Following the fourth meeting of the Committee of British Columbia and Federal Ministers on Disaster Response and Climate Resilience, Bill Blair, president of the Queen’s Privy Council and Minister of Emergency Preparedness, announced several federal investments to help response and recovery efforts.

Public Safety Canada is delivering an advance payment of $207 million to the Government of British Columbia through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) to support 2021 wildfire recovery efforts in British Columbia.

Indigenous Services Canada is providing financial support through the Structural Mitigation program to cover the costs of assessing flood risks to the communities of Nooaitch and Shackan. These communities, as well as Coldwater and Cook’s Ferry, will each receive funding through Indigenous Services Canada’s Lands and Economic Development Services Program to acquire expertise to support work on land issues such as land identification, title searches, land surveys, and early engagement to resolve third party interests; this will expedite First Nations’ potential Additions to Reserves.

The Committee, co-chaired by Blair and Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, discussed the important progress being made by the Government of Canada and the Government of British Columbia, together with First Nations, and outlined how the Committee will continue to work together to protect British Columbians from future climate events.

“Communities across British Columbia were devastated by historic flooding and fires last year. I’ve been to many of these areas over the past six months, and have seen first-hand the impact these extreme weather events have had on the people who live there. Today’s announcement of $207 million to support British Columbia is a key step forward in our work to help these communities recover, build lasting resilience, and keep Canadians safe,” stated Blair.

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“Last year, British Columbia faced some of the most extreme emergencies in its history. Advanced payment of B.C.’s allocated funding through DFAA arrangements means we can build back better as quickly as possible,” said Farnworth. “We’re grateful for the support of the federal government and our Indigenous partners as we focus on recovery now and these funds are a welcome addition to the $120 million that the Province announced in Budget 2022 for First Nations, local governments and the First Nations Emergency Services Society to prepare for the future – and impacts of climate change – to keep people in B.C. safe.”

The Committee of British Columbia and Federal Ministers on Disaster Response and Climate Resilience, which includes representatives from the First Nations Leadership Council, was announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan in November 2021, to ensure those impacted by last year’s severe weather have the supports and resources they need, and to build back in a way that better protects British Columbians from future climate events. The final meeting of the Committee will take place in July, 2022.

Since 2021, and in addition to the funds provided through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, Indigenous Services Canada has provided over $17 million to support First Nations communities in B.C. specifically:

    • over $9 million in funding to support the recovery of First Nation communities affected by the 2021 atmospheric river flooding including:
      • Shackan Indian Band
      • Nooaitch Indian Band
      • Coldwater Indian Band
      • Cook’s Ferry Indian Band
      • Lower Similkameen Indian Band
    • over $8.4 million to First Nations’ Emergency Services Society to support emergency planning, preparedness and response in First Nations communities in British Columbia.
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“Climate change is wreaking havoc on communities. As wildfires and floods become more common, the Government of Canada will continue to work together with Indigenous leaders, provinces and territories to keep people safe,” said Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services. “The best path is one that is led by First Nation leaders and organizations and includes emergency response measures that is shaped by traditional knowledge and culture. We will continue to work together as we all adapt and adjust to the unprecedented challenges resulting from climate change.”

Indigenous Services Canada’s Emergency Management Assistance Program reimburses First Nations, provinces and territories and third-party emergency management providers 100 per cent of eligible response and recovery costs, including evacuation costs.

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Featured image credit: Government of B.C.

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