B.C. unveils new emergency management legislation, task force
October 4, 2023
By Avert staff
The B.C. government has introduced a new emergency and disaster management act and launched an expert task force on emergencies.
The government says the act is the most comprehensive and progressive emergency management framework in Canada, and takes a proactive approach with an emphasis on disaster risk reduction. The new act will replace B.C.’s Emergency Program Act, which has been largely unchanged since 1993.
The emergencies task force – 14 experts in emergency and wildfire management – will work to provide recommendations on enhancing emergency preparedness and response, the government said.
“A changing climate means people and communities around B.C. are feeling the effects of extreme weather emergencies like never before,” Premier David Eby said in a news release yesterday. “We’re taking action with a strong and proactive approach to emergency management, one that will be guided by an expert task force with representatives from First Nations, local government and more. Our focus is on supporting those on the front lines of a disaster and quickly applying the lessons we’ve learned to better prepare for future emergencies.”
The new legislation adheres to the United Nations’ best practices for disaster risk reduction, incorporates all four phases of emergency management: mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery, and formally recognizes First Nations’ inherent right of self-government in relation to emergency management.
Bowinn Ma, Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness, said British Columbians know first-hand the effects of climate change. “This act modernizes how our province approaches emergency management by putting a greater emphasis on preparing for and mitigating the impacts of climate-related emergencies before they happen – keeping people and communities safer from disasters.”
The government plans to phase in the new act over time, working with First Nations and local governments help implement the legislation.
The task force will deliver recommendations to government in early 2024. The 14 members are:
- Chief Corrina Leween, Cheslatta Carrier Nation
- Kukpi7 Rosanne Casimir, Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc
- Kukpi7 Lynn Kenoras-Duck, Adams Lake Indian Band
- Wayne Schnitzler, executive director, First Nations Emergency Services Society
- Tanya Spooner, manager of emergency programs, City of Prince George
- Scott Hildebrand, chief administrative officer, Thompson Nicola Regional District
- Thom Porter, former director, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
- Dan Derby, regional fire chief, Regional District of Kootenay Boundary; president, Fire Chiefs
- Association of BC
- Shannon Salter, Office of the Premier
- Doug Caul, Office of the Premier
- Eamon O’Donoghue, Ministry of Forests
- Ian Meier, BC Wildfire Service, Ministry of Forests
- Teresa Dobmeier, Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
- Madeline Maley, Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness
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