Avert Magazine

Where media meets EM: Q&A with ICLR managing director Glenn McGillivray

December 13, 2022
By Haley Nagasaki

Glenn McGillivray is the managing director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) and is primarily involved in running the corporate communication function of the Institute. McGillivray captains the ICLR’s web properties, social accounts, media relations, publications, as well as member and industry communications.

McGillivray began his career at a Toronto-based insurance company and went on to work for a major Canadian corporate law firm before joining Swiss Reinsurance Company Canada in 1994. His tenure with the ICLR began in November 2005.

McGillivray sits on Avert’s editorial advisory board along with five other professionals nationwide who are lending their experience and networks to help steer editorial content for the new platform.

We recently caught up with McGillivray to get his take on the challenges and opportunities facing disaster management in Canada.


Avert: What is your current role as it relates to the field of disaster and emergency management? Past roles?

McGillivray: Within my current role at ICLR, in addition to corporate communication, I also manage third-party service providers like graphic designers, translators, and videographers. I assist the executive director in daily management of the institute and am responsible for the one-year strategic plan, while managing several other projects, including research projects.

I have written more than 275 magazine and journal articles, newspaper essays, publications, and blogposts on a range of issues related to disaster and emergency management. I have appeared on hundreds of media spots (television, radio and in print) on these same issues.

I speak and lecture regularly on subjects related to the area of natural disasters, climate change adaptation, insurance, and reinsurance. And I am also an adjunct professor in the Disaster and Emergency Management grad program at York University.

Prior to ICLR, I worked for Swiss Reinsurance Company Canada where I researched and wrote many pieces on natural hazards, including the 1998 eastern Canada ice storm and earthquake.

Avert: How long have you been involved in disasters or related fields and what are some highlights of your career thus far?

McGillivray: I have been involved in disaster research and communication for close to 28 years and have built a reputation as a regular commentator on these issues. As noted, I have authored more than 275 articles and publications on disaster management and have appeared on scores of media speaking about disasters.

Some highlights include appearing on such shows as The National and speaking (and attending a small by-invitation dinner) at an event hosted by former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore. 

Avert: What do you see as the biggest challenge facing emergency managers and/or the disaster management system in Canada?

McGillivray: Canada is not well prepared for the changing climate. We are starting to see disasters occur in close succession, with loss events happening within weeks of each other and sometimes even simultaneously.

Those involved in disaster management in Canada may reach the point of being overwhelmed and there is growing pressure to end the practice of using the Canadian Armed Forces for assistance, because it is being overtaxed. We have to rethink much around how we manage disasters going forward and embrace prevention and mitigation as much as possible.

Avert: Similarly, what do you see as the biggest opportunity?

McGillivray: We have the opportunity to take a close look at how we manage disasters in Canada and reform the system before the challenge gets too great. We can move forward in this environment where our cities are getting larger and climate change further bites in, to develop a system where the resources we do have can better work together and where gaps can be filled with the creation of new resources.

One important consideration is the creation of a Canadian version of FEMA, where we can relieve the pressure currently being felt by the Canadian Armed Forces when it comes to disaster response.

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