NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association urge the Government of Alberta to employ external means including consultation with municipalities to identify and implement specific improvements to the DRP that will expedite the completion of outstanding files and will develop a more effective DRP delivery model able to efficiently meet the needs of Albertans affected by future disasters.
WHEREAS the Alberta Disaster Recovery Program in its current form has proven inadequate and ineffective in achieving its mandate in a timely manner thereby unnecessarily prolonging the negative effects of disasters;
WHEREAS an unacceptable number of DRP files affecting thousands of Albertans still remain unresolved over 2 years after the 2013 flooding disaster in Southern Alberta; and
WHEREAS an external examination and review of the DRP is required to assess recent program changes and to objectively recommend improvements that will enhance the effectiveness of the Program during and after a disaster.
The Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) is designed to provide funding assistance to uninsurable property damage, loss and other expenses relating to a disaster. The intent of DRP is to help Albertans get back on their feet and regain financial security after suffering tremendous loss due to a disaster. This financial assistance is crucial in allowing grief stricken people the ability to focus on emotional and mental recovery so they can return to normal life. The collective benefits of an effective recovery to the province and the economy after a major disaster are immeasurable.
The flooding in Southern Alberta in June 2013 was the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. The Government of Alberta has funded a significant portion of the response and recovery in various Southern Alberta communities through the DRP. The scale and impact of the flood overwhelmed the size and structure of the DRP. The Government of Alberta, through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, has made numerous changes to the service delivery model, the human resources and the various policies used to deliver the DRP. Despite these changes and a significant investment, an unacceptable amount of DRP files remain unresolved or subject to reconsideration leaving several thousand Albertans unable to put the disaster behind them.
The current DRP structure and service delivery model is not adequate to best serve the people of Alberta. Based on past challenges and current realities, changes to the Alberta DRP need to be identified and implemented to resolve the files associated with the 2013 flood. Further, these changes are absolutely necessary to better prepare the Program to respond to any disaster that the people of Alberta will face in the future.
The Town of High River has met with the past Premier and with various past Ministers of Municipal Affairs. Some suggestions have been implemented resulting in a measure of improvement but substantive change in the DRP is still needed.
After allowing for the formation of Cabinet, the Town initiated discussions with the new Minister and is attempting to engage the Premier on this urgent issue. Initial correspondence from the new government does not suggest a substantive evaluation will take place. The Government of Alberta recently informed the Town of High River that it is discontinuing KPMG’s engagement to externally review the DRP.
The newly elected provincial government is in a position to objectively evaluate the past performance and structure of the DRP and has the opportunity to improve the program, to complete files in process and to partner in the design of an improved Disaster Recovery Program to meet the needs of future generations of Albertans in times of disaster.
On November 18, 2015, the Minister of Municipal Affairs sent a letter of response that indicates the province has made progress in completing outstanding claims and are looking at process change through third-party reports. The Minister also reported in a January 2016 news article that 97 % of all applications from High River were closed and committed to having all files closed by June 2016.
AUMA considers this response.