QUEEN’S PARK – Kenora-Rainy River MPP Sarah Campbell raised the issue of flooding in Northwestern Ontario in Queens Park during Question Period on Monday. Campbell sought answers on the response from the provincial government from Premier Wynne about disaster relief for flooding damage in Kenora-Rainy River.
With ten communities declaring states-of-emergency due to record-high water levels and flooding that started last month, Campbell reported seeing homes and structures that were badly damaged, sections of highway completely washed away, shorelines eroded up to 15 feet in places, evacuations, and also a cemetery threatened by the high waters.
“People in the Northwest are doing an amazing job banding together in this difficult time but it is up to this government to ensure that the funds necessary are available for cleanup and recovery, Campbell stated.
The MPP asked, “Will the Premier help the people of Kenora–Rainy River today by committing funds from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program to provide badly needed relief to these 10 hard-hit communities and commit to a timeline of when we can expect this funding?”
In response, Bill Mauro, the Minister of Natural Resources and Forests said he has been in contact with the Mayors of the affected communities and they have been very pleased with the outreach and the support that have been provided by all the appropriate ministries and that they will continue to monitor the situation.
Of concern to Campbell is the wait time for the province to come through with assistance to flood victims, noting that that when Thunder Bay experienced a similar emergency a few years ago it had to wait over a year to receive provincial assistance, and people in Kenora-Rainy River simply can’t wait that long. That is an assertion that Minister Mauro says is not accurate.
Question Period on Flooding in NWO
Ms. Sarah Campbell: To the Premier: People across the northwest are still suffering from record high water levels and flooding that started last month, with as many as 10 communities in my riding alone declaring states of emergency.
I toured the area and I saw first-hand the devastation: homes overwhelmed by flooding; sections of highway completely washed away; significant erosion of shoreline, resulting in lost personal property and a threatened cemetery; and evacuations.
People in the northwest are doing an amazing job banding together in this difficult time, but it is up to this government to ensure that there are funds available for cleanup and recovery.
A couple of years ago, when Thunder Bay experienced a similar emergency, it had to wait over a year to receive provincial assistance from this government. People in my riding simply can’t wait that long.
Will the Premier help the people of Kenora–Rainy River today by committing funds from the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program to provide badly needed relief to these 10 hard-hit communities and commit to a timeline of when we can expect this funding?
Hon. Kathleen O. Wynne: Minister of Natural Resources.
Hon. Bill Mauro: I want to thank the member for the question, but I do want to say that the assertion that after the Thunder Bay flood our government was slow to respond—in fact, not only did we meet our commitments in providing assistance to the city of Thunder Bay, in fact we’ve exceeded our commitment through the ODRA Program under MMAH.
In terms of the flooding that’s occurring in the member’s communities, of course we’re aware of it and of course it is a very, very serious and significant occurrence. Unfortunately, it seems like we find ourselves in these situations all too regularly now. In fact, what were abnormal weather events seem to be occurring on a far too regular basis.
I can tell the member that I’ve been in direct contact with the mayors of the three potentially directly affected communities—those that have been directly affected: Mayor Avis in Fort Frances, Mayor Brown in Atikokan and Mayor Canfield in Kenora. I’ve talked to them. They’ve been very pleased to this point, I would say, with the outreach and the support that have been provided by all of the appropriate ministries, including MNR. We continue to monitor the situation. I’ve asked them to contact me at any time that they feel necessary if they are, at some point, uncertain with the response that’s coming through.