Skip to main content

Calling on the Manitoba government to declare state of emergency with respect to fores fires

Today, Chief Dino Flett together with many members of the Garden Hill First Nation, Wasagamack First Nation and St Theresa Point First Nation marched from the Soccer Complex on Leila Avenue in Winnipeg to the Manitoba Legislature.   Accompanying them was Judy Klassen the Liberal MLA for the constituency of Kewatinook. 

Chief Flett, Judy Klassen and other First Nation leaders called upon the government of Manitoba to declare a state of emergency and take effective and immediate action to provide additional help for the evacuees.  I joined the march near the Legislature (photos above), and then Judy Klassen and I both spoke during the event at the Legislature.  In my remarks I supported the call for the province to declare a state of emergency.   I also called for an inquiry into why no effective action was taken when the fire was small to prevent its spread.  In discussions I had with individuals aware of the situation the fire is believed to have been started by lightning on Friday September 1, then was small on Saturday and Sunday before enlarging considerably. We also need to know why even today there are apparently no water bombers being used to shorten the life of this fire to allow evacuees to go home sooner.  

In my remarks I praised Judy Klassen for her incredible efforts to help the evacuees.   Earlier in the day at a fundraising luncheon Shawn Feely, Canadian Vice President for Manitoba and Nunavut, also praised Judy Klassen saying she was “a tireless force" in helping the evacuees.  

I believe we need critical planning implemented and action taken to ensure forest fires are addressed as quickly and effectively as possible so that the spread of fires is much more limited and communities are not threatened.   It should be possible to reduce the likelihood of emergencies like those faced in Poplar River FN, Wasagamack FN, Garden Hill FN and St. Theresa Point with earlier quick and effective action. 

For too long, the community of Wasagamack has gone without an airstrip or a health centre.  The recent crisis has highlighted why this must no longer be delayed.  Climate change will only increase the risk and severity of forest fires in the years to come.  The government must act today to avoid even worse outcomes in the future.

I also urge the government to establish improved protection and emergency preparedness for all First Nation communities in Manitoba, including a thorough action plan to protect forest fires from approaching and/or entering communities, and to protect the community should a forest fire reach a community. 
Such a plan could include:
- building firebreaks
- clearing underbrush near communities
- considering metal roofs in new homes, and for houses on the edge of communities
more effective emergency response capability locally in communities
- the potential deployment of fireboats locally to limit fire spread and to offer better protection to communities
Youth in each community should be involved in developing and implement these plans.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Standing up for Seniors

Yesterday in the Legislature I  asked the Minister of Health questions about the care of seniors in personal care homes in Manitoba.   I specfically called for the Minister to increase the training and staffing requirements for personal care homes in Manitoba to bring them up to date.   My questions, the Minister's comments and the Speaker's interjection are below: Personal-Care-Home Improvements - Need for Upgrades to Standards and TrainingHon. Jon Gerrard  (River Heights):Madam Speaker, we're very concerned this government is not adapting to the reality of caring for seniors who are living longer. Seniors living in our personal-care homes today have much more challenging health-care conditions than those who were in similar homes even five years ago, and yet the staffing formula, or minimal personnel requirement, is over 20 years old. Too few care aides and nurses are adequately trained to look after residents with dementia and multiple chronic health conditions. I ask on…

Why was Skinner's restaurant removed from the Forks Market when there so much empty space there?

Wednesday, December 4 I asked in Question Period about the large amount of vacant space at the Forks Market, some of which had been vacant for two or more years.  I also asked specifically as to why the renowned Skinner's Restaurant was removed from the Forks Market when there is so much empty space now.  My question and the Minister's response are below.    A video of the exchange can be seen at this link - https://youtu.be/rD0h3cAkT3oThe Forks Market - Vacancy Management
Hon. Jon Gerrard  (River Heights):Madam Speaker, today The Forks Market has a lot of empty space, much of it empty for two or more years. The list of vacant space includes what was formerly Muddy Waters smokehouse, Beachcombers, Skinners, Dragon House, Aida Crystal, significant parts of Sydney's, Sushi Train, and several balcony businesses a lot–along with a lot of unused former administrative space.       The minister overseeing municipal affairs is responsible for oversight of The Forks, a provincial tre…

Under the Pallister government there are fewer opportunities for youth and an increasing net movement of people away from Manitoba to other provinces

Under the Conservative Pallister government we are seeing an increasing movement of people away from Manitoba to other provinces.   Under the last year of the NDP the situation was not good with a net loss of people from Manitoba to other provinces of 4,921 people.   Under the Pallister Conservatives the net loss of people has gone up substantially to 9,246 - an increase in the net movement out of Manitoba to other provinces of 87%.    This is likely because the Pallister Conservative government's policies have made Manitoba a less desirable place to live so we have a larger movement of people away from Manitoba.

I am very concerned about the bad government we have under Mr. Pallister which is leading to this outcome. 

In a committee meeting on Poverty on Thursday evening December 5th,  I asked Minister Stefanson about a disturbing statistic in the government's Poverty report - that there has been a substantial increase in the number of youth aged 15 to 24 who are not in emp…