NDP cabinet ministers visit Kamloops, stress wildfires remain number one priority

By Vanessa Ybarra
July 20, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: July 20, 2017 - 6:00pm

KAMLOOPS — Two days into the NDP reign several of the newly minted NDP cabinet ministers visited Kamloops Thursday to drive home the party's committment in helping with the fire fight in B.C.

On Wednesday the NDP held its first cabinet meeting and the province's wildfires was the number one topic.

The province says the ball is rolling on receiving additional help on the ground as well possible emergency social service funding from the feds.

Two days into their new cabinet positions, Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth, Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Doug Donaldson and Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness Jennier Rice touched down in Kamloops to reaffirm the parties committment to the wildfire fight in B.C.

As of Thursday afternoon there were 150 active wildfires burning in B.C.

Elephant Hill, formerly known as the Ashcroft Reserve Fire, remains at approximetly 56,200 hectares, making it the largest burning fire in B.C. 

"We have over 800 out-of-province personnel, we have contract personnel, and of course over two-thousand B.C. wildfire service personnel fighting the fires,” said Navi Saini, Fire Information Officer with the Kamloops Fire Centre. "Should more resources be needed, we can put those requests in."

Earlier this week Premier John Horgan announced wildfire evacuees will receive an additional $600-hundred every two weeks from the province until they return home.

When asked about outgoing Premier Christy Clark's recent letter to Horgan asking why Northern Affairs Canada hasn't offered to pay for emergency social serice costs at the
Tk’emlúpsPow Wow grounds, the NDP said it will be one of the main topics of discussion when it meets with federal ministers this weekend.

Farnworth says its working hard to ensure other improvements come to the grounds.

"It's about making sure that they’re getting the services that they need and ensuring they’re getting the information that they need,” said Farnsworth. The Red Cross is scheduled to meet with evacuees on the grounds this evening."

Along with extra financial services to evacuess, the NDP says its reached out to the federal government to have an additional 150 canadian armed forces sent to B.C. to help with road blocks and other logistical services wherever wildfires are.

"Safety remains our top priority," said Donaldson.

According to the NDP, appoximetly three-thousand firefighters across Canada continue to battle B.C. blazes.

The NDP says its committed to working with the feds until B.C.'s wildfire fight is over.

When and how those services will be rolled out is the first big test of B.C.'s newest party.

Recent rainfall welcome sight for wildfire crews