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Task force in place to work toward Fort McMurray recovery

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By Shari Narine Sweetgrass Contributing Editor EDMONTON







May 6, 2016.

The province announced this afternoon that it had established a task force to undertake recovery efforts in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.

“We have a long road ahead of us and we are still dealing with this initial threat and the risks to public safety, property and infrastructure, but we know that it’s never too early to begin planning for the recovery and our government has already begun this process,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee.

The Wood Buffalo Ministerial Recovery Task Force will be chaired by Premier Rachel Notley, and co-chaired by Larivee. It is tasked with ensuring the security and safety in the affected areas; supporting the needs of the community; planning the timely safe re-entry of residents; and supporting the resumption of municipal, economic and business activities.

Indigenous Relations Minister Richard Feehan will be a member of the task force along with ministers from health, infrastructure and transportation, finance, environment and parks, agriculture and forestry, human services and, seniors and housing.

Also approved this morning by Cabinet was the 2016 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Disaster  Recovery Program. An initial $200 million for emergency costs – which was included in the 2016 budget to cover emergency disaster costs – will be allocated.

“We anticipate a portion of DRP costs will be shared by the federal government through disaster financial assistance arrangements,” said Larivee, who added talks have already begun with the federal government to assure financial support for those impacted.

Larivee said that the government has informed Fort McMurray Mayor Melissa Blake that June to September education property tax remittances for RMWB will be deferred in order to ensure that the municipality’s administration can focus on immediate emergency needs and reconstruction.

“We will work with the regional municipality on future tax assessment to ensure they take into consideration the impact of recent events,” said Larivee.