Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Feds give Manitoba $200M for flood costs; more coming

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THE federal government made a big payment Tuesday toward Manitoba's 2011 flood costs.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney announced a $200-million transfer to the province under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFA) program.

Ottawa had earlier made two $50-million down payments under DFA to Manitoba. Tuesday's announcement brings total federal compensation to $300 million for the flood.

The province estimates the total cost of the 2011 Assiniboine River flood -- which had a disastrous effect on many residents living along Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin -- may exceed $1.2 billion.

Manitoba calculates it may be eligible for more than $600 million in federal compensation under DFA and programs that assisted farmers affected by the flood.

Under DFA, Ottawa covers 90 per cent of certain costs in the event of a natural disaster. These include restoring public infrastructure to its pre-flood state and providing for basic renovations to primary residences.

The province fully funded several other programs to combat the effects of the flood.

The $200-million payment to Manitoba was announced at a news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Building involving Blaney, lead Manitoba federal minister Shelly Glover and Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

Blaney said when disasters such as the 2011 Manitoba flood occur, it can take five years or more before a final accounting is done and all federal compensation is paid out.

Manitoba has yet to submit all of its bills that may qualify for assistance as infrastructure repairs continue.

"We are all accountable as we are dealing with public funding, so it is critical that all those claims are substantiated by documentation, which implies a lot of time. So it can be a lengthy process," Blaney said.

Meanwhile, Ottawa is exploring a $500-million down payment to Alberta to compensate that province for massive flooding this year. Blaney said Tuesday, however, it's premature to make an announcement at this time. According to some estimates, damage from the Alberta flood could reach $5 billion.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 18, 2013 A4

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