1.1. An overview of the provincial role in emergencies

Under Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, R.S.O. 1990, Chapter E.9 (EMCPA), an emergency is "a situation or an impending situation that constitutes a danger of major proportions that could result in serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property and that is caused by the forces of nature, a disease or other health risk, an accident, or an act whether intentional or otherwise".

Emergencies threaten public safety, public health, the environment, property, continuity of government operations, critical infrastructure, and economic stability. Emergencies vary in intensity and complexity depending on factors such as time of occurrence, weather conditions, severity of impact, type and construction of the affected infrastructure and buildings, type of hazard, and demographics.

In most instances, for emergencies that exceed the capacity of the individual, families or businesses, the impacted communityfootnote 1 manages the emergency response and recovery. Communities do this as a matter of routine by emergency services (including police, fire, and paramedic services), and in more serious cases by implementing their emergency plan. At this level of response, there are also other organizations and institutions that may have emergency responsibilities to manage, such as the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care managing disruptions to the provincial health system; or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry managing wildfires.

Occasionally, emergencies can arise where communities need additional support. In these instances, direct provincial government assistance may be necessary to support local emergency response activities. Similarly, the Government of Ontario frequently plays a role in supporting emergencies outside the province. Other jurisdictions outside of Ontario such as the Government of Canada or a neighbouring province may request support from Ontario when their response capabilities are not sufficient.

When the provincial government is responding to emergencies, there is often a need to coordinate between its various ministries and other provincial organizations. The PERP provides guidance on how this coordination is achieved.

1.2. The Provincial Emergency Response Plan

The Provincial Emergency Response Plan (PERP) describes how Ontario coordinates the provincial-level response to emergencies that involve multiple provincial ministries and/or other organizations of the provincial government.

The PERP focuses on coordinating the efforts and resources of the Province of Ontario in an emergency involving multiple ministries and other provincial organizations. For these types of large or complex emergencies, the PERP provides information on how the Province of Ontario works with communities, the federal government, the private sector, and other emergency management stakeholders.

The primary audience for the PERP is the emergency managers who are developing their own plans and procedures for emergency response in Ontario. The PERP is also meant to be used by stakeholders in emergency management, and members of the public who wish to know how the Government of Ontario responds to emergencies.

The PERP meets the Solicitor General's requirement to have a plan for emergency response pursuant to the assignment under Order in Council 1157/2009 of "any emergency that requires the coordination of provincial emergency management".

1.3. Communities in Ontario

1.3.1. Municipalities

A municipality is an incorporated administrative area, which has powers of self-government and jurisdiction as provided by provincial law (Municipal Act, S.O. 2001, c. 25). Most people in Ontario live within a municipality.

1.3.2. First Nations in Ontario

The PERP uses the phrase First Nations community to refer to on-reserve First Nations.

It is important to recognize that First Nation communities are not subject to the EMPCA. The Province of Ontario, through the PEOC, provides emergency response assistance to First Nation communities through an agreement with the Government of Canada, as administered by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC). ISC is the federal government department responsible for working with First Nations and the Province of Ontario on emergency management issues. ISC is also responsible for assisting First Nation communities in developing and updating emergency plans at the regional and national level, as well as plans to mitigate the risk of emergencies (see section 2.7.7 for further details on plans).

Many Indigenous peoples live and form communities outside of First Nations reserves. In these circumstances, emergency management falls under the municipal or unincorporated communities in which they reside.

1.3.3. Unincorporated communities

Not all Ontarians reside in areas that are designated as municipalities under the Municipal Act, S.O. 2001, c. 25. Under the Municipal Act, areas that are not organized into municipalities are referred to as unorganized territories, and do not have municipal governments. In recognition of the fact that there may be some organization in areas without a municipal government, the PERP uses unincorporated communities to refer to the people who live in unorganized territories.

1.4. Emergency management in Ontario

1.4.1 Emergency management programs

Emergency management consists of organized programs and activities which address actual or potential emergencies or disasters.

Emergency management in Ontario is a shared responsibility that includes individuals and families, unincorporated communities, First Nations, municipal, provincial, and federal governments, and other involved organizations such as critical infrastructure owners and operators, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Emergency management programs are risk-based programs consisting of prescribed elements that may include prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery activities. In Ontario, these programs generally include:

  • Emergency plans, which often include continuity of operations plans.
  • Training for various emergency management activities.
  • Public education on risks to public safety and on personal preparedness for emergencies.

