Ontario releases Provincial Emergency Management Strategy and Action Plan

By Amanda Jerome

Law360 Canada (February 3, 2023, 12:48 PM EST) -- The Ontario government has released its first Provincial Emergency Management Strategy and Action Plan to help ensure citizens are “prepared for, and safe, during future emergencies like cyber security threats, pandemics or natural disasters.”

“With an increase in wildfires, floods, and other potential emergencies that threaten the safety of Ontario’s communities, it’s vitally important that we have a plan in place to respond to crises quickly, efficiently and in close coordination with partners on the ground,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, president of the Treasury Board and minister responsible for emergency management in Ontario.

“This strategic and action-oriented plan outlines a comprehensive vision for all of Ontario to be safe, practiced, and prepared at all times. Our commitment to communities across the province is to ensure we are as emergency ready and resilient as possible —both now and into the future,” he added in a statement.

According to a government release, issued Feb. 3, the plan, which is “the first of its kind in Canada, sets a foundation for emergency management in Ontario and builds on lessons learned from past emergencies including the COVID-19 pandemic, which represented the single largest provincial emergency in decades.”

The plan was “developed in partnership with emergency management partners, including municipalities, First Nations partners and provincial ministries” and “highlights key actions the province is taking to keep Ontario in a state of constant readiness and preparedness.”

According to the release, highlights of the plan include:

  • “A strengthened provincial governance and accountability framework that includes Emergency Management Ontario as the provincial lead for emergency management co-ordination.
  • A one window for all Ontarians approach to proactively co-ordinate with emergency management partners on preparedness and information sharing.
  • Increased local supports for municipalities and Indigenous partners, including a doubling of regional field services staff, in 2022, to better support all regions of the province.
  • Proactive planning and monitoring, including enhanced flood mapping, a cybersecurity strategy, and increased resources for emergency management partners.
  • Programs to improve community preparedness, including tabletop and priority exercises and a strengthened Ontario Corps.
  • A commitment to annual reports detailing the progress made on the strategy and action plan.”

In 2022, the release noted, “58 community and provincial emergencies were declared in Ontario and more than 1,900 members from four First Nations communities in Ontario were evacuated due to the threat of floods.”

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