Ontario is making it easier and faster for municipalities and individuals to get financial assistance following natural disasters.Requests for provincial disaster assistance have doubled in the last five years and are expected to continue to rise due to climate change. As a result, the province is replacing the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program with two new programs that will be more responsive to the needs of individuals and communities following a natural disaster.
The new Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program will help municipalities address extraordinary emergency response costs and damage to essential property or infrastructure like bridges, roads and public buildings, as a result of a natural disaster. Going forward, municipalities will be given four months rather than 14 days to assess costs and request provincial assistance, so that they have time to focus on emergency response after a disaster occurs.
“Our communities are facing more natural disasters each year as a result of climate change. With these two new programs, we will get much-needed financial assistance into the hands of the people who need it most in a way that is faster, fairer and more transparent.” said, Ted McMeekin, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
The new Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians program will provide faster assistance to individuals, small businesses, farmers and not-for-profit organizations who have experienced damage to, or loss of, essential property as a result of a natural disaster. The program will also do away with the current requirement for municipal volunteers to fundraise for matching provincial assistance.
The province will launch the new programs in early 2016. Municipalities may continue to access the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program until the new programs come into effect.
Providing assistance after natural disasters is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic, innovative environment where business thrives, and building a secure retirement savings plan.