VANCOUVER, July 22, 2011 — Premiers began their final day of meetings by discussing the natural disasters that Canada has experienced recently. Premiers also discussed the upcoming Investment Canada Act Review; the importance of citizens’ engagement, and announced a new online initiative to enhance the sharing of information on water quality and conservation.
Severe natural disasters have significantly affected the lives and livelihoods of many families across Canada, including those who have experienced unprecedented flooding and have been devastated by wildfires. Premiers discussed ongoing disaster prevention and relief efforts within their provinces and territories, noting that work related to recent flooding and forest fires is far from over. The federal government has been an important partner in the flood fight and in dealing with the effects on communities from wildfires, by providing strong support when needed. In particular, Premiers thanked the military for their assistance to affected communities.
Provinces and territories have gone to great lengths to prepare for these exceptional situations and previous provincial and territorial investments in mitigation efforts and disaster management have proven extremely valuable for protecting property and reducing damages. Premiers welcome the Prime Minister’s commitment to develop a new long-term national disaster mitigation funding program that examines both infrastructure-related and other mitigation strategies. Premiers direct ministers to work with the federal government to develop this program by fall 2011 and ensure it covers the range of events such as earthquakes, fires, floods, storms and marine disasters.
Several First Nations communities also continue to experience flooding on a regular basis and are among the most vulnerable communities. Given the federal government’s responsibility for emergency management and response for First Nations communities, Premiers encourage the federal government to develop a long-term mitigation strategy, reflecting the interests of First Nations and the role provincial and territorial emergency management officials play in providing services on behalf of the federal government, to protect First Nations communities against severe and continued flooding. This strategy should also address northern and Aboriginal communities experiencing major impacts on critical infrastructure as a result of changes to permafrost caused by climate change.
Disaster management issues will be discussed this fall in Manitoba at a national meeting of all key agencies involved in disaster management. Provinces and Territories will review the flood and forest fire outlook for 2012 and identify areas where improved coordination may be possible. Premiers encouraged the federal government to participate fully in this meeting.