Canadians fear climate change, spring flooding and smouldering wildfires

First Onsite survey explores climate, spring melt, flooding, wildfires and threats to properties

MISSISSAUGA, Ontario, March 19, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- First Onsite Property Restoration, Canada’s leading property restoration company, marks the end of winter and the official first day of spring (Tuesday, March 19) with the release of the first leg of its annual survey – examining Canadians’ concerns, perceptions, and property readiness amid ever-changing weather patterns.

Commissioned by FIRST ONSITE, the Weather and Property Survey explores Canada’s top disaster fears (including climate change, spring flooding, wildfires, landslides, etc.) It also asks about threats and concerns for property during severe weather events.

“We conduct this survey every year to get a benchmark of Canadian attitudes, weather worries, and concerns that business and homeowners have for their properties,” said Jim Mandeville, SVP, First Onsite Property Restoration. “People are aware that storms aren’t acting like they used to, and we are seeing an increase in all types of property damage from weather events.” 

Climate change concerns
Three quarters of respondents (73%) are worried about climate change and its effects on extreme weather and disasters. This concern was highest in Quebec (79%), British Columbia (77%) and Ontario (75%) and the lowest in Atlantic Canada (67%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (66%) and Alberta (60%).

Wildfires and smoke
Not surprisingly, regional wildfire concerns were highest in British Columbia (82%) and Alberta (76%). Both provinces also led the way in terms of wildfire smoke fears. Also included in the smoky mix, Quebec (66%), Manitoba and Saskatchewan (66%), Ontario (60%) and Atlantic Canada (50%) expressed concerns over wildfire smoke.

Canada’s emergency preparedness minister recently warned that this year’s wildfire season will be worse than last year’s record-breaking season. In 2023, Canadian fires burned 185,000 square kilometres; that is more than double the previous record set in 1989 of 75,596 square kilometres, according to the National Forestry Database. Wildfire smoke blanketed North American cities all summer, making worldwide news as well.

Spring rains and flooding
Six-in-10 Canadians expressed fears of severe rains and flooding (60%), with British Columbia (67%) and Quebec (66%) leading the way. This makes sense considering B.C.’s history of severe flooding events, including the Pacific Northwest Floods of November 2021 and Québec’s record wet July of 2023. Flooding concern was next highest in Ontario (60%) and Atlantic Canada (59%) and lowest in Manitoba and Saskatchewan (47%) and Alberta (43%).

See the table below for results of Canada’s top disaster and severe weather fears.

Canada’s top disaster fears
Total B.C. AB  Man/ 
Climate change
Wildfire smoke
Severe rains or flooding
Source: First Onsite Property Restoration 

Property threats

Drilling down, the survey also asked people what they felt were the top threats to their property during disasters or severe weather events. Six-in-10 Canadians responded, “I am concerned about the risk of mould after a flooding event.” Meanwhile, eight-in-10 Canadians (79%) were worried about personal or family safety during weather-related disasters, a number that was high across the board in all provinces.

People were also anxious about the cost of major renovations (72%), their level of preparedness in the event of a disaster (64%) and whether their insurance is at the right level (60%).

See table below for Canadians’ top threats to property during severe weather events.

Table 2:
Top threats to property during severe weather events
Total B.C. AB 
The development of mould
Personal or family safety
Having to leave my home or community
Cost of major renovations and repairs
My level of insurance coverage – i.e., whether it is sufficient or not
My level of preparedness in the event of a disaster (i.e. is it sufficient)
Loss of valuables and personal items
Source: First Onsite Property Restoration 

“The increased occurrence and intensity of catastrophic weather events is a constant driver for homeowners, businesses and communities to be more resilient and better prepared for potential threats,” said Mandeville. “With the right planning and resources in place, businesses and residents can be better prepared to respond to property emergencies.”

First Onsite has been on the frontlines of high-risk situations due to climate change, natural disasters, and weather-related events. The company is ready 24/7, 365 days per year to help Canadian residents and businesses protect their properties.

First Onsite also offers free commercial and residential preparedness guides including wildfire preparedness tips and spring flooding damage tips. Visit us for more information at

About the FIRST ONSITE Weather and Property Survey
From February 22 to February 24, 2023, an online survey was conducted among a nationally representative sample of n=1,506 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum, balanced and weighted on age, gender, region and education. For comparison purposes, a sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. The survey was offered in both English and French.

About First Onsite: North America’s Trusted Leader in Property Restoration 
First Onsite Property Restoration is one of the largest and fastest-growing emergency response planning, mitigation, and reconstruction service providers in North America. First Onsite employs over 2,500 team members and operates from more than 100 locations across Canada and the U.S. With a culture focused on harnessing the human power of its team members and a commitment to doing what’s right, the First Onsite team helps clients restore, rebuild, and rise. First Onsite is a subsidiary of FirstService Corporation. For more information, go to or follow @firstonsite on X and LinkedIn

Contact info
Terance Brouse 
M 647-667-7524