FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is investing $1.7 million in additional funding to help improve local emergency preparedness and double the number of regional emergency management co-ordinators.

“Improving emergency readiness is a collaborative and constant effort,” said Justice and Public Safety Minister Denis Landry. “Your government is pleased to dedicate more resources to this important objective. The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization (NBEMO) will be better able to support local communities in their responsibilities for emergency management and do its part to help keep us safe, secure and resilient.”

The funds will ensure there is a regional emergency management co-ordinator in each of the province’s 12 Regional Service Commission areas. They help support local authorities and first responders, and co-ordinate local and provincial emergency planning and response. The hiring process for these additional staff will start in the coming weeks.

The extra funds will also allow emergency management training sessions in both official languages to be delivered more often and in more locations. The training helps communities prepare to carry out their roles and responsibilities under the Emergency Measures Act.

The department will also consult with stakeholders on potential improvements to emergency management. Stakeholders include local government officials, first responders, First Nations, provincial government officials, owners of critical infrastructure, and non-governmental agencies like the Canadian Red Cross.

These consultations will focus on how, collectively, New Brunswick can improve its ability to plan for and manage emergencies. Issues will include transparency and accountability regarding the province’s emergency risks, capabilities, plans, reviews and action; ensuring more co-operation across boundaries and mandates; and improving individual and community-level resiliency with particular attention to community capacity building and caring for the most vulnerable populations.

The January 2017 ice storm was one of the most significant weather events in the province's history but is one of many that have affected New Brunswick in the last 10 years. The province, and the world, is facing increasingly complex emergencies and this trend is expected to continue.

In August 2017, Clerk of the Executive Council Judy Wagner released a review of the response to the ice storm, with a series of recommendations. The new investment announced today is intended to help NBEMO address several of the recommendations including:

  • NBEMO should revisit its training regime with a view to increasing its accessibility to local and regional officials. NBEMO and the Department of Environment and Local Government should take steps to ensure that orientation for new municipal mayors and councillors includes an emergency measures component.
  • NBEMO should action recommendation #4 from its after-action review to increase the number of regional emergency management co-ordinators as soon as possible, not only to ensure operational capacity for future emergencies, but also to assist with more rigorous and standardized emergency planning.

Landry said the provincial government remains committed to implementing recommendations as a priority, notably through the work of the Deputy Ministers Committee on Security and Emergency Management. Progress has been made to improve preparedness at all levels, including:

  • Ongoing work to clarify roles and responsibilities for emergency management for local service districts, local governments, regional service commissions and provincial EMO.
  • Formulating communications strategies to educate and encourage the public on preparedness.
  • Improving collaboration between the Department of Social Development and the Canadian Red Cross led by NBEMO to co-ordinate delivery of the provision of essential social services to impacted residents; and
  • Improving collaboration and information sharing between NBEMO and NB Power to facilitate operational response planning and co-ordination.

“We have seen great success in communities where local authorities, operators of critical infrastructure and community groups have co-ordinated their work among themselves and with the province,” said Landry. “By working with municipalities, first responders and non-governmental agencies, the government will do its part to improve our emergency planning and management framework.”