With almost all of Saskatchewan already rated at either a “high” or “extreme” risk of wildfire, the NDP is calling on the Sask. Party government to reverse their cuts to wildfire management and restore funding to 2009/10 levels.
“In five of their last six budgets, the Sask. Party cut funding to wildfire management. The result was that funding for these vital services in 2014/15 was just over half of what was allotted in 2009,” said NDP Leader Trent Wotherspoon. “Considering the damage, destruction, and personal hardship that we saw during and after last year’s fires, it’s simply unacceptable that the government not step up and take action now to prevent it from happening again this year.”
Last year turned out to be one of the worst years on record for wildfires and the Sask. Party had only committed $56 million to manage it. With the risks already rising once again, Wotherspoon said this year’s budget should include adequate funding to ensure the safety and protection of families and communities.
Though the Sask. Party has said they will make more firefighting training available for northerners, Wotherspoon says the government must engage northern leaders in this process.
“These community leaders are the ones who know their land best and can play an important part to protect it,” said Wotherspoon. “When government ignores communities, it makes no sense and is certainly not part of a productive strategy to fight forest fires in the north or anywhere else.”
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