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JAPP: victim to federal budget cuts

By Stephen Uhler, The Daily Observer

The city of Pembroke has joined other municipalities in asking Ottawa to restore the JEPP program.

The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, along with the Canadian Emergency Management College, are both victims of federal budget cuts, which come into effect this year. This means no more grants to help with emergency preparedness, and no more emergency management training programs by the college.

At a recent meeting, city council passed a resolution calling on Ottawa to reverse its decision to cancel the program.

"Council feels that the JEPP funding is extremely important in ensuring safe, prompt emergency response which will ultimately save lives of Canadians," the resolution stated, then requested the federal government reconsider its decision to kill it.

Coun. Bob Hackett said JEPP has been around since 1980 and has proven to be a real benefit to municipalities dealing with emergency planning within their communities.

"We've gotten great benefit from the grants we received from this," he said adding the funds have allowed the city to enhance its emergency services.

The city has been lucky to secure some of the last of these grants before the program was cancelled. The two JEPP grants received by the city in 2012 included one for the amount of $2,756.84, which provided funding for a laptop computer, projector and screen to allow the city hall Emergency Operations Centre to function, and a second grant for $10,000 to help pay for an emergency generator, also for the EOS.

Administered by Public Safety Canada, JEPP was established to enhance the national capacity to respond to all types of emergencies and to enhance the resiliency of critical infrastructure.

The government has spent close to $6.5 million a year on JEPP, with $2.1 million going to the urban rescue teams. That money is set to be slashed this year.

Since word of the cancellations started going around, several Renfrew County municipalities have banded together to try and persuade the federal government to change its mind. The Townships of Greater Madawaska, Whitewater Region and Laurentian Valley are all making the request that the government reconsider their decision.

Stephen Uhler is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist

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