Moving toward Thunder Bay being declared a Disaster Zone

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Canadian MoneyTHUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay is seeking to declare a Disaster Zone. Acting Mayor Johnson will ask City Council tonight to immediately take the next step to get ready for disaster assistance from other levels of government including establishing a new Disaster Assistance Committee comprised of local members to be appointed by Council. The Committee will administer a City of Thunder Bay Disaster Relief Fund for those who are uninsured from losses.

This will go to Council tonight and will be implemented as soon as a disaster area has been declared for Thunder Bay by the Province.

An announcement will be made when application forms are available. The Committee will also be involved in raising funds for the Relief Fund to complement the efforts of Red Cross and Salvation Army.

This decision and the start of funds flowing must be done however by the province. Legislation must be followed before federal funds can start to flow. The City of Thunder Bay can not make a unilateral declaration that we are a disaster zone.

The situation in Thunder Bay and region is likely to cost over the 13 million dollar threshold that would allow money to start to flow into the disaster relief efforts.

It is not known at this time if the McGuinty Government is moving toward this declaration at a speed that will allow the funds to start flowing fast.

For the City of Thunder Bay the declaration that the city is a disaster zone does involve some change in how things would be run. The Province of Ontario would be in the position of taking some responsibility to run the disaster relief.

“Any request for financial assistance under the DFAA must be made by the province within six months of the end of the event. The request takes the form of a letter from the Premier of the province to the Prime Minister or from the provincial Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness to the federal Minister.”

The assessment and appraisal of the damages must go from the lower levels of government to the senior level of government.

“The Regional Director (RD) of Public Safety Canada provides initial federal liaison with provincial officials responding to the immediate effects of a disaster. Subsequently, the RD co-ordinates the Government of Canada participation in damage assessment and review of provincial requests for assistance if requested. Federal departments with the appropriate expertise may be requested to provide the RD with advice and assistance in determining what constitutes reasonable costs for recovery and restoration. Alternatively, the RD and the affected province may agree to engage third parties for appraising damage and recovery costs.”

The entire document is online at www.publicsafety.gc.ca.

This happens when the damages are in excess of $13million. There are set amounts of federal funds and provincial funding that would be basically automatic in starting to flow.

The call however rests with the Ontario Provincial Government.

From the federal guidelines, “Provincial governments design, develop and deliver disaster response and assistance programs within their own jurisdictions. In doing so, they establish the financial assistance criteria they consider appropriate for response and recovery.

“The DFAA are intended to support the provinces in:

a) providing or reinstating the necessities of life to individuals, including help to repair and restore damaged homes;

b) re-establishing or maintaining the viability of small businesses and working farms;

c) repairing, rebuilding and restoring public works and the essential community services specified in these Guidelines to their pre-disaster capabilities; and

d) funding limited mitigation measures to reduce the future vulnerability of repaired or replaced infrastructure.”

There is a set funding ratio set in place.

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