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Drought Emergency - where is the planning? I hope it is better than the Premier's planning for a hike.

Monday May 7, I spoke on Emergency Preparedness Week in Manitoba Legislature. My remarks are below. 

Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, emergency alarm tests are a step forward, as is being able to deliver emergency call information through cellphones. Though I believe on this week, Emergency Preparedness Week, that we could do even more, for example, training all MLAs in the Legislature to use automated external defibrillators and having practise emergencies when MLA preparedness is actually evaluated.
      Other areas also needing improvements are in   forest fires. Last summer a small fire near Wasagamack, Garden Hill and St. Theresa Point was not addressed early and put out quickly. It became a big fire and many residents had to be evacuated. A new approach to forest fires in Manitoba is needed to better address these small fires, but we've seen no sign of a change.
      Liberals have called for better planning and protection of northern communities since this government was elected, but from what we know, Manitoba's co-ordinated response to wildfires hasn't been updated since before the Fort McMurray fire in 2016.
      As well, there are concerns the government may move to privatize wildfire suppression and air ambulance services and real concerns about northerners' safety if this were to happen.
      Despite having nine wildfires raging across the province while we sit in these chambers, many are concerned this government may be cutting services rather than ensuring community safety.
      Another concern is preparation for a drought emergency. I have raised this with the government, but there's been no response. I raised this recently with the Keystone agriculture producers and people laughed because, as far as anyone knows, there's no such plan.
      Planning for a drought emergency needs the government to prepare for months and years ahead. It is time this government presented a drought plan and had it debated in the Legislature to get the full input from Manitobans.
      We would like to have a province which is better prepared for a drought than the Premier was prepared going for a hike.


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