6.1. Operational phases

The Provincial Emergency Response Plan (PERP) recognizes two progressive and overlapping operational phases: response and recovery.

These phases are consistent with description provided in the planning basis (section 3). Each of the response phase and recovery phase have distinct purposes, characterized by their associated strategic objectives, as follows:

Response phase: The aim of measures taken during response is to ensure that a controlled, coordinated, and effective response is quickly undertaken at the outset of the emergency to minimize its impact on public safety.

Recovery phase: The aim of measures taken during recovery is to assist individuals, businesses and communities to return to a state of normalcy. The PERP focuses on recovery only where it overlaps with response.

These concepts can also be represented graphically, shown in Figure 6-1.

Figure 6-1. Contact us at AskOFMEM@ontario.ca if you require details in an alternative format.
Figure 6-1: Operational Phases | View full size

6.1.1. Coordination of recovery activities

While the focus of the provincial emergency response organization (provincial ERO) is on response, it is recognized that recovery activities take place concurrently. Where there is an identified need for multi-organization coordination, the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre (PEOC) should lead provincial coordination of ongoing tasks regardless of whether they are considered to be response or recovery tasks.

Coordination of recovery operations by the PEOC should continue until such time there is no further need for coordination between provincial ministries, all tasks are completed, or overall coordination can be transferred to another organization with jurisdiction and capacity to take on the coordination role.

6.2. Ministry emergency response

Provincial officials with roles reflected in this PERP are responsible for familiarizing themselves and their personnel with the contents of the PERP, and for developing procedures for carrying out their responsibilities.

The Government of Ontario's emergency response is guided by ministry emergency plans and the PERP. Guidance on what should be addressed by each ministry in their emergency plans are included in Appendix G. Ministry emergency plans should be supported by procedures to be used during response.

Where the Government of Ontario is responding to a type of emergency that is assigned by Order in Council (OIC) 1157/2009, the ministry that has been assigned responsibility for that type of emergency is considered the lead ministry. The lead ministry is responsible for enacting the ministry's emergency response plan for the assigned type of emergency. The PEOC is responsible for coordinating response activities between ministries and other provincial organizations, in line with the OIC assignment to the Solicitor General of "any emergency that requires the coordination of provincial emergency management".

It is important to note that assignment of specific responsibilities to ministries does not remove or supersede existing community or organizational responsibilities. Where ministries are responding to an emergency within their mandate, communities retain their responsibilities for emergency management.

Once an emergency occurs, any ministry may be expected to provide assistance. Assistance may include the provision of advice, personnel, equipment, supplies and other resources to assist in dealing with an emergency.

Ministry activities during response may include:

  • Responding to requests for emergency assistance from communities or other organizations impacted by an emergency.
  • Reporting of all such requests to senior officials within their ministry.
  • Committing the resources, capabilities, and expertise necessary to deal with emergencies.
  • Coordinating with other emergency response organizations.
  • Taking actions upon the issuance of an emergency order by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (LGIC) or a delegate under section 7.0.2 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

The PEOC is responsible for coordinating a joint response between several ministries. This may include coordinating the deployment of provincial staff to work with affected communities to assist and liaise with staff in the field. Each ministry is ultimately responsible for the deployment and direction of their own staff. The PEOC works to share requests for assistance, identify needs for deployed staff, and ensure that when staff are deployed from multiple provincial organizations that their activities are coordinated between each other.

6.3. Public alerting

If public alerting is required during an emergency, the PEOC shall use the provincial public alerting system, which includes the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination (NAAD) system and Alert Ready, the national wireless public alerting system. Alert Ready delivers critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices.

The PEOC is the authority in Ontario for issuing alerts through Alert Ready. The PEOC shall maintain a 24/7 capability to operate the Alert Ready system on behalf of communities and provincial organizations in Ontario.

Any organization that identifies a need for public alerting should contact the PEOC. The OFMEM shall develop and maintain a protocol for communities to request the PEOC to initiate a public alert.

6.4. Monitoring and notification

6.4.1. Monitoring for emergencies

In the absence of an emergency, the provincial response level is always at a state of Routine Monitoring (see section 6.5 for more details on activation levels).

The PEOC shall constantly monitor various sources of information for potential emergencies in the province. Other ministries may monitor for emergencies according to their own emergency response plans.

In some cases, prior warning may come from outside organizations that have access to scientific/technical methods of predicting floods, forest fires, and severe weather, or from intelligence and threat risk assessment operations. Where reliable prediction is possible, action can be taken before the onset of an emergency. The PEOC should disseminate any information regarding the emergency it receives to the appropriate stakeholders.

For more details on the PEOC's information management process, see Section 6.9.

6.4.2. Notification of an emergency

The Chief, EMO shall, through the PEOC, maintain a 24/7 reporting point that at a minimum has the capability to receive notifications via phone, email, or fax. In the event of a widespread telecommunications failure, the PEOC shall also maintain an amateur radio station to be used for notifications once the amateur radio emergency service (ARES) has been activated.

Refer to Section 6.10.2 for further information on PEOC telecommunications capabilities.

Potential and actual emergencies requiring the coordination of activities between multiple provincial organizations should be reported promptly to the PEOC by the fastest means available. Notwithstanding the above general requirement, communities should, and ministries shall notify the PEOC in any of the following instances:

  • A municipal emergency operations centre is activated.
  • A ministry emergency operations centre is activated.
  • An emergency occurs that would exceed a community's capacity to respond. For the purposes of notification, a community's capacity includes any existing mutual assistance agreements.
  • An emergency occurs that requires more than one ministry to respond.
  • An emergency occurs that would create significant financial impact on the community(ies) in question.
  • An emergency occurs that may generate significant public or media interest (including social media).

