Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart has taken the provincial government to task for not using the Alert Ready Emergency System during this week’s disaster.
During oral question period in the Legislative Assembly, the Liberal noted that Ontario has used the system 202 times since 2019, Saskatchewan has done so 101 times and Alberta has utilized it 80 times.
“In British Columbia, zero,” she said. “We are alone as the only province not to use emergency alerts to provide advance warning to British Columbians. Not after the devastating forest fires of 2018. Not for the deadly heat dome which claimed 600 lives. Not for this summer’s destructive wildfires that razed Lytton to the ground, and not even for the devastating floods and landslides we face right now.”
Tegart asked Minister of Public Safety, Mike Farnworth, why the NDP government chooses to not use the system. He said there is a commitment to start using alerts beginning next year (2022), starting in the central Interior.
“There are a variety of alerts that are used by communities in the province, and one of the things we have to ensure is that any system that is put in place in this province is compatible with that which is used by local governments, and to avoid duplication,” Farnworth said. “We are working with those communities and First Nations to ensure that we will have a system, using First Alert, and when it is in place, it works.”
Farnworth said the emergency alerts aren’t a “silver bullet,” and there are other tools to be used during emergencies.
Tegart wasn’t appeased.
“I would remind the minister, Alberta managed to warn the people of the severe weather event this weekend. So did Washington State,” she responded. “This government did nothing. They learned not a single lesson from the heat dome or the forest fires, and British Columbians are paying the price for this government’s incompetence.
“How bad does it have to get before the government actually uses an emergency alert system?”