Gov'ts, military 'pulling together' to respond to flooding crisis: Goodale
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said all levels of government were “pulling together seamlessly” to respond as hundreds of communities in Quebec deal with heavy flooding following days of near nonstop rainfall.
In an interview with CTV News Channel, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale confirmed that Canadian Forces were being mobilized Saturday following a formal request from the Quebec government for help in responding to the crisis.
“The discussions today are to identify, with the province of Quebec, where exactly the forces can perform their greatest benefit,” Goodale said, later adding, “Quebec has the lead role here, they have the authority and the responsibility. The Canadian Forces are there to assist the civilian authority and they will respond in every way that we practically can to be helpful.”
More than 130 communities in Quebec have been affected by flooding. Approximately 700 people were forced to abandon their homes. Flooding due to a spring thaw and heavy rainfall has also prompted communities in Ontario to declare a state of emergency.
The affected provinces, municipalities and federal government were “working very well in a fully coordinated manner, so the response to this crisis will be as effective as it humanly can be,” Goodale said.
The public safety minister advised residents dealing with flooding to “pay very close attention” to the advice being provided by local authorities and emergency organizations, including if and when to abandon their homes.
“It’s very important for people not to ignore those warnings because bad circumstances can get worse very quickly so people should pay very close attention to the advice and the instructions being offered by local and municipal authorities about how to protect yourself,” Goodale said.
The minister said there is a “strong lesson” in natural disaster events that have grown in size and intensity in Canada over the past decade. “There is a pattern here, and the lesson from this, is that we need to be more prepared to cope with the immediate emergency circumstances, which is the activity we’re involved in right now, and beyond that, we have to build the structures that will reduce the risk. “
He said in the latest federal budget, the Liberal government set aside $2.5 billion “for that very purpose.”
In terms of any potential federal aid for residents impacted by the floods, Goodale said that there is a “well-established formula” between provinces and the federal government that established “thresholds and benchmarks when a disaster happens.”
“In the first instance, it may be a relatively small size and provinces or municipalities could cope within their own resources,” Goodale added.
“As the size increases, the federal share increases as well.”
Goodale said the formula will “undoubtedly be activated in at least part of these circumstances depending on exactly how bad this gets, but that cost-sharing formula will mean the government of Canada will be there in a very generous way to help.”