10/15/2011 01:15 EDT | Updated 12/15/2011 05:12 EST

NDP Leader Nycole Turmel Supports Manitoba's Call For Flood Help

Flickr: randystoreyphotography

WINNIPEG - Interim NDP Leader Nycole Turmel urged the federal government to develop a national disaster-prevention program Saturday, following a half-hour meeting with Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger.

Turmel was shown maps of areas around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin, where flooding this year has forced more than 1,000 people from their homes.

She said the federal government must follow through on a promise to develop a national strategy to prevent floods and other disasters before they happen.

"We support the position of the government here to have a national strategy on ... issues of disaster," Turmel said.

"(Selinger) explained to me with the map, so it was great to see what you can do and what the federal government can do to prevent disasters like this."

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has talked about a new disaster-mitigation program to prevent or minimize damage from floods, fires and other natural disasters. The money would be used to build or enlarge structures such as dikes along flood-prone riverbanks.

Harper first mentioned the program after touring flooded areas of Manitoba in the spring, and the federal and provincial government have an agreement-in-principle to establish it.

But negotiations have yet to get underway, according to Selinger.

"We'd like to get on with the discussion and put it in place for next spring, for the whole country," he said.

Turmel also supported Manitoba's call for Ottawa to help pay for a $100-million emergency channel that is being built to drain water from Lake Manitoba, which is still swollen from spring and summer flooding.

Manitoba says the channel should fall under the Disaster Financial Assistance program, which requires Ottawa to cover 90 per cent of any expenses, but the federal government has not yet responded.