National Risk Profile: Strengthening Canada's All-Hazards Approach to Emergency Management

On this page

Overview of the National Risk Profile

Gaining a better understanding of disaster risk within Canada gives emergency management experts, decision-makers and Canadians the information they need to help further protect themselves and their communities before, during and after disasters.

The National Risk Profile is Canada's first strategic, national-level disaster risk assessment. It provides a national picture of the disaster risks facing Canada, and the existing measures and resources in our emergency management systems to address them.

The National Risk Profile will:

The National Risk Profile is being developed in rounds and takes a phased approach to assessing hazards. The first report focusses on floods, wildland fires and earthquakes, with a section on the cascading effects of pandemics like COVID-19 on these three hazards.

The National Risk Profile is one of many Government of Canada initiatives that aim to strengthen Canada's emergency preparedness and keep Canadians safe in the event of a disaster.  It is a key part of Canada's Emergency Management Strategy, which identifies federal, provincial and territorial priorities that will strengthen Canada's emergency management capacity and reduce disaster risk. It is also an important action under Canada's National Adaptation Strategy, which sets targets for action on adapting to the impacts of climate change. The National Risk Profile will also inform other emergency management and disaster risk reduction programs, including the development of a national flood insurance program to protect Canadians who are at high risk of flooding and the modernization of the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, the Government of Canada's post-disaster financial assistance program, to encourage proactive mitigation measures before an emergency or disaster occurs to eliminate or reduce the impacts of disasters on our communities.

For more detailed information on the National Risk Profile, please read What is the National Risk Profile?

National Risk Profile Report

This report is based on input and evidence from whole-of-society stakeholders across Canada, and provides a foundation for understanding disaster risk from the three costliest hazards facing Canadians: earthquakes, wildland fire, and floods.

Read the National Risk Profile report.

National Risk Profile Highlights

Overview of disasters in Canada

Canada is subject to a wide range of natural hazards because of the extent and diversity of its geography. These hazards include floods, wildland fires, extreme heat events, earthquakes, winter storms, space weather events and hurricanes. Hazards can also be human-induced, and include any physical event, phenomenon or activity that has the potential to cause damage.

Disasters occur when a hazard affects a community in a way that exceeds its ability to cope. Disasters may cause serious harm to safety, health, welfare, property and the environment. They can be sudden (e.g., earthquakes) or slow-moving (e.g., permafrost thaw). When a disaster strikes a densely populated area, it causes more damage and affects a greater number of people, and many Canadian cities are located near or within hazardous zones such as flood zones, coasts and seismic fault lines.

The frequency and severity of disasters is increasing across Canada due to many factors, including climate change. Canada's climate is warming at an alarming rate, as is clear from the findings of a number of reports and analyses in this area.

A 2021 public opinion survey on emergency preparedness found:

In the face of more frequent and dangerous disasters, we can better protect ourselves if we understand the risks. The National Risk Profile is a disaster awareness tool to help Canadians better understand the risks they face in order to prepare for, manage, and recover from emergencies.


Impact of earthquakes in Canada

Key findings on earthquakes

Reducing the impact of earthquakes

To reduce the impact of earthquakes, the Government of Canada is:

Get prepared for earthquakes

The Get Prepared website has information and resources that you can use to help protect yourself and your loved ones during an emergency. It includes information to help you prepare for, respond to and recover from earthquakes.

More information on earthquakes

This section provides an overview of the first National Risk Profile's findings on earthquakes. For more detailed information, please read the backgrounder on Earthquakes.

Wildland Fires

Impact of wildland fires in Canada

Driven by periods of intense drought and record-breaking high temperatures, recent wildland fire seasons have been longer and more intense than usual.

The 2021 wildland fire season saw well above average fire activity with over 6,500 fires burning over 4 million hectares of land. For comparison, the 10-year average was approximately 5,200 fires and 2.5 million hectares burned. There were 5 fatalities resulting from wildland fire or suppression activity in 2021, the most in Canada since 1986.

Key findings on wildland fires

Reducing the impact of wildland fires

To reduce the impact of wildland fires, the Government of Canada is:

Get prepared for wildland fires

The Get Prepared website has information and resources that you can use to help protect yourself and your loved ones during an emergency. It includes information to help you prepare, respond and recover from wildland fires.

More information on wildland fires

This section provides an overview of the first National Risk Profile report's findings on wildland fires. For more detailed information, please read the Backgrounder on Wildland Fires.


Impact of floods in Canada

Key findings on floods

Reducing the impact of floods

To reduce the impact of floods, the Government of Canada is:

Get prepared for a flood

The Get Flood Ready website provides simple steps to protect your home and property against potential flood damage.

The Get Prepared website has information and resources that you can use to help protect yourself and your loved ones during an emergency. It includes information to help you prepare for, respond to and recover from floods.

More information on floods

This section provides an overview of the first National Risk Profile's findings on floods. For more detailed information, please read the Backgrounder on Floods.


The COVID-19 pandemic is a powerful example of the serious threat that emerging infectious diseases pose to Canadians.

During the National Risk Profile risk and capability assessment sessions, participants were asked to consider the impacts that a pandemic would have on emergency response to earthquakes, wildland fires, and floods. Pandemics were not assessed using the same methods as earthquakes, wildland fires and floods, and the National Risk Profile is not an assessment or review of the past, or current, government response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key findings on pandemics

These findings show how pandemics can highlight needed improvements to emergency planning and preparedness to ensure overall resilience.

The methodology used for the National Risk Profile

The National Risk Profile uses two evidence-based methodologies to examine how disasters can impact Canada, and our ability to reduce those impacts proactively, and to respond and recover as needed: the All-Hazards Risk Assessment methodology and the Emergency Management Capability Assessment methodology. The participation of experts and stakeholders is key to both of these methodologies.

The All-Hazards Risk Assessment methodology assesses the risk of realistic disaster scenarios, examining the factors that cause and increase risk, as well as the potential impact of those scenarios. This methodology creates a repeatable process to inform key facets of disaster risk assessment, including scenario likelihood, vulnerability, and the potential impacts to people, property, the environment and the economy. The process using this methodology complements other risk assessment approaches used by the Government of Canada in support of the NRP, including probabilistic modelling.

The Emergency Management Capability Assessment methodology examines the resilience of Canada's emergency management system. It looks at the collection of emergency management capabilities from the Canadian Core Capabilities List that reduce disaster risk and respond to events, including emergencies and disasters (for example, public alerting, risk reduction measures and emergency evacuation). This complementary assessment allows for a consistent approach in examining the strengths and potential weaknesses of the Canadian emergency management system across all-hazards, and over time. Informed by the risk assessment process above, capability assessment for emergency management contrasts the current state of capabilities with a risk-informed future state (i.e., capability target).

As a result, these methodologies bring together the needed risk context and information to identify which capabilities may be underdeveloped, and support decision-makers in maintaining and building national resilience.

Learn more about the methodologies used in the National Risk Profile.

Next steps for the National Risk Profile

The next National Risk Profile will focus on heat events, hurricanes and space weather. These three hazards were selected given their high impacts on public health, critical infrastructure, the economy, and ecosystems.

In future years, the National Risk Profile will expand to include more natural hazards, and subject to decision-making, and will eventually include all hazards and threats, including those that are caused by humans.

Find out more about the future of the National Risk Profile.

Resources to help improve understanding of disaster risk in Canada

Contact us

Email for more information about the National Risk Profile.

Date modified: