Federal and provincial ministers, as well as First Nations groups met Tuesday in Vancouver to discuss the response efforts to rebuild parts of British Columbia following an unprecedented summer of wildfires.
Following the meeting, federal Agriculture Minister Lawrence MacAulay told reporters that the goal for both governments right now is to help ranchers and farmers, including Indigenous ranchers and farmers, who have suffered significant losses because of the wildfires.
"Together our governments are providing $20 million under the AgriRecovery program to assist producers with extraordinary costs they've incurred because of the wildfires," said MacAulay.
AgriRecovery is a federal-provincial-territorial program established to help producers deal with the income and production losses from natural disasters.
MacAulay said the aid package will help with costs associated with veterinary bills, transportation and housing costs as well, as critical infrastructure not covered by insurance.
B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham acknowledged the difficult road ahead for farmers and ranchers hit hard by the realities of an unprecedented fire situation.
"Recovery from an emergency of this magnitude is not going to be instant and it`s not going to be easy," she said.
- Windy weather whips up wildfires in southeastern B.C.
In a wildfire update Tuesday, officials painted a grim picture of the situation that many parts of the province are facing.
Kevin Skrepnek with B.C. Wildfire Service says there appears to be no end in sight for parts of the province, despite rain forecast for the end of the week.
"We're going to emphasize though, they [showers] are going to be scattered, isolated. And in some cases they will likely come with lightning and could have some gusty wind around them," said Skrepnek.
Of the 162 fires burning in the province:
- Four new fires started on Monday.
- 1,148,000 estimated hectares burned.
- $464 million cost to B.C.
- 3,800 personnel and 182 aircraft currently deployed.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Ralph Goodale said a broader disaster financial assistance arrangement from the federal and provincial governments is currently being worked out.
"It will click into place now to support British Columbia ... as the recovery effort goes forward that calculation is a much larger calculation that will take some time to be done."
During the meeting with federal and provincial ministers, First Nations leaders sought help for their communities and requested $200 million in financial assistance.