The Insurance Bureau of Canada is calling for the establishment of a national flood plan that would see government subsidize an insurance program for high-risk residential properties.

The industry association's president, Don Forgeron, made the plea in a speech to the Economic Club of Canada in Halifax Thursday. 

Don Forgeron

Don Forgeron, president of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said the country needs a national plan to deal with flooding.

"We are the only G7 country that doesn't have a national flood program," said Forgeron. "We think the time has come for the country to take a more disciplined, a more sustained approach to how we help people recover from and prepare for floods."

Forgeron said there are between 800,000 and a million homes in Canada that are considered at high risk for flooding. Many of those homeowners find it difficult or impossible to purchase flood insurance.

High-risk properties are those deemed likely to flood at least once in 20 years. According to the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the federal government spends about $600 million each year on flood-related claims. 

"That's the average," said Forgeron. "We don't have the final figures in for our program but we know it would cost them significantly less than this." 

A report released today from the parliamentary budget officer backs up those numbers. It predicts payouts for flooding will cost $673 million a year, up from the $100 million currently budgeted for flood claims.