VICTORIA, May 4, 2012 —Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for emergency management met today in Victoria to discuss emergency management priorities. The meeting was co-chaired by the Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety Canada and the Honourable Shirley Bond, British Columbia Minister of Justice and Attorney General.
“I am pleased with today’s discussions and the progress achieved to further advance emergency management in Canada,” said Minister Toews. “This meeting provided an opportunity for each jurisdiction to bring attention to local priorities as we continue to collaborate to improve the safety and security of Canadians and safeguard communities threatened by natural hazards and other emergencies.”
“British Columbia is pleased to co-chair this meeting and to welcome our provincial and territorial colleagues in advance of Emergency Preparedness Week,” said Minister Bond. “With the increase in the number and severity of natural hazard incidents, it is critical that we work closely together to keep Canadians safe. Today, we focussed on areas such as emergency response in Aboriginal communities, all-hazards emergency planning, mitigation and building a strong communications infrastructure. As we move forward we are committed to supporting one another as effectively as possible.”
The Ministers re-affirmed participation in Canada’s public alerting system which is designed to alert Canadians to emergencies. Alberta, which already has a public alerting system in place, reiterated its support for a robust national emergency alerting system for all of Canada. Albertans will continue to receive their warnings from broadcasters via the Alberta Emergency Alert System. Other provinces which have pre-existing public alerting systems will be integrating with the national public alerting system.
Twelve provincial and territorial governments and Environment Canada are working on putting the required infrastructure and protocols in place to distribute or receive public safety emergency alerts. Once television and radio broadcasters and other media begin to distribute the alerts, Canadians will all benefit from these timely warnings.
The Ministers discussed the development of a national disaster mitigation program, recognizing that mitigation can lessen the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities and reduce the associated costs by investing in structural (such as dikes) or non-structural (such as flood mapping) mitigative measures. Ministers have asked their officials to continue to work together on this program.
The Ministers also acknowledged significant accomplishments during the first year of the Communications Interoperability Strategy and Action Plan for Canada , which was introduced at the Ministers’ 2011 meeting in Toronto. During its first year, progress under the Communications Interoperability Action Plan includes the development of future communications systems that will be effective in situations requiring a multi-agency response.
The Ministers indicated their support for increasing the portion of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum for public safety use from 10 MHz to 20 MHz, which would ensure public safety emergency responders in Canada and along the Canada-U.S. border have the capacity to deliver real time multi-media information when needed.
The Ministers considered and approved the proposed eligibility criteria for an emergency management exemplary service award, which will officially recognize the contribution of emergency management employees and volunteers to their communities across Canada.
“In closing, I would like to remind all Canadians that next week is Emergency Preparedness Week in Canada, which is an example of federal/provincial/territorial cooperation,” added Minister Toews. “This year’s theme is: Make a Plan. I would like to invite all Canadians to join in local activities. You can visit GetPrepared.ca and your provincial/territorial emergency management organization’s web site for more information on how to make a family emergency plan.”
Emergency Preparedness (EP) Week is an annual event that takes place this year from May 6-12. This national event is coordinated by Public Safety Canada, in close collaboration with the provinces and territories and partners.
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