Emergency Management Act

An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Stockwell Day  Conservative

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment provides for a national emergency management system that strengthens Canada’s capacity to protect Canadians.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

October 26th, 2006 / 9:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

First of all, thank you to the witnesses for coming today and taking the time to speak to our committee with respect to Bill C-12.

I am going to start with some issues on which I have concern and on which I would be interested in your perspective, and then move to some things you might be suggesting.

Obviously you're quite right, after 2003 and the blackout people understand just how critical a resource electricity is and how essential it is and the devastating impact it can have when there are disruptions.

I am going to draw from my experience, and certainly both Hydro One and Ontario Power Generation, and perhaps all of you, can relate to the important role that municipalities play when these problems occur. For example, if there's a situation in Pickering with the plant, some of the first communications are between the municipality and the station as well as with the local Veridian Corporation, which I was on the board of directors of, and with local utility operators, distributors.

My concern is that this bill doesn't really address municipalities or bring them to the table at all. I am wondering what your thoughts are on that and how you think that might be addressed. Do you think they should be at the table as part of this process? There's barely a reference to them in the bill. Do you think they should be partners at the table and taking part in the broader discussions around emergency planning, when they are, in many cases, the first responders and the people who you would be dealing with right away as well?

October 26th, 2006 / 9:05 a.m.
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Francis Bradley Vice-President, Corporate Resources, Canadian Electricity Association

Good morning, Mr. Chair and committee members.

Thank you for this opportunity to meet with you to discuss Bill C-12 and to inform you about the viewpoint of the members of the Canadian electricity sector.

My name is Francis Bradley. I am Vice-President of the Canadian Electricity Association, which represents all electricity-related areas of activity in Canada, including production, transportation, distribution, customer service and electric energy marketing.

I'm responsible for the association's critical infrastructure protection activities, or CIP program, which was launched in January 2000.

The chairman of our CIP working group, Dave Baumken, from Hydro One, was unable to join us today. He's actually in Germany representing Canada at a NATO event, but he asked that I convey his greetings to the committee and offer, on behalf of CEA, to provide a subsequent briefing to the committee on the security of the electricity sector, at the committee's convenience.

With me today are the persons responsible for the security activities of three of the largest electricity businesses in the country.

Chris Price is with Hydro One, the Ontario transmission and distribution company. Jim Davis is with Ontario Power Generation, the largest power generation company in this province, with hydro, thermal, and nuclear generating facilities.

Jean-Guy Ouimet represents Hydro-Quebec, the main producer, transporter and distributor of electricity in Quebec. Mr. Ouimet is also the chair of our task force.

Following my introduction, we'll be pleased to discuss our views on Bill C-12 and on the challenge of protecting the electricity industry in Canada.

Our critical infrastructure protection initiative looks at both physical and cyber threats and events. It takes an all-hazards approach, and it includes work on such diverse issues as pandemic planning and marijuana grow ops.

Given the interconnected nature or electricity in North America, we work closely with the North American Electric Reliability Council, the NERC. In fact, a Canadian, Stuart Brindley, of Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator, is the chair of the NERC CIP committee, and he's a former chair of our group.

The regulatory framework of Canada's electricity industry is different from that in the United States.

In the U.S., the federal administration holds essential authority for regulating this industry. In Canada, it's the provinces that have most of the powers in this area. It goes without saying that this aspect has at times made our security activities more complex, requiring coordination between federal and provincial authorities and between federal departments.

In addition to our North American activities through the North American Electric Reliability Council, we also collaborate with other sectors in Canada and with a wide range of government officials at Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, Natural Resources Canada, the RCMP, and CSIS, to name a few.

The association launched its CIP initiative following the Y2K transition. While Y2K was seen by many to be a non-event, we learned a great deal during the transition, most particularly about infrastructure interdependencies and the importance of information sharing.

During the Y2K transition, the federal government's activities were coordinated through the National Contingency Planning Group. The NCPG played a critical role in engaging all infrastructure sectors and providing analysis of the interdependencies between the various sectors. Their analytical work was subsequently captured in a March 2000 report entitled “Canadian Infrastructure Interdependencies”. I highly recommend it to the committee, as it left no doubt as to the importance of electricity.

Electricity is the original and ultimate example of just-in-time manufacturing. It cannot be stockpiled in large quantities like other commodities.

From the moment someone switches on a light or boots up his computer, the additional electricity that action requires must immediately be available at a power station that may be located hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away.

