British Columbia declared a state of emergency on Tuesday due to the unusually extreme wildfire season it’s been experiencing this summer.
While it may sound like a simple announcement, declaring a “state of emergency” actually gives the province access to more resources from the government and allows them it to take additional actions to protect their civilians people and contain the situation.
Here’s what declaring a “state of emergency” means for B.C. in its fight against the province-wide wildfires.
What resources does the province have access to?
Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale released a statement Monday that the federal government had accepted a formal request from B.C.’s government for federal wildfire assistance.
What additional powers does the province have?Under a state of emergency, the province is granted several additional powers that it does not possess under normal circumstances.“It allows the province to implement emergency measures and allows us to access any assets that might be necessary,” explained Ryan Turcot, a Fire Information Officer with the B.C. Wildfire Service. More specifically, the province now has:
- the ability to temporarily possess any land or property required for fighting the wildfires
- the ability to control or prohibit travel to, from and within the province
- the right to restore or construct facilities needed for fighting the wildfires
- the right to implement fixed prices on goods or ration supplies
What does it take to declare a state of emergency?The Canadian Armed Forces were also called in last year during massive flooding in Ontario and Quebec, ice storms in New Brunswick, and during the Fort McMurray wildfires of 2016. This operation, according to previous Global News reporting, is called Operation LENTUS and has been deployed 14 times since 2010.
In order for a province to declare a state of emergency, it must make a formal request to the federal government.