New Federal Emergency Preparedness Funding Shows “Important Progress”: Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs

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OTTAWA, May 5, 2008 – A new eight-million-dollar injection of funds into the federal government’s Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) is important progress in ensuring that provinces, territories and municipalities have comparable capacity to respond to local emergencies, the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC) stated today.

The funding was announced by Public Security Minister Stockwell Day at Toronto’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) facility to mark the beginning of Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada. JEPP funds support an enhanced national capability to acquire training and tools to manage all types of emergencies and ensure a reasonably uniform recovery capacity among provinces and territories.

“Since 2002, CAFC has urged that JEPP funding be increased from its annual level of $5 million to $20 million over four years. JEPP funds need to go a long way. They support both provincial and municipal needs, including fire, police, emergency medical services, public works, water works and emergency management organizations” said Calgary Fire Chief Bruce Burrell, First Vice President of CAFC.

“Of the $8 million announced today, $5 million is earmarked for emergency preparedness projects, with the remainder dedicated to HUSAR and critical infrastructure protection. This certainly is a postive move in addressing some of our Association’s major concerns” , he added.

Although welcoming the new injection and the Minister’s recognition that the majority of JEPP projects are sponsored and initiated at the municipal level, Chief Burrell noted a continuing CAFC concern about the underutilization of JEPP funding by volunteer fire departments across Canada. “Given that there are almost 3500 fire departments in Canada, the total amount of funds available is relatively low, and even with the new money announced today, we fear applications from the smaller departments that make up over 90 per cent of Canada’s fire service are unlikely to succeed. Moreover, the applications process itself is sufficiently complex to discourage most Volunteer Fire Chiefs,” Chief Burrell stated.

CAFC has been asking the federal government to ensure that a fixed percentage of JEPP funding for emergency preparedness be set aside for the exclusive use of Volunteer Fire Departments to help pay for training and equipment.