Mr. Speaker, I am here today to bring back a question to the government relating to disaster assistance in northern Saskatchewan. As you know, Mr. Speaker, the shortfalls that northern remote communities live through have been going on for far too long.
Communities are neglected. Their resilience is inspiring me to be here and to speak out. To show children, the elders, and their communities that they matter, we must make sure that they are treated with respect and are provided with the appropriate attention and resources. This means investing in adequate mental health services and cultural activities. It also means investing in the broader sphere, including complementary infrastructure such as roads, energy systems, broadband connectivity, and what we are here to talk about today, disaster assistance to mitigate the effects of natural and/or climate change related disasters.
I stood in the House a few months ago as a fire was inching its way into Saskatchewan from Fort McMurray. I asked the government about the kind of support it had offered to communities like Buffalo River, Clearwater River, and La Loche, to name a few. These communities were being affected by low air quality and were increasingly concerned about the spread of the fire in Saskatchewan. Unfortunately, I have not received a reassuring response from the government.
Maybe not many people know this, but northern Saskatchewan is a region where the effects of global warming stand out all too often. Northern trappers, hunters, fishermen, farmers, and harvesters are well aware of climate change and are very concerned with the affects it brings. They should also be part of the solution.
One major example among many others is the increase in wildfires. Climate change is leading to higher temperatures and drier conditions, which make the sky ripe for dry lightning. Professor Toddi Steelman, a leading expert in the country on wildfires, stated that communities living near forests will have to learn how to coexist with fire better because she thinks this is what we are going to see in the near future.
In the summer of 2015, northern Saskatchewan experienced a horrible wildfire. Residents are still living with its effects today. This last summer, several fire bans were issued across the region because of the high risk.
The 2015 annual forest fire assessment by Natural Resources Canada says a warming climate will contribute to a 50% increase in large fires, new tree diseases, and more insect infestations. Although scientists say it is difficult to link any single natural disaster, such as a flood or fire, to man-made global warming, the frequency and intensity of such events has been increasing and is likely to continue, especially in a northern country like Canada.
Saskatchewan saw fires burn three times its 10-year provincial average area. Scientists agree that this reality should motivate concern and activity to better prepare over the coming decades to reduce the impacts of global warming. In the meanwhile, communities need to feel they can manage the effects of global warming.
Saskatchewan is prone to more disasters. Northerners want to know if they can count on their federal government to be prepared for assistance when difficult situations arise. First, I would like the minister to inform us about the disaster assistance efforts that were provided, particularly to the communities who were affected by the wildfire this summer in my riding.
Second, how is the government going to invest its community infrastructure and training budget to ensure that in the long run communities will be better equipped and trained to mitigate the effects of such natural disasters?