The importance of electricity to the economy was detailed in a discussion paper published by PSEPC that reviewed the 2003 blackout. Permit me a moment to quote from that NCIAP discussion paper, which came out in November of 2004: The August 2003 blackout provided an object lesson in infrastructure interdependencies by demonstrating how a disruption in one infrastructure can cascade across others. This was the largest blackout ever in North America, leaving 50 million people from New York to Toronto without power for up to two days. Ontario's public health infrastructure was stressed due to hospitals operating on emergency generators. Food and water supplies were put at risk. Grocery stores were forced to discard thousands of dollars worth of food and water treatment plants operated on emergency power. Thousands of Ontarians felt a cash crunch due to closed banks and disabled bank and debit machines. Transportation and commuting were disrupted when gas stations were unable to pump gasoline (pumps require electricity to be able to operate). Flights were cancelled at both international airports in Ontario (Toronto and Ottawa). An extraordinary volume of calls created tremendous backlogs on 911 systems, and cellular transmitter stations failed when their battery back-up power was exhausted.

Given the importance that electricity plays in our economy, CEA began engaging the federal government on CIP early in 2000, initially through the federal government's CIP task force; subsequently with the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP; and then with Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, PSEPC. We've worked cooperatively with governments and government officials on a wide range of initiatives over the past six years, from providing input on policy matters to developing scenarios for and participating in tabletop exercises.

However, from the start of this relationship, our most urgent concern has been the issue of an effective information sharing framework.

According to the assessments that the government itself has conducted, the private sector owns and operates 85 percent of the essential infrastructure. It is mainly responsible for protecting its own property.

An effective two-way movement of information between the private sector and government is essential to our success.

The importance of protecting industry-provided information has been acknowledged by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States. Through their protected critical infrastructure information program, they have recognized that they need to work with the private sector and provide protection for information.

Even if an information sharing framework requires much more than mere protection of the information that the industry provides to government, we consider protection the basis of a relationship of trust between these two partners.

The protection accorded to information provided by industry to government in Bill C-12 will allow for a far greater depth of collaboration. We believe that it will greatly enhance the partnership that already exists between industry and the Government of Canada, and that it is the backbone of a much bigger relationship.

It's been said that there's a wealth of information available in the public domain about the vulnerabilities of our sector. This may have been true once, but no longer is that the case. In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the industry moved rapidly to remove information from the public domain that could compromise the safety and security of systems, and in 2002 we began adhering to a North America-wide standard for protecting potentially sensitive information.

Industry has information that cannot be shared without the protection provided for in Bill C-12, and we believe that it would benefit PSEPC as well as federal security, intelligence, and law enforcement to be able to access this information in the planning and execution of infrastructure protection activities or law enforcement activities, which, if not implemented appropriately, could lead to unnecessary threats against the electricity sector.

For things to be this way, a complete information sharing framework is still necessary. Protecting information is the first important step.

To sum up, we feel that the bill strikes a fair and prudent balance between the public's right to information and the imperative of ensuring the protection of the electricity industry, this central infrastructure essential to everyone.

Thank you for the opportunity to meet with you today. My colleagues and I would be happy to discuss Bill C-12 or other CIP matters with you.

October 26th, 2006 / 9:05 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

I call this meeting to order.

This is the sixteenth meeting of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, and today we are having a meeting in regard to Bill C-12, An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts.

We would like to welcome our witnesses from the Canadian Electricity Association. I believe the leader of the delegation is Mr. Francis Bradley, and he is the vice-president of corporate resources.

We welcome you and the people who are with you, sir. I will allow you to make an opening statement. You can introduce your colleagues, and if any of them have any comments or statements, they can make them as well.

Normally we allow ten minutes, sir, but if you need more time, you may take more, as you are the only witnesses today. After you are done, our procedure is usually to go to the government side first, then the official opposition Liberals, and then we'll go back over to the government side to conclude the first round of questioning, which consists of seven-minute turns.

Again, welcome. We look forward to the testimony that you have for us. You may begin.

October 19th, 2006 / 10:45 a.m.
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Bloc

France Bonsant Bloc Compton—Stanstead, QC

I have a question, Mr. Chairman.

I have not said much, because I am not aware of the legislation surrounding Bill C-12. However, I can tell you about my experience during the 1998 ice storm.

I was city counsellor at the time, in a municipality that did not wait for the go-ahead from either the provincial nor the federal government in order to declare a state of emergency. The first people to be contacted were instinctively the police, even before 911 emergency services. Second, came city council.

During that time, we responded by developing emergency measures for the city. We then extended the measures to larger cities, because in my riding, some municipalities have a population of 112 citizens. The locals know where water treatment facilities are. We received tons of phone calls from volunteers wanting to offer their services. We did not have to go running after them; they were there. The only help we receive from the federal government came from the Armed Forces, that told us they could provide us with small cots if need be, that these cots were available.

My question is for Mr. Knight. We did not wait for help from either the provincial nor the federal government, so what are cities outside of Quebec waiting for to develop emergency response systems, why do they need legislation to force their hand?

