Saskatchewan premier asks PM for $100M flood relief advance
On the ground in the Melville area, Premier Brad Wall gets a close up view of the damage to Saskatchewan's highway infrastructure. CBC
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says he has no doubt the federal government will approve his request for an advance of $100 million for disaster relief, to deal with damage from the recent intense flooding.
During the province's daily flood update call with media Saturday morning, the premier unexpectedly spoke up on the line. Usually the call includes representatives of government departments involved with emergency management, such as the Ministry of Highways, Government Relations and Social Services.
Wall said he had just gotten off the phone with Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The premier explained he asked Harper for an advance of $100 million for disaster assistance in light of the flood damage felt across the province all week.
"We're going to follow that up with a quick note, but I am pretty optimistic we are going to see some support there," said Wall.
It is the same amount the province requested in an advance for flood relief assistance in 2011.
The premier did not say whether Harper, who is in Calgary for the Stampede, had fully committed to providing the aid.
"I just don't think there will be an issue there. We're going to follow it up with paper. He seemed to indicate this would be standard operating procedure in an event like this. I don't have a concern there," said Wall.
According to the premier, the cost of flood damages in 2011 amounted to $360 million. Wall said he expects the amount needed to deal with the flood aftermath this year will exceed the 2011 total.
"We think the number will be a lot higher than the $360 million of 2011, which was just basically the damage, the repair and not necessarily the economic impact. Because in this case, we have oil leases now inaccessible. We have farmland under water. So in addition to whatever numbers I am talking about right now, there will be an economic impact and is too early to assess that just yet."
Wall said that likely means asking Ottawa for more money later on. However, he said he believes the province is certainly eligible for $100 million as an advance in the federal-provincial disaster program, and it could be eligible for more once damages become clearer.
The premier also pointed to the need for timeliness when it comes to financial assistance. He said people will not have to wait around for the federal aid to come through before their claims are considered.
"We are pretty fortunate in the province. We have a pretty healthy financial situation and a rainy day fund, for want of a better term, so we are in a good spot to respond to it. Money is not our prime concern right now. Our main concern is response, which is still underway right now," said Wall.
A comment from the Prime Minister's Office was not immediately available.