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Canada

Northern premiers call for national emergency response system

POND INLET, Nunavut — Northern premiers are calling for a national emergency response system to deal with natural disasters they fear will become more frequent.

After a meeting this week in Pond Inlet, Nvt., they say the wildfires and floods of recent years point to the need for federal co-ordination.

Northwest Territories Premier R.J. Simpson says Canada is one of the few G7 countries without such an agency.

Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai says municipal and First Nations leaders are already talking about how they can work together when wildfires or floods threaten their communities.

Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said even his territory experienced wildfires. 

The N.W.T. has brought in more firefighters earlier this year and in more locations.

“It’s time we started looking into (a co-ordinated system),” said Simpson, who was forced to leave the town of Hay River, N.W.T., last summer.

Fires happened in the territory all the way from the northern tip of the Beaufort Delta to the South Slave region, and the capital of Yellowknife was evacuated.

“We are a small jurisdiction. These massive natural disasters are growing to the point where they’re going to be beyond our capacity,” said Simpson.

The premier said his territory is grateful for the generous support it received from Canada’s federal, provincial and territorial governments.

But he said a better system is needed as climate change sets the stage for more frequent emergencies

“There is more work to be done,” he said. “It is now a new world, given the impact of climate change.”

The premiers also called on Ottawa for more and faster investment in infrastructure, such as roads, ports and airports that can be used for both military and civilian purposes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2024.

The Canadian Press


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