October 19th, 2006 / 10:30 a.m.
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David Pratt Advisor and Special Ambassador, Canadian Red Cross

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I want to address the issue of the auxiliary-to-government role, because that is really the crux of where we stand as an organization. We recoil--I guess that's the best word to use--from being described as another NGO within the voluntary sector, because we do have this special relationship. However, the auxiliary-to-government relationship is not one that's very well understood, even within the Red Cross movement, let alone government.

We have been trying over the course of the last few years to raise the profile of this particular issue for the Red Cross. We've been encouraged to do that, as well, by the international Red Cross movement. When we look at our statute, for instance, which Dr. Duplessis made reference to--it goes back to 1909, and our letters patent go back to 1970--there's really a pressing need to update our legislation to bring it into the 21st century, to say nothing of the 20th century, and to really make some changes that would recognize this special relationship.

In this regard, I have to say that the reception from PSEPC at this point is actually very encouraging, especially over the last couple of months since they've been aware of this initiative we've been pursuing. They've been very, very attentive to our needs and they understand our concerns about the auxiliary-to-government role, not just as it relates to PSEPC--because actually we would see PSEPC as the lead department in this--but within the broader range of relationships that we have with the Government of Canada. It's not only our relationship with PSEPC that's important; we have a relationship with DND, CIDA, Foreign Affairs, even Industry Canada, and with Transport Canada in terms of water safety, etc.

There's a larger relationship here that we're trying to keep our eyes on. And to the extent that we would like to see ourselves recognized in the legislation--clause 3--as auxiliary to government, we're not prepared to push that at this point, because these discussions are ongoing. We certainly hope they'll produce a better understanding within the Government of Canada of the auxiliary role, and that at the end of the day we will see some changes.

I have to emphasize as well, on this conversation we have with PSEPC in terms of the consultation process, that even though it probably wasn't a formal one in connection with Bill C-12, there's a constant conversation going on between the department and the Canadian Red Cross. Mr. Shropshire is part of the disaster group for emergency management. He co-chairs that group with an assistant deputy minister. So there are some very high-level contacts that take place. I can tell you without hesitation that people at the Red Cross are in contact with PSEPC almost on a daily basis.

October 19th, 2006 / 10:30 a.m.
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Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

I have a very quick question for either one.

We talked about Bill C-12 and consultation. Bill C-12 was born of, I guess, Bill C-78, a predecessor bill that died on the order paper. I ask this out of ignorance because I wasn't around then, but what are the similarities or differences between Bill C-78 and Bill C-12? Is it really just finishing up business that was started previously?

Sorry, I didn't mean for it to be a long question.

October 19th, 2006 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Is there anything that is in conflict with Bill C-12, or is it all marching along?

October 19th, 2006 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

So it's almost a translation of Bill C-12 into a regulatory or at least an operational framework. That's the objective of it.

October 19th, 2006 / 10:25 a.m.
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National Director, Disaster Management, Canadian Red Cross

Don Shropshire

There are many aspects of the MOU we signed with the minister that are certainly covered in Bill C-12.

The operation of it is the part we're now working on with the minister's staff, to look at how we can actually prepare it, put boots on the ground, and make sure there's the search capacity we spoke to. But certainly all of the different aspects, from mitigation through to the recovery aspects, are covered within the bill and within the memorandum of understanding.

October 19th, 2006 / 10:25 a.m.
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Conservative

Laurie Hawn Conservative Edmonton Centre, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you all for joining us.

I have a question first for the Red Cross.

Dr. Duplessis, you mentioned an MOU with Minister Day. Are aspects of that MOU covered in Bill C-12? Are there aspects that should be covered in Bill C-12? Are there aspects that are in conflict with anything in Bill C-12?

October 19th, 2006 / 10:10 a.m.
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Liberal

Mark Holland Liberal Ajax—Pickering, ON

Thank you so much.

Thank you again for appearing today.

I have a couple of things. First, it goes to show you that assumptions are a dangerous thing. Before Mr. Norlock had asked this question, I was assuming that both of you had been consulted in the lead-up to Bill C-12 and its development. I'm deeply concerned that you were not.

Mr. Duplessis, I understand you're giving a somewhat nuanced no. But by the same token, it sounds more that you were just made aware in sort of a general context that it was happening and sort of maybe in an ancillary way engaged. That concerns me, and it certainly concerns me that FCM wasn't engaged there.

If I can, I'm going to start specifically on the legislation with FCM. I'm a bit surprised by what you're asking for, in that you're not asking for more in this process. A reference to some kind of engagement with municipalities might be a start, but I'm surprised you're not asking for more, and I'll explain why.

