As the government begins reviewing the program, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair said the federal disaster assistance program will soon become conditional, requiring future applicants to demonstrate climate change adaptation in order to qualify. Stated.
Blair is in British Columbia this week to provide a second installment of disaster assistance for the 2021 floods. With this payment, federal aid to BC will exceed her $1 billion. But Blair said the government cannot continue to send billions of dollars in financial relief without trying to prevent similar damage.
“We want these recovery funds to tie into new building codes and new plans for how we can rebuild more resilient communities,” he told the Canadian Press.
“If you just put the place and circumstances back before these events happened and you know they’re happening more often and seriously, it doesn’t help much. [good] to keep paying this money. ”
The federal government’s primary tool for states and territories in need of funds to rebuild after a major natural disaster is Disaster Financial Assistance Agreement (DFAA), It has been under consideration since November last year.
Since its introduction in 1970, the DFAA has contributed more than $6.1 billion to states and territories, more than 63% of which has been paid in the last decade. March 2022 press release.
Mr. Blair will cover the past two years of damage as a result of the deadly wildfires in British Columbia in the summer of 2021 and the massive flooding that ravaged vast areas of the Lower Mainland and Okanagan Valley. Because of this, we expect the program to reach the same total again. months later.
These two events alone are expected to cost over $5 billion in recovery costs.
Blair said at least another $1 billion is expected to go to Atlantic states to help recover from tropical storm Fiona last fall.
The program will cover floods in Manitoba and the Northwest Territories, wildfires in Saskatchewan, November rains and storms in Nova Scotia, and Hurricane Rally in Newfoundland and Labrador in 2021 and 2022. has been or will be used for other events in .
of Background document for 2020the Public Security Agency of Canada said the DFAA’s standard annual budget is $100 million, below its actual costs in recent years.
“In recent years, $100 million has typically not been enough to cover federal funding requests,” the document said, adding that the 2019 budget calls for an additional $260 million for the department to cover its obligations over the two years. It points out that it was provided to
Still, the program’s budget allocation remains at $100 million by launch, including this year.
Currently DFAA no limits State or Territory governments, in terms of how they decide the amount and type of assistance to provide to those who have suffered losses, mean that they are free to design disaster financial assistance appropriate to their particular disaster and circumstances. , to set costs that are subject to cost sharing with the DFAA federal government.
States must apply for assistance within six months, but costs can be submitted for up to five years. Each state has a population-based deduction before the program begins. In Prince Edward Island, he’s DFAA will start when his costs reach $561,000, but in Ontario, it won’t take effect until his costs exceed $50 million.
Ottawa will then pay up to 90% of the remaining costs based on certain formulas.
Last year, Public Safety Canada initiated a review of the DFAA to “ensure that provinces and territories have a modern, comprehensive system available for disaster recovery.” government websiteThe Minister of Public Security also Appoint Advisory Board Review and make recommendations for updating the DFAA.
Blair said he plans to meet with the panel chair in BC on February 24 to discuss the DFAA update and plans will be presented to state and territory emergency preparedness ministers later this spring.
He said rebuilding a better, more resilient community would save money in the future and ensure people’s safety more reliably.
After devastating wildfires in June 2021, Lytton, British Columbia is still pending reconstruction, awaiting final restoration plans. Blair said the federal government has pledged to help with the restoration costs, but the rebuilt communities won’t be the same as the old ones.
“We want to rebuild that community wisely, and it will be more resilient to this kind of natural phenomenon,” he said.
This means we need smarter, fire-resistant building codes by using fire-retardant materials and designing structures to reduce vulnerability to fire.
Canadian Press contributed to this report.