Governments of Canada, British Columbia meet with First Nations community leaders and Canadian Red Cross to discuss progress and next steps in B.C. wildfires response

News Release

September 5, 2017
Vancouver, British Columbia

Together, the governments of Canada and British Columbia continue to support the people of British Columbia and First Nations communities facing the immediate and long-term impacts of wildfires. Today the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires met with members of the British Columbia Government, First Nations community leaders and representatives from the Canadian Red Cross to discuss progress and next steps in the response to the ongoing wildfires.

Co-chaired by the Honourable Minister Carla Qualtrough (Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee and Minister of Public Services and Procurement) British Columbia Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and British Columbia Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development Doug Donaldson, the meeting focused on joint response, recovery and rebuilding efforts, including:

  • An update on the current evacuation and re-entry supports being provided to affected communities;
  • Impacts on First Nations Communities;
  • Review of the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements process, that would follow an official request from the province for assistance under the program and a commitment to expedite any related approvals;
  • Impacts on businesses, particularly the lumber and agricultural sectors; and
  • A joint commitment by the governments of Canada and British Columbia to implement the Canadian Wildland Fire Strategy that was renewed by federal, provincial and territorial forest ministers in 2016, and to strengthen fire-prevention programs such as FireSmart.

Further to these discussions, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, and British Columbia Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham today announced agricultural producers, who have been affected by this year’s devastating wildfires, will receive assistance under the AgriRecovery Framework.

Within that Framework, the 2017 Canada-British Columbia Wildfires Recovery Initiative will provide up to $20 million to assist agricultural producers with the extraordinary costs incurred to recover from the adverse effects of this year’s wildfires. This investment will be cost-shared 60:40 between the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia.

The Government of Canada will continue to work with Emergency Management B.C. and on-reserve First Nations communities to develop recovery plans and to reimburse eligible response and recovery costs.

The Federal Government is also committing to conduct a review of the response to the fires, in full partnership with the Government of British Columbia and B.C. First Nations, to improve the emergency management regime as well as identify preventative measures that can be undertaken ahead of future fires.

Present at the meeting were:

Federal Representatives:  The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, the Honourable Karina Gould, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, the Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, the Honourable Harjit Sajjan, the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, and the Honourable Jane Philpott

British Columbia Representatives: The Honourable Doug Donaldson, the Honourable Mike Farnworth, the Honourable Scott Fraser, the Honourable Claire Trevena, Parliamentary Secretary Jennifer Rice, and the Honourable Lana Popham

First Nations Representatives: Grand Chief Edward John,  Grand Chief Stewart Philip, Grand Chief Doug Kelly, and Acting Regional Chief Maureen Chapman

The Canadian Red Cross Representatives: Ms. Kimberley Nemrava and Ms. Melanie Soler


Quotes

My thoughts are with the communities that have been affected by the devastating wildfires across British Columbia. As Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, I want to thank Ministers Farnworth and Donaldson for hosting this meeting and for their ongoing commitment to collaboratively addressing both the short and long-term needs of those affected by these devastating events.I am confident that our combined efforts will help ensure that communities receive the support they need while focusing on rebuilding long-term resilience.”

-The Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Chair of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 B.C. Wildfires

"Today's announcement underlines the close co-operation B.C. has seen from the federal government since these disastrous wildfires broke out. Our task now is to build on that collaboration so fire-hit  communities and businesses -- in tourism, agriculture and forestry -- can get back on their feet as soon as possible and take practical steps to minimize the risk of future wildfires."

-British Columbia Premier John Horgan

“This wildfire season, which continues to displace thousands of people, has been unprecedented in so many ways. To assist families, small businesses, local governments and First Nations in recovering from the damages caused by emergencies both now and in the future, the Province is committed to work collaboratively with the federal government to improve the public safety, emergency preparedness, and well-being of all British Columbians.”

-Mike Farnworth, British Columbia Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

“We’ve had an unprecedented wildfire season in British Columbia and today’s meeting with our federal counterparts is a vital step forward for our recovery efforts and plans to minimize damage from future fires.”

-Doug Donaldson, British Columbia Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

“In times of emergency, we must come together and do whatever we can to support those affected. The AgriRecovery response program is the result of listening to the needs of B.C’.s farmers and ranchers and supporting them as they start rebuilding their lives and recovering from the significant losses brought on by this summer’s wildfires. We are committed to ensuring British Columbians have the tools and resources at hand to return to their land and their livelihoods.”

-Lana Popham, British Columbia Minister of Agriculture

“Fighting wildfires is a massive effort that remains on-going in many places. The Government of Canada stands with British Columbians every step of the way. A special cabinet committee is ensuring fully coordinated support across all federal departments, including making financial support available through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements. I want to thank everybody who has contributed so much, especially the brave and courageous first responders, the Red Cross and all of the government agencies that have been involved.  We are all in this together, standing shoulder to shoulder to make sure that we do everything we possibly can to support those affected.”

-The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Our government stands with producers who have withstood the wide reaching damage caused by the wildfires in British Columbia. We remain committed to working with producers and the province to ensure we meet the needs of those who have been affected and help them get back to business as soon as possible

-The Honourable Lawrence MacAulay, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Quick Facts

  • In July 2017, the Government of British Columbia announced a $100 million donation to the Canadian Red Cross to provide affected communities and residents with the resources needed to rebuild. Part of this donation is being used by the Red Cross to provide direct support to evacuees ($600 bi-weekly per evacuated household for the duration of the provincial state of emergency, and $300 per evacuated household upon re-entry into their communities).

  • In July 2017, the Government of Canada announced a donation to the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) that is equivalent to the amount that the CRC is spending on direct support to BC wildfire victims. The CRC, in consultation with its partners, will decide how best to use the Government of Canada funds to assist people while they are evacuated, to ease their re-entry into their homes and communities, to re-establish their livelihoods and get their lives back to normal. This funding will help ensure that the CRC can continue to support BC wildfire evacuees as they begin the long process of recovery.

  • The Government of Canada is also providing the following support to BC wildfire recovery efforts:

    • The Canadian Armed Forces have deployed aircraft and vehicles and approximately 626 troops altogether.
    • Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada have provided beds and blankets from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile.
    • Environment and Climate Change Canada is providing forecasting and analysis of weather patterns.
    • Natural Resources Canada is providing modelling for fire activity and growth, and smoke and emissions.
    • The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre is coordinating firefighting resources, including international assets from Australia, Mexico, New Zealand, and the United States.
    • Global Affairs Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are helping out on this front with respect to international offers of assistance.
    • Transport Canada is dealing with rail and air traffic issues to make sure Canadians are clear of danger zones.
    • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is working with Emergency Management B.C. and the B.C. Ministry of Forest’s Wildfire Management Branch to ensure First Nations communities receive the necessary response and recovery services.
    • The RCMP has been on the ground assisting citizens as the police force of jurisdiction in many of the affected areas.
    • The Canadian Revenue Agency has implemented emergency tax relief measures to support Canadians whose primary concerns at this time are their families, homes, and communities.
    • The foregoing does not include the additional federal financial support to be provided under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, which has yet to be calculated.

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Associated Links

Contacts

Mary-Rose Brown
Office of the Honourable Carla Qualtrough
819-997-5421

Guy Gallant
Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay
613-773-1059

Stephanie Sherlock
Director, Media Relations
Government Communications & Public Engagement
Government of British Columbia
778-584-1254


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