Requests for federal assistance

In Canada, emergencies are managed first at the local level: hospitals, fire departments, police and municipalities. If they need assistance at the local level, they request it from their province or territory. If the emergency escalates beyond their capabilities, the province or territory seeks assistance  from the federal government.

A request for federal assistance (RFA) is how a province or territory formally requests support from the federal government in their emergency response efforts . The RFA involves official communication between a provincial, territorial or federal department and Public Safety. It outlines the need for federal assistance to respond to an emergency when the jurisdiction needs additional resources, including requests for Canadian Armed Forces support.

The province or territory submits a formal RFA to describe what they would need in federal government support for a successful emergency response. The well-established process in place for managing RFAs, through the Government Operations Centre (GOC), includes interdepartmental consultation and coordination.

Public Safety coordinates Emergency Management Requests for federal assistance which can include:

The GOC continues to coordinate formal requests for assistance from federal departments and provincial and territorial governments. For example, for pandemic-related requests, the GOC works with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), the Canadian Red Cross (CRC) and others as required.

RFAs can be limited in scope and fairly straightforward with specific or limited resource requirements. RFAs can also be complex and require significant and sustained responses that are expensive and demanding of resources. Public Safety Canada regional offices and the GOC will work with the province or territory and other federal government partners to assess a request to determine how the assistance can be provided whether it is by federal departments or the private sector.

Public Safety's Government Operations Centre is ready to respond to any situation, at any time. Its all-hazards approach to planning, response and support means the Government of Canada can adapt quickly, under any circumstance, when a province or territory asks for help.

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