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Federal and Provincial Governments increase investment in successful northern fire prevention services

October 12, 2010
La Ronge, Saskatchewan

Work to build fire breaks for 24 northern Saskatchewan communities designated at-risk for wildfires continues this month thanks to increased federal funding through the Government of Canada’s Community Adjustment Fund and additional provincial support. Ten communities have already benefited from fire breaks built in fall 2009. About 150 jobs have employed residents of the affected communities to undertake the fire prevention measures.

The Government of Canada is contributing an addition $180,000 through Canada’s Economic Action Plan to build fire breaks in an additional four communities. This builds on a previous federal investment of $1,794,000. The Government of Saskatchewan has also increased its commitment by a further $20,000.  Their shared investment totals $2,139,000.

Rob Clarke, Member of Parliament for Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River on behalf of the Honourable Lynne Yelich, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification, joined Prince Albert Grand Council Vice-Chief Don Deranger to highlight the fire prevention work done in La Ronge, Air Ronge and the other northern communities.

Our Government’s investment in the Prince Albert Grand Council’s fire prevention services project is helping to see us through the economic downturn,” said MP Clarke. “We are creating immediate jobs, while ensuring the safety of Saskatchewan’s northern communities.

This fire prevention initiative is a great example of a working partnership between four levels of government to support northern communities,” Saskatchewan Environment Minister Dustin Duncan said. “These projects will play a significant role in protecting northern communities from wildfire.

Fire breaks are wide blocks or strips in which the vegetation has been permanently reduced. These thinned areas act as a barrier around selected northern communities to decrease the intensity and spread rate of oncoming wildfires. Fire breaks also provide fire suppression staff with an area to safely and effectively fight a wildfire. 

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment and the Prince Albert Grand Council are working together to hire, train and monitor the crews. In some communities, crews were created by re-hiring casual employees from the summer firefighting season who are laid off in August. Other communities took the opportunity to train unemployed individuals so they could gain new skills and work experience. Skills learned by the crews are transferable to line cutting jobs in the oil, gas and mineral exploration sectors, or in other provincial ministries.

"The Prince Albert Grand Council was given the opportunity to administer this project through their Forest Management Program," said Vice Chief Deranger.  "This is the first time the Prince Albert Grand Council has had an opportunity to work with other agencies outside of its jurisdiction (Meadow Lake Tribal Council, Agency Chiefs Tribal Council and settlements such as Pinehouse, Decharme Lake and Bear Creek) with the common goal of protecting our Northern communities from the risks of wildfire."

Federal funding of $1,964,000 is provided through the Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan. Saskatchewan Ministry of Environment provided $100,000, while Natural Resources Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada contributed $66,000 through their joint First Nations Forestry Program. Northern communities are providing in-kind contributions of $9,000.

The communities of Bear Creek, Black Lake, Chitek Lake, Descharme Lake, Hall Lake, Bigstone, Far Reserve, Pelican Narrows, Pinehouse and Stanley Mission had fire breaks built between September and November 2009. Between September and November 2010, crews will build breaks at Air Ronge, Beauval, Cole Bay, Grandmother’s Bay, Jan Lake, Montreal Lake, Napatak, Nesslin Lake, Patuanak, Sandy Bay, Stony Rapids, Sucker River, Weyakwin and Whelan Bay.

CAF provides $306 million in assistance over two years to western Canadian communities hardest hit by the current economic slowdown. The Fund is intended to provide an economic stimulus to lessen the short-term impacts of the economic downturn by creating and maintaining jobs, and by addressing challenges facing industries or communities under going restructuring.

The Community Adjustment Fund (CAF) is a two-year, $1 billion nation-wide economic stimulus measure announced as part of the Government of Canada's Economic Action Plan.

For more information, contact:

Joanne Mysak
Manager, Communications, Marketing and Consultations
Western Economic Diversification Canada
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Telephone: (306) 975-5942

Larry Fremont
Education & Prevention Coordinator
Ministry of Environment
Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Tel:  (306) 953-3245

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