When notified by a community, organization, or ministry of an actual or potential emergency, the PEOC determines the appropriate provincial response level, as described in the next section (6.5).

6.5. Activation

6.5.1. Overview and responsibilities

The provincial ERO responds to emergencies or potential emergencies according to three levels of operational response, referred to as the provincial response level. The provincial response level reflects the overall need for a multi-ministry response on behalf of the province.

The provincial response level is not the activation level for each ministry or other provincial organization. The ministries will activate based on the criteria in their own emergency plans. Ministries may use different activation systems and terminology than is used in the PERP to guide their response.

The PEOC Commander is responsible for making a decision to raise or lower the provincial response level.

The PEOC, as the core of the provincial ERO, adopts the provincial response level as its own activation level.

6.5.2. Provincial response levels

The three provincial response levels are routine monitoring, enhanced monitoring, and activation (shown in Figure 6-2).

The provincial response level adopted will depend upon the severity of the emergency and the appropriate type and level of staffing required to monitor and/or respond. The PEOC Commander may direct a move from any activation level to any other activation level. For example, in fast-developing emergencies, the PEOC Commander may decide to immediately change the provincial response level to activation.

6.5.2.1. Routine monitoring

This is the default provincial response level. The PEOC shall continually monitor the province for potential or actual emergencies through the 24/7 Duty Officers and Duty Team.

At routine monitoring:

  • The PEOC may be staffed with additional personnel where the Duty Team requires assistance.
  • Ministries and other organizations are not expected to dispatch liaisons to the PEOC at this level.
  • The Communications Branch, Ministry of the Solicitor General will also be notified of events that receive or are likely to receive significant media attention.
  • The PEOC may also begin distributing event-specific information products, as required (section 6.9.2).

6.5.2.2. Enhanced monitoring

All activities that are carried out at routine monitoring will continue to be carried out at enhanced monitoring.

Enhanced monitoring is for emergencies that require some coordination, planning, and/or monitoring activities, but do not require a full provincial response. This typically means some combination of:

  • A need to conduct contingency planning for a situation where a request for provincial assistance is anticipated.
  • A need to pre-position resources.
  • A need to coordinate between a small number of communities, ministries or other key stakeholders.

When the PEOC first adopts enhanced monitoring, the PEOC Commander shall:

  • Notify partner organizations of the change in the provincial response level.
  • Set an operational period for the provincial ERO.
  • Initiate the development of the incident action plan (section 6.8.1.4).
  • Begin conducting regular event coordination briefings (section 6.8.1.3).

At enhanced monitoring:

  • The PEOC should be staffed with a limited number of personnel according to the needs of the event.
  • The PEOC may request that ministries and other organizations that are directly involved in the response send liaisons to the PEOC.
  • The PEOC may coordinate the deployment of provincial staff to liaise with communities, depending on the needs of the situation.
  • The Provincial Emergency Information Section (PEIS), or components of it, may be activated, at the direction of the Provincial Chief Emergency Information Officer.
  • PEOC shall also begin distributing event-specific information products (section 6.9.2).

6.5.2.3. Activation

All activities that are carried out at routine and enhanced monitoring will continue to be carried out at activation.

Activation is for emergencies that require a coordinated response across many provincial organizations and communities. Additional activities at activation include:

  • The PEOC should be staffed as necessary to carry out assessments of the situation, to initiate response activities and to coordinate the ongoing provincial operations.
  • The PEOC should request that ministries and other organizations that are directly involved in the response send liaisons to the PEOC.
  • The PEOC should deploy additional provincial staff to liaise with communities.
  • The PEIS shall be activated.

Any provincial organizations not yet directly involved in the response should monitor PEOC information products, and be prepared to respond if required.

Figure 6-2: Provincial response levels
 Indicators for escalation*PEOC activitiesPEOC staffing
Routine monitoring
  • Non-emergency operations

Routine watch and warning activities

  • Regular PEOC threat-risk assessments
  • Regular situation reports
About 3-7 personnel

Routine staffing:

  • 24/7 PEOC Duty Officers
  • On-call Duty Team
  • Assistance from OFMEM day staff as needed
Enhanced monitoring
  • Need for contingency planning
  • Need to pre-position resources
  • Need to coordinate between a small number (2-7) of ministries and / or communities

All activities from "Routine Monitoring" and:

  • Operational period set
  • Planning cycle started, including development of incident action plans
  • Event coordination briefings

About 8-16 personnel

Partial staffing:

  • Ministry and/or federal representatives as required.
  • PEOC sections staffed and scheduled as needed.
Activation
  • Need to coordinate response across the provincial government and / or many communities

All activities from "Enhanced Monitoring" and:

  • Deployment of provincial resources coordinated as required (e.g., incident management teams, OFMEM liaisons)

More than 16 personnel

Full staffing:

  • Liaisons for all provincial and federal ministries that are involved in the response
  • All PEOC sections staffed
  • Other liaisons as required

*The PEOC Commander may move from any response level to any other response level. For example, in fast-developing emergencies, the PEOC commander may decide to immediately adopt "Activation".

6.5.3. Multiple emergencies

In situations where the province is managing multiple emergencies at once, the PEOC Commander should direct adoption of a provincial response level according to the total coordination needs of all active emergencies.

