A resident sprays water on hot spots near a house in Celista, British Columbia on Aug. 19, during record-breaking wildfires. Cole Burston/Bloomberg

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Meta Platforms Inc.’s blocking of news content, saying it impedes information sharing during wildfires that have forced tens of thousands of Canadians from their homes.

“It is so inconceivable that a company like Facebook is choosing to put corporate profits ahead of ensuring that local news organizations can get up-to-date information to Canadians and reach them,” Trudeau told reporters Monday in Cornwall, Prince Edward Island, ahead of a three-day cabinet meeting.

California-based Meta began the process of ending news availability in Canada this month over a law requiring digital platforms to pay local publishers. While Facebook and Instagram aren’t the only sources for news distribution, they were one of key platforms for outlets to reach their audience.

The news blocking means links and content posted by publishers and broadcasters on the platforms are no longer viewable by people in Canada. Users in the country also won’t be able to view and share articles, and in place of news content, they now see a message: “This content isn’t available in Canada.”

“In a larger picture, that’s bad for democracy because democracy depends on people being able to trust high-quality journalism and of all sorts of different perspectives and points of view. But right now, in an emergency situation, up-to-date local information is more important than ever,” Trudeau said.

Another major flare-up last week in what has been a record-breaking year for wildfires saw flames and smoke heading toward key population centers. The Northwest Territories capital of Yellowknife ordered an evacuation of the entire city, one of the largest in Canada’s north, and British Columbia declared a state of emergency over the threat to Kelowna, a major summer destination in the province’s interior.

A Meta spokesperson said in an email last week that Facebook rolled out a “Safety Check” feature after fires approached Yellowknife to “allow people to let their friends and family know they are safe” and that people can still access content from government agencies and emergency services on the platform.

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