loss and damage caused by flooding, tornadoes, and other severe weather disasters. To apply, visit the Saskatchewan government website.
  12. Yukon – The Yukon Flood Recovery Program focuses specifically on supporting residents, farms, and businesses who experience uninsurable property and possession loss after flooding. Visit the Yukon government website to access the program.

Hurricanes and other disasters can cause serious damage that isn't always covered by insurance. If you or someone you know needs extra financial support, visit your provincial or territorial government website for information about applying for disaster relief.

Are you covered for the wide variety of risks that can come with severe weather events? Get in touch with your group's insurance broker today to make sure you have the protection you need.

As many Canadians recover from wildfires, flooding, and other ongoing natural disasters across the country, share this quick resource on Facebook or Twitter to help your friends get the financial support they need.