Ontario Making Buildings Safer, Improving Emergency Response
Province Continues Making Progress on Elliot Lake Inquiry Recommendations
Ontario is making buildings safer and improving emergency response practices, as it continues to make progress on addressing the recommendations of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry.
The Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry was created on July 19, 2012 to investigate the events surrounding the Algo Centre Mall collapse, which claimed two lives and injured 19 others. Commissioner Paul Bélanger submitted his final report to the Attorney General on October 15, 2014, two years ago tomorrow.
To help ensure that similar tragedies are not repeated, Ontario continues to address the comprehensive and long-term recommendations in the report. Building on the previous years' progress, this year the province has taken a number of additional steps to make buildings safer and improve the practices and procedures of emergency responders, such as:
- Reviewing Ontario's emergency management and incident management systems to further enhance and improve the province's ability to respond to emergencies.
- Increasing the number of major critical incident commanders, critical incident commanders and incident commanders-- officers who are specially trained to manage emergency situations -- in the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
- Exploring possible enhancements to the Urban Search and Rescue Response program to improve capabilities, governance, operational and geographical gaps, and training.
- Developing training programs to increase the number of government staff that can provide timely information about emergencies to the public, government and community partners.
- Developing and training Ministry of Labour industrial inspectors on signs of watertightness and structural soundness issues.
- Hiring seven new engineers to support inspectors in communities across the province, including a structural engineer in Northern Ontario.
In addition, Professional Engineers Ontario has developed an implementation plan to address nine recommendations directed at the engineering profession, including providing guidance to engineers on reporting practices.
- Commissioner Bélanger’s final report of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry included 71 recommendations on ways to improve both building safety and emergency management/response in Ontario.
- Ontario established the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre in 2015 to coordinate the government’s response to major emergencies and assist municipalities and First Nations communities during these incidents.
- In December 2015, the Minister of Municipal Affairs received the report of the Building Safety Technical Advisory Panel, which was created on the recommendation of the commissioner to provide expert advice on requirements to enhance the safety of existing buildings in Ontario. It is one of many pieces the government is considering as it continues to address the commissioner’s recommendation.
“Ontario continues to stand by the community of Elliot Lake as they rebuild and look to the future. We are working to ensure that tragedies like the one that occurred at the Algo Centre Mall never happen again. Together with our partners in municipalities and industry, our government has made progress in our efforts to respond to Commissioner Bélanger’s recommendations. These changes will have far-reaching effects and will promote safer and more secure buildings and better emergency procedures that will help protect Ontarians for generations to come.”
“The tragic events in Elliott Lake and the subsequent recommendations from the public inquiry reinforced the importance of a strong and coordinated response to major emergencies. Our government took immediate action to address the recommendations regarding emergency management, and we continue to work across government, with municipalities and our emergency and first response partners, to build on the progress we have made to ensure safer communities across Ontario.”