In This Together
"The reality is that to put that kind of burden on municipalities is quite surprising. To have a line drawn because there's a billing issue is not good for municipalities, and it's not good for Canadians as a whole.
"It needs to be looked at from the perspective of what is needed from Canadians to meet their needs during an emergency. Recognizing that we're all in this together."
Karen, Leibovici, Federation of Canadian Municipalities president
Canadians are proud and fond of the Canadian military; men and women in uniform defending the country at home and abroad. And in times of national emergencies due to natural disasters of one kind or another - even apprehended insurrections, we have had them too - being there, giving assurance that they can be depended upon.
Defending Canada - (From DND website)First and foremost, the Canadian Forces must ensure the security of our citizens and help exercise Canada's sovereignty. Canadians rightly expect their military to be there for them in domestic crises. Furthermore, excellence at home requires the Forces not only to identify threats - such as over-fishing, organized crime, drug- and people-smuggling and environmental degradation - but also to possess the capacity to address them quickly and effectively.
Flooding, forest fires, the Forces come when they're called and aid communities in need. And we're grateful. The Department of National Defence says that's what they're there for, after all. Apart from actually taking part in theatres of war in defensive, occasionally offensive situations internationally and with NATO and the United Nations and our other allies.
When there are dire emergencies abroad, like earthquakes - take Haiti, for example - our troops are sent to do what they can to offer their professional services badly needed to help people surmount their intolerable difficulties and challenges. No charge. After all, it is Canadian taxpayers who pay the freight. In billions of taxpayer treasury.
Money well spent, we feel. It is comforting to feel that when humanitarian needs must be met, when disasters arise we can call upon DND. And we can, and we do. But from now on it'll cost us. Yes, it already costs us; where does DND get its operating capital from? But they're facing cut-backs in funding, although even with cutbacks they're still far ahead of where they were a decade ago in terms of funding.
Still, when there's an emergency situation in some Canadian municipalities henceforth, DND will bill those places where their troops have gone in - our troops - to bail us out of trouble.
"In the last three decades Manitobans have battled two of the largest floods in the province's history. While the Canadian military was called in as a last resort in the flood fighting effort, they proved essential in helping protect lives and property" a provincial spokesman said: "and we expect the federal government to continue sharing the costs of protecting Manitobans from natural disasters."
Costs borne by the military in aiding Quebec and Manitoba with the effects of severe flooding, and helping to evacuate, house and feed Ontario communities threatened by forest fires are in the range of $3.8-million, $4-million, and $51,000 respectively. Not a huge whack of money for the military with its large budget, but a blow to municipalities with their tight budgets.
Billions are spent on training personnel, purchasing new state-of-the-art military equipment like jets and naval vessels. All necessary to be sure, but so too is it necessary that Canadian Forces personnel put into action some of the training they receive in the interests of aiding Canadian civilians hard pressed to cope with emergency situations.
The cost-recovery plan of the Defence Department outlined in an internal memorandum to Minister of Defence Peter MacKay needs to be revisited and reconsidered.