HALIFAX, January 9, 2008 – Federal, provincial and territorial ministers responsible for emergency management met today to strengthen emergency preparedness and to re-affirm their commitment to a safer Canada. The ministers also announced a number of measures on critical infrastructure, public alerting and disaster mitigation to improve Canada’s emergency management system.
This year’s meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, and the Honourable Jamie Muir, Acting Minister of Emergency Management Nova Scotia, and attended by ministers and emergency management officials from the federal government and the provinces and territories.
“Strengthening emergency management is a priority for our government. I am pleased with the progress made on critical infrastructure, public alerting and disaster mitigation,” said Minister Day. “We are committed to better protect Canadians from emergencies of all kinds.”
“We're committed to finding practical solutions to enhance public safety,” added Minister Muir. “There is no greater goal than the protection of our families, their livelihoods and our environment.”
At the meeting, ministers discussed the National Disaster Mitigation Strategy (NDMS), a Canadian public alerting system, and a national strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure protection which will be the basis of further action.
At last year’s meeting, Ministers agreed to continue to work together on disaster mitigation strategies. Today’s discussion provides a basis for a national approach to eliminate or reduce the impacts of hazards. Disaster mitigation activities, such as building dykes in flood-prone areas, are part of a robust emergency management system designed to save lives, preserve the environment and protect property. Although the NDMS allows for structural mitigation projects to access funding under $8.8 billion Building Canada Fund, provincial and territorial ministers highlighted the need for dedicated funding for mitigation measures to help reduce the impact of disaster recovery costs.
Ministers discussed the Federal Disaster Assistance Initiative. Officials were instructed by ministers to continue their work on proposals for disaster financial assistance in cases of non-natural disasters. The importance of disaster financial assistance to Canadians was also discussed and ministers agreed that work would continue to streamline existing processes.
At the meeting in 2007, Ministers discussed enhancing public alerting capabilities across the country. Today, ministers agreed to instruct their officials to continue to work with the broadcasting industry to establish a Canadian public alerting system, to be operational in 2010.
Another important aspect of emergency management is the protection of critical infrastructure such as power grids, telecommunications and banking systems. A national strategy and action plan for critical infrastructure protection was discussed, to establish a framework for governments and the private sector to move forward collaboratively on critical infrastructure protection. It is built around partnerships, risk management and information sharing.
Ministers also discussed the importance of the ongoing work on pandemic planning, best practices and aboriginal emergency management.
The next federal, provincial and territorial ministers' meeting on emergency management will be held next year in Alberta.
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Director of Communications
Office of the Honourable Stockwell Day
Minister of Public Safety
Director, Public Affairs
Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office