Overview

While Ontario is a safe place to live and work, emergencies can happen anywhere and at any time. Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) coordinates a system of mutually supportive partnerships that manages emergencies in Ontario.

Individuals

Individuals and families are responsible for their own safety, preparedness, and well-being. In the event of a large-scale emergency, entire neighbourhoods may temporarily be isolated from local emergency service providers and utilities. Individuals and families should be prepared to take care of themselves for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency.

Learn more about how to prepare your family or workplace.

Municipality

Each municipality must develop and implement an emergency management program to protect the lives and property of its citizens. All levels of local government (both single-tier and two-tier) must complete the mandatory annual program required by the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

Province

Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) coordinates emergency management programs in the province and ensures the implementation in all municipalities and provincial ministries. A municipality or ministry may reach out to EMO for advice on their program at any time. In emergencies where the local capacity is overwhelmed by the emergency, it may be advised that the municipality declare an emergency to receive more support and resources.

During large-scale emergencies, the premier and cabinet may declare a provincial emergency and make special emergency orders to protect public safety.

Federal

If an emergency requires support or resources beyond what a municipality or the province can provide, the province can make a formal request through the provincial emergency operations centre (PEOC) for assistance from the federal government. The federal government intervenes only when requested to do so by provincial emergency management organizations or when an emergency impacts on areas of federal jurisdiction.

Emergency Management Ontario

Since 1980, communities have counted on Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) when they needed us most. In fact, we are on the job well before an emergency occurs. Prevention and preparedness are key pillars of EMOs mandate. When the unthinkable happens, EMO is there to support community response and coordinate provincial activities as required.

Vision

A safe, secure, and resilient Ontario.

Values

  • teamwork
  • excellence
  • diversity
  • integrity
  • accountability
  • relationships

Mission

EMO leads the coordination, development and implementation of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery strategies to maximize the safety, security, and resiliency of Ontario through effective partnerships with diverse communities.

Mission statement

Leaders and partners in ensuring that all of Ontario’s diverse communities are safe and secure.

Service standards

EMO is committed to:

  • providing and ensuring that appropriate programs are in place based on our legislative foundation through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act
  • supporting the safety and security of Ontarians and a robust and resilient Ontario Public Service (OPS)

Successful EMO programming is designed to ensure:

  • an engaged stakeholder constituency and partnership
  • transparent and comprehensive evaluation and audit processes
  • action-oriented planning and program delivery

Description and measurement of service commitments

  • Provide trained emergency management staff to deliver high-quality emergency management programs, response and advisory services, standards, policies and guidelines to Ontario’s 444 municipalities and 25 provincial ministries.
  • Effectively communicate and deliver barrier-free emergency management and preparedness information to Ontario’s diverse communities.
  • Equip trained emergency management staff to provide emergency preparedness and response services to Ontario First Nation communities in accordance with the 1992 Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) Agreement.

Municipal and provincial emergency management programs

All municipalities and provincial ministries must have an emergency management program as set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. EMO helps municipalities and ministries implement their programs by providing them with:

  • advice
  • assistance
  • guidelines
  • training
  • other tools

Review the Emergency Management Framework for Ontario to learn more about Ontario’s emergency management. Please contact askEMO@ontario.ca for a copy of the Framework.

Trained emergency responders handle most incidents that occur at the local level. In the event of a larger incident, the municipal head of council can declare an emergency and assemble local officials at the municipal emergency operations centre (EOC). The EOC facility is required under legislation and helps provide centralized direction and coordination of emergency response and recovery operations. This approach ensures a coordinated and effective strategic response.

Provincial emergency operations centre

To support municipalities in times of emergency, the province maintains an extensive emergency management capacity that is coordinated through the provincial emergency operations centre (PEOC).

The PEOC is staffed at all times and monitors evolving situations inside and outside of Ontario. This ensures decision makers and provincial resources are able to respond to evolving situations as quickly as possible. The key functions of the PEOC are:

  • to coordinate Ontario government response to major emergencies
  • to be a single point of contact for municipalities and First Nations to request provincial assistance in times of crisis

Emergency Management Ontario and the PEOC are directly supported by provincial ministries that are each responsible for developing an emergency management program for specific hazards. For example, the Ministry of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry is responsible for floods and wildfire response, while the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks is responsible for emergencies related to water quality. During an emergency, the PEOC ensures that the response to any event is coordinated with the lead ministry.

First Nations emergency management program

Ontario provides culturally appropriate emergency management supports for First Nation communities to prepare for, respond to, and recover from an emergency. In collaboration and coordination with First Nation communities, the federal government, provincial ministries and other communities, multiple programs and strategies have been developed to engage and assist First Nations communities and organizations in emergency management plans and programs, as well as prepare for emergencies in First Nations communities.

Joint emergency management steering committee

The Joint emergency management steering committee (JEMS) is responsible for the creation and maintenance of the JEMS Service Level Evacuation Standards. These standards define the criteria and expectations of organizations supporting First Nations communities displaced by an evacuation. The committee also help guide the coordination of evacuations to ensure that evacuations are governed accordingly.

Emergency Management Ontario and Indigenous Services Canada co-chair the committee. Members include First Nations communities and organizations, relevant federal departments, provincial ministries, and municipalities.

Annual Flood and Wildfire Symposium

Emergency Management Ontario holds the Annual Flood and Wildfire Symposium prior to the spring flooding season. The symposium provides an opportunity for First Nations, municipal, provincial and federal representatives to network, share information regarding the upcoming flood and wildland fire seasons, and exchange lessons learned from the previous year.

Legislation and regulations

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act establishes the province’s legal basis and framework for managing emergencies. It defines the authority, responsibilities and safeguards accorded to provincial ministries, municipalities, and specific individual appointments, such as the chief of emergency management.

The act, along with powers contained in other ministry-specific legislation, provides the overall legal framework for emergency management in Ontario. It allows the government to take necessary steps to deal with a provincial emergency. The purpose of the legislation is to promote the public good by protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the people of Ontario in times of emergencies.

Ontario Regulation 380/04 establishes the minimum standards for emergency management programs required by municipalities and provincial ministries and supports the requirement in the act for mandatory emergency management programs. The “Community Emergency Management Co-ordinator Handbook” and the “Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act Compliance Guide for Municipalities” provide specific instructions and guidance for municipalities in completing mandatory program activities. Copies of the handbook and guide are available by emailing askEMO@ontario.ca. Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) monitors community’s emergency management programs annually and reports to the Deputy Solicitor General.

Relevant legislation, policies and directives

Emergency management sector areas

For purposes of administration and response, the province is divided into two emergency management areas (North and East, South and West) and 10 sectors. A sector consists of roughly 40-50 municipalities and an emergency management field officer is assigned to each sector. The 10 sectors are:

Amethyst

Kenora

Rainy River

Thunder Bay

Albany

Algoma

Cochrane

Bruce

Dufferin

Grey

Huron

Wellington

Perth

Capital

Renfrew

Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry

Lanark

Prescott and Russell, United Counties

Golden Horseshoe

Halton

Niagara

Waterloo

Peel

York

Killarney

Sudbury

Timiskaming

Manitoulin

Lakes

Muskoka

Nipissing District

Parry Sound

Loyalist

Frontenac

Hastings

Prince Edward County 

Leeds & Grenville

Lennox and Addington

Severn

Durham

Northumberland

Kawartha Lakes

Peterborough

Haliburton

Simcoe

St. Clair

Elgin

Essex

Middlesex

Lambton

Oxford