6.6. Declarations of emergency

6.6.1 Duty to respond

Provincial and municipal officials can initiate an emergency response in accordance with their emergency plans, procedures, and other legislated responsibilities without a declaration of emergency under the EMCPA.

An official declaration of emergency does not need to be made if normal powers and procedures will suffice.

Declarations of emergency are not required to request aid from the provincial ERO.

6.6.2. Municipal declaration of emergency

The legal authority for making and terminating municipal declarations of emergency is set out in the EMCPA. A municipal declaration of emergency allows the head of a municipality to make orders that they feel are necessary to protect property and the health, safety and welfare of the inhabitants, as long as the orders are not contrary to law.

6.6.2.1. Declaration

Municipal councils have the authority and responsibility to make municipal declarations of emergency within the boundaries of their municipality.

6.6.2.2. Termination

Municipal heads of council, or a majority of municipal council, have the authority to terminate a municipally declared emergency within the boundaries of their municipality at any time.

The Premier of Ontario has the authority to terminate any municipal declarations of emergency at any time.

6.6.2.3. Notifications

If the head of council of a municipality makes a municipal declaration of emergency, they are required to notify the Solicitor General as per subsection 4. (3) of the EMCPA. The notification should be in the form of a phone call followed by a written notification via email or fax to the PEOC. This notification may be performed by a delegate of the head of council (often the CEMC).

6.6.3. Declaration of a provincial emergency

6.6.3.1. Declaration

The LGIC has the authority and responsibility to make a provincial declaration of emergency, subject to the criteria set out in the EMCPA. Appendix E describes the process, key steps, and criteria that must be followed.

If the urgency of the situation requires that an emergency order be made immediately, a provincial declaration of emergency may be made by the Premier in the absence of the LGIC. An urgent provincial declaration of emergency by the Premier is automatically terminated after 72 hours unless confirmed by the LGIC.

A provincial declaration of emergency may include the Province of Ontario in its entirety or any portion or area thereof. A declaration of emergency should define an emergency area. The size of the emergency area to be designated should be sufficiently large to ensure public safety while also avoiding the unnecessary disruption to business and public and private activities.

A provincial declaration of emergency and any orders made under it do not apply to First Nations reserves, as they are not subject to the EMCPA.

6.6.3.2. Identifying the need to declare

Ministries should identify the need to make a provincial declaration of emergency and make emergency orders for subjects within their mandate, following the criteria set out in the EMCPA. If this requirement exists, the responsible minister should advise the Premier and the LGIC. Ministries should advise the PEOC if a recommendation has been made to the Premier or LGIC.

The PEOC is responsible for advising the LGIC – via the reporting chain described in Section 4 – of any need for a provincial declaration of emergency.

Municipalities may identify a need for emergency orders to be made to support their response efforts (for example, to support a mandatory evacuation). Municipalities should communicate this need to the PEOC. The PEOC shall work with the other ministries as outlined above to notify the LGIC of a need to declare in order to support the municipality.

6.6.3.3. Emergency orders

Once a provincial declaration of emergency has been made, the LGIC has the power to make emergency orders and may delegate these powers to a Minister or to the Commissioner of Emergency Management. All emergency orders must be consistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Provincial emergency orders are only applicable to municipalities and unorganized communities in Ontario. They are not applicable to First Nation communities on reserve.

A Minister to whom powers have been delegated may further delegate any of his or her powers to the Commissioner of Emergency Management.

Emergency orders are only made if they are necessary and essential, would alleviate harm or damage, and are a reasonable alternative to other measures. The orders must only apply to the areas where they are necessary and should be effective for only as long as is necessary.

As specified in the EMCPA 7.0.2. (4), emergency orders may be made in respect to the following:

  • Implementing any emergency plans formulated under section 3, 6, 8 or 8.1 of the EMCPA.
  • Regulating or prohibiting travel or movement in a specified area.
  • Evacuating individuals and animals and removing personal property from any specified area and making arrangements for the adequate care and protection of individuals and property.
  • Establishing facilities for the care, welfare, safety and shelter of individuals, including emergency shelters and hospitals.
  • Closing any place, whether public or private, including any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution.
  • To prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of the emergency, constructing works, restoring necessary facilities and appropriating, using, destroying, removing or disposing of property.
  • Collecting, transporting, storing, processing and disposing of any type of waste.
  • Authorizing facilities, including electrical generating facilities, to operate as is necessary.
  • Using any necessary goods, services and resources within any part of Ontario, distributing, and making available necessary goods, services and resources and establishing centres for their distribution.
  • Procuring necessary goods, services and resources.
  • Fixing prices for necessary goods, services and resources and prohibiting charging unconscionable prices in respect of necessary goods, services and resources.
  • Authorizing, but not requiring, any person to render services of a type that that person, or a person of that class, is reasonably qualified to provide.
  • Subject to EMCPA subsection 7.0.2 (7), requiring that any person collect, use, or disclose information that in the opinion of the LGIC may be necessary in order to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of the emergency.
  • Consistent with the powers authorized in this subsection, taking such other actions or implementing such other measures as the LGIC considers necessary in order to prevent, respond to or alleviate the effects of the emergency.

An order made by the LGIC or a Minister is revoked 14 days after it is made unless it is revoked sooner. An order made by the Commissioner of Emergency Management is revoked at the end of the second full day following its making unless it is confirmed before that time by order of the LGIC, the Premier, or the Minister who delegated the power to make the order. Orders may be extended by the LGIC for no more than 14 days after the termination of the provincial declaration of emergency.

