Toronto, ON (July 13, 2017) — Western Canada’s high exposure to earthquake risk is well known, given its proximity to an area of intense seismic activity off the coast of British Columbia, one
which has the potential to produce some of the strongest earthquakes in the world.
Eastern Canada is also exposed to earthquake risk, and the region’s vulnerability deserves similar recognition. But that awareness is severely lacking.
Earthquakes in the east tend to be of lower magnitude than in the west, but their potential to inflict loss, particularly in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario, is huge.
These two seismic zones cover an area that is home to most of the east’s population and concentration of economic assets. Moreover, most residential property pre-dates latest the building code guidelines, making it more vulnerable to quake damage than many structures in British Columbia.
In Quebec, 70% of the population lives in seismic regions, and three of the biggest cities in Canada – Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City – are located in the most earthquake-prone regions of the east. Here losses resulting from an earthquake could be very high.
According to Swiss Re’s in-house catastrophe model, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in the Charlevoix seismic zone near Quebec City could cause private residential property losses of up to CAD 10.6 billion. And a repeat today of Montreal’s 1732 earthquake (magnitude 5.8) would lead to even higher losses, estimated at CAD 45 billion.
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