ARCHIVED - Government of Canada announces further improvement to disaster financial assistance program and significant financial support to Manitoba for 2009 floods

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LOCKPORT, Manitoba, March 17, 2011- On behalf of the Honourable Vic Toews, Canada's Public Safety Minister, James Bezan, Member of Parliament for Selkirk-Interlake today announced a further improvement to the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) program to give provinces and territories more flexibility in the application of the DFAA for improvements to disaster-damaged infrastructure such as roads and bridges. MP Bezan also announced $35 million in financial support from the Government of Canada for Manitoba's response and recovery costs related to the 2009 spring floods.

"Our Government is pleased to announce this further improvement to its disaster assistance program. This announcement demonstrates our continued support to the provinces and territories to better address the needs of their communities," said MP Bezan. "We are eliminating unnecessary barriers that will increase the effectiveness of the provinces and territories to make improvements to infrastructure where most needed."

The change means that provinces and territories with damaged infrastructure can now apply all of the cost sharing that the Government of Canada provides for infrastructure enhancements to one or more selected repair and reconstruction projects, such as raising a bridge. This flexibility will result in a greater benefit to affected communities.

"Manitoba is working aggressively to prepare for the flood fight this spring. The work we are doing is another step forward on the significant investments we have made into permanent flood protection to help protect families and prevent some of the hardships caused by flooding," said Manitoba Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick. "By investing today in the flood protection of tomorrow, we are investing in the security, sustainability and quality of life for communities across Manitoba."

Today, on behalf of Minister Toews,MP Bezan also announced a $35 million in financial support from the Government of Canada for Manitoba's response and recovery costs related to the 2009 spring floods. This flood took place from March 24 to June 1, 2009, and affected southern Manitoba's watershed areas of the Red, Pembina, Assiniboine, Souris, Fisher, Icelandic, and Brokenhead rivers. The flooding caused the evacuation of 2800 Manitobans, and damaged homes, bridges, roads and highways.

"We are pleased to announce this interim payment of $35 million towards response and recovery costs incurred by the Province of Manitoba during the 2009 spring floods," said MP Bezan. "Our government is assisting the provinces and territories with disaster relief efforts when Canadians are in need. By supporting the provinces and territories we are better preparing Canadian communities to respond when disasters strike."

In 2008, the Government of Canada improved the DFAA by streamlining the payment process to begin faster payments and introducing revised guidelines that expand the eligibility for federal disaster financial assistance to part-time farmers and small business owners, and non-profit volunteer groups.

Since its inception in 1970, the DFAA program has provided more than $1.9 billion in disaster financial assistance to the provinces and territories. For more information on the federal DFAA program and its guidelines, please visit Public Safety Canada's website

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