Appendix E contains a detailed description of the emergency order process and criteria.

6.6.3.4. Reporting to the public during a provincial declaration of emergency

During a provincial declaration of emergency, the Premier, or a Minister to whom the Premier delegates the responsibility, is required to regularly report to the public with respect to the emergency.

6.6.3.5. Termination of a provincial declaration of emergency

The LGIC may terminate a provincial declaration of emergency at any time.

A provincial declaration of emergency made by the LGIC lasts for 14 days unless terminated. This declaration can be renewed for one further period of 14 days as long as it continues to meet the requirements laid out in the EMCPA.

The Legislative Assembly may, by resolution, extend the length of a provincial declaration of emergency for additional periods of no more than 28 days for as many times as required.

A provincial declaration of emergency made by the Premier lapses after 72 hours unless confirmed by the LGIC.

6.6.4. Declaration of an emergency in an on-reserve First Nation

First Nations can declare emergencies that trigger the bilateral agreement for emergency response between Ontario and Canada. An emergency declaration from a First Nation does not have any direct links to provincial or federal legislation. Indigenous Services Canada typically requires a band council resolution be made to declare the emergency, but they may verbally declare an emergency if experiencing a telephone or power outage with a band council resolution to follow.

First Nations are advised to notify the PEOC when an emergency declaration is made. The notification should be in the form of a phone call followed by a written notification via email or fax to the PEOC.

The PEOC shall respond to a declaration of an emergency in a First Nation the same way it would respond to a municipal declaration.

6.6.5. Declaration of an emergency in an unorganized territory

Unincorporated communities living in an unorganized territory may advise the PEOC if a provincial declaration of emergency is needed to support their response activities.

The PEOC is responsible for working with the ministries to make recommendations to the LGIC if a provincial declaration of emergency is required in an unorganized territory. The process for the provincial declaration of emergency and powers described in Appendix E will then apply.

6.7. Requests for assistance

A community, organization, or ministry may identify a need for provincial assistance for a number of reasons, including:

  • A community requires more support than is available under their existing mutual aid/assistance agreements.
  • A provincial ministry leading a response under their assigned responsibilities identifies a need for additional support.
  • Any stakeholder identifies additional activities that need provincial coordination.

6.7.1. Responding to requests for provincial assistance

Communities, organizations, and ministries can request emergency assistance from a provincial organization without dealing with the PEOC where there is an existing link. Requests may be directed to the PEOC where there is no clear relationship for making a request for provincial assistance or where it is unclear to the requestor which provincial organization would have the ability to provide the requested support.

First Nations requesting assistance from the PEOC should include Indigenous Services Canada on the request.

The PEOC considers the alignment of requests for assistance with the capability or scope of the agencies within the provincial ERO and works to develop a reply. Where the request is for resources or capabilities belonging to another ministry or other member of the provincial ERO, the decision to deploy resources is ultimately made by that organization.

The PEOC shall coordinate requests for assistance by:

  • Working with the requestor to identify and describe the resources and/or capabilities needed.
  • Working with the ministries and other provincial organizations to identify sources for the needed resources or capabilities, with considerations for:
    • Availability.
    • Effectiveness in achieving the objective.
    • Cost.
    • Proximity.
    • Existing arrangements (including liability and WSIB protection).
  • Identifying length-of deployment conditions.

6.7.2. Requests for federal assistance

A request from the Government of Ontario to the federal government to provide support for emergency response and recovery efforts shall be formalized through a request for assistance (RFA). All such requests for federal assistance from communities or ministries shall be made through the PEOC.

Prior to issuing an RFA, the PEOC must confirm that no other suitable resources are available. Once confirmed, the PEOC will initiate the RFA through the Public Safety Canada (PS) Ontario Regional Office /Regional Director.

This process can begin informally with a telephone request from an elected official to the Minister of Public Safety, but must then be followed by a formal RFA between the Ontario Solicitor General (or another appropriate Minister) and the federal Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. An RFA should clearly describe the desired effect or outcome intended by the PEOC, and should include any applicable tasks that need to be fulfilled, as well as disengagement or termination criteria. This will allow PS to identify and assess the most appropriate resources and capacity. The request should clearly indicate that no other suitable resources are available to fill the needs described in the request.

The PS Ontario Regional Director is the primary agent responsible for the receipt of provincial requests for assistance. The PS Ontario Regional Director is required to support the provinces and territories with the development and routing of these requests, lead the Federal Coordination Group to identify federal assets which may be available to assist the Province and liaise with the Government Operations Centre to expedite the federal response. The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness has the ultimate authority for approving RFAs.

When federal assistance may be required, the PEOC should have preliminary discussions with the PS Ontario Regional Office to determine what federal assets would be available for the particular emergency. The Federal Coordination Group will determine if there are other assets in the region or nationally that could meet the required need.

6.7.3. Out-of-province mutual assistance

6.7.3.1. Provincial-level agreements

Ontario is also a signatory to two major mutual assistance agreements specifically designed for emergency management support:

  • The Canadian Council of Emergency Management Organizations (CCEMO) Emergency Management Mutual Assistance (EMMA) agreement.
    • Includes all Canadian provinces and territories.
  • Northern Emergency Management Assistance Compact (NEMAC) agreementfootnote 17
    • Includes Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, Alberta, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, and Indiana.

In addition to these agreements, out-of-province requests for assistance can also be coordinated through Public Safety Canada to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, or other international emergency management agencies.

