Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) provides resources for the development and implementation of emergency management programs to support effective emergency management and response activities.

All municipalities and provincial ministries must have an emergency management program as set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). An emergency program consists of:

  • an emergency plan
  • training programs and exercises about emergency preparedness
  • public education materials on emergency preparedness
  • additional requirements related to standards for emergency programs

Municipalities, provincial ministries, and other organizations can use the following tools to prepare their plans.

Emergency planning

The Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act requires all municipalities to develop a plan to describe how they will respond to emergencies within their respective jurisdictions. EMO developed the following tools to assist municipalities when developing municipal emergency response plans:

  • Template for the Development of a Municipal Hazard-Specific Plan
  • Guideline for the Development of a Municipal Forest Fire Emergency Plan
  • Guideline for the Development of a Municipal Severe Weather Emergency Plan
  • Guideline for the Development of a Municipal Hazardous Materials Emergency Plan
  • Guideline for the Development of a Municipal Flood Emergency Plan

Email askemo@ontario.ca for a copy of these tools.

Emergency exercises

Effective emergency management plans should be exercised regularly. An exercise is a simulated emergency in which participants carry out actions, functions and responsibilities that would be expected of them in a real emergency. Exercises can be used to validate plans and procedures, and to practice prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery capabilities. They also help with:

  • training personnel and clarifying roles and responsibilities, as supported by plans and procedures
  • improving inter-agency coordination and communications
  • identifying gaps in resources and training, and identifying areas for improvement
  • improving individual and organizational performance through practice
  • demonstrating provincial, community, and organizational resolve to prepare for emergencies as part of due diligence

Emergency Management Ontario’s exercise design guidelines can be used to plan and execute an emergency exercise. The EM 125 – Exercise programs: An introduction course is available online to help guide exercises.

Public education

As a legislative requirement of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, municipalities and ministries must provide emergency management public education through Emergency Preparedness Week and other programming such as how to prepare for an emergency.

Emergency Management Ontario has a range of material available to promote emergency preparedness in your community, including:

  • lesson plans
  • activity sheets
  • posters
  • bookmarks
  • social media infographics

These products encourage emergency preparedness for many diverse groups, including:

  • children
  • seniors
  • high-rise building residents
  • people with disabilities

Email askemo@ontario.ca for more information about these materials.

Incident Management System

Ontario has developed an Incident Management System (IMS) that provides standardized organizational structures, functions, processes, and terminology for use at all levels of emergency response in the province. IMS addresses the need for coordinated responses by creating interoperability — the ability for responders from different organizations and jurisdictions to interact and work well together — for all types of incidents.

It also guides how personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures and communications may be coordinated during an incident.

Implementation resources

The Incident Management System (IMS) Guidance Version 2.0, is a comprehensive framework for incident management in Ontario. Any municipality or organization operating an emergency operation centre can also use the Guidelines for the Application of IMS at Emergency Operations Centres (EOCs). To request a copy, email askemo@ontario.ca.

IMS uses specific forms to assist with incident management processes and procedures, as well as to represent a record of decisions and actions. These forms are designed for all-hazard use and are applicable to both site-level and EOCs-level responses.

Email askemo@ontario.ca to get a copy of IMS forms.

IMS positions checklist

The IMS positions checklists provide an outline of the key tasks to be performed by all major functions within the Incident Management System. The checklists are designed:

  • to be used at an incident site or in an emergency operations centre
  • to be easily tailored to meet the needs of an organization
  • to help responders and organizations acting in all three roles — Incident Support, Incident Command and Area Command — effectively react and attend to incidents
  • to serve as a reference tool for incident response and training purposes

Email askemo@ontario.ca for a copy

Key implementation measures

Eight key measures have been identified to assist organizations in implementing incident management systems:

  • raise awareness within your organization through presentations, communications and online
  • support and endorse IMS within your organization
  • adopt IMS into emergency plans, policies and procedures
  • provide IMS training within your organization and designate an IMS instructor
  • use IMS in emergency exercises to help plan and prepare
  • respond to real incidents and planned events using IMS
  • develop a long-term sustainability plan

IMS training

IMS training is applicable to all emergency management responders in Ontario and available free of charge in both English and French. To access the training, visit the Emergency Management Ontario Training Portal.

Hazard identification and risk assessment

Ontario works with communities to conduct risk assessments to identify hazards that could potentially pose the greatest risk. The purpose of hazard identification and risk assessment (HIRA) is to assess the potential risk of hazards with the capacity to cause a disaster. HIRAs help to:

  • establish a focus for emergency management programs
  • allocate resources
  • plan appropriately

EMO has developed the following resources to support municipalities and provincial ministries with the creation of HIRAs and fulfilment of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act:

  • the 2019 Hazard Identification Report provides a comprehensive overview of hazard information relevant to Ontario
  • the HIRAs Methodology Guidelines provide resources to support the completion of hazard-based risk assessment

Email askemo@ontario.ca to request a copy of these documents.

Critical Infrastructure Assurance Program

Ontario’s Critical Infrastructure Assurance Program (OCIAP) is a provincewide initiative that identifies and assesses Ontario’s key facilities, systems and networks — and their interdependencies — and develops processes to mitigate them from physical and cyber threats and vulnerabilities.

The program defines critical infrastructure as interdependent, interactive, interconnected networks of institutions, services, systems and processes that:

  • meet vital human needs
  • sustain the economy
  • protect public safety and security
  • maintain continuity of, and confidence in, government

It defines critical infrastructure assurance as the application of risk management and business continuity management processes and techniques to reduce physical and cyber vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure by decreasing the frequency, duration and scope of disruptions and facilitating response and recovery.

To achieve the required level of assurance, the program identifies critical infrastructures in nine sectors. The government is responsible for two sectors:

  • public safety and security
  • continuity of government

The remaining seven sectors are mainly in the private sector:

  • food and water
  • telecommunication systems
  • electrical power system
  • gas and oil
  • financial services
  • health system
  • transportation networks

Review Ontario's Critical Infrastructure Assurance Program Strategy to learn more.