10 04 15 Preparedness - Eric Rempel

Preparedness is a good thing.

Most of us prepare a will long before we anticipate dying. Usually both marriage partners are still healthy when this happens. Most of us even arrange for people to look after our children in the event that both parents die while they are too young to fend for themselves – even though the event is most unlikely.

During most of the 1990s we were talking about the need to be prepared for Y2K. Nobody actually knew what would happen to our computers in 2000, but we needed to be prepared. The media talked about it incessantly. Megabucks were spent updating computer systems. Some towns even purchased standby diesel units. 

In 1950 the Red River flooded doing huge damage to the City of Winnipeg. In the 1960s, facing much ridicule, Premier Duff Roblin led us in the building of a floodway that would protect Winnipeg in the event of a similar flood in the future. In 1997 that flood came. Because of the foresight of Roblin and people like him, Winnpeg suffered minimal damage, whereas a substantial portion of Grand Forks was destroyed.

Since then, our government has done extensive work expanding the floodway. The motto we heard repeatedly was hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

In the last two years we have heard from the Emergency Measures Organization that we need to have a plan in place in the event of a pandemic. I understand the City of Steinbach has such a plan in.

I support all this activity aimed at being prepared for potential disasters, and expect most readers do as well. So why is there no plan in place in preparation for skyrocketing fuel prices? Consider just a few of the implication of high, unstable fuel prices:

·       All food grown outside our community would greatly increase in price, some prohibitively. Locally grown food would become much more attractive.

·       Local farmers depend on fossil fuel to power their tractors and for fertilizer. They will face hugely increased input costs.

·        The economics of commuting between Steinbach and Winnipeg will be completely altered.

·       The economics of visiting children/parents living some distance away will be altered completely.

·       Offshore manufactured goods, whether from Europe, China or Mexico would greatly increase in price.

So why is there no plan in place? Is it because the possibility is so remote that the preparation of a plan is absurd? Is it because of an overwhelming faith in the ability of our economic and industrial system to adapt effectively to higher fuel prices quickly? Is it because of strong, vested interests opposed to examining and addressing these problems? Is it because an effective plan would impact our lifestyle too much?

And it’s not just skyrocketing fuel prices. What about a major power disruption because of an ice storm? What about equipment failure at Manitoba Hydro? What about financial collapse – somewhere? What about . . . !

I wonder. Our complacency just makes no sense!