Streamlined training for volunteers and new funding for Emergency Support Services will better support evacuees in Kent, local First Nations

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KENT- BC NDP MLAs Kelli Paddon and Dan Coulter say more Emergency Support Services (ESS) responders will be prepared to provide support to evacuees during emergencies thanks to new streamlined training and increased ESS funding.

The B.C. government is launching a one-day training model for ESS responders in response to feedback from communities and input from the Premier’s Expert Task Force on Emergencies starting May 4. The new training condenses the current week-long training model, allowing people to rapidly become trained as an ESS responder during emergencies, which will make the training more accessible for many people who want to be volunteers. The course will prepare new ESS responders to provide trauma-informed and culturally safe support both in-person or by phone, which will help provide more ESS responders across B.C. in places that might not have a large volunteer capacity.

“Evacuating your home is an incredibly stressful experience, and people deserve to know that support will be there for them during an emergency,” said Kelli Paddon, MLA for Chilliwack-Kent.  “We know that for people living here, evacuations are a possibility, and this funding will help ensure that services are ready and available for people during an evacuation order, or in other stages of emergency response.”

The government is also supporting almost 100 local ESS projects with more than $3.27 million through the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund (CEPF). Funding will help communities expand their capacity to provide ESS, as well as support the modernization of their ESS program to include more digital and remote support options.

“Having to evacuate and worry about whether your home will still be there is stressful enough. You shouldn’t also have to worry about where you’re going to sleep that night or how you’re going to feed your kids,” said Dan Coulter, MLA for Chilliwack. “With this new program funding and streamlining, we are making sure that families affected by natural disasters get the help they need as soon as possible.”

The following First Nations and local governments are receiving this strain of ESS funding:

  • Fraser Valley Regional District- ESS 2024 Endorsement Request
    • $30,000
  • Harrison Hot Springs- ESS Harrison
    • $9,471.59
  • District of Kent- 2024 ESS Upgrades
    • $25,655.50
  • Seabird Island Band- ESS Equipment
    • $28,963.34
  • Soowahlie First Nation- Soowahlie ESS Program Capacity Development
    • $30,000
  • Sqwá First Nation- Sqwá Emergency Support Advisor
    • $30,000

The CEPF helps communities to better prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate-related emergencies by funding local projects and initiatives in several categories. These include disaster-risk reduction and climate adaptation, public notification and evacuation-route planning, and emergency operations centre equipment and training. The Province has invested $369 million into the CEPF since its establishment in 2017. Approximately $176 million has been provided to First Nations and local governments through the CEPF for more than 1,800 projects. This includes over $13.5 million to support local ESS teams.


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