How Ontario Responded To The Tsunami Tragedy
Just days after the tsunami disaster in South Asia, the government came forward with a five-point plan, which included:
- Donating $5 million on behalf of the people of Ontario to the Red Cross.
- Offering expertise in disaster management: Ontario's former Commissioner of Emergency Management, Dr. James Young, joined a federal delegation to the region offering expertise in forensic medicine and disaster management as part of Ontario's contribution.
- Working with the federal government to offer any further equipment, supplies or expertise necessary to help the global relief effort.
- Renewing a call for all Ontarians to donate to relief organizations.
- Asking all of Ontario's public service employees to give generously.
Additional actions the government took to help the victims of tsunami:
- Provided forensic expertise through Ontario's Chief Coroner, Dr. Barry McLellan, who worked alongside international experts, doing the difficult job of identifying victims.
- Worked with the federal government to deploy the province's Emergency Medical Assistance Team -- volunteer health-care professionals trained to provide sophisticated primary care in emergency situations.
- Established an info line for those Ontarians wishing to volunteer their specialized technical or professional skills to help in the tsunami relief effort.
- Deployed 12 skids of medical supplies on a UNICEF aircraft bound for Jakarta, Indonesia.
- Established, in partnership with the Ontario Psychological Association, a provincial phone line that offered emotional support to Ontarians affected by the tsunami disaster.
- Appointed the Ontario Spirit Committee, co-chaired by the Honourable Hilary Weston and Peter Godsoe, to ensure funds are raised to help facilitate rebuilding and reconstruction.
- Formed a team of senior managers -- including both MPPs and senior public servants -- to coordinate Ontario's relief efforts on a 24/7 basis.
- Eliminated fees on all international adoptions.
- Set up donation boxes during the month of January at LCBO outlets, beer stores and wine stores across the province.
- Extended supports to any provincial government employees affected by the tragedy.
- Compiled a critical resource roster -- people with special expertise and needed equipment -- from the provincial government, the broader public sector, Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation and the private sector.
- Held meetings with leaders of affected expatriate communities to determine needs and identify opportunities for Ontario's involvement.
- Made contact with non-government organizations working in the affected areas -- such as UNICEF Canada, Canadian Red Cross and Free the Children -- to explore potential projects for reconstruction and redevelopment.
- Led a settlement strategy with the federal government, municipalities and community representatives from municipalities where most of the newcomers were expected to settle.
The government also took immediate action to honour the memory of the victims of the tsunami tragedy:
- Books of condolence were made available to the public at the legislature and at Ontario Government Information Centres across the province.
- A special ceremony was held at Queen's Park on Saturday, January 8, as part of a national day of mourning. (A video of the ceremony can be accessed on the Premier's website at www.premier.gov.on.ca)
- Flags were flown at half-mast at Ontario government buildings, schools and hospitals.
The government will continue to support the people of South Asia over the longer term under the leadership of the Ontario Spirit Committee co-chaired by Mrs. Weston and Mr. Godsoe.