Provincial organizations and ministries should administer mutual assistance agreements within their own authorities to support their emergency response and recovery activities.

Example: The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry works with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) to share forest fire fighting resources under the Canadian Interagency Mutual Aid Resources Sharing (MARS) Agreement.

6.7.3.2. International assistance concerns

Organizations making requests for assistance from outside of Canada should be aware of potential challenges in bringing personnel and supplies across the border.

The Federal Coordination Centre can assist in liaising with the Canadian Border Services Agency to facilitate border crossings. In addition, there may be liability issues with personnel coming across the border related to licencing to practice certain professions, such as medicine and engineering. Of particular note is the travel of ambulances across borders, as they often carry restricted substances (drugs) that they may not be licenced to carry in Canada.

6.7.3.3. Making requests under NEMAC or CCEMO EMMA

The PEOC should coordinate out-of-province requests under NEMAC and CCEMO EMMA when required, and the needed resources or capabilities are not available in the province (through municipal or provincial assets, or existing mutual assistance agreements), or through the private sector. Ministries and municipalities should notify the PEOC when they need to make an out-of-province request for assistance that is not covered by their existing mutual assistance agreements.

Once a request is made, the supplying organization(s) will usually provide a cost estimate for the resources being requested. Where these cost estimates exceed delegated financial authorities, the PEOC should work to seek financial approvals, including seeking Treasury Board approval where required.

6.8. Coordination

6.8.1. Mechanisms for coordination

6.8.1.1. Deployment of representatives to the PEOC

The PEOC is a facility designed to support coordination of emergency response between the organizations of the provincial ERO. The physical site enables the co-location of representatives from many organizations, and facilitates a collaborative approach to response.

6.8.1.2. Deployment of provincial staff to affected communities

At the community level, designated emergency response officials are responsible for the conduct of operations within their jurisdiction. In the initial stages of an emergency, the PEOC may communicate directly with community officials to offer advice and assistance as needed.

During an emergency, a provincial representative may be deployed to a community as a liaison, to provide emergency management support and advice. The PEOC is responsible for coordinating the deployment of the provincial representative. This representative will frequently be an OFMEM Field Officer, but depending on the scale of emergency additional staff may be requested from within the provincial ERO.

The provincial representative will not direct any community response or recovery activities, nor make decisions regarding assistance provided to the community. Advice and assistance at this level typically involves:

  • Facilitating contact with ministry offices where normal community/provincial linkages are not available (for example outside of normal business hours).
  • Initiating a request for provincial assistance.
  • Canvassing other communities to identify resources that might be made available.

If a provincial representative has been deployed to a community EOC, the PEOC shall communicate with that community through the deployed OFMEM representative.

In circumstances where multiple communities are simultaneously affected by the emergency, it may not be operationally feasible to deploy a provincial representative to each community. Priority will be given to deploy a provincial representative to an upper tier municipality (if it exists), where the upper tier municipality serves as a conduit of information for lower tier municipalities.

Where no upper tier municipality exists, or where it is not possible to deploy additional provincial staff to each affected community, the PEOC shall deploy the provincial representative to a central location. From this location the provincial representative will facilitate liaison and support to multiple communities.

6.8.1.3. Event coordination briefings

The purpose of an event coordination briefing is to provide a forum for sharing information between multiple responding organizations simultaneously, to:

  • Update on the current situation.
  • Update on major tasks undertaken by each organization.
  • Discuss new and ongoing risks.
  • Identify potential conflicts.
  • Identify new support needs.

Event coordination briefings shall be chaired by the PEOC Commander or their delegate.

Event coordination briefings should include representatives from each organization that is actively participating in the provincial ERO, as well as any other organizations that need to be included for situational awareness.

The PEOC shall hold event coordination briefings at a minimum of once per operational cycle.

Organizations involved in emergency response and recovery should have their own briefings internally and with their own stakeholders as required, outside the PEOC event coordination briefings. The PEOC event coordination briefings should not be used to replace internal briefings for participating organizations.

The event coordination briefing is not a forum to solve problems. Once an issue is identified, it should be tasked to one or more organizations and taken offline.

6.8.1.4. Incident Action Plans

The PEOC shall produce an IMS 1001 Incident Action Plan (IAP) for each operational period that outlines the response coordination strategy adopted by the provincial ERO. The IAP should describe the objectives, strategies, and tactics to be implemented by the provincial ERO over the next operational period to address the ongoing emergency.

The PEOC Commander shall approve IAPs for the provincial ERO.

The PEOC's IAP informs but does not replace the planning documents of individual emergency organizations.

In addition to the IAP, the PEOC also produces dedicated products for information sharing, described in Section 6.9.2.

6.8.2. Coordination with federal authorities

6.8.2.1. Overview

The National Emergency Response System (NERS) provides for the harmonization of joint federal, provincial and territorial response to domestic emergencies. It describes emergency response interactions and linkages between individual provinces and Public Safety Canada. It lays out key principles for joint coordination.

The OFMEM will be responsible for liaison, on a routine basis, with the staff of the Public Safety Canada (PS) Ontario Regional Office regarding emergency situations and ongoing planning activities.

If a municipal, First Nations, or provincial emergency occurs that requires assistance from federal authorities, the PEOC will be responsible for coordinating the response with the PS Ontario Regional Office / Federal Coordination Centre. When the provincial response level is raised to enhanced monitoring or activation, the PEOC Commander or designate may request a Federal Liaison Officer from the PS Ontario Regional Office to attend the PEOC. The Federal Liaison Officer to the PEOC will normally be from the PS Regional Office. The PS representative will normally make reports at PEOC briefings on behalf of all federal departments who do not have representation at the PEOC.

