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Results: 1 - 15 of 193
View Brad Vis Profile
Mr. Speaker, the Insurance Bureau of Canada declared the B.C. floods the most costly severe weather event in the province’s history.
The quote for insured private damages is $450 million, but the actual cost is much higher because many affected were uninsured or under-insured. This also does not account for public infrastructure lost. As well, $155 million in insured damage was incurred by wildfires this year, but again this does not take into account those people without coverage.
Yesterday the fall economic statement promised $5 billion, through the disaster financial assistance arrangements, for recovery costs related to the recent natural disasters in British Columbia. While this response to the ongoing advocacy of my Conservative colleagues and me is appreciated and reflects the team Canada approach I have been taking, especially with the Minister of Emergency Preparedness, I look forward to the government unpacking this promise and outlining how and where the financial support will be provided in conjunction with the Province of B.C.
The funds are tied to fiscal year 2021-2022, which ends in just over three months. The dikes and roads in question that were washed out cannot be rebuilt that fast. Will there be flexibility for these funds to be accessed after March 31?
Providing these funds through the disaster financial assistance arrangements program creates additional concerns and questions. Small communities such as Princeton and Merritt in the riding of my colleague, the member for Central Okanagan—Similkameen—Nicola, have expressed that due to the scale of the damage, their tax bases are simply unable to support what would likely be required of them in matching funds. What about Lytton, in my constituency? There literally is no tax base, as 90% of the village burned to the ground.
The federal government’s disaster financial assistance arrangements with the Province of B.C. provide no assurances that these small communities will actually receive the support they need. This is causing a lot of stress on local leaders.
In his answer on Monday, the Minister of Emergency Preparedness indicated that the federal and provincial governments and indigenous leaders were meeting that very day on this topic. Could the minister share the results of that meeting? Specifically, will a portion of the funds announced go to dike repair and enhancements?
I am glad that indigenous leaders were at the table for those meetings, because as wildfires devastated Lytton and surrounding first nations this summer, it became clear that emergency coordination with and notification of indigenous communities affected is woefully insufficient. The recent flooding has only reiterated this reality.
In B.C., the First Nations' Emergency Services Society has called for a more integrated alert system and consistent funding after it took days to coordinate and reach remote indigenous communities cut off by the flooding. I spoke with Chief Lampreau of Shackan First Nation last week. Many first nations leaders like him are at a loss.
The AFN reports B.C. signed a $29-million emergency services agreement with Indigenous Services Canada in 2018 that included 28 emergency management coordinator positions for first nations. However, these positions were unfilled. Why is that? What concrete measures is the government going to take to ensure resources are in place for the remote indigenous communities that were impacted the most by some of our most recent natural disasters?
Again, I would like to thank the government for the $5 billion towards British Columbia and for the collaborative approach the Minister of Emergency Preparedness has taken with me. I hope I hear some concrete answers to some of my questions this evening.
View Yasir Naqvi Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon for allowing me to provide a more fulsome response on this very important issue.
The recent flooding in British Columbia was a nearly unprecedented disaster for the people of the Lower Mainland. It devastated local communities, including those my hon. colleague represents. We must also not forget that this is but the latest weather-related disaster to hit British Columbia this year, with many communities still recovering from the severe wildfires that occurred just a few months ago. As devastating as these events have been, we unfortunately know that they will likely not be the last. Research shows that weather-related natural disasters will only increase in frequency and severity across Canada in the coming years, thanks to the effects of climate change.
Climate change is one of the greatest threats of our time. We need to act quickly to build resiliency and better protect our communities. Continued collaboration with our provincial and territorial counterparts will be essential as we move forward with this work. That is why our government has created a new climate disaster resilience committee with our B.C. provincial counterparts. The committee will work closely with indigenous leadership to respond to the immediate needs of British Columbians and look at ways to build back with greater resiliency.
One of the main ways that the federal government provides support to Canadians in the wake of disasters such as this is through the disaster financial assistance arrangements program, or DFAA. Through the DFAA, we can provide funding directly to impacted provinces and territories for costs they have incurred. Under the program, the federal government cost-shares up to 90% of all eligible disaster response and recovery costs with provinces and territories when eligible expenditures exceed an established initial threshold based on provincial population. The DFAA also offers an additional 15% top-up for mitigation enhancements for innovative recovery activities that increase future resilience.
