Government Honours OPS Staff Who Went To U.S. To Help After Hurricanes In Southern States

Archived Release

Government Honours OPS Staff Who Went To U.S. To Help After Hurricanes In Southern States

Ministry of Consumer Services

OPS Employees Helped American Recovery Efforts After Hurricanes Katrina And Rita TORONTO, May 8 - The Ontario government today recognized Ontario Public Service employees who helped people and communities in the southern United States recover from hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year. More than 800 Ontario public servants applied to help with hurricane recovery. The 64 selected were trained and then deployed to the southern U.S. for three-week periods. Work done by OPS employees involved assisting the American Red Cross with evacuee management and emergency operations centres, logistic management, food, clothing, registration and inquiry. Minister of Government Services Gerry Phillips, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Monte Kwinter and Ontario Commissioner of Emergency Management Julian Fantino presented certificates to the employees. "I am very proud of the Ontario public servants who answered the call to assist people in need after Hurricane Katrina," Phillips said. "They gave not only their considerable skills and expertise but also their kindness, humanity and dedication to help their fellow human beings. I can't thank them enough." "The Ontario government takes emergency preparedness seriously," Kwinter said. "That's why every ministry has completed and filed a business continuity plan that includes response to designated emergencies. The work being done now will make Ontario an even safer place to live and work." "It's too late to be exchanging business cards in the middle of an emergency," Fantino said. "We have to make linkages, set up networks and work cooperatively across all levels of government, with agencies such as the Red Cross and with the private sector. The deployment of OPS staff to the U.S. is an excellent example of diverse groups working together for the benefit of everyone." Also on hand to recognize the employees was John Mulvihill, Deputy Secretary General of the Canadian Red Cross. "The Red Cross relies on dedicated and skilled volunteers to respond in times of disaster," said Mulvihill. "The effort by the Province of Ontario to mobilize employees in support of Red Cross hurricane relief efforts was proactive and an excellent example of the benefit of a partnership approach to disaster management. The Red Cross looks forward to a continued relationship with Emergency Management Ontario and the province to further preparedness and response capability in Ontario." Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest hurricanes in American history. It caused catastrophic damage along the coastlines of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with more than 80 per cent of the City of New Orleans experiencing severe flood damage. Katrina is estimated to have killed more than 1,600 people and caused $75 billion US in damage. Disponible en français www.mpss.jus.gov.on.ca www.mgs.gov.on.ca www.ontario.ca/emo Fact Sheet ------------------------------------------------------------------------- PROVINCE OF ONTARIO RESPONSE TO HURRICANE KATRINA - The Canadian Government, along with 51 other nations, responded by offering services and supplies in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which caused widespread deaths, destruction and flooding to the States of Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi. The U.S. government's Federal Emergency Management Agency has a service agreement with the American Red Cross for the provision of disaster relief services. - As the emergency evolved and the enormous scope of the devastation became apparent, the American Red Cross found that it was exhausting its domestic resources and volunteers, and requested additional assistance from the Canadian Red Cross. - The Province of Ontario contacted the Canadian Red Cross with an offer of assistance and through further discussions it was identified that the most urgent need was for skilled personnel to support the massive relief effort. Ontario reacted quickly by engaging Ontario Public Service employees as disaster responders working with the Red Cross. This was the first time that Ontario has ever deployed Ontario Public Service employees as disaster relief responders with the Red Cross. - Commissioner of Emergency Management Julian Fantino led the Province of Ontario's coordination efforts with the federal government and the Canadian Red Cross. - Ontario Public Service employees assisted in the delivery of humanitarian relief. More than 800 potential applications were processed from Ontario Public Service staff. Sixty-three were deployed to work with the American Red Cross. - Deployed Ontario Public Service staff were on "paid-duty" assignment. The work was generally confined to assisting the American Red Cross with evacuee management. The first deployments of Ontario Public Service staff commenced in late September 2005, with all staff returning by November 15, 2005. - A Katrina Support Group was set up to provide round-the-clock assistance to deployed Ontario Public Service staff and their families. The Support Group was made up of staff from: - Office of the Commissioner of Emergency Management - Ministry of Government Services - Provincial Call Centre, Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care - Canadian Red Cross - Emergency Management Ontario. - Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, via the Provincial Call Centre INFOLine, managed the coordination of supplies and services offered from the public. INFOLine received hundreds of calls and recorded more than 100 offers of assistance. Contacts: Bruce O'Neill Jason Wesley MCSCS Communications Branch MGS Communications Branch 416-326-5005 416-327-2805 Disponible en français www.mpss.jus.gov.on.ca www.mgs.gov.on.ca www.ontario.ca/emo Backgrounder ------------------------------------------------------------------------- EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ONTARIO Emergency Preparedness Week Emergency Preparedness Week is a joint federal-provincial-territorial initiative now in its 11th year. This year Emergency Preparedness Week is May 7-13. The theme is Prepare Now! Learn How! The event promotes the need for all Canadians to prepare for major emergencies. Activities held during Emergency Preparedness Week stress the importance of being prepared for any type of natural or human-induced emergency and increase Canadians' knowledge of the nation's emergency management system. The week is also an opportunity to showcase the programs, training and equipment that have been put in place to enhance the safety and security of Canadians in their physical and cyber environment. Emergency Preparedness Week is celebrated annually in every part of Canada by all levels of government. Throughout the week, events and activities will be held across Canada to help individuals and communities prepare for the potential impacts of emergency situations. Emergency Preparedness Week is coordinated nationally by the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness in the department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada and delivered locally through the collaborative efforts of the provincial and territorial Emergency Management Organizations and other partners in the volunteer, non-governmental and private sectors. Emergency Management Ontario Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) promotes, develops, implements and maintains emergency management programs throughout Ontario. Emergency management consists of four core components: - Mitigation/Prevention - Preparedness - Response - Recovery. How Emergency Management Works in Ontario The Emergency Management Act provides that communities and the provincial government establish an emergency management program in Ontario based on hazards and risks that the people of Ontario may face. Elected heads of council in municipalities and First Nations are responsible for ensuring emergency management programs exist within their jurisdictions. EMO provides advice and assistance to communities to develop their emergency management program. Public Safety Begins at Home Individuals are responsible for their own safety, and the well-being of their families. Everyone should be prepared with enough supplies to take care of themselves and their families for up to three days in the event of an emergency or disaster. For example, it could take that long to clear roads due to a severe winter storm. Everyone should have an Emergency Survival Kit (see details on the EMO website at www.ontario.ca/emo). EMO can provide advice and assistance during an emergency, which could mean deploying EMO staff to a community to coordinate provincial emergency management activities. Communities Respond First Local emergency response organizations, including police, fire, emergency health services and public works, routinely report emergencies at the community level to Emergency Management Ontario. Most emergencies do not require provincial assistance. If a major emergency occurs in a community, the local head of council can implement the emergency response plan or declare an emergency if required. The head of council and local officials, will come together as the Community Control Group, then work to ensure a controlled, centralized and coordinated emergency response. Province Steps In A provincial minister may be delegated to act on behalf of the Premier, depending on the nature of the emergency or the impact on public safety. In very serious or widespread major emergencies, or a nuclear emergency, the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services or another minister, through the coordinating role of Emergency Management Ontario, could assume overall control of the situation in accordance with the Provincial Emergency Response Plan, or the Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan. Federal Government Steps In The Premier of Ontario may declare a provincial emergency in a large-scale emergency. If the province requires assistance from the federal government, it must be formally requested through EMO. The federal government intervenes only when requested or when the emergency has an impact on areas of federal jurisdiction, such as a war emergency. Contact: Bruce O'Neill Communications Branch 416-326-5005 Disponible en français www.mpss.jus.gov.on.ca www.ontario.ca/emoFor further information: Ashley Dent, Minister Kwinter's Office, (416) 326-8268; Bruce O'Neill, MCSCS Communications Branch, (416) 326-5005; Paul de Zara, Minister Phillips' Office, (416) 327-3072; Jason Wesley, MGS Communications Branch, (416) 327-2805