Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs commend federal budget
By Grant Cameron
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) has commended the federal budget tabled by the Liberals, saying in a press release that it has a number of crucial measures that will support strong communities.
The budget, released by Finance Minister Bill Morneau on March 19, is the final one before the federal election next October.
Click here view the federal budget.
CAFC President and Edmonton Fire Chief Ken Block said several investments stood out for the association.
“The investments in municipal infrastructure and housing hold opportunity for rectifying vulnerabilities that have resulted in recent tragedies,” he said in the press release.
“The support for the Indigenous Fire Marshal’s office and the FireSmart program are needed and all hazards emergency response funding will be put to good use.”
The CAFC strongly commended an investment of $25 million over five years to create a pan-Canadian suicide-prevention service available 24/7 in all parts of the country.
“First responders not only respond to suicide calls, they also fall victim to them,” said Block. “I’m pleased to see this taking shape and the CAFC will be pleased to assist where we can.”
The association also was pleased to see opportunities for training, diversity, and apprenticeship.
The statement said that, in the coming weeks, the CAFC will be looking more closely at the budget and its implications and will remain available to all departments to assist in relevant files.
Following are the CAFC’s list of some of the highlights of the budget:
- $25 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $5 million per year ongoing, to work with experienced and dedicated partners in the space to support a pan-Canadian suicide prevention service, in order to provide people across Canada with access to bilingual, 24/7, crisis support from trained responders, using the technology of their choice (voice, text or chat). This service will leverage and build on existing services and experiences of partners dedicated to suicide prevention.
- $5 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, to Public Safety Canada to develop all-hazard awareness-raising activities that are targeted to specific, at-risk audiences such as low-income Canadians, seniors, people with disabilities, recent immigrants, and indigenous people.
- $260 million over two years, on a cash basis, starting in 2019–20, to Public Safety Canada to support provincial and territorial disaster relief and recovery efforts through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Program.
- $151.23 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, and $9.28 million per year ongoing, to improve emergency management in Canada, including in Indigenous communities. This investment will improve Canada’s ability to predict and respond to threats through the use of early-warning systems, and enhance the understanding of the nature of the risks posed by floods, wildfires and earthquakes. In addition, this investment will help to assess the condition and resilience of Canada’s critical infrastructure – including energy grids, water and food supplies and health services – in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
- $65 million in 2018–19 for STARS to replace its aging fleet and acquire new emergency ambulance helicopters. This funding will be made available through Public Safety Canada.
- $211 million over five years, starting in 2019–20, with $49.4 million per year ongoing to support increased resiliency and emergency management on-reserves, and $48 million over four years, starting in 2020–21, to renew funding for infrastructure projects on-reserve that will protect communities from climate-related hazards, which are stated to include support for the Indigenous Fire Marshalls Office and Fire Smart.
- Over $1.7 billion over five years, and $586.5 million per year ongoing for a new Canada Training Benefit—a personalized, portable training benefit to help people plan for and get the training they need.
- $40-billion for the 10-year National Housing Strategy, which will help ensure that vulnerable Canadians, including low-income seniors, have access to housing that meets their needs and that they can afford.
- $2.2 billion through the federal Gas Tax Fund to address short-term priorities in municipalities and First Nation communities. This will double the government’s commitment to municipalities in 2018–19 and will provide much-needed infrastructure funds for communities of all sizes, all across the country.
- $1.7 billion over 13 years, starting in 2019–20, to establish a new national high-speed Internet program, the Universal Broadband Fund. The fund would build on the success of the Connect to Innovate program, and would focus on extending “backbone” infrastructure to underserved communities (backbone is the central channel used to transfer Internet traffic at high speed – the Internet equivalent of a major roadway or railway spur). For the most difficult-to-reach communities, funding may also support “last-mile” connections to individual homes and businesses.
- $25 million over 10 years, starting in 2020–21, to fund Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research CIMVHR’s ongoing operations, the implications from which can often benefit first responders.