More help is on the way for B.C. communities recovering from landslides and flooding caused by the 2021 atmospheric river.
Federal Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair made the pledge in a statement to Black Press Media.
“I’ve seen the damage firsthand and I know just how much work is required to get communities back to where they were before these events, while preparing them for future ones,” he said.
So far, the federal government has ponied up 46 per cent of the estimated federal share for costs connected to the 2021 atmospheric river.
B.C. is eligible for federal support under a program administered by Public Safety Canada. The federal Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements offers assistance to provinces and territories by request when response and recovery costs following extreme weather events.
B.C.’s Office of the Auditor General had first reported that the province received $824 million — or 18 per cent — of the $4.475 billion in eligible federal support. The payment of $824 million was part of a larger federal payment of $870 million received in July 2022.
Emergency Management BC and the ministry of public safety expects to receive a further $557 million before March 31.
Blair said that both the estimated total cost for repairs, as well as the eligible federal share, have decreased since the release of the report by the office of the auditor general.
Provinces and territories have six months following the end of a disaster to request financial assistance. Once received, an Order-in-Council is needed to issue payments. Provinces and territories can request advance and interim payments and have a limit of five years to submit final claims.
DFAA does not provide direct financial assistance, but rather cost-shares eligible provincial costs.
The statement notes that the program is currently underway an review, with an eye to make sure that funding can be delivered quickly and efficiently following natural disasters.
Provincial and municipal leaders have questioned the pace of the federal response and Blair’s statement stressed his personal involvement.
“I’ve travelled to British Columbia several times to meet with municipal leaders, Indigenous partners, and visit communities most impacted by the November 2021 flooding,” he said. “More funding is on the way to support those efforts and through the partnerships that were created…we have been able to coordinate our efforts across orders of government,” he added.
Black Press Media has reached to the provincial government for comment.