Wolastoqey Tribal Council Inc.: Emergency Management Review and Needs Assessment – Phase 1
WTCI’s Emergency Management goal, is to enhance member communities’ abilities to respond to emergency events and crisis response which impacts the health and infrastructure of individual communities. This includes but not limited to natural hazards, severe weather events, threat risk and vulnerability assessments as well as community risk assessments, psychosocial responsiveness and first responder training.
Threats and risks to First Nations are becoming increasingly complex due to the diversity of natural hazards affecting our country and the growth of transnational threats arising from the consequences of terrorism, globalized disease outbreaks, climate change, critical infrastructure interdependencies and cyber attacks. Emergencies can quickly escalate in scope and severity, cross jurisdictional lines, take on international dimensions and result in significant human and economic losses.
A key function of the Government of Canada is to protect the safety and security of First Nations peoples. Federal government institutions are increasing their focus on emergency management (EM) activities, given the evolving risk environment in their areas of responsibility. Emergency Management can save lives, preserve the environment and protect property by raising the understanding of risks and by contributing to a safer, more prosperous and resilient Canada. Emergency Management planning, in particular, aims to strengthen resiliency by promoting an integrated and comprehensive approach that includes the four pillars of Emergency Management: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
Effective Emergency Management results from a coordinated approach and a uniform structure.
This is why developing a First Nations Emergency Management program, including an All-Hazards Emergency Management Plan is critical to a coordinated response.
A First Nations Emergency Management Program establishes objectives, approach and structure for protecting communities and Indigenous people from threats and hazards and sets out how to ensure a coordinated response during all phases. Emergency Management planning and business continuity planning are complementary, and Emergency Management planning builds on the Business Continuity Plans; for example, data used in business impact analysis helps define the risk environment for Emergency Management planning.
An effective Emergency Management Program does not need to be lengthy or complicated to be comprehensive—less is more. An effective program must be executable and deliberate.
An effective emergency management program must consider these key components during development:
HVRA-Hazard Vulnerability and Risk Assessment
- Development and maintenance of hazard, risk and vulnerability analysis tools to assist First Nations communities.
- Conduct risk analysis that identifies options for implementing a range of Emergency Management Program activities required to support safe and healthy First Nations communities.
- Prevent and mitigate hazards and risks in order to reduce the potential impacts of a disaster(s) in First Nations communities.
- Develop process and procedures to mitigate impacts on First Nations Cultural and Heritage Values.
Plans Policies and Procedures
- Coordinate effective planning, preparedness, response and recovery management with the federal government, local and regional agencies, and other organizations.
- Review all emergency management policies, plans and procedures to ensure they are respectful of local culture, sensitive to the needs and challenges of First Nations communities, and are specific to and aligned with, the individual community needs, and specifically focused on prevention and mitigation.
- Engage our communities and review policies, plans and procedures.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of emergency management plans for our member communities and the development of new measures to reduce the consequences of an emergency event.
- Liaise with the private sector (e.g. utility companies and industry) to ensure their emergency management plans support and integrate with First Nations emergency management plans. (Prioritizing First Nations community critical infrastructure for NB Power restoration)
- Assist our member communities to determine the level of preparedness their community has reached and encourage our communities to increase their level of preparedness.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of emergency management plans for our member communities and develop new measures and provide feedback to reduce the consequence of impacts resulting from emergency events.
- Provide Emergency Management program evaluation services to determine compatibility with the Emergency Response Plans (ERP’s) of neighboring industries and review the efficiency and effectiveness of the current Emergency Management Plan for the First Nations.
- Support continuous improvement of Emergency Management Program initiatives by documenting successes and challenges and identifying recommendations for improved programming effectiveness.
Emergency Management – Organizational Design
- Development of First Nations communities’ organizational and reporting structure as it relates to Emergency Management that is customized to suit each community.
- Identify the appropriate information databases, mapping and reporting tools required to support community planning along with response and recovery initiatives over the short, mid, and long-term.
- Assist our member communities to make effective planning decisions in the management of human, financial, and material resources and to coordinate and communicate procedures to ensure the timely and effective provision of assistance and humanitarian aid to community members.
- Assisting ISC Atlantic to provide expertise, education and awareness to identify programs and processes for accessing funding at the Federal and Provincial levels to support all phases of Emergency Management and to “Build Back Better”.
The evolution in Emergency Management is consistent with the international concept of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR); which is defined by the United Nations (UN) as “systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters.
Reducing exposure to hazards, lessening vulnerability of our people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improving preparedness and early warning for adverse events are examples of Disaster Risk Reduction. It is important to consider that the impacts of disasters are not uniform across society, and that different variables can intersect and contribute to the level of risk facing vulnerable populations (e.g., gender, age, disability, socioeconomic conditions).
Building on past international efforts, an important milestone in aligning the concepts of Emergency Management and Disaster Risk Reduction came in 2015, when Canada joined 187 countries at the UN General Assembly in adopting the UN Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030) (Sendai Framework). The Sendai Framework is a non-binding international agreement that establishes international priorities for Disaster Risk Reduction, and further creates direct linkages with UN climate change and sustainable development efforts.
One of the key elements within the Sendai Framework is the importance of adopting a whole of society approach, which seeks to leverage existing knowledge, experience and capabilities within Emergency Management partners in order to strengthen the resilience of all.
Priority Areas of Activity for Canada
The Emergency Management Strategy helps fulfill the Government of Canada’s commitment under the Sendai Framework for a pan-Canadian Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy and aligns with the Sendai Framework’s 2030 timeline.