In yesterday's fall economic statement, as the member acknowledged, our government announced we have set aside $5 billion in 2020, 2021 and 2022 for the federal share of recovery costs under the DFAA, as well as other costs related to the recent natural disasters in British Columbia. I can also confirm that on November 19, B.C. submitted a request for financial assistance and an intent to request an advanced payment under the DFAA. As the event is still active, estimates from the province are still forthcoming and public safety officials are actively engaged with their provincial counterparts to begin work on this package. We know that there is more work to do to support British Columbians, not just through the recovery from this crisis, but also to protect all Canadians from future disasters.
Through the flood focused national disaster mitigation program, our government supports cost-shared investments in flood mitigation that help to identify, plan for and prevent floods risk. The disaster mitigation and adaptation fund delivered by Infrastructure Canada also provides funding for infrastructure projects that reduce our risk. We have also set up a task force on flood insurance to explore ways to protect homeowners in areas with a risk of flooding, including the possibility of a low-cost national flood program. It is expected to submit its report by spring of 2022. At the same time, Indigenous Services Canada is working with first nations partners to examine the unique context on reserve by establishing a dedicated steering committee on first nations home flood insurance needs.
As we look at building back, people in communities deserve to be better informed about their flood risk as they plan for the future. That is why we are investing $63.8 million over three years to work with the provinces and territories to complete flood maps for higher-risk areas.
View Brad Vis Profile
Mr. Speaker, I welcome the member for Ottawa Centre into the House of Commons in his new role as parliamentary secretary. I would ask him to answer a couple of my questions very specifically.
First, the funds announced under the DFAA are for this fiscal year. Will they still be available in the following fiscal year? As the member mentioned, some of the requests coming from the province are still forthcoming.
Second, again related to the DFAA, the situation in B.C. is so unique. Will there be flexibility with small communities that may need more assistance than usual to cover their portion of contribution under this program?
Third, can the member opposite comment on the need for the Government of Canada to renegotiate the contracts with the Province of B.C. on disaster mitigation and management on reserve?
View Yasir Naqvi Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I again want to thank the member for his advocacy on behalf of his constituents. This is obviously an unprecedented circumstance, but I want to make it very clear that the government will be there for the people of British Columbia. We will work with British Columbians and the Government of British Columbia to ensure they have all the necessary supports to rebuild after this disaster, and to be ready for any future disasters as well.
As the funds were announced yesterday, we will continue to work closely with the British Columbia government to make sure we have all the estimates, expenditures and requests in order. I assure the member that the minister and I will work closely with him to make all information available to him in due course.
View Ed Fast Profile
View Ed Fast Profile
2021-12-13 14:41
Mr. Speaker, I will ask the minister this again and this time I would like a real answer. He decided that only the Red Cross is worthy of receiving matching funding, yet B.C. has been devastated by this flooding disaster. Thousands are without homes. We need all hands on deck. The Salvation Army, the MCC, Archway, Samaritan's Purse, the United Way, the Abbotsford Disaster Relief Fund and even the churches and gurdwaras all stepped up to help, yet all have been snubbed by the minister. Will he now reverse course and announce they too will receive matching funding, yes or no?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable generosity and support that British Columbians and Canadians right across the country have provided to those impacted by these terrible floods.
We have been working closely with the British Columbia government and the Canadian Red Cross to match funds and, so far, $175 million has been accumulated between the three donors in order to support British Columbians. The Canadian Red Cross is doing important work in registering those individuals and conducting assessments to ensure the money goes where it is needed the most. At the same time, we welcome the generosity of so many British Columbians in supporting their neighbours.
View Tako Van Popta Profile
Mr. Speaker, by now the Minister of Emergency Preparedness is well aware that part of the flooding in the Fraser Valley last month was caused by a breach in the Nooksack River diking system in Washington state, yet he should have known about this a long time ago. There are certainly enough reports and studies to that effect, but the government failed to act in a timely fashion to avoid the flooding last month. Can the minister commit today to making sure that he works with federal U.S. counterparts to make sure this never happens again?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we know the water that fell in the Cascades a month ago accumulated in the Nooksack River and much of it has flowed into the Sumas Prairie, impacting Canadians on our side of the border. We are continuing to work with the Americans to manage this, but we are working as well with local officials, the people who reside in the Canadian portion of that impacted area and the British Columbia government. There are a number of studies that clearly indicate there need to be significant investments made into rebuilding a more resilient infrastructure. That is the work we are undertaking now.