In certain situations, the federal government may request the deployment of provincial staff to assist in a federal emergency. In such instances, the PEOC may work with the ministries or other provincial organizations to coordinate the deployment of provincial staff. The PEOC shall ensure that the Federal Coordination Centre is informed of its activities.

6.8.2.2. Coordination of deployed federal assistance

As federal department assistance is being provided to the province, federal activities will be coordinated and prioritized by the PEOC in consultation with the Federal Coordination Group and the PS Ontario Regional Office.

The PEOC and PS Ontario Regional Office / Federal Coordination Group, along with the applicable federal department(s) shall establish the parameters of the deployment of federal assistance, based on the needs of the emergency. This should include consideration for:

  • The assignment of federal assets to emergency response or recovery tasks, taking into account the number of personnel and specialized capabilities required.
  • The deployment of a federal liaison officer(s) to community EOC(s) to coordinate federal deployments.

Deployed federal assets should work with the communities being supported to direct activities, in accordance with the parameters set by the PEOC and Federal Coordination Group.

Where multiple communities are impacted by an incident, the PEOC will triage requests from communities in consultation with subject matter experts based on the severity of the threat and available resources. When federal resources are activated they will always operate in support of provincially-led efforts, responsive to and in cooperation with the PEOC. Federal involvement will cease as soon as the emergency situation no longer requires the assistance of the federal, as stated in the letter of agreement.

6.9. Information management and situational awareness

6.9.1. Information collection, confirmation, and analysis

The PEOC continuously monitors incoming and outgoing information to ensure the most accurate situational awareness possible.

Information for use as situational awareness can be obtained through various means, and includes, but is not limited to, information related to the:

  • Status of the event (locations, photographs, videos, confirmation of verbal reports, Geospatial Information Systems (GIS)/geoinformatics, etc.).
  • Status of deployed resources (locations, operational cycles, liaison contacts, etc.).
  • Status of future operations (challenges, potential gaps or perceived shortfalls).

Within the PEOC, all staff, including deployed liaisons, are responsible for:

  • Tracking tasks assigned to them, and following up with responsible parties, to maintain accurate situational awareness.
  • Maintaining logs of activities performed to ensure continuity of operations across all staff performing that function or role.
  • Authenticating operational information, to the fullest extent possible, prior to passing it on to other PEOC staff.

Liaisons to the PEOC are additionally responsible for:

  • Gathering pertinent information from their respective organizations or jurisdictions, collating it, and sharing it with PEOC staff and other stakeholders (as appropriate).

The PEOC shall have a process in place, as defined in the PEOC Operating Procedures, for sharing the information with all PEOC staff.

Key information collected, confirmed, and analysed through the PEOC information management process should be shared through the PEOC event coordination briefings (Section 6.8.1.1).

6.9.2. Information products

The PEOC is responsible for disseminating information products within the PEOC and to emergency management stakeholders. The PEOC is also responsible for providing information to ministries and communities not directly involved in the emergency response regarding the province's response to the emergency.

Depending on the situation, there are various information products that the PEOC will develop and disseminate to relevant emergency organizations (Figure 6-3).

At all provincial response levels, the PEOC develops a daily situation report that consolidates any relevant information on potential or actual threats and on-going emergencies in the Province. The PEOC disseminates this information product to emergency management stakeholders on a daily basis.

At the onset of an emergency the PEOC shall produce and disseminate an IMS 201 Incident Briefing document to provide a summary of the emergency event and initial response to the provincial ERO. The IMS 201 Incident Briefing document is only produced once for each incident. Thereafter, the PEOC shall produce and disseminate an IMS 209 Incident Status Summary to provide updates on the situation to the provincial ERO.

Figure 6-3
Figure 6-3: PEOC Information Products | Accessible description of Figure 6-3

The PEOC prepares an IMS 1001 Incident Action Plan (IAP) for each operational period to summarize the intended objectives and strategies for that particular operational period. Refer to Section 6.8.1.4 for requirements regarding IAPs.

A PEOC information product (whether an IMS 201 Incident Briefing or IMS 209 Incident Status Summary) shall be produced and shared at least once per operational period. Information products can be developed and disseminated more frequently at the discretion of the PEOC Commander.

Other information products (e.g., maps) will be developed and shared by the PEOC and other organizations within the provincial ERO as required.

6.9.3. Protection of information

It is the responsibility of all PEOC staff and emergency management stakeholders to protect and disseminate sensitive information in a manner that will prevent security and privacy breaches, and protect sources.

It is the responsibility of the "owner" of information to follow those procedures as are required by law in order to secure and protect information prior to sharing with stakeholders.

It is the responsibility of all recipients of information to protect it in accordance with its classification and to use it only for its intended purpose.

All information that is created by or passes through provincial organizations, including the PEOC, is subject to Ontario's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Personal health information is protected by the Personal Health Information Protection Act. Other organizations involved in response and recovery may be subject to their own similar legislation (for example, municipalities are subject to the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act).

6.10. Information technology, telecommunications and security

6.10.1. Information technology

Information technology is equipment or systems for storing, receiving, sending, and processing information. These systems can consist of a wide range of methods, devices, and processes, including, but not limited to: fixed and mobile phones, computers, databases, instant messaging systems, voice/video calls, and specialized emergency management software.

