BC United: Wildfire evacuees unfairly punished by NDP for ESS registration system failure

THE BC United Party said on Monday that at a time when Okanagan wildfire evacuees are stressed and worried enough, the NDP government is making things worse by refusing to reimburse these individuals for the temporary accommodations they were forced to book while fleeing their homes.

“When the Emergency Support Services (ESS) registration process was unable to handle the volume of applicants in need of support, a number of evacuees paid for hotel rooms out of their own pockets — whether they could ‘afford’ to or not — and are now being told they’re not eligible for reimbursement,” said Kelowna West MLA Ben Stewart. “These residents are essentially being punished for a system failure that was no fault of their own, and it’s not right.”

The BC United said that despite the issue being raised multiple times by its MLAs, Premier David Eby and the NDP have not yet amended the policy nor provided a concrete solution.

“The NDP’s ‘solution’ — providing a toll-free complaint number — is not a meaningful solution,” said MLA Bruce Banman, BC United Critic for Emergency Management. “It’s a mere ‘band-aid’ that does nothing for these evacuees who have been through so much already. Adjustments to this needs-based approach to ESS registration must be made to ensure this doesn’t happen again. And in the meantime, the NDP government must do the right thing and reimburse these residents immediately.”