In order to fulfill its purpose in an increasingly complex and rapidly evolving risk environment, the Emergency Management Strategy seeks to align the efforts of all Canadians as well as to strengthen overall resilience through five priority areas of activity. These priority areas of activity were approved by FPT Ministers Responsible for Emergency Management in May 2017:
- Enhance whole-of-society collaboration and governance to strengthen resilience;
- Improve understanding of disaster risks in all sectors of society;
- Increase focus on whole-of-society disaster prevention and mitigation activities;
- Enhance disaster response capacity and coordination and foster the development of new capabilities; and
- Strengthen recovery efforts by building back better to minimize the impacts of future disasters
The Emergency Management Strategy supports the Federal, Provincial, Territorial (FPT) governments’ vision to strengthen Canada’s Emergency Management capabilities to prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters, in order to reduce disaster risk and increase the resiliency of all individuals and communities in Canada.
To reach this goal, the Emergency Management Strategy adopts a whole of society approach to Emergency Management and Disaster Risk Reduction in Canada. In articulating the five FPT Priority Areas of Activity, and describing a variety of approaches to engage, empower, encourage, and educate Emergency Management partners, the Emergency Management Strategy outlines a path toward a more resilient future for Canada by 2030.
What Do Resilient Communities Look Like?
The concept of Resilience is defined in the Emergency Management Framework as “the capacity of a system, community or society to adapt to disturbances resulting from hazards by persevering, recuperating or changing to reach and maintain an acceptable level of functioning.
Resilient capacity is built through a process of empowering citizens, responders, organizations, communities, governments, systems and a whole of society to share the responsibility to keep hazards from becoming disasters. Resilience minimizes vulnerability or susceptibility by creating or strengthening social and physical capacity in the human and built environment to cope with, adapt to, respond to, and recover and learn from disasters.” There are two key facets to this definition.
First, resilience refers to the dynamic quality of a system, the whole system, rather than the sum of its individual parts. Second, resilience is a strengths-based construct, focusing on capacities, assets, capabilities and aptitudes, and how these can be proactively mobilized and/or enhanced in order to reduce vulnerability and risk.
Community resilience is an attribute of the community as a complex integrated system, describing the ability of its members to draw upon their own inherent strengths and capabilities to absorb the impact of a disruption, to reorganize, change, and learn from the disruption, and to adapt to emergent shocks. While the concept of community resilience can seem abstract, tangible examples from international research that describe what resilient communities actually look like can be clarifying, for example:
- Members of resilient communities are empowered to use their existing skills, knowledge and resources to prevent/mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from disasters. They are able to adapt their everyday skills and use them in extraordinary circumstances.
- Members of resilient communities are educated on the risks that may affect them. They understand the links between risks assessed at FPT levels and those that exist in their communities; and how this might affect their lives, businesses and the local environment.
- Members of resilient communities are engaged in all aspects of community life, adopting a long-term, holistic and community reflective perspective, influencing and making decisions that address the needs of their whole community. They take proactive steps today to help reduce risks tomorrow.
- Resilient communities encourage trusted champions to communicate the benefits of resilience to the wider community and influence others to get, or stay, involved. These champions help strengthen the relationships and bonds already working well in the community.
In order to promote and build resilience within their respective jurisdictions, and across Canada, FPT governments recognize that all Canadians are involved in Emergency Management and are working to build partnerships based on effective collaboration, coordination, and communication with, and among, respective Emergency Management partners. These partnerships are built and maintained by FPT governments. As such, it is important to acknowledge and be aware of the different needs, resources, capacities, and vulnerabilities of individuals, groups, and communities that can intersect to exacerbate risks or strengthen resilience. This may include consideration of factors such as gender, socio-economic conditions, local community conditions and traditional Indigenous knowledge.
The Emergency Management Framework describes the sharing of Emergency Management responsibilities among FPT governments themselves, as well as with their respective Emergency Management partners (including but not limited to: Indigenous peoples, municipalities, communities, volunteer and non-governmental organizations, the private sector, critical infrastructure owners and operators, academia, and volunteers).
In partnership with First Nations communities, provincial and territorial governments and non-government organizations, Indigenous Services Canada’s Emergency Management Assistance Program (EMAP) helps First Nations communities access emergency assistance services.
Indigenous Services Canada’s Emergency Management team are empowering First Nations communities to adopt a holistic approach to emergency management; together we can build resilient First Nations communities in New Brunswick.
The objective of an emergency management program is to ensure community preparedness and resiliency during all phases of the emergency management continuum.
The Community Emergency Management Review and Program Needs Assessment was conducted during period of December 2020 and February 2021, community interviews were conducted during the month of January 2021. A special thank you to community members who assisted during this important process.
The Canadian model of Emergency Management Programming, inclusive of all pillars of Emergency Management: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery were utilized as a baseline for assessment.
Community WTCI members’ emergency management programs assessed:
Madawaska /Kingsclear /Oromocto
The review focussed on current programs in support of an emergency management program for each WTCI member community assessed.
The assessment revealed deficiencies and gaps in all areas of the emergency management continuum, in each of the three assessed communities.
Key findings identified deficiencies in the following:
- Mitigation/building back better initiatives.
- Preparedness initiatives such emergency public alerting, notification procedures/capabilities, training, exercising, All Hazards plans, TRVA, contingency plans.
- Response plans and operational constructs such as Emergency Operations Centre’s. Identified resources, stockpiles and arrangements.
- Recovery plans and identified resources.
These key finding were anticipated, since this is the beginning and a critical step to determining the appropriate areas to focus on during the eventual development of an Emergency Program and All Hazard Plan development phases for each community.
A threat, risk vulnerability assessment will be conducted for three WTCI member communities during the next phase; followed by a way forward document during this phase of emergency program development.
“Working Together for a resilient Canada 2030”
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