Communities and ministries that employ information technologies should work with their IT service providers to conduct regular inspections and tests to confirm functionality and readiness of these systems. IT systems should have redundant power supplies appropriate to their use (e.g., uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) for critical server systems to prevent data loss; standby generators for building power, etc.).

6.10.2. Telecommunications

Telecommunications systems are a subset of information technology. They are used to transmit and/or receive messages over a distance. Telecommunications systems include radio systems (including microwave), fibre optics, satellites, and the internet.

Ministry and community emergency plans should describe how their emergency centres are linked via primary and backup telecommunication systems that enable email and transfer of emergency public information. This type of information should be contained in confidential annexes to prevent its misuse.

Communities and municipalities should establish primary and backup lines of communication between their emergency operations centres and the PEOC.

The Chief, EMO through the OFMEM shall maintain the PEOC with appropriate telecommunications systems to ensure effective communication in an emergency. This should include at a minimum:

  • Internet access.
  • OPS intranet access.
  • Redundant telephone systems.
  • Multiple teleconference lines.
  • Web-conferencing capability.

The OFMEM should ensure that there is sufficient mobile network coverage in the PEOC to allow representatives from other organizations to use mobile phones and other devices.

For redundancy in telecommunications, the PEOC should maintain an amateur radio station (currently designated VA3 EMO) that is operated by trained amateur radio operators from the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC). The PEOC amateur radio station is used to communicate with other volunteer radio operators throughout the province, through the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES).

The PEOC operates the AlertReady wireless public alerting system. Refer to section 6.3 for further details on public alerting.

6.11. Donations management

Donations in an emergency can include services, funds, and material. Managing donations includes collecting, storing, dispensing, and accounting of donations.

Organizations should exercise care around handling financial donations to ensure that proper accounting controls are in place to prevent fraud and ensure that all applicable laws are followed.

Communities, as the first line of response to an emergency, should make arrangements to identify what types of donations may be needed and then put in place a mechanism to manage them. This may be accomplished by setting up a special team as part of the community's emergency response organization or requesting support from a non-governmental organization (NGO).

There are various NGOs operating in Ontario that often have the capability to manage donations (funds, volunteers or material). These organizations can provide services such as helping to collect, triage, identify, package, temporarily store, transport, and distribute various types of donations.

Communities should make agreements with NGOs to access donations management services directly. The OFMEM maintains a relationship with the NGO Alliance of Ontario, and through this relationship the PEOC can assist communities in finding an NGO to provide services.

The Provincial Emergency Information Section should assist communities in communicating with the public about their donations programs, particularly with consideration for managing donations coming from outside the community. Refer to Section 6.15 for more information on emergency public information.

6.12. Damage assessment

Ministries, communities and infrastructure owners/operators in Ontario are responsible for conducting their own damage assessments.

The PEOC depends on communities, supporting organizations, and the field operations of other ministries to provide information on the extent of the damage within the province.

6.13. Volunteer management

Organizations involved in response and recovery should carefully consider their need for, and the capabilities of, unaffiliated volunteer assistance during an emergency. As part of their planning, organizations should consult with legal counsel and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to ensure that volunteers receive the proper insurance coverage.

Organizations that are using volunteers should systematically register all those who participate in the emergency response or recovery operations.

6.14. Protection and care of animals

6.14.1. General

Any emergency that affects humans may affect their animals whether these are raised for foodstuff production, kept as companion or service animals or for other purposes, such as in zoos.

Of particular concern is the protection and care of animals during an evacuation. Pursuant to Section 7.0.2. (4) of the EMCPA, provincial evacuation orders can include animals under a provincial declaration of emergency.

6.14.2. Responsibility

Communities in Ontario should make provisions for the protection and care of all animals as mentioned above, including those left behind during an evacuation.

Communities should consult with the following provincial organizations for assistance in developing plans for the protection and care of animals:

  • The Ministry of the Solicitor General (SOLGEN) has the responsibility of overseeing animal welfare in Ontario.
  • The Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), is the provincial lead on farm animal disease (OIC 1157/2009), and provides advice on the management of livestock welfare issues.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) for issues pertaining to wildlife.

During an emergency, the PEOC should provide assistance to the stakeholders above as required for the protection and care of animals.

6.15. Emergency public information

6.15.1. General

The guiding principle for emergency public information operations shall be to provide to the general public and to the news media prompt, accurate, and timely information on the status of the emergency, the measures being taken to deal with it, and actions to be taken by the public in response.

Each ministry is responsible for having its own emergency information officer who is responsible for acting as the primary media and public contact during an emergency. Each emergency information officer manages emergency public information as it pertains to their ministry's activities, mandates, and assignments under OIC 1157/2009.

Coordination of emergency public information during an emergency involving multiple provincial organizations should be carried out in accordance with the Provincial Emergency Information Plan (PEIP) 2010, developed by the Communications Branch, Ministry of the Solicitor General. The Provincial Chief Emergency Information Officer (PCEIO) is responsible for the implementation of the PEIP.

The PEIP describes the means by which prompt and coordinated information from the Ontario government is disseminated to the public, media, Members of the Provincial Parliament, other levels of government, Ontario ministries, emergency response organizations, and when appropriate, private sector organizations.

The PCEIO shall work with the PEOC to ensure that emergency public information on the status of the emergency, the measures being taken to mitigate it, and actions to be taken by the public in response is accurate and provided in a timely manner, and to identify the lead spokesperson. Refer to Section 6.3 for more details on public alerting.

The PCEIO may dispatch provincial emergency public information liaison officers to local emergency information centre(s) as soon as the need for assistance arises.

