Happily. The idea of the ISST actually goes back several years, as part of the standard operating procedures that I was talking about before. Those have been a work in progress for over 15 years.
I'm sure that Mr. Goldring will recall that we didn't have them once upon a time. It was as a result of our lessons from Hurricane Mitch that the government decided it needed to have standard operating procedures. Enough of this making it up every time something happens: you needed to have things in place so that people knew what was expected of them, what every department was supposed to do. Making sure, for instance, that we train together beforehand, that we do tabletop exercises, that we do reviews after major crises so we can learn the lessons.
The ISST has evolved over time. As we've been deploying not just the DART but other Canadian assets into theatre, the decision was made that we needed to have a whole-of-government analysis that would go to catastrophic events.
The idea is that the team is led by Foreign Affairs, but it includes colleagues from the Department of National Defence—usually the commander of the DART, but not necessarily only the commander of the DART. There are a wider range of Canadian Forces' assets we might wish to draw on. Sometimes the DART might not be the right thing to take out of the tool kit. We might need to use engineers from the Canadian Forces or to draw on their airlift instead.
So it's DFAIT, National Defence, a colleague from CIDA, usually from Leslie's shop, the humanitarian assistance shop, and sometimes from the bilateral.... It depends on the nature of the circumstances at play. As I mentioned, depending on the kind of crisis we're looking at, we'll sometimes include other colleagues from the Government of Canada. For instance, after the tsunami, we brought along a colleague from the Public Health Agency, PHAC; we thought that was going to be a particular requirement given the number of dead and injured.
This ISST is pre-identified. All the colleagues know who is going to be on it. It's usually led either by me or by my director of humanitarian affairs and disaster response. That team trains together beforehand. There's an exercise that happens every year. We try to make sure we have a lot of staff interaction and contact with one another. We have our checklists and our preparation sheets. It's based on international best practice.
When the team is deployed, the idea is not to have Canada duplicating.... This is one of the other risks you run into when you have an ISST. We're careful about when we dispatch it. As Leslie said, Canada already invests millions of dollars into an international multilateral system. All of our UN partners, the International Red Cross and others, also have assessment teams.
When the Government of Canada decides to send in the ISST, it's because we anticipate it's going to be a circumstance where civilian organizations might need an additional set of supports from bilateral partners such as Canada. When that team goes in, we make sure its job is to liaise with the affected government, figure out what they want, and plug into all of the other assessment teams that have been deployed. We're not creating an additional burden, but we're getting a feel for what's required in that particular circumstance and what the Government of Canada can bring to the table.