Alberta New Democrats say they would restore aerial wildfire fighting teams

Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley makes a campaign announcement in Calgary on Thursday, May 4, 2023. Her party says the only hospital in a town south of Calgary faces potential closures in its emergency department because the United Conservative Party has not supported it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Alberta’s New Democrats say they’d bring back a program of elite aerial wildfire fighters cancelled by the United Conservative government.

Leader Rachel Notley says the party is committed to restoring the Rapattack program, axed in 2020 to save $1.4 million.

The program once had 63 firefighters across the province trained to rappel from helicopters to fight fires when they are still small.

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The Alberta Party and the Green Party announced last week they’d also restore the program.

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United Conservative Leader Danielle Smith has said she’d take another look at what the province needs in terms of firefighting.

Jordan Erlendson, a former member of the Rapattack team, calls Notley’s announcement a no-brainer.

Alberta had 25 out-of-control wildfires as of Monday afternoon and thousands have been forced from their homes.

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