News Release – Disaster Assistance will be Critical in 2016

For Immediate Release 

Disaster Assistance will be Critical in 2016

The devastating wildfire in Fort McMurray, AB is a strong reminder that fire season across the prairies is upon us and that mutual aid and disaster assistance programs are critical for fire control and recovery efforts. The May 3, 2016 Daily Wildfire Report shows that there are 13 wildfires burning across Saskatchewan and that is an indication that we are experiencing more wildfire starts than the last few years in Saskatchewan. With the continued hot and dry weather patterns, wildfires will be a major concern this summer for not only Saskatchewan but all Prairie Provinces and perhaps the country as a whole.

It is of the utmost importance that adequate fire protection services are delivered across the province to help combat wildfires. To help ensure this, the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) has put forward a proposal to the Federal and Provincial Governments for an Emergency Response Fund. The goal of the fund is to provide compensation to fire departments for services rendered. This would allow fire departments to operate with the confidence that they will receive compensation for their services and not have to worry about enforcing fire service agreements or spending their time fundraising as many fire departments face rising costs. “The rising costs of providing fire services and the lack of adequate compensation is a growing issue amongst municipalities and we must work towards finding solutions,” said SARM President Ray Orb.

Additionally, SARM believes that more needs to be done by way of mutual aid agreements amongst municipalities and between municipalities and First Nations. Implementing clear agreements amongst all affected parties will ensure that fire services assistance is delivered promptly for neighbouring municipalities and First Nations when a fire incident occurs.  

Wildfires will be a significant issue this summer but it is important that we do not forget that Saskatchewan also experiences flooding. Some parts of the province are at risk and other areas remain flooded; the Quill Lakes area is one such outstanding issue. To assist with flooding issues, SARM is hopeful that the Emergency Flood Damage Reduction Program will be reinstituted after the Budget is revealed on June 1, 2016. The program has been beneficial to municipalities and their flood reduction efforts. SARM is also awaiting further details on new Agriculture Drainage Regulations that were announced in September 2015.

“We’re hopeful that future meetings with the Federal and Provincial Governments will allow us to discuss our proposals in further detail. It is also worth noting that the Minister of Public Safety, The Honourable Ralph Goodale, is from Saskatchewan and is located in Regina which certainly helps us out,” said President Orb.

For more information please contact:Jay MeyerExecutive Director(306) 761-3721