By: Luke Jones, Published on September 23, 2017 01:59 PM, Last Update on September 24, 2017 11:01 AM
Percy Hatfield, the New Democratic Party municipal affairs critic, says the Ontario government “has a responsibility” to community planning and infrastructure funding. The province’s Municipal Affairs Minister Bill Mauro says policy makers “need to look more closely” at government programs designed to help people post-natural disaster.
Mauro adds these programs “may evolve” in the coming years. However, Hatfield says the existing Disaster Recovery Assistance plan does not cover for sewer backup:
“The municipality has responsibility when it comes to how we plan our communities,” Mauro said, adding the province “has a role to play when it comes to infrastructure funding.”
Mauro added the federal government also “has a role to play” through the National Disaster Mitigation Program.
“As a group, we need to look more closely at this, and perhaps over the coming years, programs may evolve,” Mauro said, adding the Ontario’s disaster assistance program is underway “in multiple municipalities over the course of the last 15 months or so.”
At a question period in Queen’s Park, Hatfield asked when the province will “update the coverage guidelines, especially for those who can no longer qualify for private insurance.”
The current Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program allows residents to claim financial aid from the government. The program covers homeowners, tenants, farmers, small organizations, and not-for-profit groups, allowing them to cover the costs of repairs after a natural disaster.
However, it is not a full coverage package and customers are still expected to have private insurance coverage to protect property.
The Windsor area is serving to highlight why the Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program is not a complete answer. A rain storm on Aug. 29 resulted in over 200 millimetres of rain landing in less than 24 hours.
Lisa Gretzky, NDP MPP for Windows West, says sewer backup was the cause of the flooding, so customers were not protected by government programs:
“Unfortunately, under the disaster recovery assistance program through the province, they will not be covered to have any of their belongings replaced, and their private insurance either will not cover it or they had their private insurance taken away from them after the last flood,” Gretzky added.
“People in Windsor are angry and disappointed with the government’s response to the recent flooding disaster,” Hatfield – MPP for Windsor-Tecumseh – said Sept. 21.