Ontario Strengthens Emergency Management Program
First Steps in Action Plan Include New Urban Search and Rescue Resources in the North
Ontario is making changes to its emergency management program in order to better protect public safety, and prevent and respond to existing and evolving risks.
As part of Ontario's new Emergency Management Action Plan, the province is investing in a Light Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team in Thunder Bay so that specialized equipment and resources can be more quickly deployed in an emergency. Work to improve the search and rescue capacity across the province will continue to address recommendations in the Elliot Lake Commission of Inquiry's report.
In addition, the province will be recruiting a dedicated Chief of Emergency Management to help ensure effective oversight and governance of emergency management across Ontario.
Ontario is also taking immediate steps to:
- Enhance governance structures and implement a robust performance measurement and evaluation framework to build on lessons learned from previous incidents to support continuous improvement
- Review and update the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act and the Provincial Emergency Response Plan in consultation with stakeholders so that they are consistent with national and international best practices and a modern approach to emergency management
- Release an updated Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan by the end of 2017
- Pursue expansion of emergency management capacity through agreements with neighbouring jurisdictions to share support and resources in an emergency
- Support municipalities in accessing critical supplies and resources in an emergency by improving the supply chain and logistics program, and enhance information and resource sharing among municipalities and the province by deploying emergency management software.
These actions are the first step in Ontario's Emergency Management Action Plan. The province will continue to work with emergency management partners to build a system that is collaborative, proactive, and able to adapt to the unique circumstances of communities across the province.
Ontario's plan to create fairness and opportunity during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25 through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
- In December 2016, Ontario initiated an independent review of Ontario’s emergency management system that helped inform the development of the Emergency Management Action Plan.
- The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, 2006 and associated regulations set out mandatory basic emergency program requirements in Ontario.
- All municipalities and provincial ministries in Ontario must meet a legislated standard of emergency management, including conducting hazard and risk assessments for their areas of responsibility, developing programs and plans to address those risks, and conducting annual training exercises.
- 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.
- USAR brings together people with specialized rescue skills and other resources for search, medical and structural assessment. USAR teams rescue victims from major structural collapse or other entrapments due to a variety of incidents, including earthquakes, tornadoes, severe storms and explosions.
“The safety of the people of Ontario is our top priority, and the government must be prepared to respond to any type of emergency. In times of crisis, rapid and effective emergency response saves lives and helps communities recover quickly. We have learned important lessons from recent emergencies in Ontario. This review and transformation will result in a better, more effective emergency management system in Ontario.”
“As we witness devastating natural disasters occurring throughout the world, it is critically important that our emergency management framework is transformed to ensure Ontario is as resilient as possible, and we are prepared to respond effectively to complex major incidents”