Summary of the Joint Audit and Evaluation of the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements Program
About the Program
In the event of a large-scale natural disaster, the Government of Canada provides financial assistance to provincial and territorial governments (PTs) through the DFAA program, administered by Public Safety Canada (PS).
Since the inception of the DFAA in 1970, the Government of Canada has contributed more than $6 billion in post-disaster assistance to help PTs with the costs of response and of returning infrastructure and personal property to pre-disaster condition. Over half of this has been contributed in the last ten years of the program.
What We Examined
This engagement is a joint audit and evaluation project. Given the importance of the DFAA to the Department it was determined that the oversight provided by both audit and evaluation would be useful in supporting the program. The purpose of the engagement was to examine the progress made by the DFAA in achieving outcomes and assess the relevance of the DFAA with regards to the continuing need for the program and the alignment with current disaster management principles. The engagement also assessed the governance, risk management and internal control processes supporting the management and delivery of the DFAA. The engagement covered the period from fiscal year 2016-17 to 2020-21.
- Given the increasing frequency and severity of disasters within Canada, there is a continued need for the financial assistance provided by PS through the DFAA.
- The DFAA does not sufficiently align with current disaster management principles. The program and its guidelines require updating to better align with both the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; as well as address current best practices in emergency management.
- The DFAA assists PTs by providing post-disaster funding.
- Funding for Mitigation Enhancements and Innovative Recovery Solutions has been accessed for a small number of disasters. While stakeholders agree that mitigation is an important element of disaster management, there remain challenges in accessing and applying these funds as set out in the DFAA.
- The program collects data from PTs for financial audit purposes. There is a gap in information available to make informed program decisions. The current guidelines, which have been in place since 2008 require updating.
- Improvements are required to better define and communicate internal stakeholder roles and responsibilities.
- While some tools, guidance, processes and procedures exist to support the administration of the DFAA, there are opportunities for improvement. Technological resources could be better leveraged in support of sound information management processes.
- The internal control processes for the DFAA are designed and implemented as intended to support the administration of the DFAA. Areas for minor improvement were noted.
It is recommended that, in line with ongoing work in the Department including the DFAA Program Review, PS should:
- Revise the DFAA to better reflect current emergency management realities and ensure alignment with current frameworks and strategies. This should include an increased focus on all hazards and the importance of mitigation.
- Establish and implement a formal information management system in support of complete, accurate and consistent program information while considering the information necessary to support decision making and forward-looking policy recommendations.
- Develop and communicate a framework that delineates internal stakeholder roles and responsibilities throughout the DFAA lifecycle.
- Explore mechanisms to share lessons learned identified through the DFAA audits with program staff, departmental management, and the Departmental Audit Committee, as required, to better support DFAA oversight and decision making.
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