New Brunswick

Federal government announces $39 million in flood recovery aid

The federal government announced a $39 million advance payment in flood recovery aid for New Brunswick on Wednesday.

Payment this soon after a disaster is rare

Federal and provincial politicians announced Wednesday that the federal government has transferred $39 million in disaster recovery funding to New Brunswick. (Sarah Morin/CBC)

The federal government announced a $39 million advance payment in flood recovery aid for New Brunswick on Wednesday.

The money has already arrived, marking a new flow to flood relief compared with a time when aid could take years.

The $39 million is the largest advance payment New Brunswick has ever received for disaster assistance.

Following post-tropical storm Arthur in 2014, New Brunswick got an advance payment from Ottawa of $2.9 million to help with recovery.

The announcement comes three months after the worst flooding in New Brunswick since 1973. This spring's unprecedented water levels forced road closures and displaced more than 1,600 people in southern New Brunswick. 

Money to go to rebuilding

Members of Parliament Matt DeCourcey and Alaina Lockhart, whose ridings both experienced flooding, announced the funding on behalf of Ralph Goodale, the minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, at Lakeville Corner Bridge along the St. John River.

Stephen Horsman, the deputy premier, said the $39 million will be used for recovery and rebuilding.

"The advanced payments will go towards the emergency payments, completed applications, buying flood victims homes and properties, flood mitigation efforts and public infrastructure," he said.

The province has already said people can get up to $160,000 for structural repairs to private residences. Small businesses and not-for-profit organizations can get up to $500,000.

There will be no help for flood victims whose cottages were lost or damaged, except to cover expenses for picking up debris.

The advance payment from the federal government is provided through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, provided by Public Safety Canada. Contributions begin when costs for a disaster in New Brunswick exceed $2.3 million, with Ottawa required to pay 90 percent of all eligible costs above $11.6 million.

The federal government pays for most of the disaster assistance costs when major flooding occurs.

In the past, it has taken years for the province to receive funding.

As of April this year, New Brunswick had received full payment in only three of the 13 incidents registered with the federal government since 2008, with the other 10 disaster requests, including two from as far back as 2010, still open.

Six of the 10 requests for help that are still pending have qualified for advance payments from Ottawa.

DeCourcey said additional funding will come when recovery efforts finish.

"When a final cost is put together and submitted to Public Safety Canada, then the additional costs will be reimbursed and contributed by the federal government," DeCourcey said.

The province has five years to submit a final tally on its recovery costs.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Morin

Reporter

Sarah Morin is a reporter with CBC New Brunswick. She grew up in Thunder Bay and London, Ont. and moved to Fredericton for university. You can follow her on Twitter @sarrymorin or send a story tip to sarah.morin@cbc.ca.

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