FREDERICTON (GNB) – Community-led teams are working across the province to help recover from the pandemic and build resiliency against future disasters or crises. Their efforts are supported and funded under the provincial government’s Community Capacity and Resiliency initiative.

Under the initiative a team was created within the boundaries of each of the province’s 12 regional service commissions, supported by the Department of Justice and Public Safety. These teams comprise more than 300 people representing local governments; private business, non-government organizations; regional health authorities and government departments such as Health, Social Development, Education and Early Childhood Development and the Economic and Social Inclusion Network.

“Throughout the pandemic, and the many weather events in recent years, we have seen the best of New Brunswick when these groups and others worked hand-in-hand to meet the needs of their regions,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Hugh J. Flemming. “We want to build on that significant level of engagement to improve future co-operation and co-ordination and to help our communities recover from the impact of the pandemic. Regional resiliency teams are a key part of building New Brunswick back better and stronger.”

The teams work collaboratively with existing networks to develop long-term recovery plans to help communities build capacity in key areas which were affected by the pandemic.

Improving resiliency is a priority for the government, as it was recommended in the 2017 Ice Storm Review and the 2014 Tropical Storm Arthur review. These events, combined with record flooding in 2018 and 2019, reinforce the need for action across the province.

The provincial government has committed up to $50,000 per region in the 2021-22 provincial budget to help support Regional Resiliency Steering Committees with the implementation of recovery plans.

Each region will prepare a community-focused plan by December 2021 that addresses their specific gaps and needs. The committees have raised issues ranging from food security, mental health and social support, crime prevention, housing and the local economy.

“Building up the capacity and resiliency of our communities requires a whole-of-society effort. I am encouraged by the enthusiasm and energy of those who have stepped up for New Brunswick to help our province emerge stronger from this difficult period in our history,” said Flemming. “We are pleased to provide cross-government support to communities under this initiative, and I look forward to working together to build resiliency for future events. I take special note of the detailed community knowledge and advice shared by these teams in western and northwestern New Brunswick in recent days to help improve vaccination rates.”

Planning for the Community Capacity and Resiliency initiative began in mid-2020 with the development of the 12 teams and early efforts to respond rapidly to emerging pandemic-related issues. The teams worked in partnership at a regional level on activities such as:

  • helping New Brunswickers understand public health guidance and the mandatory order;
  • providing information on support programs and services to reduce social isolation and promote mental wellness; and
  • providing assistance to community food banks in the areas of operational planning and volunteer support.

As the province works with the teams to continue to manage the impact of COVID-19, regional teams have increased their focus on long-term planning to build resiliency.