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Alberta tables legislation to clarify responsibilities in natural disasters

Last Updated Apr 4, 2018 at 9:25 am MDT

A helicopter battles a wildfire in Fort McMurray Alta, on Wednesday May 4, 2016.A report on lessons learned from the Fort McMurray wildfire recommends improved prevention along with better disaster management and evacuation planning. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

EDMONTON – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to better define roles and responsibilities for decision-makers when natural disaster strikes.

The proposed changes, tabled by Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson, will also provide minimum emergency management training for elected officials and others.

Anderson’s bill will be used as the basis for further discussion this summer before coming back to the house for debate and vote in the fall.

It’s in response to a number of recent catastrophic events in Alberta, including the 2013 southern Alberta floods and the wildfire in 2016 that forced people from their homes in Fort McMurray.

Under the proposed legislation, municipal officials will remain the ultimate decision-makers during a natural disaster unless the province declares a state of emergency.

The bill will also clarify that anyone who refuses to leave an area in an emergency must accept the responsibility and liability for their actions and could also be fined $10,000.