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Saskatchewan Government Asks For Feedback On How Province Handled Wildfires

10/19/2015 07:09 EDT | Updated 10/19/2015 07:59 EDT
ASSOCIATED PRESS
In this July 5, 2015 photo, flames rise from a wildfire near La Ronge, Saskatchewan. Canadian soldiers arrived Tuesday, July 7 to help battle raging wildfires where about 13,000 people have been evacuated in recent days. (Corey Hardcastle/Ministry of the Environment/Government of Saskatchewan via AP)

REGINA —The Saskatchewan government wants feedback on how well the province handled wildfires that forced about 13,000 people from their homes last summer.

Questions have been raised about how prepared the government was for the fires, which threatened lives, homes, communities and infrastructure in an area north of Prince Albert.

Premier Brad Wall has said the cost of the wildfires could exceed $100 million.

The government is offering an online and written survey and wants to hear from people about how they were affected by the fires.

The province also plans to review its wildfire operations and meet with northern leaders, emergency officials and the business community.

Government Relations Minister Jim Reiter says the deadline for submitting the survey is Dec. 15.

"This summer, northern Saskatchewan people faced an unprecedented emergency situation,'' Reiter said Monday in a release.

"Thankfully, we had no serious injuries or lives lost and were able to limit property damage throughout the north. Now, it's important for us to listen to those most affected and see if we can make improvements.''

The Opposition NDP has been calling for an independent review into how the province dealt with the wildfires.

NDP Leader Cam Broten has said it should be determined whether the province had enough trained firefighters and equipment.

He has also said a review should consider whether the government worked closely enough with First Nations and other community leaders.

The NDP has noted that in 2009-10, Saskatchewan's budget for fighting wildfires was $102 million, but the government allocated about half that amount this year.

A shortage of firefighters prompted the province to call in the Canadian Army as well as crews from across Canada and parts of the United States.

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