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Lack of adequate oversight of ministries and municipalities means they are not prepared to respond to an emergency

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Lack of adequate oversight of ministries and municipalities means they are not prepared to respond to an emergency
The 2017 Annual Report of the Auditor General of Ontario, made public on December 6, 2017, contains scathing criticism of the province’s Emergency Management regime.

The Report notes that oversight of emergency management in Ontario is the responsibility of the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management – which has not met for several years. Moreover, the Report criticizes the current provincial emergency management program of failing to consider emergencies that occurred after 2009, or the latest information on the effects of climate change, cyberattacks and terrorism.

Main observations point to series of serious short-comings 
Among other things, the Report contains the following observations: 
  • the current governance structure and oversight process for ministries and municipalities fails to ensure they are prepared to respond to an emergency;
  • risk assessment processes are not sufficient to ensure that the provincial emergency management program includes all areas of concern;
  • the province does not have a co-ordinated information technology (IT) system in place for emergency management;
  • the two provincial emergency response plans that are prepared by the Emergency Management Office (EMO) – the Provincial Emergency Response Plan and the Provincial Nuclear Response Plan – have not been updated since 2008 and 2009;
  • none of the ministries visited during the Report’s preparation had a multi-year strategy for practice tests and drills to ensure that a variety of different hazards are tested over time;
  • a standardized approach for emergency response has not been mandated after eight years in development; and
  • the province has failed to measure the performance of its Emergency Management Program or the state of readiness in Ontario.
Recommendations
The report recommends that the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (Ministry) through the Provincial EMO:
  • review best practices and recommend a governance structure and oversight regime that focuses on the quality and sufficiency of the emergency management programs in place and provides feedback to non-compliant ministries and municipalities to ensure that they make timely improvements;
  • assess whether the Chief of Emergency Management has sufficient authority under the current legislation to enforce the legal requirements of ministries and municipalities and whether changes are needed to obtain this authority;
  • put in place the appropriate level of support and staffing required to assist all of Ontario’s municipalities in preparing for emergencies; and
  • review the information technology needs of the province and implement an effective, co-ordinated province-wide information technology solution.
Access the Attorney General’s report at:


 

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