View Brad Vis Profile
Mr. Speaker, the devastation impacting Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon and all of B.C. is unprecedented. Farmers in the blueberry sector are especially terrified about the consequences of another flood and its impacts on food security and the economy of B.C. Will the Minister of Agriculture commit, especially for Matsqui, British Columbia, to funding the dike repairs and enhancements throughout the Lower Mainland and the Fraser Valley to make sure that when the next flood comes our agricultural producers are not put out?
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, we know that farmers in this region have been significantly impacted by these floods. That is why our Minister of Agriculture met with her B.C. counterpart, visited the area last week and toured those areas impacted—
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Bill Blair Profile
Lib. (ON)
Mr. Speaker, I will certainly speak up to allow the member to hear me. This is a very important question. It is unfortunate some of the members opposite are afraid to hear the answer.
Last week, our Minister of Agriculture travelled to British Columbia, met with her counterpart and visited many of the farmers who were impacted in that region. It is very clear that we are going to have to provide significant supports not only to those who have lost livestock in this tragedy, but also to the blueberry farmers the member references. There is significant work to be done. That is why the joint committee of the federal government, the Government of British Columbia and indigenous leadership in the area will be convening an important meeting later today to work together to solve this issue—
View Gérard Deltell Profile
Mr. Speaker, I have two points of order that I can do at the same time.
I sincerely thank and congratulate everyone who works on facilitating the debates here and ensuring that the message gets across. Unfortunately, we are experiencing problems with the interpretation on a regular basis, almost every day.
I know that this is no one's fault, but it is a nuisance for francophones in particular, since there are more often issues with the French interpretation. It is difficult for francophones to follow the debate if they are unfortunately not able to hear the interpretation.
I urge you and the technical team, which has done an amazing job, especially over the past two years with COVID‑19 restrictions, to address this specific issue. It has been going on for far too long.
As for my second point of order, earlier, the member for Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon asked a question and the Minister of Public Safety responded.
We all need to recognize that a minister speaks on behalf of the government. However, in this specific case, we were talking about agriculture, we were talking about farmers and we were talking about 2,000 farming families that were directly involved in this issue. The Minister of Agriculture was ready to answer. We hope that the next time we address this specific issue the actual Minister of Agriculture will address it and will answer clearly our member who is concerned with the issue in British Columbia.
View Tracy Gray Profile
Mr. Speaker, British Columbia has been devastated by unprecedented flooding, landslides, the washing out of highways, evacuation of whole communities and tragic losses of life.
In my riding of Kelowna—Lake Country, we continue to do our part to assist those who have come seeking help and support. We have opened our doors to people and animals, and offered food, clothing and shelter to those in need. Many faith organizations, companies and not-for-profits have initiated donation campaigns. This shows that the spirit of Kelowna—Lake Country continues to shine brightly, just as it did during the COVID-19 pandemic and summer wildfires.
We must continue to do all we can for those most in need as we move forward from this tragedy. The rebuilding and reopening of our province will not be swift, and all levels of government must come together to ensure a robust recovery and to protect our communities from future weather events and help them to adapt.
My heart goes out to all those affected. I thank all who are doing their part to help.
View Sukh Dhaliwal Profile
Lib. (BC)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to recognize the extraordinary community spirit of local media organizations in Surrey-Newton, and the extraordinary generosity demonstrated by the people of British Columbia.
In response to the recent flooding across British Columbia, Red FM initiated an emergency fundraising drive that raised $1.1 million for Canadian Red Cross flood relief efforts.
Similarly, Connect FM and Sanjha TV raised $1.4 million for the PICS Guru Nanak Diversity Village, a facility for South Asian seniors in need of culturally sensitive long-term care.
I want to thank all the donors who stepped up to help. I ask all members to join me in thanking Red FM, Connect FM and Sanjha TV for their dedication and service to our community.
View Mark Strahl Profile
Mr. Speaker, today I pay tribute to the people in my riding of Chilliwack—Hope for their selfless and heroic actions during the B.C. storm last month. Farmers rushed into rising flood waters with their trucks and trailers to help their fellow farmers rescue thousands of animals in the Sumas Prairie. Hundreds of people sandbagged in the middle of the night to prevent a catastrophic failure of the Barrowtown pump station.
The people of Hope cared for 1,200 stranded travellers who were cut off for days due to landslides and road closures. Faith communities, service clubs and neighbours sprang into action to help however they could. Angling guides used their own boats to deliver food, take people to medical appointments and help with the recovery effort. First responders and road crews worked around the clock to rebuild supply lines and keep us safe.
I have never been more proud of my community. We came together in a spirit of unity to do whatever needed to be done. We were there for one another during the crisis, and I know we will continue to be there for one another as we rebuild together.
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