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Ottawa pledges support for fire evacuees

Ralph Goodale

Ottawa says it will match provincial dollars being spent to aid fire evacuees in the interior of the province.

Federal ministers Ralph Goodale, Harjit S. Sajjan, and Carla Qualtrough met with British Columbia Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth and Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations, and Rural Development Doug Donaldson to discuss joint efforts to respond to and recover from the ongoing wildfires in the province and made stops in Prince George and Kamloops.

The federal government committed to match the province’s support, through a donation to the Canadian Red Cross, in an amount equivalent to the total dollar amount being paid to every registered wildfire evacuee households throughout the evacuation period.

“Today’s commitment of funding for the Red Cross demonstrates that the Government of Canada is committed to provide all possible assistance to fight the inferno, keep people safe, make the evacuations as tolerable as possible, and support recovery moving forward,” said Goodale, in a press release. “Together we will work towards resolution, building back better, and addressing the challenges of long-term mitigation of potentially devastating events like this one in the future.”

Ministers also announced that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has implemented emergency tax relief measures to support Canadians whose primary concerns during this time are their families, homes, and communities.

“The Canadian Armed Forces is always ready to support Canadians in times of crisis,” said Sajjan. “They responded swiftly to the Government of British Columbia’s call for assistance, providing professional and capable support. Throughout today’s activities, I was extremely proud to see firsthand how well our military members have been working with first responders in the service of citizens in need.”

Ministers visited the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, a hub of the province’s wildfire response, and toured evacuation centres in Prince George and Kamloops. After flying over affected areas, ministers observed the on-the-ground response, and expressed thanks to the many first responders, military personnel, volunteers and charitable organizations contributing to the operation. They were also briefed by municipal officials and Canadian Red Cross personnel at the Prince George and Kamloops evacuation centres.

Quick Facts

  • On July 14, 2017, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of the Ad Hoc Cabinet Committee on Federal Recovery Efforts for 2017 BC Wildfires, to coordinate federal efforts to help the many communities affected by the wildfires raging through British Columbia.
  • CRA’s emergency tax measures are effective immediately and include:
    • Ceasing all collections, audit-related activities and administrative correspondence for those impacted, until further notice.
    • Cancelling penalties/ interest for those impacted and who are delayed in filing their tax return or in paying amounts owing because of these events.
    • Assigning designated telephone agents to provide assistance to callers affected by the wildfires. Agents can request taxpayer relief on their behalf, and can provide advice relating to lost, destroyed, or damaged records. Individuals can contact the CRA at 1-800-959-8281 and business callers can call 1-800-959-5525.
    • Working with Canada Post to ensure that taxpayers expecting a tax refund or benefit payment have secure access to their mail following the suspension of delivery to impacted areas in British Columbia. Taxpayers can visit Canada Post service alert webpage for more information.
  • The Government of Canada will also support the Government of British Columbia through the Disaster Financial Assistance Agreements (DFAA) to cover the costs associated with long term recovery and rebuilding in the affected communities.
  • The Government of Canada is also providing the following support:
    • The Canadian Armed Forces have deployed aircraft and vehicles and approximately 380 troops altogether.
    • Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada has provided beds and blankets from the National Emergency Strategic Stockpile.
    • Environment and Climate Change Canada is providing forecasting and analysis of weather patterns.
    • Natural Resources Canada is providing modelling for fire activity and growth, and smoke and emissions.
    • The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre is coordinating firefighting resources, including those recently arrived from Australia.
    • Global Affairs Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada are helping out on this front with respect to international offers of assistance.
    • Transport Canada is dealing with rail and air traffic issues to make sure Canadians are clear of danger zones.
    • Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is working with Emergency Management BC and the BC Ministry of Forest’s Wildfire Management Branch to ensure First Nations communities receive the necessary response and recovery services
    • The RCMP has been on the ground assisting citizens as the police force of jurisdiction in many of the affected areas.

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