Canada's Earthquake Management System

Diarmuid O'Dea Government of British Columbia Ralph Goodale

In the event of a "Big One" earthquake hitting anywhere in Canada where can Canadians look to for emergency response? All three levels of government in British Columbia and to a lesser extent in Central and Maritime Canada have done a great deal more to be prepared for the "Big One" than most citizens or businesses. 

Chances are the federal government will not lead the charge with boots on the ground but Government of Canada has developed a great deal of material and resources in order to provide funding and direction to provincial and municipal governments.  Public Safety Canada is the Government of Canada department that oversees emergency response. Its minister is the Hon. Ralph Goodale from Saskatchewan. Mr. Goodale is a long serving well-regarded MP. He was previously Canada's Finance Minister. It means that Emergency Management is in very competent well-connected hands. The only concern is that Mr. Goodale is also responsible for public security.  He has to spend a lot of his time on border patrol, anti-terrorism issues. and combating organized crime. 

In British Columbia, earthquake response coordination is part of Emergency Management BC.  The minister is the Hon. Naomi Yamamoto.  She is a Minister of State under the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, Todd Stone. Ms. Yamamoto is a well considered, effective MLA. Her portfolio is very narrow and that assures British Columbians that there is a considerable focus on emergencies at the provincial level. Her Ministerial Mandate letter is very instructive. In it, you can read that by far her main responsibility concerns emergency management and earthquake preparedness.

The Government of British Columbia published the BC Immediate Response Plan in 2015 which details the emergency response plan in the case of a significant earthquake in British Columbia 

Our local government response will be very important. In most municipalities, the responsibility for earthquake response coordination will flow through your local fire department. Some municipalities, have gone to considerable lengths to be prepared in case of an earthquake in their municipality. It is worth reading the Earthquake Ready Action Plan of the District of North Vancouver (2015) which is an exemplary example of what local governments can and are doing.

Diarmuid D. O'Dea 


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