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Will climate change force more Canadians to move?



Few will forget post-tropical storm Fiona, battering the east coast last fall. From Cape Breton to Charlottetown, Halifax to Port aux Basques, Canadians were caught between downed power lines and trees, with harrowing stories of narrow escapes from the rising waters.

Some homes were completely submerged, and carried out to sea. One woman in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland, tragically lost her life this way.

Two other people in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also died during the storm. An initial catastrophe estimate pegs the damage at $660 million, the most costly weather event to ever hit Atlantic Canada.

And, by chance, W5 happened to be on the ground the week leading up to that storm. It’s not completely random, we were working on a climate change story, but it was planned well before we ever even heard of Fiona.


What many viewers may not know is that our biggest pitch meeting of the year happens each spring. Reporters, producers and executives all bring their best story ideas to the table to see what gets the green light.

So we had already spent several months researching coastal concerns along the east coast, specifically the impacts of eroding shorelines, storm surges and rising sea levels on homeowners. But Fiona brought that research to life — sadly, showing us real life examples of massive destruction from the elements.

The Savery family in Port aux Basques, Newfoundland will never live by the water again.

Photo credit: Rene J. Roy / Wreckhouse Press Inc.

Their iconic blue house became the poster child for destruction during that storm

Before the storm, their home — a three-year labour of love — was meticulously gutted, painted and renovated to perfection by the father of the house, Lloyd Savery.

But heavy swells and wind from Fiona ripped it to shreds in a few seconds the morning of Sept. 24.

“If that storm happened at three in the morning, you would have had a lot more deaths,” said Peggy Savery. “Because nobody took it seriously and then we wouldn’t have gotten up [out of bed].”

The Saverys have been living with family for almost half a year now. Their insurance company determined the loss was caused by a flood, which isn’t covered under their policy. So they must rely on government help to get back on their feet.

Josh, Lloyd and Peggy Savery, looking out at what used to be their oceanfront property (W5)

The federal government promised recovery funding through a few different programs, including the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA). The Saverys applied but have not received a dime yet.

Ottawa funnels DFAA money through the provinces. Newfoundland just closed its applications for assistance on Jan. 31, roughly 4 months after families like the Saverys have been without a home. That province is currently assessing more than 300 claims.

Once compensation packages are finalized by the government and each homeowner, it will still take another 3-4 weeks for funding to come through.

“They say time heals all. But I don’t think we’ll start healing until we know what our future is going to be,” said Savery.

This is what is left of the Savery home (W5)


Climate experts say there are more storms like Fiona on the horizon, so homeowners have to be prepared to adapt.

“Storms that would have occurred 50 years ago are going to have a higher water level in the present day,” said Danika van Proosdij, a geomorphologist at St. Mary’s University in Halifax. “They’re going to have a bigger impact, larger waves, larger surge, more extensive flooding.”

Van Proosdij is worried that there are too many Canadians living in vulnerable areas. She believes governments may have to prohibit people from rebuilding in hard hit areas.

Nova Scotia recently introduced its Coastal Protection Act, which requires all future homes be built at a safer height and distance from the shoreline. In the interim, Van Proosdij also suggests homeowners think about nature-based adaptation solutions for their properties, which can provide protection for people and habitat for the environment in the area you wish to shore up. That can include so-called ‘living shorelines’ on homeowner properties.

W5 got an up close and personal view of a living shoreline on our trip out to the east coast. While many homeowners may think of armour stone or hard rock to protect their properties from storm surge and erosion, conservationists like Rosemarie Lohnes are taking what she calls a ‘soft engineering approach.’ She goes out and gathers plants, shrubs and trees in the area to weave together to withstand the encroaching ocean.

“We often think of it as grandmother’s quilt, right? It’s got lots of different parts to it,” Lohnes explained. She showed us how seeds and small immature plants are planted together to reinforce the natural habitat around the house.

Lohnes’ company, called Helping Nature Heal, works in several provinces across the East Coast and carefully assesses each property to determine if this strategy might work or if it needs to be done in conjunction with rock or mortar protection. She admits that a nature-based solution doesn’t work for everyone, but for the house we visited, it has done wonders.

“This client hasn’t lost any of what we call horizontal distance. So the distance from the cliff edge to her home has not changed in six years,” Lohnes said.

“Now, obviously, with big storms like Fiona, some of our locations were completely wiped out. Nothing can stop those things,” she admitted. “You know, this is not a solution to climate change or erosion. This is a strategy to buy you some more time.”


Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Climate Change and Adaptation, agrees that engineered solutions are only a stopgap. His team monitors eroding shorelines across the province.

Adam Fenech, director of the Climate Lab at the University of Prince Edward Island’s School of Climate Change and Adaptation (W5)

“I think that we have a habit of thinking that we can control nature and we can in the short term. But, I always think, the sea always wins.” Fenech told W5.

“In the end, we’ve got to think about not building so close to the shore, leaving behind vulnerable places and living in more secure, resilient places.”


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Canada’s Climate Crisis: An In-Depth Look at the Current State and What’s Being Done to Combat It



Canada's Climate Crisis

Canada’s annual average temperature increased by 1.9C from 1948 to 2021. According to the Government of Canada, northern regions exhibited an increase in annual mean temperature three times over the global mean warming rate.

Climate change affects food security, biological diversity, and people’s health. Many believe that Canada’s dealing with a climate crisis and wondering what’s been done to combat it. Here’s a quick overview of the current situation and the plans the government has available to tackle this problem.

What’s the Current Climate Situation in Canada?

According to the last update from the Climate Action Tracker, the action taken by Canada has been rated as “highly insufficient.” That means the country isn’t in line with the global agreement made in Paris to stick to the 1.5C limit.

Furthermore, CAT experts believe the emission reduction target by 2030 is only enough to be in line with a 4C warming. They warn that Canada should strengthen their climate policies and targets while offering more support to others to reach set goals.


Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan

The plan for reducing emissions by 2030 was adopted in March 2022, and the government itself describes it as achievable but ambitious. The idea is to lower emissions in 2030 by 40% when compared to 2005. It’s worth noting that Canada has a plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

According to this plan, the country will invest over $9 billion to promote pollution-cutting effects. The strategy includes:

  • Improving electric vehicle infrastructure. People who want to purchase ZEVs (zero-emission vehicles) can hope for financial support.
  • Greening buildings and homes. The idea is to adopt revised building codes that are in line with the environmental goals.
  • Clean energy projects. These include investing in solar and wind power, electricity, and other projects.
  • Reduce gas and oil emissions. It seems to be the most ambitious part of the plan, especially since Canada keeps supporting the Trans Mounting pipeline and exporting LNG to Europe.

Some other details include empowering farmers to implement sustainable practices and communities to launch climate action projects.

What Can You Do to Help with Climate Change?

Collective action is important to restrict climate change, and some suggestions for individuals include the following:

  • Consider how you travel. Use public transport or walk when possible. If you are heading to far destinations, consider not taking frequent long-distance flights. For example, if you want to go to Vegas to enjoy casino games, consider playing online roulette while at home, which can provide immersive fun while reducing your carbon footprint.
  • Use LED lightbulbs and energy-efficient appliances. Many modern appliances come with an energy efficiency rating.
  • Eat veggies to reduce a carbon footprint. It takes less energy and greenhouse gas emissions to produce vegetables. Apart from lowering your carbon footprint, this is a healthy diet that could help you lose pounds and manage weight.
  • Focus on reusing and recycling items. Consider shopping for second-hand clothes and not purchasing anything you don’t absolutely need. Consider donating the items you don’t need anymore, and make sure to recycle those that you throw away properly.

A Healthy Environment and a Healthy Economy

The federal authorities adopted this long-term plan in 2020, and its goal is to secure a future with a healthier environment and economy. The main principles of this plan include the following:

  • Making energy-efficient structures more affordable. The idea is to make locations where Canadians live easier to purchase, maintain, and upgrade while ensuring houses and buildings energy-efficient.
  • Affordable and eco-friendly transportation. From clean electricity supply to ZEVs and other details, the idea is to reduce congestion while making communities healthier.
  • Carbon pollution pricing. The idea is for pollution to be pricey but ensure that the households get back more than they pay.
  • Achieving a clean industrial advantage. The country aims to focus on “Made in Canada” services and products with low carbon footprints.
  • Embrace the power of nature. Restoring and conserving natural spaces while planting billions of trees is another way to reduce pollution and fight climate change.

The government has released the final National Adaptation Strategy for comments. It’s the first strategy of this type that was designed by working with Indigenous People, municipal, territorial, and provincial authorities, as well as other relevant platforms. The idea is to design shared priorities and unite everyone across Canada to take joint action to decrease climate change risks.

Final Thoughts

Scientists are racing to find the most effective climate change solutions, with the potential options leaving them divided. However, they agree on one thing – it’s necessary to take strong action in the soonest possible timeframe.

