Friday November 26, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC [8pm]
by Mary P Brooke, Editor | Island Social Trends
On this Friday evening in Victoria, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan met for an hour (at 4:30 pm) then addressed media starting around 6:20 pm. They spoke from the hall just beyond the doors to the BC Legislative Assembly chambers, each at a COVID-safe separate podium.
The federal leader promised funding, and the provincial leader was appreciative of the good working relationships between their governments that make this sort of thing so readily possible.
Earlier today, Trudeau had personally toured some of the flood-impacted areas in the Fraser Valley area, along with the Mayor of Abbotsford Henry Braun. He met with Sumas First Nation Chief Dalton Silver, Matsqui First National Chief Alice McKay, members of the Canadian Armed Forces, first responders, and volunteers during his visit to affected areas.
The flooding resulted from significant rainfall brought on by an atmospheric river November 13 to 15, combined with infrastructure and buildings that were not construction with such an onslaught in mind. Many homes, farms, crops, equipment and livestock were lost. The degree of damage is still being assessed.
Both Trudeau and Horgan spoke about having people’s backs, and having each other’s backs as federal and provincial levels of government.
Things that need to be done:
Trudeau said that rebuilding is not just about weather-proofing homes, but also investing in communities and getting emissions to net zero. He looks for the input of Indigenous communities about tried and true ways to deal with an inclement environment, and saying that governments will make decisions “grounded in science and reason”, with people “being there for each other with compassion and strength”.
Trudeau said that Canada needs to “fight to build a better future, a resilient infrastructure”, to deal with all types of climate change impacts in the future. Both he and Horgan mentioned wildfires, droughts, heat waves, and now the floods that have impacted BC in 2021.
“Only by taking strong and bold climate action can we better mitigate the impacts of extreme weather conditions, protect the health and safety of Canadians, and build a healthier and cleaner future for everyone,” said Trudeau.
The cost to rebuild:
The new level of infrastructure will be costly, the prime minister said, but he added it “would be far more expensive to do less than not to do enough”. It will require governments at municipal, provincial and federal levels to get the job done, he said.
“The federal government will be there as a full partner,” said Trudeau, regarding whatever it takes to deal with the crisis at hand and the rebuilding of appropriate infrastructure.
Horgan said it was too soon to ask for specific funding amounts from the federal government. At this point it’s about partnerships and good working relationships.
Horgan said that it’s been unrealistic for municipalities to have borne the financial and decision-making burden for establishing much of the infrastructure in their communities. He noted that was about allowing independence and autonomy to municipalities. But said he wouldn’t have set things up that way, and that funds and plans jointly provided by federal, provincial and municipal is the way to go in the future, without a local-specific tax burden on local taxpayers.
Horgan again called for no hoarding of groceries or gasoline in BC. If people do that, “we’re going to be okay”, the Premier said this evening.
Joint response committee:
Trudeau and Horgan announced a committee of federal and provincial ministers who will work together and with Indigenous leadership to guide immediate and ongoing support to British Columbia families, businesses, and communities affected by the extreme weather events.
The new committee will ensure the people of British Columbia, including those in remote and Indigenous communities, have the immediate support and resources they need to deal with this challenging situation. It will also collaborate on recovery and rebuilding efforts, including by providing support to the sectors that have been most impacted by the crisis. The committee will work to build back from these extreme weather events in a way that better protects British Columbians from future climate events, creates cleaner and healthier communities, and supports Canada’s efforts in reaching our climate goals and net-zero emissions targets.
The new committee will build on the joint Federal / Provincial Supply Chain Recovery Working Group, which was announced on November 20, 2021.The co-chairs of the new committee are Bill Blair, President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Mike Farnworth, BC Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. The remaining members of the new committee will be confirmed in the near future.
One dollar produces three:
The Prime Minister and the Premier also announced that the governments of Canada and British Columbia will match every dollar donated to the Canadian Red Cross’ British Columbia Floods & Extreme Weather Appeal, which means that every $1 donated will become $3 to support those affected by the floods. Both governments will match individual and corporate donations for a period of 30 days starting today, November 26, 2021, and retroactively for donations received since November 17, 2021, when the campaign began.
Donated funds will support the range of emergency services the Canadian Red Cross is delivering to those in need, which could include providing cots, blankets, and clean-up kits to communities, upon request by the local authorities or government. In addition, donated funds will allow the Canadian Red Cross to continue to support evacuees, as they begin to recover in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
The Canadian Red Cross is part of the largest humanitarian network in the world and stands ready to help people and communities before, during, and after a disaster.
The Canadian Red Cross contributes to relief and recovery efforts in response to emergency events in Canada, including the 2021 wildfires in British Columbia and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Canadians wishing to make a financial donation to the Canadian Red Cross to help those impacted by the floods in British Columbia can do so online (where the minimum suggested donation is $75) at redcross.ca, by calling 1-800-418-1111, or by texting BCFLOODS to 30333.
Rebuilding after the crisis – official quotes:
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “All Canadians stand with the people of British Columbia as they continue to deal with the impacts of the recent floods, landslides, and extreme weather conditions. Together with the Province of British Columbia, we will continue to take immediate action to help all those who need it, and we will support communities and families as they rebuild from the destruction. Climate action can’t wait, and the federal government is committed to being bolder and moving faster in the fight against climate change.”
BC Premier John Horgan: “The people of British Columbia are grateful for the support we have received from across the country, including the federal government. As more extreme weather comes our way, we will continue to stand together and support all those in need. By matching donations to the Canadian Red Cross, every dollar given will be tripled. We will be working closely with the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross so your donations help those who need it the most.”
Difficult winter, and challenges ahead:
We are preparing for “what may be a difficult winter,” said Trudeau. The restoration and rebuilding “may take months or even years,” he said.
“This is the new reality,” said Trudeau, adding that he strongly believes in fighting the climate crisis “with everything we have”.
“We need to be bold for the world we’re going to have 20 years from now,” said Justin Trudeau. “We have to make sure kids and grandkids have stable lives in an unstable future.”
The Liberal government has a comprehensive climate action plan on the books, as presented to Canadians in the recent federal election in September 2021. That plan was endorsed by climate scientist and former BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
Next BC emergency update:
The next BC emergency update with Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Rob Fleming is scheduled for 11 am on Sunday November 28, 2021.