What Is A State Of Emergency?



Many Ottawans have been debating whether Mayor Jim Watson should have declared a state of emergency concerning the flooding in the city.

Here is what findlaw.com says about a state of emergency:

In 2007, the federal government passed the Emergency Management Act to help speed up and optimize a disaster response.

In addition to providing emergency funds, the act allows authorities to prohibit or restrict travel, order evacuations, enter any buildings without a warrant, and regulate the distribution of essential goods and services. However, in Canada, the federal government cannot get involved unless “the province requests assistance or there is an agreement with the province that requires or permits the assistance.”

Another interesting aspect of the EMA is it allows citizens to be conscripted to help, much like when people are drafted to serve in a war. This may impact businesses, as they have critical employees such as emergency workers or snowplow drivers enlisted to help elsewhere. Non-compliance can be costly, with fines up to $100,000 for corporations and up to $10,000 for individuals; a jail term up to six months is another penalty.

To read more about the law in this situation, click here.


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5 thoughts on “What Is A State Of Emergency?

  1. Was it or would it have been more of a state of emergency if the areas affected were not rural in nature? Core Ottawa and city hall were never impacted and Watson does not get many votes from outside the core so there was little pressure and less gain for His Worship. Certainly no good photo-ops.

    1. @Bruce Webster great point.

      Mayor Watson did not call state of emergency because we have the resources to deal with the flooding, I have been watching news clips of the homes in Constance Bay and many of these homes have 2 feet of water in their basements. I’m glad he has everything under control.

  2. Reading the article, it appears that the province is the one that retains the power to decide what’s an emergency although it also refers to cities having the power to declare a state of emergency.
    The province’s Emergency Management Ontario (EMO) says, at: https://www.emergencymanagementontario.ca/english/insideemo/em_in_ontario/em_in_ontario.html that the “municipalities and provincial ministries are required to have an emergency management program. The requirements for these programs are set out in the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. EMO supports municipalities and ministries in implementing their programs by providing them with advice, assistance, guidelines, training, and other tools.

    Most incidents that do occur are handled at the local level by well-trained emergency responders. In the event of a larger incident, the head of council may decide to declare an emergency and assemble local officials at the municipal Emergency Operations Centre.

    Clearly, the decision is made at the municipal level – the blurb does go on to say the province takes charge if it’s a province-wide emergency or disaster and can call on the feds if needed.

  3. Bruce Webster,
    Good observation. However, those in the Valley have long memories as do their relatives who live in the Ottawa core. Living through this is something not forgotten at election time.


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