Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Emergency Preparedness

NEWS RELEASE – Provincial/Territorial Ministers Commit to Disaster Financial Assistance Program Improvements

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA -- Provincial and territorial ministers responsible for Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) today developed a unanimous position designed to improve current arrangements with the federal government and ensure any program changes are negotiated between both levels of government.

The ministers' meeting was held to follow up discussions from the Annual Premiers' Conference held last August in Saskatoon.

The ministers expressed serious concern about reports of possible cost-sharing reductions being considered by the federal government without provincial and territorial agreement. They agreed that DFAA changes without input from the provinces or territories, could weaken the fundamental features of the arrangements and seriously impair the provinces' and territories' ability to help citizens recover from the impact of future disasters.

At today's meeting the ministers reaffirmed their position that any changes to DFAA must be the subject of careful study and negotiations.

The ministers reaffirmed that they are prepared to work with the federal government to review the current arrangements and have agreed to a number of consensus positions to assist in such a review.

Consensus has been reached on several key points:



  • the existing federal funding formula and commitment to DFAA should continue;    


  • the cost of federally-delivered services under DFAA, such as military costs, should remain the responsibility of the federal government;    


  • an ongoing senior officials' committee, representing the federal, provincial and territorial governments, should be established to develop and recommend improved guidelines for the delivery of the existing DFAA program;    


  • a more timely process for provision of advance federal disaster assistance payments to provinces and territories should be developed along with improved and streamlined audit processes to finalize disaster assistance claims;    


  • any revisions to DFAA should be negotiated formally by the federal, provincial and territorial governments and must not be imposed unilaterally by the federal government; and    


  • permanent and ongoing cost-shared agreement on new mitigation and prevention measures should be separate from the existing DFAA.

The unanimous position will be forwarded to the federal government by Manitoba Government Services Minister Franklin Pitura, chair of the Provincial/Territorial Ministers' Conference.

The ministers agreed that DFAA is a program of immense importance to Canadians in every corner of the country and emphasized that government and citizens cannot afford to have its effectiveness, its fairness or its future role affected by one-sided decisions.

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Prepared by:
Ministers Responsible for Disaster Financial Assistance
At the Ministers Conference in
Winnipeg, November 2, 1998




The Premiers have discussed Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) at their last two annual conferences. At the conclusion of the August 1998 meeting, the Premiers "…agreed that in light of the importance of the DFAA to all Provinces and Territories, a Ministers' meeting should be held in the near future. They directed Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for DFAA to meet within the next one or two months to complete work on preparation of consensus Provincial/Territorial positions in anticipation of a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers' meeting in the late fall."

In response to that direction, Senior Financial Officials responsible for DFAA met in Toronto on September 9, 1998 and established a Technical Committee to develop a Provincial/Territorial consensus position paper on DFAA issues.

The consensus paper was to focus on three major issues:



  1. Concerns about implementation of the current DFAA, including inconsistent application among Provinces and Territories;    


  3. Possible changes to the DFAA being contemplated by the Federal Government which would have the effect of major reductions in Federal financial assistance towards future disasters;    


  5. The lack of permanent, ongoing arrangements to support disaster protection and prevention across Canada.

The attached paper has now been developed and approved by Senior Officials for consideration at the meeting of Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Disaster Financial Assistance in Winnipeg, Manitoba on November 2, 1998


      The Provinces and Territories agree that the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) are among Canada's most important national programs. The Provincial and Territorial Ministers responsible for implementing the arrangements believe that the DFAA have served Canadians and their governments very well by ensuring that the resources of the country can be directed effectively to assist citizens who are victims of disasters.

      The Provinces and Territories believe that, based on experiences with recent disaster situations, some elements of the DFAA require improvements, particularly to ensure consistency and fairness. However, Ministers are extremely concerned about any potential revisions that could weaken the fundamental features of the arrangements, including the current cost-sharing formula and the per capita threshold levels for determining eligibility for assistance.

      The Provinces and Territories are prepared to work with the Federal government to improve the current arrangements and have agreed to put forward the following consensus positions to assist in such an improvement. They believe strongly that any possible changes to the DFAA must be the subject of careful study and genuine negotiation and must not be adopted or implemented unilaterally by the Government of Canada.




  1. Maintenance of the existing Federal commitment to DFAA    

    The Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements have long been accepted as a sound and effective way of ensuring that losses resulting from disasters and their aftermath are shared by all citizens of Canada through the Federal government. Any withdrawal by the Federal government of financial support would diminish that principle of shared risk.    


    Ministers strongly support the continuation of the existing Federal funding formula and commitment to DFAA.    


  3. Costs of Federally-delivered disaster services.    

    Periodic attempts by Federal officials to have Provinces and Territories share the cost of existing Federal services provided during disaster, such as Canadian Forces Costs, indicate an intention to ask Canadian taxpayers to ‘pay twice' for those services. They are the primary responsibility of the Federal government and should be funded accordingly.    


    Ministers believe the cost of federally delivered disaster services under DFAA should continue to be the responsibility of the Federal government.    


  5. Improved guidelines for the provision of Federal disaster assistance.    

    The Provinces and Territories have identified a number of coverage issues and concerns with the delivery of the existing program. Examples include the inability to link multiple disasters in any one jurisdiction in a single year, the outdated interpretation of farm and small business eligibility for assistance, and general inconsistency in application of the guidelines across different jurisdictions.    


    Ministers support the creation before year-end of an ongoing Senior Officials' committee representing the Federal, Provincial and Territorial governments, to develop and recommend to the Federal and Provincial/Territorial Ministers solutions to those issues, and others which may arise in the future.    


  7. Improved inspection/audit procedures to ensure more timely reimbursement of Federal costs.    

    Provinces and Territories necessarily provide interim financing of Federal disaster assistance costs pending receipt of Federal advances and/or payments based on inspection and audit of Provincial/Territorial costs incurred. The inspection and audit process has become increasingly complex and slow in recent years, in some cases delaying Federal reimbursement for several years, and resulting in substantial non-shareable interim financing charges.    


    Ministers support the development of a more timely process for provision of advance Federal disaster assistance payments to Provinces and Territories, and improved and streamlined audit processes to finalize disaster assistance claims. As an alternative, Municipal and Provincial/Territorial interim financing costs should be considered an eligible disaster cost.    


  9. Federal/Provincial/Territorial negotiation of changes to DFAA.    

    Federal sources often characterize the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements as agreements between the Federal Government and the Provinces and Territories, whereas in fact the guidelines were established and are interpreted by Federal officials. The DFAA should be considered a Federal-Provincial-Territorial cost-sharing arrangement.    


    Ministers agree that any revision to existing DFA arrangements should be negotiated formally by all Federal and Provincial-Territorial government through an agreement.    


  11. Permanent Federal/Provincial/Territorial arrangements to support disaster prevention and mitigation measures.    

    Prudent investment in protection and prevention measures can pay significant dividends in reducing disaster assistance costs. The Federal government has recognized this in the past by financially supporting such measures on some occasions within the DFAA, in view of imminent events, or in the aftermath of disaster. That support has also been provided on a case-by-case basis, outside the DFAA and based on separate cost-sharing arrangements negotiated with the jurisdiction concerned.    


    Ministers support the current Federal initiative to investigate the development of a permanent and ongoing cost-shared agreement on long-term mitigation and prevention measures, not, however, to the detriment of the existing DFAA programs.