1.4.2. Ontario's emergency management governance Solicitor General

The Solicitor General is responsible for administering the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA), which is the overarching legislation for emergency management in Ontario. Ministries and other provincial government bodies

Section 5.1 of the EMCPA sets requirements for emergency management programs for ministries and other provincial government bodies. Additional standards for emergency management programs are set out in Ontario Regulation (O. Reg.) 380/04, made in accordance with section 14 of the EMCPA.

The EMCPA authorizes the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) to assign types of emergency to ministers, or agency, boards or commissions. The LGIC has assigned these responsibilities under Order in Council (OIC) 1157/2009, which can be found in Appendix C. OIC 1157/2009 does not currently assign any types of emergencies to Agencies, Boards, or Commissions.

Under OIC 1157/2009, all ministers are required to have an emergency plan "in respect of any emergency that affects the continuity of operations and services in their respective ministries". This requirement is mirrored in section 7 of O. Reg. 380/04.

While the EMCPA and its regulation provide requirements for ministry emergency management programs, each ministry manages its own emergency programs according to its mandate. Some individual ministries have other emergency responsibilities under separate legislation, which is covered in their own emergency plans. Municipalities

Section 2.1 of the EMCPA sets requirements for emergency management programs for municipalities. Additional standards for emergency management programs are set out in O. Reg. 380/04, made in accordance with section 14 of the EMCPA. Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management

The EMCPA allows the LGIC to appoint from among the members of the Executive Council a committee to advise the LGIC on matters relating to emergencies. This cabinet advisory committee has been established as the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management (CCEM) through Order in Council 601/2019.

The Cabinet Office supports the CCEM and acts as a link to the Premier's Office. Chief of Emergency Management Ontario

The LGIC is responsible for appointing a Chief of Emergency Management Ontario (Chief, EMO). The Chief, EMO, leads the emergency management branch of the Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management (OFMEM).

The Chief, EMO, under the direction of the Solicitor General, is responsible for monitoring, coordinating, and assisting in the development and implementation of emergency management programs for:

  • Provincial organizations: all ministries of the Government of Ontario and every agency, board, commission and other branch of government designated under the EMCPA by the LGIC.
  • Municipalities in Ontario.

Through agreements with the Government of Canada and First Nations in Ontario, the Chief, EMO also supports emergency management for First Nation communities.

Under the EMCPA the Chief, EMO is responsible for ensuring that emergency management programs in Ontario are co-ordinated in so far as possible with emergency management programs and emergency plans of the Government of Canada and its agencies. This includes providing support and assistance to the emergency management programs of municipalities and Ontario government organizations.

The Solicitor General has assigned responsibility to the Chief, EMO for administering and implementing the PERP, and for operation of the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC).

The PEOC is the central coordination hub for the overall provincial emergency response organization \(provincial ERO). The provincial ERO is the collection of provincial organizations that are responsible for conducting emergency response actions in Ontario. The provincial ERO is made up of all of the provincial organizations that are actively involved in an emergency response operation. The specific organizations that are active in the provincial ERO can vary, depending on the requirements of the emergency.

1.5. Glossary and acronyms

Acronyms and abbreviations are defined in Appendix A footnote 2. Terms are defined in the glossary in Appendix B.

1.6. PERP reviews and revisions

The PERP shall be fully reviewed and amended by the Chief, EMO at least once every five years. Updates may be required sooner than 5 years if an unforeseen situation warrants it – for example, a major change to the EMCPA. The Solicitor General is responsible for directing revisions sooner than scheduled.

The five-year review process for the PERP shall include:

  • Appropriate consultations with stakeholders to ensure that the plan reflects current emergency management directives, changes to legislation and/or other changes to address best practice emergency management methodologies.
  • A review of all after-action review reports, corrective action plans, improvement plans, and any other provincial government reports with recommendations relevant to the PERP produced since the last revision.
  • An assessment of the existing capability to meet the requirements of the PERP.

The Chief, EMO shall review the PERP on an annual basis to identify any need for an early entry to the full review cycle, or to identify any technical amendments that may need to be made. Technical amendments may include minor updates such as: changes to ministry names, corrections to fix grammar or typographical errors \(typos), minor clarifications. Technical amendments to the plan may be made by the Chief, EMO between major revisions.

The Chief, EMO is responsible for ensuring that the most up-to-date version of the PERP is distributed to stakeholders in Ontario.