Emergency Management

Public Safety Canada helps Canadians and their communities protect themselves from emergencies and disasters related to all kinds of hazards – natural, human-induced and technological – through national leadership in the development and implementation of policies, plans and a range of programs.

The Emergency Management Act recognizes the roles that all stakeholders must play in Canada's emergency management system. It sets out the leadership role and responsibilities of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, including coordinating emergency management activities among government institutions and in cooperation with the provinces and other entities. Responsibilities of other federal ministers are also set out in the Act.

The federal government is dedicated to working collaboratively with provinces and territories to support communities when disasters strike. To this end, An Emergency Management Framework for Canada was revised and approved by Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers in 2017. The Framework establishes a common approach for a range of collaborative emergency management initiatives in support of safe and resilient communities.

Building on the Framework, the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada: Toward a Resilient 2030 identifies federal, provincial and territorial priorities that will strengthen Canada’s resilience by 2030. Approved and released at the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers Meeting in 2019, the Strategy is a collaborative, whole-of-society roadmap to strengthening Canada’s ability to assess risks, prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

The Department maintains a network of partnerships with other federal government institutions, provincial and territorial emergency management organizations, first responders and voluntary organizations, and other stakeholders and communities, supporting a whole-of-society approach to emergency management that leverages resources and capacities at all levels across the country. All Canadians also have a role in building resilient communities, helping to keep hazards from becoming disasters, and in recovering from disasters when they do happen “Be Prepared”.

The Government Operations Centre, housed at Public Safety Canada, is a Government of Canada asset which, supports response coordination across the federal government in collaboration with provinces and territories and other key players concerning/related to emerging or occurring events of national significance.

The Department's regional offices are located in all provinces and in the North. They play an important role in building and maintaining partnerships for emergency management and in supporting our communities.

Public Safety Canada's approach to emergency management is based on work in four related areas. Learn more about what we are doing:

Prevention and Mitigation

Preventing or reducing the impacts of disasters on our communities is a key focus for emergency management efforts today. Prevention and mitigation also help reduce the financial costs of disaster response and recovery. Public Safety Canada is working with provincial and territorial governments and stakeholders to promote disaster prevention and mitigation using a risk-based and all-hazards approach. In 2008, Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers endorsed a National Disaster Mitigation Strategy.

Emergency Preparedness

Public Safety Canada works in collaboration with other federal departments and provincial and territorial governments to strengthen national emergency preparedness, through planning, support to training, the exercising and testing of emergency management arrangements and plans, and sharing lessons learned from events and exercises. These efforts, taken prior to an emergency, help support event response, contribute to reductions in the impacts of events and help identify opportunities for future prevention and mitigation efforts.

Responding to Emergency Events

Emergencies are managed first at the local level – for example, by first responders such as medical professionals and hospitals, fire departments, the police and municipalities. Local authorities who need assistance request it from provincial or territorial governments. If an emergency escalates beyond their capabilities, the province or territory may seek assistance from the federal government. Public Safety Canada led the development of the National Emergency Response System (NERS) with provincial and territorial officials, which was approved by Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers in January 2011. The NERS enables coordinated efforts in responding to emergencies. 

The Government Operations Centre (GOC) is the principal means by which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness' leadership role in establishing an integrated approach to emergency response is exercised.  Housed at Public Safety Canada, the GOC, on behalf of the Government of Canada, supports response coordination of events affecting the national interest. It brings all partners into a common environment to harmonize and synchronize collective actions of those partners. The GOC operates 24/7 to provide watch, warning, analysis, planning, logistics support and coordination across the federal government and with its partners, including provincial and territorial governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and international partners.

Recovery from Disasters

The Government of Canada supports the efforts of communities to recover from emergencies and their often tragic consequences. Public Safety Canada provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA), in the event of a large-scale natural disaster where response and recovery costs exceed what individual provinces and territories could reasonably be expected to bear on their own. The DFAA guidelines provide details on provincial and territorial disaster expenses that are eligible for federal cost-sharing.

Emergency Management Exemplary Service Award

Federal/Provincial and Territorial Ministers recognize the work being done across Canada to prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters.

Emergency Management in Indigenous Communities

Public Safety Canada is committed to continued engagement and collaboration with Indigenous partners to better support emergency management in Indigenous communities.

Canadian Disaster Database

Canadian Disaster Database
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