Notes for Remarks by
HON. RALPH GOODALE, PC, MP (REGINA-WASCANA)
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
at a news conference to announce
SIX PUBLIC SAFETY PROJECTS IN NORTHERN SASKATCHEWAN
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
April 23rd, 2019
Good morning and welcome everyone. Bonjour tout le monde. Bienvenue!
My name is Ralph Goodale. And I serve as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in the Government of Canada.
As we gather on the Territory of Treaty #6 and in the homeland of the Metis, greetings and good wishes from the Government of Canada. I’m glad to be in Prince Albert today to announce another set of significant investments in the quality of life and well-being of the people of Saskatchewan.
You often hear about political issues or events that involve conflict – different levels of government in arguments with each other. You rarely hear about that much larger set of issues upon which we work well together.
Over the last three years, I’m happy to tell you that the Government of Canada and the Province of Saskatchewan have worked very well together on a long list of successful ventures:
- Better homecare and mental health services – $158 million more for Saskatchewan;
- Early leaning and childcare – $42 million more for Saskatchewan;
- Rural water control systems – $365 million more for Saskatchewan;
- Social and affordable housing – more than $1 billion for Saskatchewan;
- Jobs, skills and workforce development – $500 million for Saskatchewan;
- Public Infrastructure – more than $1.6 billion for Saskatchewan;
- Science and innovation – $300 million more for Saskatchewan;
- The list goes on…a much improved Canada Pension Plan, rural access to high-speed Internet, helicopters for STARS air rescue.
And today, we’re adding to the total once again, with $54 million being invested by the Government of Canada in the field of public safety for communities across northern Saskatchewan.
Keeping Canadians safe and secure EVERYWHERE in this vast country is a serious responsibility. In my opinion, no priority is more important. And it’s complex, ranging from youth involvement with gangs and drugs in remote areas and Indigenous communities to fending off the consequences of Climate Change and the disasters brought on by floods and wildfires.
Today’s announcements – and there are six of them altogether – touch on all of these issues. Our objective is to foster strong, resilient, healthy communities in which people FEEL and ARE safe, and are properly supported in raising their families and leading successful productive lives. Whether the concern is crime prevention or wildfire mitigation or flood protection, the measures we’re announcing today are all aimed at greater security and greater prosperity for Saskatchewan.
Let me begin with our National Crime Prevention Strategy which responds to proposals and applications from across the country for federal help in addressing local situations, like steering kids away from drugs and gangs or showing them lifestyles that offer better long-term prospects than gun violence and sex crimes.
We recently ran a national competition asking for good proposals focused on rural, remote and Indigenous communities. Three came from Saskatchewan and they were each approved: The Village of Ile-a-la-Crosse, Pelican Lake First Nation and Witchekan Lake First Nation.
They will each have access to $400,000 over the next two years to strengthen their local readiness to combat the issues that are affecting their youth.
They will identify their most pressing needs, assess how well (or not) those needs are being met, identify the gaps that have to be bridged, and muster the local leadership and resources to become more effective at keeping kids safe and healthy.
It could be developing a local community focal point for youth activities. Or providing timely counselling services. Or more active involvement in sports. Or artistic events. Spiritual connections. Heritage, language, culture and healing. Or outdoor, on-the-land experiences. The scope is flexible – aimed at what will be most effective.
We want to provide strong, positive, healthy alternatives to stop the downward spiral of youth crime and violence. I want to congratulate Ile-a-la-Crosse, Pelican Lake and Witchekan Lake for their leadership and determination. We’ll be watching carefully to learn from your experience about what works best.
Turning to another dimension of community safety – let’s look at Climate Change, and the impact of human behaviour (specifically, too much pollution) on the atmosphere in which we live.
The most obvious consequence of Climate Change in Saskatchewan is the increasing frequency and severity of damaging weather cycles – storms, floods, droughts and wildfires. In just the last few years – less than a decade – the costs and losses in Saskatchewan alone have added up to hundreds of millions of dollars. Billions across the prairies.
To try to head-off some of those consequences in advance, and reduce the impact of others, the Government of Canada has in place a comprehensive Pan-Canadian Climate Change Plan. It includes more than 50 different measures – one of them is our Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund (known as D-MAF). That’s $2 billion over 10 years to invest in smart infrastructure and transformative measures to make our communities and our economy less vulnerable to natural disasters.
Rather than just cleaning up the messes from floods and wildfires after-the-fact, we want to reduce the risk of them in the first place.
So, through D-MAF, we’re putting up $19.8 million, which Saskatchewan Power Corporation is matching, to repair and upgrade the electrical power distribution system across northern Saskatchewan, and to clear and maintain up to 10,000 hectares of forested area near SaskPower facilities. That will have the effect of reducing the risk of wildfires, rendering them less frequent and less intense.
Similarly, through D-MAF, the Government of Canada is putting up another $20.5 million, which the provincial Environment Ministry will match in part, to conduct 141 forest fuel mitigation initiatives in the neighbourhood of 85 at-risk Saskatchewan communities. The projects will groom and clean-up nearly 1400 hectares of provincial Crown land and nearly 1,100 hectares of municipal land. Fires will be less likely to get started. They will be easier to manage, cause less damage and threaten fewer lives and livelihoods.
So that makes FIVE safety projects – three about crime prevention, and two about wildfires. Number six is about flooding.
Saskatchewan Highway #55 runs from west-to-east across Saskatchewan. In that area east of Carrot River, toward the Manitoba border, the roadway runs into serious flooding problems for which it was never sufficiently engineered. And it’s in very poor shape.
This creates big problems for the Red Earth and Shoal Lake Cree Nations, as well as the forestry industry and others. On a seasonal basis, delays, detours and public safety risks are significant.
So, also through D-MAF, the Government of Canada is investing $12.5 million to cover half of the provincial government’s costs to upgrade and rehabilitate Highway 55. It’s a $25 million project altogether.
Well that’s the public safety package for today. Six projects. $54 million. Most of it matched by provincial counterparts, for a total public investment in northern Saskatchewan of close to $100 million altogether.
It’s all about working together. It’s all about getting ahead of issues, and focusing on PREVENTION wherever possible. By investing in solid projects that help prevent crime and help mitigate the impacts of Climate Change, we are building community capacity and resilience, enhancing safety, and positioning Northerners to better withstand, combat and recover from adversity.
The Government of Canada is proud to be your partner.