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Fire Updates May 30 and 31

Wednesday May 30, I commented in the Legislature on the forest fires and the need for a strong working relationship between the province and chiefs and councils of affected communities.

Mr. Gerrard: I thank the minister for his updates on the fire situations at fires at or near the communities of Little Grand, Pauingassi, Sapotaweyak, Pelican Rapids, Shamattawa and Ashern.
      Thanks are due to all those who are involved: the emergency personnel, the volunteers and the many who have come from Ontario and the additional support from water bombers from Quebec.
      In this time when we are, sort of, in the beginning cleanup phase for some communities like Little Grand Rapids, it's going to be very important to be working closely with the communities. I anticipate and hope that the minister has spoken with  members of the chiefs and councils of the communities, and that the co-operative effort is going to proceed well.
      I'm still waiting for the fire plans, which I  asked the minister for, for Little Grand Rapids, Pauingassi and Shamattawa. I hope that those can be provided soon. One would think that they would be very rapidly available when there's a fire situation ongoing.
      So I appreciate the minister's taking attention to that and say thank you.

Thursday May 31, I spoke in the Manitoba Legislature on the forest fires I our province and noted that we should be doing a better job of training fire fighters here in Manitoba so that we could be employing Manitoba fire fighters instead of needing so many from Ontario.

Mr. Gerrard: I want to thank the minister for his update on the fire situation in the province. We continue to have record numbers of fires and we clearly will need to be prepared for a long fire season, which we may have this year. I look forward to receiving information on the fire plans.
      One of the things that this year's experience has   highlighted is the–was a need to bring in 120   firefighters from Ontario, and while we are very  thankful to the people from Ontario and their contribution, clearly it highlights the need to make sure that we are training sufficient numbers of firefighters in communities all over the boreal forest.
      Clearly, having expertise in individual communities will help with fire prevention efforts and with efforts to put out fires and I think will enable us to deal better with this. There are many First Nations people, Metis people, in the past, who've contributed as firefighters, and we need to build on their local expertise of the terrain and the country and make sure that they are really part of our overall firefighting tree–team.
      So I look forward to the minister's plan to make sure that we are doing a lot of firefighter training. We will need this because of climate change in the years ahead, and I'm sure the minister will be getting on it shortly.
      Thank you.


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