The federal government says it is uncomfortable paying for the same flood twice, following calls for 2012 flood compensation in the Lake Manitoba region.
Speaking to Harry Siemens for the blog Siemens Says, federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said, “this is the second claim for the same flood, there was not a second flood, it’s the second claim for the same amount of water.”
During the same interview, Ritz also indicated he was committed to assisting farmers continuing to face financial difficulty as a result of the 2011 flood, adding “we’re more than happy to help.”
Ritz was on a trade mission to Japan this week and not available for comment.
The comments were made by Ritz after a public meeting of politicians, producers and residents held near Marquette in late February.
During that meeting conflicting statements were heard from Manitoba Finance Minister Stan Struthers and Robert Sopuck, member of parliament for Dauphin-Swan River-Marquette.
Struthers said the province is waiting for the feds to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in outstanding flood costs and that Manitoba has yet to be advised if its AgriRecovery application will be approved.
Sopuck indicated the province should file a Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) claim for 2012.
“I’m not going to get involved in a spitting contest between Stan and Bob, but I can assure you they are talking about two different programs,” Ritz said in the online interview. He went on to say the province could apply for assistance under either DFA or AgriRecovery.
But in either case, the province’s application would have to fit the parameters of the program to qualify, he said.
Those suffering the lingering effects of the 2011 flood are not impressed by the disconnect between officials.
“The 300 people at the Marquette meeting clearly saw the lack of cooperation between the two levels of governments,” said Tom Teichroeb, chairman of the Lake Manitoba Flood Rehabilitation Committee, who urged the province to follow the advice of the federal minister by providing the information necessary for successful applications.
“It is clearly evident the province has not fulfilled its obligation to the federal government with respect to the application for compensation,” said Teichroeb. “Provincial Agriculture Minister Kostyshyn, has not been diligent with his efforts to find a solution, clearly evident by staying away from the Marquette public meeting February 22.”
Kostyshyn commented on the situation February 26, following a presentation at Grainworld in Winnipeg.
“I want to assure you that our government has been in consultation with the federal government staff since August, moving forward and we’re still compiling some information that the federal government is requesting,” he said, adding the ball is in Ritz’s court now.