Quebec premier says government flood damage compensation likely to increase

Quebec premier says government flood damage compensation likely to increase

Soldiers build a dam with sandbags around a flooded house on the shores of Lake St-Pierre in Yamachiche, Que. on Thursday, May 11, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson.

MONTREAL — The compensation ceiling for victims of Quebec’s historic floods will likely be increased, Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday as citizens across the province continued to struggle with high water levels.

Quebec’s program for flood damage subsidies — which tops out at $159,208 — is currently under review, Couillard told a news conference in Gatineau in western Quebec alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“We know the ceiling probably has to be adjusted,” he said. “The conditions of entering the program also are going to be looked at.”

Specifically, Couillard said his government is considering changes to rules that bar people who rent homes from receiving government aid.

“People owning a home but not living in it, renting it, that would in theory exclude them from the program,” the premier said. “We’re going to look at this. But we need to recognize there will always be a ceiling — that’s the nature of the program.”

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said in Trois-Rivieres, Que., that $800,000 has been handed out in compensation so far and that 724 files have been opened.

He said the government will begin distributing roughly $400,000 per day and will financially support flood victims for as long as necessary.

The federal government has contributed $1 million to the Red Cross and has assistance programs in place to assist flood victims.

Trudeau urged citizens to donate.

“It’s extremely important for people watching on TV, people hearing about the challenges faced by so many communities, by so many families, to think about donating to the Red Cross,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Quebec government again warned of heavy rain in at least one area of the province that is already struggling with high water levels.

The Mauricie region in central Quebec could receive up to 59 millimetres of rain by next Monday, said Environment Minister David Heurtel.

Heurtel said many of the province’s reservoirs are nearly full.

Elsewhere in the province, water levels were continuing to drop.

The flow of the Ottawa River has diminished considerably, allowing the water level of Lake of Two Mountains, north of Montreal, to recede by 20 centimetres since last Sunday.

Water levels of Lac Saint-Louis, however, were not expected to go down in the short term, said Heurtel.

“We won’t be talking about diminishing levels for another few days considering that Lake Ontario is currently at record highs,” he said.

More than 4,100 residences in Quebec have been affected by the floods and more than 3,000 people have had to leave their homes.

The floods have claimed at least one life in the province — a man whose car ended up in a surging river in the eastern Gaspe region. Authorities continued their search Thursday for a two-year-old girl who disappeared in the same incident.

The Canadian Press
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