Premier visits flood command centre

Brad Wall was supposed to be meeting with other western premier's in Yellowknife, N.W.T. Instead, Saskatchewan's premier is monitoring the flooding disaster unfolding in the province.
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall talks with workers at the provincial emergency centre on Tuesday. (Troy Fleece/pool photo)

Brad Wall was supposed to be meeting with other western premiers in Yellowknife, N.W.T. on Tuesday. Instead, Saskatchewan's premier is monitoring the flooding disaster unfolding in the province.

Wall visited the command centre that oversees flood evacuation plans and relief efforts on Tuesday, a busy place since communities across southeastern Saskatchewan are dealing with flooded homes, businesses and crumbling roads following unprecedented rainfall.

He also had a telephone conversation with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, giving him an update on the situation and raising some concerns, including the fact that disaster assistance programs do not cover "man-made" flooding, such as the release of water from Gardiner Dam.

"So I was able to raise that with the prime minister and say: 'Well, clearly these RMs wouldn't be cutting the roads if there weren't a flood — the flood's the cause,  the disaster's the cause" — and he said, 'Well we'll have a look at that.'"

Agriculture Minister Bob Bjornerud is also talking to the federal government about extra help for farmers, Wall said.

The province has topped up the amount that crop insurance will pay for an unseeded acre of land, but the premier said the government must decide on its next move: Give everyone a payment or focus on further enhancements to those who bought insurance.

"I asked farmers about what do we do: Do we have another ad hoc because we said, 'Look you should be in crop insurance with this increase in coverage,' and you know, it's split.

"Farmers are split too," Wall added. "They're thinking: Well, farmers are going to need the help either way but people should sign up, that's why the program's here."

Deputy premier Ken Krawetz is representing Saskatchewan at the premiers conference, which ends on Wednesday.

Ironically, the premiers — who were in Fort Simpson on Tuesday to attend National Aboriginal Day celebrations — were waiting for Wall to join them before discussing floods and forest fires across the Prairies this spring.