NS waiting for disaster payments from Ottawa dating back to 2010: EMO
Nova Scotia is still waiting for Ottawa to reimburse it for millions of dollars worth of damage caused by disasters dating back to 2010, according to the province’s Emergency Management Office.
EMO executive director Andrew Lathem told a legislature committee that federal disaster assistance remains outstanding for several natural catastrophes including the severe floods in Meat Cove in August 2010 and Truro in December 2014, although he couldn’t give exact figures.
In an email later in the day, the province said it stands to recover more than $12 million from the federal government – not including last fall’s devastating floods in Sydney.
Lathem said Ottawa often conducts rigorous audits of claims before the province receives payment.
“It’s a continuous process, there are several audits before we receive a payment,” Lathem told the public accounts committee Wednesday.
Deputy minister Kelliann Dean said the province has covered the claims, and is simply waiting to be reimbursed.
Dean later told reporters that a wait of seven years, as in the Meat Cove floods, isn’t unusual when dealing with the federal program.
“It’s important for taxpayers that it’s accountable,” she said. “I’m not worried that we’re not going to get the money that is going to be owed to the province, it’s just going to take the usual amount of time.”
But Progressive Conservative committee member Tim Houston said the province has to push harder for faster payment because of its fiscal situation.
“We’re broke, we need the money,” said Houston. “We can’t have receivables out there for seven years – we have got to collect that money.”
The EMO officials said the disaster relief program was accelerated for Sydney-area flooding last Thanksgiving – a week, when it usually takes about a month.
Still, Dean cautioned it does take time to collect information from insurance companies and from property and environmental assessments following a disaster, and it also takes time for many people to submit their own claims.
As an example, Lathem said the province was receiving claims from October’s Sydney flooding as late as three weeks ago.
Dean said the province has received more than 1,100 applications related to the flooding and had issued 413 payments totalling $6.6 million. The estimated damage so far is $15 million.
She said the province had used federal financial assistance 16 times since 1999 for various floods and blizzards and for other major weather events such as Hurricane Juan in 2003.
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