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B.C. takes action ahead of summer wildfire season

June 12, 2024 at 12:54 pm  BC, News, Politics, Provincial

As B.C. transitions into warmer, drier summer months, the Province continues to take action to help keep people and communities safe from wildfires.

This includes additional and faster support for people evacuated from their homes during an emergency.

“The spring rains were very welcome and have helped with fire suppression in some parts of B.C., but we will continue to experience drought and a higher risk of wildfires over the coming months,” said Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests. “We are taking action on all fronts to protect communities, homes and people through wildfires and climate emergencies.”

As shown in the BC Wildfire Service’s latest seasonal outlook, some regions of the province, notably the coast and southern parts of B.C., have received increased moisture over winter and spring. Other areas, including the northeastern parts of the province, are experiencing prolonged drought and are expected to remain at high risk for wildfire.

To better support people who cannot meet their own needs during evacuations from wildfires and other climate emergencies, the Province is introducing several improved measures stemming from the Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies, including:

  • Introducing an accommodation allowance of $200 per night, which is available through Interac e-transfer or at reception centres. This will provide people with greater flexibility choosing where they stay during an evacuation, whether to stay with family or friends, find a hotel on their own or stay at a campground.  Alternatively, people can still receive a direct referral to a hotel or other accommodation from their local government or First Nation.
  • A new Interac e-transfer direct deposit payment option for people who need help securing accommodation during large-scale evacuations. This will help cut down on long lineups at evacuation reception centres and allow people more flexibility and quicker access to emergency funds during an evacuation. People will also have the option of visiting a reception centre to receive financial support in person. 
  • Updating and redesigning the EmergencyInfoBC website (https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/) to improve user experience, especially on mobile devices. This includes introducing a new easy-to-use share feature, inviting people to share validated and accurate emergency information with their social network, such as X and Facebook.

“During large-scale evacuations, people are often travelling at late hours of the night and may face long lines at evacuee reception centres before they can receive a referral to a hotel,” said Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness. “By increasing the accommodation allowance and giving people the option to receive financial support directly to their bank account, we’re empowering people with more options to find suitable accommodation for themselves and their loved ones during times of crisis.”

People can access the Interac e-transfer support by creating a profile at https://ess.gov.bc.ca/. When there is a large-scale evacuation, people who have created an Emergency Support Services (ESS) profile can log into the online self-service registration tool to receive instructions about the types of supports available to them and how they can be accessed. People are encouraged to create a profile before an emergency as part of their preparedness. The online self-service registration tool may only be available during large-scale evacuations.

“The ability for ESS teams to provide evacuees with the means to find and pay for accommodations that suit them and their families is a significant advancement to how the Province supports evacuees,” said Tanya Spooner, manager of emergency programs, City of Prince George, and member, Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies. “This new option gives evacuees greater choice in accommodation types and locations.”

People are encouraged to consider getting home or tenant insurance, which is one of the best ways people can protect their families in the event of an emergency. In B.C, home insurance that provides coverage for fire damage and losses is widely available in every community across B.C. Both home and tenant insurance policies typically have additional coverage for living expenses while the person is under evacuation order.

More details about the BC Wildfire Service’s latest forecast, improvements to EmergencyInfoBC, enhancements by the BC Wildfire Service and how people can best prepare them and their properties for wildfire are available in Backgrounder 2.

Learn More:

People who may need support with the cost of accommodation, travel, food, clothing or incidentals during an emergency can create an Emergency Support Services profile here: https://ess.gov.bc.ca/  

Emergency information, including active evacuation orders and alerts, can be found at @EmergencyInofBC on X (formerly Twitter) or https://www.emergencyinfobc.gov.bc.ca/

For preparedness guides from PreparedBC, including floods, wildfires and extreme heat, visit: https://www.preparedbc.ca

For tips about how to prepare grab-and-go bags, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/preparedbc/build-an-emergency-kit-and-grab-and-go-bag

To learn about how to prepare for wildfires, visit: https://firesmartbc.ca/

Real-time wildfire information can be found on the BC Wildfire Service mobile app, which is available for Apple and Android users, or at: https://wildfiresituation.nrs.gov.bc.ca/map

To learn about flood conditions and advisories, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/air-land-water/water/drought-flooding-dikes-dams/river-forecast-centre

To learn more about BC Wildfire Service fleet and equipment upgrades, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/30312

To learn more about the enhanced wildland-firefighter recruitment strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/30188

To learn more about the new streamlined ESS training, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/30476

To learn more about the new BC Wildfire Service wildfire predictive technologies, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2024FOR0013-000364

To learn more about the Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies, visit: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-management/emergency-management/emergency-activation/em-taskforce

Two backgrounders follow.

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