In Ontario, municipalities and provincial ministries are required to have Emergency Management Programs as prescribed by the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCP Act) and Regulation 380/04.
An emergency is defined as: a situation or an impending situation that could cause 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.
An Emergency Management Program is based on a risk-management approach and consists of a set of activities, measures and plans to manage emergencies and reduce risks through a proactive and coordinated approach.
By Order in Council under the EMCP Act, the Minister of the Environment has been assigned responsibility for emergencies involving:
MOE’s Emergency Management Program includes the following key components:
A comprehensive emergency management program is one that incorporates a risk-management approach supported by the five pillars of emergency management - prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
Prevention: actions taken to prevent the chance of an emergency occurring (e.g. development of spill prevention plans).
Mitigation: actions taken to reduce or eliminate the effects of an emergency (e.g. land-use restrictions, drinking water source protection, and spill diversion or containment structures).
Preparedness: measures taken prior to an emergency to ensure an effective response. This includes the development of emergency response and continuity of operations plans and procedures, training and exercises.
Response: actions taken to respond to an actual emergency. These actions are aimed at providing a controlled, effective and timely response. Ministry response is coordinated with local authorities as well as with other provincial and federal agencies when required.
Recovery: actions taken to recover from an emergency. The aim is to assist individuals, businesses and communities to return to a state of normalcy. Recovery measures may include environmental cleanup and site restoration.
In addition to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, MOE’s emergency management program is further supported by the following legislation, administered by the Ministry:
MOE relies heavily on this legislation to proactively prevent, mitigate and prepare for potential emergencies related to spills and drinking water hazards.