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

Comparison between Manitoba and South Dakota shows dramatic impact of Physical Distancing

Manitoba implemented physical distancing measures in mid-March.  South Dakota has still not made physical distancing mandatory.   The result is a dramatic difference in the incidence of covid-19 viral infections between the two jurisdictions.   This graph shows the number of people with Covid-19 infections from March 27 to April 14.  Manitoba ( red line )  started leveling off about April 4 and has seen only a small increase in Covid-19 infections since then.   South Dakota ( blue line )   has seen a dramatic increase in Covid-19 infections since April 4.  Those who are skeptical of the impact of physical distancing in Manitoba should look at this graph! Data are from the Johns Hopkins daily tabulations

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 Training Hon. 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 conditi

Karen Keppler 1953 - 2020

  Karen was an incredible person who helped so many people. She had a heart of gold. Back in 1994 to 1997 we worked closely together to help communities all over Manitoba get connected to the internet. In the years since she has done amazing things.   She has served as Chair of the Winnipeg Library Foundation and helped with raising money for the expansion of the Millenium Library.    She helped many people to get new opportunities through the Selkirk and District Learning Centre and through her activities at the University of Winnipeg and the Herzing College.   She was an entrepreneur who helped many people move forward and start successful businesses.  Karen was very concerned about her community.  In she was   the Manitoba Liberal Party candidate in Sekirk constituency.   When the COVID pandemic came, Karen was really helpful in an effort to get computers for kids in need so that they could learn at home. Even recently when I was working to understand lead pollution and lead effects