January 8th, 2013

Conservatives' disaster relief policy calamity

On the 15th anniversary of the Eastern Canadian Ice Storm, it seems the Conservatives are now looking to download the cost of federal emergency disaster relief to provinces and municipalities—and leaving local officials confused about the future of this service.

The Ice Storm of 1998 took the life of 28 Canadians and is a reminder that in the midst of emergencies the role of all levels of government is to help protect Canadians, not download relief costs onto other governments.

But in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of Conservative budget cuts, military officials have written a letter to Defence Minister Peter MacKay suggesting:

Going forward, the waiving of such costs must be the exception, rather than the rule – Vancouver Sun, Jan 8, 2013

This is not the first time Harper’s team has balked at helping with disaster relief. In 2011, Public Safety Minster Vic Toews coldly suggested in response to a request for supplementary help:

The services you are requesting would place the Canadian Forces in competition with the private sector at the local and provincial level.
– Globe and Mail, May 24, 2011

The Prime Minister confused things further by contradicting his minister a few days later, saying:

The military has the capacity to deliver certain services in a rapid way that cannot be done by ordinary authorities, local or provincial.
– Globe and Mail, June 6, 2011

While the Canadian Forces identify “Protecting Canada” as one of the three pillars of their mandate, the Conservatives are now mulling over how to skip out on the bill.

Another sign that reckless Conservative cuts are hurting the essential services Canadians rely on.