Disaster recovery programs are a safety net for citizens who incurred uninsurable loss and damage during a disaster -- key for southern Albertans, since overland flood insurance is not provided in Canada.

The programs are a way of ensuring the costs of associated with disasters are shared by provinces and, in some cases, the entire country.

Here’s how they work:

Alberta’s Disaster Recovery Programs

Municipalities apply for disaster recovery on behalf of their residents “as a result of a disastrous event.” If the province approves the request, a program is set up.

However, programs are only started if the disaster meets the following criteria, according to the Alberta Emergency Management Agency website:

  • The event is considered extraordinary
  • Insurance is not reasonably or readily available
  • There is evidence that the event is widespread

In terms of what is considered “extraordinary” in the case of flooding caused by a waterway, the stream flow must exceed a “one-in-100 year level.”

In order to receive assistance, a person must take photos of the condition of their space, start to clean it up, submit an application for assistance, undergo an evaluation, finish repairing damage and receive a decision on assistance.

Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements

When disaster response and recovery costs exceed what individual provinces or territories could reasonably be expected to bear on their own, Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements allows the federal government to step in with assistance.

The money is paid to the affected province, not individual residents, and is usually used for evacuation costs and restoring infrastructure – although repairs to individual homes could be included. Some examples of eligible expenses include:

  • Emergency food, shelter and clothing
  • Removal of damaged structures that are a threat to public safety
  • Essential community services
  • Restoration, replacement or repairs to an individual’s dwelling (personal residence only)
  • Repairs to public infrastructure such as roads and bridges
  • Costs of damage inspection, appraisal and clean up

A province or territory may request disaster financial assistance when eligible expenditures exceed $1 per capita.

The money helps cover everything from public infrastructure to people’s private property. Some of the costs covered include:

Since the inception of the program in 1970, the federal government has paid out more than $2 billion in assistance.