(image above: 2013 flooding, courtesy Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry)
Update July 2016: According to the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) there are significant deficiencies in the Province’s approach to Community Emergency Response.
The Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM) reports that in 2015, 32% of Ontario municipalities were non-compliant with the current Ontario legislation and regulations for emergency management.
Starting in 2001, the plan was to bring in three levels of emergency management programs, an essential level, and enhanced level, and a comprehensive level. Fifteen years later, the province is still trying to get a grasp of what should be in the essential level.
The OAEM describes some of the problems with the current approach:
- the legislation and the regulations include many inconsistencies, useless actions, and poorly defined requirements
- no clear definition of what “public education” includes
- there is no indication of when and how CEMCs should use their list of critical infrastructure emergency phone numbers
- the training requirements are very stringent and must follow the EMO curriculum to the letter, and there is no accommodation for the very different structures and capacities e.g. between small rural communities compared to large urban ones
As a large group of property owners, FOCA finds this state of affairs alarming.
FOCA recommends that each of our associations talk to their municipality about local emergency preparedness, and advise their members to take steps to safeguard their own families and their homes.
> Find additional information about emergency preparedness in the “Related Posts” at the end of this webpage.
Many communities do have fine examples of being well organized and communicating effectively. Here’s one example of a public education piece about personal preparedness: BEPREPAREDGreyBruceHuron (PDF, 36 Pages)
More About Emergency Preparedness
After flooding in cottage country in Spring 2013, FOCA asked questions of Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) and others, about community preparedness.
EMO’s response to FOCA follows:
May 2013, Emergency Response in Ontario
Dear Mr. Rees: Thank you for your questions. It is encouraging to hear that your organization is being proactive on flood mitigation for its members. Responses to your specific EMO questions are as follows:
FOCA: Are municipalities required to have a designated emergency contact?
EMO: Yes. Under the Emergency Management & Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), every municipality must have a designated Community Emergency Management Coordinator (CEMC). CEMC contact information can be gained by contacting the respective municipal office.
FOCA: Are they required to have an emergency response plan?
EMO: Yes. The EMCPA states that each municipality must have an Emergency Response Plan (ERP).
FOCA: Is there any minimum content for such a plan?
EMO: The ERP, as a minimum, must include roles and responsibilities of the Municipal Emergency Control Group (MEOCG), and procedures for contacting each member of the (MEOCG). EMO also encourages the inclusion of an Emergency Information Plan, Telecommunications Plan, an Evacuation Plan and a Resource Listing, among other things.
FOCA: Are there requirements for testing local emergency response plans?
EMO: Yes. Under the EMCPA, each municipality is required to test their ERP through an exercise every year. The exercise should focus on a hazard that has been identified as a risk by the municipality. EMO often provides advice and assistance in the conduct of these exercises.
FOCA: Who is responsible for vetting or reviewing emergency response plans?
EMO: It is up to the municipality’s Emergency Management Program Committee to ensure the ERP meets the needs of the municipality. The ERP is then approved and adopted by by-law through council. EMO ensures that the plan exists, meets the requirements of the EMCPA as described above, and is reviewed annually.