When it comes to severe weather you need to be prepared and to know what to do when the weather hits.
That is the fundamental approach behind a number of key initiatives we have taken provincially in terms of emergency measures. One of these initiatives will have a direct impact right here in our region.
As the provincial minister responsible for emergency measures, I was pleased recently to be able to announce the extension of weather radio coverage to our area in Thompson. Weather radio broadcasts weather warnings to the area that is potentially impacted. It only broadcasts the warnings. You simply plug it in and it works only when needed.
Up until now much of the south has had access to weather radio. With the extension to Thompson 92 per cent of Manitobans will now have access to weather radio.
In addition to expanding the coverage we have also extended access to weather radio by providing radios to municipal offices, schools, personal care homes, childcare centres and other public facilities. You don't have to be a public institution to access a weather radio. As an individual you can buy one for as little as $50 to $60.
We have also started a public education campaign to let people know what to do in the case of severe weather events.
How important is it to be prepared? Each year we are seeing more and more severe weather events in Manitoba. The tornado in Elie in southern Manitoba two years ago was an F5 tornado on the Fujita Scale, the highest level ever recorded in Canada. Here in the North we have seen severe windstorms, thunderstorms and even tornadoes.
When it comes to emergency preparedness we need to be prepared. The new weather radio access in the North will help us all be more prepared.