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Grit leader says farmers need simplified flood compensation

Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard has released a self-authored report on the 2011 flood that calls for a full and independent review of how it was handled.

In his report, Gerrard makes 33 recommendations and offers seven “main” conclusions, while accusing the province of providing inadequate warning and support to those in the Lake Winnipeg area.

“This was the most widespread flood in the province’s history and the most costly in the history of the province,” said the River Heights MLA. The 2011 flood has cost $815 million to date.

But a provincial spokesperson said an independent review is already in the works.

“Manitoba has already committed to an independent review of the 2011 flood with a view to improving our flood response for the future,” said Jean-Marc Prvost, a spokesman for Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton.

“We planned for this review as soon as the massive scope of the flood became apparent, just as we have done after every major flood in the province’s history.”

Details of the independent review are expected to be announced in early 2012, he said.

The Liberal report calls for a “single-window approach” to how compensation claims are handled for farmers.

“One of the concerns people expressed to me, particularly in the farm community, is that they would go to agriculture, or they would go to the Emergency Measures office, and it was difficult to have everything dealt with at one place,” said Gerrard.

“What I have heard is sometimes you’ve got non-farm businesses, which are treated differently from farm businesses, and sometimes you’ve got farming where there are issues related to compensation, and we’ve got farmers who have got homes and cottages as well.”

Gerrard said a joint secretariat between Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, and the Emergency Measures Organization could be formed to handle the proposed single-window system, and work to ensure no applicant “falls through the cracks.”

Twin Lakes Beach resident Dennis Turek joined Gerrard for the report’s release at the Manitoba legislature. Turek said he feels the system has failed him, adding the human story behind the flood has been forgotten.

“It was a life-altering event and that is being missed,” he told reporters. “Talk about falling through the cracks — my building was demolished in October, it’s somewhere in a landfill now. I had to call and ask last week to make sure that my claim number and all my paperwork wasn’t lost because I haven’t heard a thing.”

He said when he did speak to someone about his claim, he was told appraisers were having difficulty finding another property to compare his to because it was so unique.

Gerrard said he compiled his report based on conversations with flood-affected Manitobans, such as Turek.

About the author


Shannon VanRaes is a journalist and photojournalist at the Manitoba Co-operator. She also writes a weekly urban affairs column for Metro Winnipeg, and has previously reported for the Winnipeg Sun, Outwords Magazine and the Portage Daily Graphic.



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