Fire and Rescue Services Vehicles
Res #: 8-06M
Responses Received: No
Departments: Saskatchewan Government Relations
Resolution No. 8-06
WHEREAS, rural municipalities are authorized by The Municipalities Act to supply fire fighting and rescue vehicles and equipment to service their ratepayers; and
WHEREAS, in some rural municipalities fire and rescue vehicles are called on to assist passing motorists and other non-ratepayers from other areas of Saskatchewan, Canada, and the world; and
WHEREAS, the Federal and Provincial Governments glean revenue from everyone using the highways through taxation in one form or another; and
WHEREAS, there currently are no government grants available to rural municipalities for the purchase of fire and rescue vehicles which have become extremely expensive;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that SARM lobby the Federal and Provincial Governments to include fire and rescue vehicles as eligible infrastructure acquisitions under the MRIF and JEPP grant programs with the maximum grant being set at $100,000 per municipality.
Response from the Honourable Warren McCall, Minister of Corrections and Public Safety:
I have forwarded your letter to the Honourable Mark Wartman, Minister of Agriculture and Food, for his careful Consideration regarding the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF) program.
The JEPP program in Saskatchewan is used to build emergency management capacity at the municipal and provincial level of government. Saskatchewan normally received funding of approximately $200,000 per year (based on population) from the federal government to offset project expenses (typically a 50% reimbursement formula). As funding is limited, we have typically used half of the support for provincial training and the other half for municipal projects. With this limited funding scope, it is crucial that we carefully review all projects against established priorities to ensure optimization of the funds available.
JEPP is a federal/provincial/territorial cost-shared program, designed to enhance emergency response capacity across Canada. The federal government established criteria for this program. Fire suppression equipment (such as fire trucks) is not eligible under the JEPP guidelines. The province will continue to review individual rescue vehicle applications on a case-to-case basis. Supported applications will then be forwarded to the national JEPP committee for final review, approval, and funding.
Response from Honourable Harry Van Mulligen, Minister of Government Relations:
Government Relations (GR) delivers in Saskatchewan the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF) program jointly with Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD). For the federal government Infrastructure Canada has overall responsibility for the program.
MRIF is managed according to a Federal-Provincial agreement.
The MRIF Agreement does not include fire and rescue vehicles as an eligible infrastructure type. The program generally excludes any type of mobile equipment (except transit vehicles), which is common to most infrastructure programs.
The 2006 Federal budget announced additional funding for MRIF, which will require negotiation of amendments to the existing agreement, or a new agreement. If there is a desire by municipalities and the province to expand the eligible infrastructure types, determined as a result of consultations with municipalities, municipal associations and others, GR will attempt to include fire and rescue vehicles.
Response from Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport:
As Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, I am responsible for Infrastructure Canada, which administers several major infrastructure initiatives, including the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund (CSIF), the Board Infrastructure Fund (BIF) and the Municipal Rural Infrastructure Fund (MRIF), as well as the transfer of the gas tax and the transfer of funds for public transit. More details on these initiatives are available at www.infrastructure.gc.ca or www.tc.gc.ca.
MRIF has provided opportunities for Saskatchewan communities to undertake municipal infrastructure projects; once the second intake under the Canada-Saskatchewan MRIF has been completed, $38 million will have been provided to communities within Saskatchewan. Through this funding, Saskatchewan communities have been able to undertake such projects as road construction, water and wastewater infrastructure, landfill projects, and energy efficiency projects.
As you noted in the resolution, fire and rescue vehicles do not represent an eligible category of investment under infrastructure Canada’s current program. However, the Infrastructure funds provide substantial support to core public infrastructure like roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems, and public transit. This financial support frees municipal money that would otherwise be dedicated to funding these necessary infrastructure projects. This incremental municipal funding can then be used to fund other necessary community priorities, such as fire and rescue vehicles.
I am pleased to note that Budget 2006 provided an unprecedented level of support for infrastructure of various types across Canada. This support of some $16.5 billion includes $6.6 billion in new infrastructure funding to support both small and larger scale municipal infrastructure projects in communities across Canada and improvements to land border crossings and highways.
As we committed to in Budget 2006, consultations on infrastructure funding were held last summer with every province and territory to discuss federal infrastructure funding with a view to putting it on a predictable, long-term track. Through our consultations and partnerships with each province and territory, we are working to ensure that these investments support a competitive economy, improve quality of life, and keep our environment health. The results will also be key in developing an approach for making predictable, long-term infrastructure funding available to communities across the country.
The federal Minister’s Economic and Fiscal Update, Advantage Canada, delivered on November 23, 2006, reinforces this government’s commitment to infrastructure funding. Advantage Canada will create modern, world-class infrastructure to ensure the seamless flow of people, good, and services across our roads and bridges, through our ports and gateways, and via our public transit.
The issue raised in your letter regarding JEPP programs falls within the purview of the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety. Consequently, I note the Minister Clement’s Office has forwarded a copy of your letter to Minister Day for his consideration.
Response from Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety:
The office of my colleague the Honourable Tony Clement, Minister of Health and Minister for the Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario, has forwarded to me your correspondence concerning Resolution No. 8-06M regarding funding for fire and rescue services vehicles.
First, please accept my apology for the extended length of time it has taken for a reply to your concern, which you sent some months ago. A combination of factors including the need of my officials to explore fully the matter your raised, along with the requirement to assess the response in the light of similar and sometimes competing factors, added to the sheer volume of requests which come to me, has created a delay which is not appropriate. I am pleased I can finally respond.
The Department of Public Safety administers the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) on behalf of the Government of Canada. JEPP provides cost sharing for emergency response planning, equipment and training. This program was conceived to encourage cooperation between federal and provincial/territorial governments in working toward an enhanced national capability to respond to emergencies of all types. Further information about JEPP is available on the Public Safety Web site at www.psepc.gc.ca/prg/em/jepp/index-en.asp.
JEPP funds a broad array of preparedness projects from municipal plans, training of personnel and the purchase of specialized vehicles and equipment for first responders; however, the availability of funds is extremely limited. In the case of emergency response vehicles for example, the maximum federal contribution is of $40,000.
While JEPP does cost share emergency response vehicles and mobile command posts, JEPP does not cost share functions and equipment, such as pumpers, which are considered to be the routine responsibility of first responder agencies, such as police, fire, and ambulance.
Please be informed that all applications for JEPP funding must be made to the appropriate provincial emergency management organization. The Province then determines which of the proposals will be forwarded to the Department of Public Safety for consideration for federal cost sharing under JEPP. Any questions about particular JEPP proposals can be directed to the provincial organization. The Saskatchewan Emergency Management Organization can be reached by telephone at 306.787.9563, or by writing to the following address: Protection and Emergency Services, Saskatchewan Emergency Management Organization, 100-1855 Victoria Avenue, Regina, SK S4P 3T2.