In developing this bill or dealing with it, municipalities are first responders. Municipalities are the ones—as a municipal councillor, I know—who play an enormous role in the success of responding to an emergency, and as the ones who are on the ground and closest to the emergency and understand it best, they need to be resourced and they need to be tied into what's happening. Oftentimes they have the best understanding of what needs to occur.

You referenced the fact, or at least I thought you did, Mr. Knight, that you're looking for a seat at the table. I'm wondering what form that would take. How could we ensure that this happens, and then how can we ensure that in fact you're included in the dialogue?

I often think that if you're just having discussions between the province and the federal government, there's a lot of extremely important information and local knowledge that is being left out of the loop. If you're not at the table, important considerations are going to be missed and important needs of municipalities will be ignored, in terms of the resources and infrastructure that they require.

I don't know if you want to comment on that.

October 19th, 2006 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

I would go back to Mr. Knight and his observation that municipalities have to be recognized. I did read your submission last night. I must admit that I could only devote about an hour and a half to it. I'm being frank and honest. We get a tremendous amount to read. But I did go through it.

One of the recurring themes, of course, is funding. Everyone has a limitation with regard to funding. I suspect very strongly that sometimes the drafters of legislation.... Of course you've observed by now that I'm new at this game, so I'm not afraid to take chances. Everybody has their hand out for more money. The money comes from one person--the very person who pays municipal and provincial taxes. Whether it's in the province of Quebec, Ontario, or anywhere else, the money all comes from the same pockets.

But once again, if safety is the primary responsibility, we shouldn't shy away from that. We have to make sure there's coordination. In my observation, it's not always about the money. It's about how you use the money, and it's about how you use the existing resources to get the maximum outputs.

That brings me to the most important part, and the one theme I keep stressing at this committee. When we hear from people and organizations, specifically policing organizations, they don't always have the information. You don't always have the best idea from inside your organization. You have sister organizations throughout Canada and the world who have gone through what you have gone through, and they have what we commonly refer to as “best practices”.

I'm sure you're going to be consulted. I'm going to work hard to see that you are. What you've said here of course is part of the consultative process to improvements to Bill C-12. So I'm sure the minister is going to hear what you have said this morning.

But have you engaged in best practices with other countries? You mentioned Hurricane Katrina. Would you be prepared to give information to this group as to what you've observed from other communities with respect to that?

This question is also for the Red Cross.

October 19th, 2006 / 10 a.m.
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Conservative

Rick Norlock Conservative Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

Yes. Thank you very much.

Thirty years of policing in smaller-town Ontario was very much a part of my latter years in emergency planning with municipalities, and of course because of our relationship with the province of Ontario. Any experiences, from a policing perspective, where things went on and went awry, were usually a result of information not getting to the people it needed to get to. I understand what you are referring to with regard to information.

That having been said.... And I'm not that sensitive about criticism. As I said, those years gave me a pretty thick hide to criticism. In the absence of this current bill.... Is what was there before better? That's my first question, because if it was better, then we need to revisit things. If it wasn't better, does this bill start to get the job done? That's number one.

Second, yes, I suspect very strongly that your observations are correct with regard to the extreme sensitivity the Canadian federal government has to jurisdictional responsibilities. I liked your word “jealousies”. I have to be very sensitive also to the fact that I'm a member of government, so I guess I should not even have used that word. The fact is that we have a reality. But you are right when you say that the absolute first responsibility is to the welfare of the people of Canada.

I have to now go to the beginning. First, is it better than what was there?

The second question is for both of your organizations. Were you part of the initial planning of Bill C-12? In other words, were you consulted other than being here this morning? If you were, did you express at that time the concerns you've expressed here today?

October 19th, 2006 / 9:55 a.m.
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Chief Executive Officer, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

James Knight

We don't think so. This is our one concern about Bill C-12. It inadequately recognizes the critical role of local governments--MRCs, counties. All forms of local government are not fully recognized. There's just the most fleeting of references, and it seems to us that there is an important communications need here.

When federal policies are being made, those policies are made very far from on-the-ground reality. Very few federal civil servants have any idea about municipal operations. In fact, their training has been that that's something they should not even think about, because it's clearly a provincial jurisdiction. We understand that.

But when dealing particularly with our large urban areas, the complexity of them is so great that it's important that the federal government be given some direct understanding of how things work on the ground at the local level. I think that's one of the benefits that some municipal participation--I mention this specific committee--would bring to the exercise. I think it would be useful to reflect this general point, perhaps in an informal way.

Thank you.

October 19th, 2006 / 9:55 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Garry Breitkreuz

Thank you.

I just have a question from the chair before I turn it over to the government. Do you feel that Bill C-12 would address the problem you observed during Katrina?