08/14/2012 11:41 EDT | Updated 10/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Ottawa offers more flood-protection cash to Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec

WINNIPEG - Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Quebec will be the first to receive cash from a new federal program aimed at preventing disasters before they happen.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the three provinces will be reimbursed for half the cost of permanent dike expansions and other measures they took last year in advance of severe flooding that forced thousands of people from their homes.

"Today, we know ... that mitigation is the most effective way to protect lives, property and the environment, and reduce the economic and societal costs of disasters," Toews said Tuesday.

"These are the measures that are taken before an emergency happens."

The funding comes from a three-year, $99.2-million program first announced in the spring federal budget. Normally, Ottawa refunds provinces for repairs after a disaster strikes, but the new approach intends to share the cost of permanent preventative structures, as well as other costs such as risk assessments.

Exactly how much money each province will receive has yet to be worked out, and it may not be enough to satisfy them.

Manitoba alone spent hundreds of millions of dollars fighting last year's flood and is hoping for more federal funding for an emergency channel that was built at Lake St. Martin. Ottawa has yet to confirm whether that channel will qualify for cash.