Canada has already adopted a climate change action plan, and the only question is if it’s aggressive enough. It remains to be seen whether some changes to the strategy will be made in order to reach the long-term goals of dealing with the climate crisis.

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Debt in Canada: What’s normal for your age?



If you’re like most people, you have at least some debt. Your mortgage, car payment, credit card balance, and student loans are all liabilities that contribute to your total debt.

Have you ever stopped to wonder how much debt is normal for your age, though?

Below, I’ll outline the average and median debt by age in Canada, so you can see how your finances compare. Then I’ll explain some of the key reasons why Canadians’ debt is increasing.

Average debt by age group in Canada

First of all, it’s important to understand that debt is normal. Very few Canadians are 100% debt-free. Even those with near-perfect credit scores likely have an auto or student loan they’re paying down.


These are the debt metrics measured by Statistics Canada during census surveys.

Here’s the average debt by age group in Canada as of 2019, according to the latest data sets from Statistics Canada:

Note – this data applies to individuals who are not in an economic family. The numbers differ for economic families, which include married/common-law partners and families with dependent children.

The total debt measured includes:

  • Mortgage debt
  • Lines of credit
  • Credit card debt
  • Student loans
  • Vehicle loans
  • Other debt (doesn’t fit in the categories above)

Median debt by age group in Canada

Looking at average debt provides a decent overview of the data. However, the averages are very skewed by the debt incurred by Canada’s ultra-wealthy taxpayers.

When calculating the average, all values are added together and divided by the total number of values. This means that a few extreme values can greatly influence the result.

In contrast, the median is the middle value in a dataset when values are arranged in order. As such, it is less affected by outliers and provides a more accurate representation of typical values.

For example, a multi-millionaire with a $2-million mortgage will skew the average higher than the average Canadian.

For a more accurate look at Canadian debt, I find that the median data as of 2019 provides more accurate insight:

Why is consumer debt increasing in Canada?

Over the past year, consumer debt has notably increased. This is especially true for credit card debt. The average monthly spending per credit card increased by 17.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 compared to the previous year, according to a recent report by Equifax Canada.

In the report Rebecca Oakes, vice-president of Advanced Analytics at Equifax Canada, stated that “Gen Z and Millennials are driving up higher consumer spending the most.”

Even though inflation is slowly easing, it’s still relatively high. The high inflation has driven up the cost of everyday goods, including groceries and fuel. This, in turn, means that Canadians are spending more per month than they were before 2022, when inflation started to rise.

Unfortunately, workers’ pay hasn’t grown with inflation. This means that the average Canadian simply has less money to spend, increasing their reliance on credit cards to purchase daily necessities.

  • Pent-up demand and travel

Oakes goes on to state that “Pent-up demand and increased travel with the easing of COVID restrictions, combined with soaring inflation, have led to some of the highest increases in credit card spending we’ve ever seen.”

It makes sense that Canadians would be eager to travel after several years of travel restrictions, even if it means incurring more credit card debt.

  • Increased interest rates

To keep inflation under control, the fed steadily increased interest rates throughout 2022 and is discussing more rate hikes this year. As the federal interest rate has increased, variable interest rates, such as those offered by credit card companies, have also increased.

Those who carry a credit balance over to the next month must now pay even more interest on their credit card debt, increasing their overall debt.

Creating a plan to manage your debt

Accruing debt in the short-term may be inevitable due to high-interest rates and inflation. However, it’s important to create a plan to get your debt under control.

A reliable budget plan paired with consistent action is the best way to get out of debt.

Revisit your monthly budget to find areas where you can save, try to pay down high-interest credit card debt as quickly as possible, and consider taking up a side hustle to earn extra money that you can put towards your debt.


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Six bodies, including one child, recovered from St. Lawrence River




The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island.
The St. Lawrence River flowing east past Cornwall Island. (CBC News)

The bodies of six people, including one child with a Canadian passport, were recovered from the St. Lawrence River late Thursday afternoon, according to Akwesasne Mohawk Police Chief Shawn Dulude.

Dulude said he could not provide any information on the nationalities of the other five deceased.


The Mohawk community of Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border and occupies territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

The Akwesasne Mohawk Police, with the assistance of the Canadian Coast Guard, is leading the ongoing investigation, Dulude said.

The bodies were spotted in Canadian waters by a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter, he said.

The discovery of the bodies coincided with the search for a missing Akwesasne community member that also began Thursday, Dulude said.



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