Ontario Preparing People and Communities for Future Emergencies
Patrick D Costa
On 3rd February, the Ontario government released its first-ever Provincial Emergency Management Strategy and Action Plan, helping to ensure Ontarians are prepared for and safe during future emergencies like cyber security threats, pandemics or natural disasters.
The plan, 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.
“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.”
Developed in partnership with emergency management partners, including municipalities, First Nations partners and provincial ministries, the plan highlights key actions the province is taking to keep Ontario in a state of constant readiness and preparedness. It also outlines initiatives to augment and support municipal and First Nations emergency strategies.
Highlights of the plan include the following:
- A strengthened provincial governance and accountability framework that includes Emergency Management Ontario as the provincial lead for emergency management coordination.
- A one window for all Ontarians approach to proactively coordinate 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 cyber security 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.
The plan will be further strengthened through ongoing engagement with partners to ensure Ontarians are prepared for future emergencies.