Shane Thompson: NWT Community Flood Response

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — March 2, 2023

Check against delivery

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is committed to strengthening the Northwest Territories emergency management by improving responses to emergency events and assisting residents and community governments to be well prepared when faced with an emergency. I will outline for Members the lessons learned from the 2022 floods, and how we are applying those lessons to prepare for the 2023 flood risk season.

Mr. Speaker, before I do that, I want to acknowledge the difficult journey for those people so heavily impacted by the 2021 and 2022 floods. These events, and the time, effort, and complexity of the recovery have been unprecedented and have had a significant effect on residents. Recovery efforts continue, but the shining light throughout is the resilience and resolve that impacted residents have demonstrated, and the generosity of NWT residents as a whole.

To make sure we enact the lessons learned from these experiences, Municipal and Community Affairs is working on an After Action Review related to the 2022 flood in two phases. Phase 1, currently underway, focuses on preparedness and response, while Phase 2 will follow and focus on recovery. This review includes input from a public survey and public engagement sessions that took place this past January. 

Mr. Speaker, Municipal and Community Affairs has made it a priority to provide more support to community governments to plan for emergencies like flooding. The department has expanded staffing resources, including one staff position in each region for the first time, all dedicated to emergency management. An additional three positions at Headquarters have resulted in the expansion of Community Emergency Planning Workshops, including table-top exercises in all communities, and updating and distributing templates for community governments to develop and update their emergency plans.


The department continues to review disaster related policies and procedures. There have been valuable lessons over the past two flood events and the department is focused on substantial improvement in the way disaster assistance is administered. Recovery from a disaster event like a flood is a long and difficult process, and I want to reassure all Northerners that we are working to bring clarity to this process.

Finally, I want to assure residents that although we cannot control how or when natural disasters may occur, there are things that all of us can do to prepare for and lessen the impacts, should a disaster occur. Having a household emergency plan and an emergency kit are critical for personal preparedness. We encourage residents to think about where they might stay in the event of an evacuation and to ensure their emergency kit is ready for high-risk periods like river break-up.

The Be Ready annual campaign for flood and other natural disaster preparedness begins in February and runs through until May. This campaign provides tips and information on how you can prepare if you are in a typically affected area.

Mr. Speaker, the intensity and frequency of flood and other natural disaster events is increasing due to climate change. More than ever, it is important that all Northerners do their part to protect themselves and their property and follow recommended steps like developing a household emergency plan and kit. Individuals, community governments and the Government of the Northwest Territories all need to do our part to prepare for disasters, because nobody can do it alone. We remain stronger together.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.