6.15.2. Provincial Emergency Information Section

Emergency public information tasks for the provincial ERO are coordinated through the Provincial Emergency Information Section (PEIS). The PCEIO is responsible for leading and activating the PEIS, in consultation with the PEOC Commander.

When active, the PEIS is responsible for coordinating the development of emergency information for the media and public at a provincial level, and for providing feedback to the PEOC.

The PCEIO is responsible for ensuring that emergency public information activities are coordinated between the PEIS and the emergency information officers of ministries that are active in the provincial ERO.

Information shall flow in both directions between PEOC Command and General Staff and the PEIS to ensure that Command-identified emergency public information issues are incorporated into the emergency public information messaging and that the PEOC is made aware of any issues that may affect the overall response.

The main functions of the PEIS include:

  • Issue news releases and other public information products to the media on behalf of the province that describe the nature of the emergency and the measures that the province is taking to manage it.
  • Coordinate news conferences on behalf of the province and provide supportive documents for provincial spokesperson(s).
  • Monitor media, social media, and the public's perception of, and reaction to, the situation and keep the PEOC Commander and local emergency information centre informed.
  • Identify misinformation and counter it with verified and credible information.
  • Provide key messages and information to activated call centres.

6.15.3. Coordination of emergency public information with communities and other organizations

In emergencies where many organizations and jurisdictions are involved in the response every effort should be made to ensure that the information being developed is consistent in content and issued in a co-ordinated manner.

Municipalities are required under O. Reg. 380/04 to designate an emergency information officer. The PEIS should liaise with the municipal emergency information officer in affected communities.

The PEIS should establish links with the emergency public information staff in other organizations involved in response. Consideration should be given to establishing a Joint Information Centre, co-ordinated by the PCEIO, whenever the province adopts a provincial response level of activation.

Federal departments maintain public communications responsibilities with respect to their departmental activities unless otherwise directed by the federal Privy Council Office. Usually a federal lead department will be designated to be the federal spokesperson for the total federal support effort. Connection with federal departments can be facilitated through the PS Regional Office / Federal Coordination Centre.

6.16. Continuity of operations

The OFMEM shall maintain a continuity of operations plan as part of the overall provincial continuity of operations program. The continuity of operations plan should include detailed procedures for maintaining the continuity of services associated with both the PEOC and the Ministry of the Solicitor General EOC, and recovery strategies in the event there is a disruption to operations during an emergency.

As per OIC 1157/2009 and O. Reg. 380/04, ministries are required to have emergency plans that include continuity of operations planning.

6.17. Finances

6.17.1. Financial accountability

An important aspect of any emergency is the accounting of expenditures. All provincial organizations involved in response and recovery activities shall maintain financial records during the response and recovery. Communities should also maintain detailed financial records to support any future claims.

6.17.2. Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing Disaster Recovery Assistance Programs

The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) administers two programs that provide financial assistance following a sudden, unexpected, extraordinary natural disaster:

  • The Disaster Recovery Assistance for Ontarians (DRAO) program is a cost-recovery program that assists homeowners, residential tenants, small owner-operated businesses, farmers and not-for-profit organizations impacted by a natural disaster. The program is activated by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing for a defined geographic area where program eligible costly, widespread damage has occurred. A municipal emergency declaration is not required to activate the program.
    • MMAH coordinates a Provincial Disaster Assessment Team (PDAT). The purpose of a PDAT is to inform the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing's decision to activate the DRAO program.
    • A PDAT is deployed when additional information is required to inform a recommendation to the Minister of MMAH to activate DRAO. A PDAT focuses on impacts to private primary residences small businesses, small owner-operated farms, and not-for-profit organizations.
  • The Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance (MDRA) program reimburses municipalities for extraordinary costs associated with emergency response and repairs to essential municipal property and infrastructure following a natural disaster. Municipalities must have incurred costs over and above regular budgets that can be demonstrably linked to the disaster. These costs must equal at least three per cent of the municipality's Own Purpose Taxation levy. There are other eligibility requirements that a municipality must meet. A municipal emergency declaration is not required to activate the program.

6.17.3. Indigenous Services Canada Emergency Management Assistance Program

On a federal level, Indigenous Services Canada has an Emergency Management Assistance Program that aims to help communities that are on-reserve access emergency assistance services. This is in partnership with First Nation communities, provincial and territorial governments and non-government organizations. In addition to emergency management assistance, the program also provides funding to provinces and non-government organizations to support on-reserve emergency management. The Emergency Management Assistance Program reimburses response and recovery activities due to emergencies.

Response organizations that will be recovering costs from the Government of Canada when supporting First Nations' response operations should ensure that expenditures are valid and approved under their respective agreements. ISC representatives are available during emergency response to help determine the appropriateness of expenditures.

Figure description

Figure 6-3: PEOC Information Products

  • Daily Consolidated Situation Report
    • Produced daily at all activation levels
    • Contains a summary of all potential or actual threats and ongoing emergencies
    • Shared with a wide audience of stakeholders
  • IMS 201 Incident Briefing
    • Produced once at the start of an incident
    • Provides a summary of the emergency event and the initial response
    • Shared with the provincial ERO
  • IMS 209 Incident Status Summary
    • Produced at least once per operational period
    • Provides an update on events since the last information product
    • Shared with the provincial ERO

Return to Figure 6-3


Footnotes

  • footnote[17] Back to paragraph The NEMAC agreement's official name is the State and Province Emergency Management Assistance Memorandum of Agreement.