Madam Speaker, I rise to raise a question I initially asked on May 30, not long ago.
While the procedures for Adjournment Proceedings call for being allowed to ask for such a debate when the answer received is not sufficient, I think I am within the rubric of our rules in asking for this further debate on the issue. However, for the record, the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness answered my question fully, capably and responsibly. My concern was that we learn from this experience.
I will repeat what I asked back on May 30. There was, and remains, a very terrifying episode for the community of Pikangikum First Nation, which is way out west in Ontario, so far that it is almost in Manitoba. It is a fly-in, remote community. Approximately 4,000 people live in this first nations community. The people there were surrounded by fire.
When I rose to ask the question that day, I had just heard that the chief and the community had called out for help. She actually called out for my seatmate, the hon. member who used to be the minister of Indigenous Services. Through her, I heard that the planes had not been able to land. A Hercules that was flying in to rescue people could not land because of the smoke. It was clearly a terrifying emergency situation. My question for the minister was what was the federal government doing.
The mobilization of resources to help that community was impressive. With the fire less than one or two kilometres from the community, thousands of people were removed to safety, with the Hercules aircraft flying in and out over a period of days.
My question is this. What have we learned from this? One of the things that struck me about it, when I read the newspaper reports, was that the community had lost power, had lost land lines, had lost cell service and it was surrounded by smoke. There was an immediate health issue.
This is exactly what happened the summer before last in Ashcroft, British Columbia, where my husband is from. I talked to the deputy fire chief. People were on an evacuation alert. They had to be ready to be evacuated because of the fire. At that moment, they were without electricity, without cellphones and without land lines. They only had one road out of town. They also had an acute health issue, because people could not breathe.
The deputy fire chief told me to be prepared for these events in the future and that people were talking about what they should do when they lost power and the use of cellphones and land lines. She concluded that Ashcroft, B.C. needed to get a really big bell and put it at the fire station to warn people of evacuations. It so resonated with me.
I held my town hall meetings in the Gulf Islands in January. On December 20 of last year, we had a windstorm so severe that trees were down in the roads. This lasted 10 days, through Christmas. There was no power, no land lines, no cellphones. Just like in Ashcroft, the community self-organized, got chainsaws out and removed the trees on the roads, which we know is illegal. However, since there was no power, people felt they were safe. People took the trees off the roads, they self-organized and they went to check on their neighbours and friends.
My point is this. We are in a climate emergency. The things we think we can count on, such as our devices and our electricity, will be gone. We will be dealing with tornadoes, floods and fires. What is Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness doing to prepare for what is happening now?