THUNDER BAY – News – NDP MPP Howard Hampton is saying that the McGuinty Government has “dropped the ball” when it comes to dealing with the “crisis developing in Northwestern Ontario as a result of more than 110 forest fires raging throughout the region”.
“These communities are asking for help from the province. The leadership of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation is asking for leadership from the province. Municipalities are asking for help from the province. Even the Federal Government is asking the province to act. Unfortunately McGuinty and his government don’t seem to be paying attention to this very desperate situation,” charges Hampton.
Hampton, the MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, is calling on the McGuinty government to pay serious attention to the crisis developing in Northwestern Ontario as a result of more than 110 forest fires raging throughout the region. Hampton says “While communities across the north have stepped up to provide support to those affected by the evacuations in far northern communities, the province continues to drag its heels when it comes to providing action and leadership on the issue”.
While the provincial government has dropped the ball Hampton says that in no way does this reflect the dedication or hard work of fire crews, hydro workers, emergency crews and volunteers in the region. Hampton just returned from a two day visit to many of the communities affected by the crisis and says immediate action needs to be taken to ensure the crisis does not turn into a catastrophe as a result of a slow to react provincial government.
Ten days ago the community of Pickle Lake requested that Hydro One hook up two large mobile generators that had been offered by a nearby mining operation, however Hydro One has refused and, as a result, the community has been without electricity for nearly two weeks. “They’re working to the point of complete exhaustion,” reports Hampton. “I don’t think there’s any more that can be asked of the people who are on the ground fighting this situation. It’s the decision makers in Toronto who have to wake up, take a look at the situation, listen to their own people and act immediately.”
That action should take the form of declaring a State of Emergency in the province and working to ensure that power in Pickle Lake is restored immediately, not in the distant future. “The MNR needs additional resources. Evacuations are not happening fast enough in these communities. There are communities that haven’t been evacuated fast enough where you can’t even land a plane the smoke is so thick. Action needs to be taken now to avoid a catastrophe in one of these communities.”