On Tuesday, October 12, I had a chance to thank the firefighters and many others who helped control wildfires in Manitoba this year. My comments, including thanks to the firefighters who came from South Africa, are below.
Mr. Gerrard: Madam Speaker, I join other members of the Legislature in thanking the firefighters who've done such important and valiant work this summer when there were very dry conditions in our province.
This year, Winnipeg set a record in having the smokiest July in history: 137 hours of smoke. There were hundreds of wildfires, covering more than a million hectares. Many people, most particularly from Pauingassi and Little Grand Rapids, were displaced, and in the case of these communities, for several months. We are seeing the impact of climate change. We will need to develop new, innovative approaches for forest stewardship and for managing fires in the years ahead.
It is important to acknowledge the firefighters who came all the way from South Africa. Several years ago I had the opportunity to visit South Africa. They, like us, are seeing the effects of climate change. When we arrived, Cape Town was in the midst of a very severe drought. It was so severe that there were projections that Cape Town would be the first major city in the world to run out of water. Fortunately, with severe rationing, Cape Town did not run out of water.
In the last two years, South Africa has been hit hard by the COVID pandemic. It has caused problems for their health-care system and for their economy and yet, this year, they were able to send firefighters to help us. Thank you, thank you, thank you to South Africa.
Let us, in the months ahead, not forget about the efforts of firefighters from Manitoba and from elsewhere, including South Africa, who played such an important role in containing the fires and in reducing the smoke. Let us also make sure we're investing in the training so that we will have extra capacity here in Manitoba, and so that when South Africa or other countries are having difficulty with fires, we are to help them as they were there to help us this year.
Thank you, South Africa. Thank you to all the firefighters and others who helped contain the fires in Manitoba. It was an incredible job this year.