Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for the opportunity to address the concerns raised with respect to wildfire preparedness in Saskatchewan and the government's commitment to providing disaster assistance for the Fort McMurray wildfire and the surrounding areas, including areas on reserve.
The Fort McMurray fire affected over 580,000 hectares of land, not only in Alberta but also in Saskatchewan. This devastating wildfire resulted in approximately 90,000 people being evacuated and 2,400 structures destroyed. However, I am grateful to say that because of the courage and bravery of the first responders, there were no casualties directly resulting from the fire.
Emergency management in Canada is a shared responsibility between all levels of government. While provinces and territories manage actual firefighting resources on the ground, each year the federal government develops a seasonal wildfire risk assessment and corresponding contingency plan. The plan guides the federal government in preparing for and responding to any potential requests for federal assistance.
The Government Operations Centre, housed in Public Safety Canada, monitors events on a 24/7 basis, and issues notifications and situation reports, as well as creates dedicated event teams when fire activity becomes significant, as it did for Fort McMurray.
The Government of Canada was engaged from the outset to ensure a coordinated response and deployment of the appropriate federal resources and assets. Throughout the events in Fort McMurray, the Government of Canada provided a great deal of support to the province of Alberta in an effort to limit the impacts on Fort McMurray and the surrounding communities.
For example, the Government of Canada, working with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, facilitated a request for additional resources by the province of Alberta in the form of domestic and international firefighting personnel and equipment. Key federal departments coordinated this request to ensure that over 500 international firefighters from the United States, South Africa, and Mexico, arrived without delay. These additional firefighting resources, combined with favourable weather conditions, allowed for a more efficient response to the fire, preventing further risk to additional communities in Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Every fire season, the federal government monitors fire activity throughout the country and assesses the impact of specific fire activity on communities, critical infrastructure, and the national interest. Should any province request federal assistance, the Government Operations Centre will efficiently and expeditiously fulfill the request and lead a coordinated response on behalf of the federal government, as was the case with the Fort McMurray wildfire.
The Government of Canada is reviewing its response throughout the 2016 wildfire season and incorporating lessons learned from the Fort McMurray event into its forward planning activities.