Emergency preparedness takes a hit

Federal government cancels its Joint Emergency Preparedness Program.

Emergency planning for Canadian municipalities, regional districts, and search and rescue groups suffered a significant blow with the Ottawa’s plan to cancel its Joint Emergency Preparedness Program next March.

Established in 1980, the program contributed more than $170 million to enhance the country’s capacity to respond to emergencies or natural disasters.

Projects are proposed annually by provincial and territorial governments on behalf of municipalities and regional districts and cost-shared with the federal government.

The Regional District of Nanaimo received close to $50,000 in JEPP funding since 2004.

Jani Drew, RDN emergency coordinator, said the cancellation of the federal portion will affect the objective to be operationally ready at all times to respond and recover from an emergency or disaster.

“You’re never finished with emergency preparedness or increasing the resilience of a community. It’s an ongoing process you need to nurture and refresh,” she said. “It’s almost a living thing you need to continue to invest in.”

The funding was used for training, emergency exercises and equipment for the RDN’s emergency operation centre and reception centre.

“In 2009 we had a large-scale fire exercise with 200 participants and 50 per cent of that was paid by JEPP,” said Drew. “There was so much benefit to every stakeholder agency and the public, and we couldn’t have done it at that scale without the funding.”

Plans for a 2014 earthquake scenario exercise are being reexamined due to the cutbacks.

“But one thing that doesn’t change is the need for it,” said Drew. “It’s all important, and all you can vaguely consider is tinkering with timelines or scaling it back a bit. But radically altering how you provide for public safety in a disaster cannot be compromised.”

The City of Nanaimo saved $17,000 in training and the purchase of hand-held radios in 2008. Funding must now be found elsewhere, said Karen Lindsay, Nanaimo Emergency Program coordinator.

The cuts come just when the public’s awareness for emergency management and preparedness is increasing.

“We are constantly trying to work on getting the community prepared and JEPP is a resource we certainly could use,” she said. “Emergency management can be easily forgotten because it’s not happening now. But when you need it, you want to have as much as you can in place to minimize the impact of the event.”

James Lunney, Nanaimo-Alberni Conservative MP, said the program was established because gaps were identified in the ability of local governments and provinces to respond quickly to emergency situations.

“A lot of good work has happened over the last several years,” he said. “Emergency preparedness is a provincial responsibility and we feel the capacity has been addressed to the point the program has fulfilled its objectives.”

Lunney said disaster relief is another matter.

“If we have a catastrophic event, disaster relief is still there,” he said. “And if gaps in emergency response are identified in the future, the program can always be revisited.”

Jean Crowder, Nanaimo-Cowichan NDP MP, said the cuts are another example of back-door downloading  by the federal government.

“We live in an earthquake zone, we have all these variable weather conditions now whether it’s floods or fires, and the province and municipalities will have to fill the gap,” she said. “It seems to me there is more call now to make sure  our emergency preparedness providers are well equipped.”

Just Posted

Beban Pool is expected to re-open Oct. 4 after a vote by councillors at a finance and audit committee meeting Wednesday, June 16. (News Bulletin file photo)
City of Nanaimo will re-open Beban Pool in October

User groups warn COVID-19 pool closures have left a gap in water safety education

Beef to the lady who went onto my property then proceeded to take my large plant from my home. I found out and asked for it returned. You said I was dramatic? You should be ashamed of yourself.
Beefs & Bouquets, June 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts’s body was discovered near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

An artist’s rendering of a proposed student housing complex at 326 Wakesiah Ave. (WA Architects Ltd. image)
Two Lotto Max tickets sold on Vancouver Island were winners, though nobody won the $70-million jackpot in Tuesday’s draw. (BCLC image)
Lotto Max player in Nanaimo wins $500,000

Campbell River lotto player wins $1 million in the Tuesday, June 15 draw

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Green party Leader Annamie Paul speaks during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, June 15, 2021. Paul has survived another day of party strife after a planned ouster shifted course, leaving her with a tenuous grip on power ahead of a likely federal election this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Green Leader Annamie Paul blasts ‘racist,’ ‘sexist’ party execs who sought ouster

Fallout has continued, with two of the federal council’s members resigning

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry says re-opening B.C.’s border to the U.S. ‘is not in our best interest’ right now. (B.C. Government photo)
Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry (B.C. Government photo)
B.C. records 113 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, four deaths

Vaccination of young people rising quickly, near 75 per cent

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S President Joe Biden shake hands during their meeting at the ‘Villa la Grange’ in Geneva, Switzerland in Geneva, Switzerland, Wednesday, June 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, Pool)
Biden says meeting with Putin not a ‘kumbaya moment’

But U.S. president asserted Russian leader is interested in improved relations, averting a Cold War

Marine biologist Rick Harbo pulls a lid from the Ladysmith harbour, which he uses to monitor the presence of native and non-native species in the Ladysmith harbour. (Cole Schisler photo)
Unidentified sponge may be the latest marine species invading Island harbour

Marine biologist finding dozens of alien species in warm-water Ladysmith Harbour, none threatening

Island Health is bringing a vaccination clinic to Lake Cowichan starting June 23. (Submitted)
Island Health opening COVID-19 vaccine clinic to boost lagging Cowichan Lake numbers

Cowichan Valley West the only Island area under 60 per cent in adult first dose totals

For more than a year, Rene Doyharcabal and a small group of neighbours in Langley’s Brookswood neighbourhood have been going out every evening to show support for first responders by honking horns and banging pots and drums. Now, a neighbour has filed a noise complaint. (Langley Advance Times file)
Noise complaint filed against nightly show of support for health care workers in B.C. city

Langley Township contacted group to advise of complaint, but no immediate action is expected

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

Most Read