Ontario's Response to the Recommendations of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry
Since receiving the final report of the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry on October 15, 2014, Ontario has worked to address the report's recommendations as part of the province's ongoing commitment to make buildings safer and improve emergency response procedures. Key actions to date include:
Ensuring buildings are safe and secure
- Implementing mandatory note-taking training for Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety inspectors, and taking steps to ensure greater consistency and quality of inspectors' reports by adopting electronic investigation tools, such as digital audio statements.
- Launching a new quality assurance program for Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety inspectors to complement the current training programs.
- Implementing new training for Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety inspectors to help them identify signs of structural damage and watertightness issues.
- Hiring seven new engineers to support Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety inspectors in communities across the province, including a structural engineer in Northern Ontario.
- Improving the timeliness of the Ministry of Labour's complaints.
- Requiring that municipal building inspectors register annually with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and continue to make information on their qualifications available to the public.
- Enhancing building code training for municipal inspectors, so that it is available at Ontario's community colleges and accessible online.
- Amending the Building Code Act to include a requirement that only architects and/or engineers design large, complex buildings, to ensure they are structurally sound.
- Providing training to strengthen the knowledge and capacity of chief building officials, in conjunction with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Large Municipalities Chief Building Officials.
- Updating the Municipal Councillor's Guide to increase awareness of municipal responsibilities under Ontario's Building Code to enhance the safety of buildings. The updated guide was distributed to all municipalities in October 2014.
- Establishing the Building Safety Technical Advisory Panel and receiving their report on improving the safety of existing buildings, which is one of many pieces the government is considering as it continues to address the commissioner's recommendations regarding building safety.
Additionally, Professional Engineers Ontario has developed an implementation plan to address the nine recommendations from the inquiry aimed at the engineering profession, including informing and providing guidance to engineers on making changes to engineering reports and enabling the public to view the licence status for engineers on their website.
Improving emergency response
- Reviewing Ontario's emergency management and incident management systems to further enhance and improve the province's ability to respond to emergencies.
- Developing a joint outreach strategy to inform and clarify the roles and responsibilities of Ministry of Labour inspectors and specialized professional services staff at the scene of an ongoing rescue or recovery effort.
- Increasing the number of major critical incident commanders, critical incident commanders and incident commanders in the OPP. These are officers who are specially trained to manage emergency situations.
- Developing training programs to increase the number of government staff that can provide timely information about emergencies to the public, government and community partners.
- Strengthening protocols to support municipalities that request expert media and communications assistance during an emergency.
- Ensuring emergency information officers are always available to support the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management and deploying those officers or providing support remotely to municipalities when requested.
- Exploring enhancements to the Urban Search and Rescue Response program that could help address many of the recommendations aimed at improving program capabilities, governance, operational and geographical gaps, and training.
- Engaging the federal government on the development of a national heavy urban search and rescue program and working with Toronto Fire Services on an updated memorandum of understanding to provide those services in Ontario.
- Completing a large-scale provincial emergency management and heavy urban search and rescue exercise for emergency response providers that replicated the aftermath of an earthquake and included staged building and structural collapses
Improving the inquiry process
The province has updated the Public Inquiries Guide to address the commissioner's recommendations to ensure that public inquiries are carried out effectively and in a timely manner.