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Sweetgrass and CFWE news - May 17, 2016

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Compiled by Shari Narine







Fort McMurray fire forces evacuation of 8,000 in work camps

May 16, 2016. A growing wildfire and strong shifting winds forced further evacuations in the Fort McMurray region Monday. About 8,000 workers at camps south of Fort McMurray and north of Fort McKay were forced out in two separate mandatory evacuation orders, the first coming late afternoon and the second coming in the late evening. Workers at Syncrude and Suncor facilities and at least 17 other camps were told to evacuate south. The evacuation order did not include Fort MacKay, Athabasca Camp and the Beaver River Camp. The fire was also close to the Timberlea neighbourhood in Fort McMurray. However, a five-kilometre burned-out area between the fire and the neighbourhood and 150-200 firefighters were expected to hold the line.



CMHC has yet to hear if First Nations housing impacted by Fort McMurray fire


May 16, 2016. In a news release issued Monday, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation says it is keeping lines of communication open with the three First Nations impacted by the Fort McMurray fire.  The Fort McMurray, the Chipewyan Prairie and the Fort McKay First Nations all receive subsidy funding from CMHC under the On-Reserve Non-Profit Housing Program. CMHC says it has not received any reports of damaged or destroyed federally-subsidized social housing units or homes on the three First Nation communities in and around the Fort McMurray area. Should homes on reserve become damaged or destroyed, CMHC will work with the First Nation, their insurer, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Alberta Emergency Management Agency. CMHC has insured approximately 8,400 loans totalling $3.7 billion in Fort McMurray and the surrounding area affected by the fires with approximately 10 per cent of loans located in areas of serious fire damage or complete loss, 77 per cent in areas with some damage, and 13 per cent in areas where the condition of the neighbourhood is to be determined. CMHC says it is monitoring the situation closely and will work with its partners to support those affected by the wild fires.



New study says 60 per cent of children on reserve live in poverty


May 16, 2016. A report released Tuesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives says 60 per cent of children on First Nations reserves live in poverty. "One of the interesting things is that despite the fact that we have seen strong economic growth in the 2000s in Alberta in particular, as well as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, we are just not seeing that filter down to the on-reserve level," said senior economist David Macdonald, who co-authored the report. The rates of poverty on-reserve worsened between 2005 and 2010, with researchers citing long-term issues such as underfunded schools and child welfare services as the reasons. Data collected during the 2011 National Household Survey was used for the report. The study also contains immediate suggestions for a poverty reduction plan for reserves including calls to improve direct income support and bolster employment prospects



Alberta against scrapping crude-oil tanker ban


May 16, 2016. A motion calling for the federal government to scrap its planned crude-oil tanker ban on British Columbia’s north coast passed with the full support of the legislature on Monday. Wildrose Grande Prairie-Smoky MLA Todd Loewen, who introduced the motion, said he’s glad Wildrose MLAs helped convince the NDP government about the importance of telling Ottawa tanker bans are bad, not just for Alberta, but all of Canada. “We are thrilled that after repeated pressure, members of the NDP government are voting with Wildrose to present Ottawa with a united voice on the issue of tanker bans,” he said in a news release. Loewen serves as the Wildrose shadow environment minister



Alberta Liberals yet to set convention date


May 16, 2016. While the Alberta Liberals met this past weekend in Red Deer to discuss moving forward, a date has yet to be set for a leadership convention to replace interim leader Dr. David Swann, MLA for Calgary Mountainview. Co-chairs for the leadership convention were chosen and new executive set. “I think our new team really reflects the desire of the membership to aggressively rebuild and be ready and competitive in 2019,” said Executive Director Gwyneth Midgley, in a statement. “We’re committed to Liberal values and the Liberal brand, and we’re in it for the long haul.” Swann in is the only Liberal MLA in the Alberta legislature.