Feds Promise Financial Support for Wildfire Evacuees
Prince George, B.C. – Help is on the way from the federal government for those affected by wildfires across B.C.
Ralph Goodale, federal minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, made the pledge this morning following a tour of the Emergency Reception Centre at the College of New Caledonia.
Goodale was joined by federal Defense Minister Harjit Sajjin, Minister of Sport Carla Qualtrough, B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnwort, Cariboo-Prince George Conservative MP Todd Doherty and Prince George Mayor Lyn Hall.
“We’re working on the arithmetic right now. There’s an established formula for dealing with disasters – the Disaster Financial Assistance arrangement – it defines the expenses and it calculates a formula,” he told reporters.
“The first portion of the expenses under the formula are the responsibility of the province. When the dollar value rises above the capacity of the province to cover that, then the federal resources click in on a rising scale and if the losses are truly significant, that scale can go all the way up to 90 per cent.”
Goodale confirmed Victoria has made a request for financial help though he noted “we don’t have the arithmetic done yet, the expenses are still accumulating.”
In the meantime, he said the federal government has already provided close to 400 members of the Canadian forces (at a cost typically picked up by the forces itself) along with services provided by Canada’s Public Health Agency like cots and beds for evacuees.
And while acknowledging evacuees are feeling “a high level of angst,” he was highly complimentary of the work the City of Prince George has done to help house and welcome them.
“The City of Prince George has been amazing. When you see what they brought to bear here in a crisis like this one – the health services, the community support system in Prince George.
“They’re running a city of evacuees of about 9,000 – in addition to the normal population of the city – and I think all of us can’t say enough about it.”