Alfred Moses: Improving Emergency Management

Yellowknife — October 24, 2018
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is working to improve emergency management in the Northwest Territories so that we can better serve communities and help ensure the safety and security of residents.

Today, I wish to report progress on the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs efforts to update the Northwest Territories emergency management system, including how government departments work collectively to support communities during emergencies. Communities in the Northwest Territories have experienced natural, technological and human-caused hazards in the past, and they will continue to do so in the future. Wildfires and floods are of particular concern to Northwest Territories residents. The risks associated with these hazards are expected to become more frequent and more severe due to climate change.

Emergencies can occur at any time and in any place, with or without warning. Improvements in the Northwest Territories emergency management system will help our government keep pace with a changing risk environment and build resilience in our communities to deal with emergencies. 

Our government committed in the mandate to work with stakeholders to develop and propose amendments to modernize the Civil Emergency Measures Act and to revitalize the Territorial Emergency Response Plan.

We have done better than that, Mr. Speaker. With the anticipated passage of the Emergency Management Act at the end of this sitting and a new territorial emergency plan already developed, the Northwest Territories will be well-positioned to respond to current and future hazards and threats in the Northwest Territories.

The new Act and plan will also align us better with best practices from across Canada and help clarify roles and responsibilities for communities and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Creating an Emergency Management Organization through the new legislation, commonly referred to as an EMO, is an important part of these changes. An EMO will clarify roles and responsibilities for emergency management and focus experience and knowledge in the areas of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. It will also support capacity building in emergency management and enhance our ability to maintain readiness to respond when a community needs assistance.

The EMO, as a centralized point for emergency management issues, will work with key partners to build the relationships of trust which are so important when faced with major emergencies. The creation of a territorial planning committee will ensure involvement, oversight and participation in emergency management activities by all departments and other key stakeholders.

Over the past several years, community governments have made significant progress in improving their emergency plans and response capabilities. Changes to emergency management legislation build on this work. They will allow communities more discretion in structuring their emergency plans and programs to reflect their unique operational realities.

Community plans will be shared with the Emergency Management Organization to create a more collaborative environment, provide visibility on the level of preparedness in communities and allow improved planning and prioritization of support efforts in this area.

Recent Government of the Northwest Territories participation in the military-led Operation NANOOK Exercise provided important validation for many elements of the new emergency plan and Act. Operation NANOOK demonstrated how these two instruments would work together during a major emergency.

This exercise also included participation by the Community Government of Behchokǫ̀. I would like to recognize the Community Government for their excellent work to improve community emergency management capacity. They have set a great example of how the Government of the Northwest Territories and community governments can work collaboratively to ensure the safety and security of residents.

Mr. Speaker, emergency management involves a continual cycle of planning and capacity building to reach and maintain an appropriate level of readiness for emergencies. Having an Emergency Management Organization supported by new legislation will help us ensure there is a coordinated response to community and territorial emergencies.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.