Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Programs Make Me Feel Safe

Canada’s emergency preparedness programs may not be perfect.  But, from the perspective of an immigrant, it is more than what I hope for.  Because of these programs, I feel safe.

In this post, I will share the hazards that commonly occur in Canada as well as the country’s emergency preparedness, awareness, and response programs.

Effect of Wildfire Dust in Metro Vancouver
Unedited Photo of the Effect of Wildfire Dust in Metro Vancouver

Hazards in Canada

As I write this post, the B.C. Wildfire Dashboard shows 250 active fires in the province of British Columbia.  Also, the National Wildland Fire Situation Report registered around 5, 900 forest fires across Canada from January to August 2021. 

Forest fires are not the only major hazards in Canada.  During the warm season, hazards such as heatwaves, air quality issues, floods, thunderstorms, and tornadoes can occur.  During the cold season, hazards such as freezing rain, blizzards, winter storm, and ice pellets can happen.  Besides natural calamities, other types of risks exist such as power outages as well as transportation or industrial accidents.

Wildfire in British Columbia

Emergency Preparedness

Regulatory Framework

Canada’s regulatory framework is considered one of the best in the world.  This framework shows the government’s commitment to protecting and enhancing the public’s health and safety, security, and well-being. 

The list that follows shows solid examples.

Workplace Health and Safety

The Canada Occupational Health and Safety Regulations require the development of a Hazard Prevention Program.  This includes hazard identification, preventive measures, and employee training.

These regulations also state that employers must assign a qualified first aid attendant and provide a first aid station in the workplace.  In effect, these ensure that an injured worker will be given immediate care or referral for medical treatment.    

First aid attendants receive training to manage injuries such as respiratory emergencies, shock, sprains, and heat or cold exposure.

Weather-related Hazards
Weather-related Hazards
Fire and Building Codes

The National Fire Code of Canada and a National Building Code of Canada exist to protect building occupants.  These set out requirements on the design, construction, use, and condition of buildings in relation to certain hazards.  Regulations in specific provinces or territories supplement these national codes.

Fire and building codes are well thought of.  For example, Ontario’s Building Code includes requirements for accessibility.  This includes requirements for a barrier-free path of travel as well as the minimum doorway and corridor width to ensure quick exit in case of emergencies. 

The B.C. Fire Code and B.C. Building Code addresses the needs for building security and life safety.  These require access doors that may be locked to prevent entry but allow egress for a quick exit.

In Canada, There are Regulations Related to Snow-Clearing
In Canada, There are Regulations Related to Snow-Clearing
Snow clearing

Safety and incident prevention is at the forefront of regulations. 

In the City of Hamilton, Ontario, requirements are set for property owners or occupants to clear snow or ice from sidewalks close to their property within 24 hours after a snow event.

In Montreal, property owners or occupants must follow certain rules when clearing snow from private property.  For example, they must remove snow from the property’s main entrance as well as the parking area entrance.  They should also keep the snow within their property and not move it to the sidewalk or in the street.

Emergency Preparedness Guide

The Canadian government published an Emergency Preparation Guide that explains detailed steps to prepare for emergencies.

Weather-Related Hazards Vary per Season and Province or Territory
Weather-Related Hazards Vary per Season and Province or Territory

Emergency Awareness Campaigns

Fire Drills

The National Fire Code of Canada requires completing regular fire drills at intervals no greater than 12 months.  However, this sets more frequent drills in day care-centres, schools, and high-rise buildings.  The Code’s Emergency Planning section includes requisites such as training of supervisory staff and provision of a fire safety plan.

At work, we conduct fire drills to comply with these regulations.  This gives an opportunity for employees to practice what they learned during emergency response training.  It also allows management to identify action items needed to ensure safety such as additional training, relocation of muster stations, or upgrades to fire annunciator.

Emergency Alert Tests Are Part of Canada’s Emergency Preparedness, Awareness, and Response Programs
Canada’s Emergency Preparedness, Awareness, and Response Programs Include Emergency Alert Tests

Emergency Alert

Emergency alerts are area-specific public safety warnings about imminent or possible dangers.  Only authorized government agencies such as police departments, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and provincial and territorial bodies issue these alerts.

Specific types of alerts are immediately broadcasted because of their critical nature. These include fire, natural calamities, dangerous substances, and environmental hazards. Terrorist threats, civil emergencies, and amber alerts are also declared.

Alert Ready is Canada’s emergency alerting system.  It delivers life-saving warnings through radio, television, and LTE-connected wireless devices.

Alert Ready conducts an emergency alert test twice a year, once in May and another in November.

Man Rescued from White Rock Pier

Emergency Response

One of the things I am most grateful for as an immigrant in Canada is the availability of emergency response resources.

According to the British Columbia Emergency Health Services (EHS) website, 275 first responder agencies across the province have a signed agreement in place with BCEHS.  In addition, municipalities cover the costs of sending municipal resources to respond to emergency calls. 

A quick search shows a similar system of interrelated land and air medical services in Ontario, and most likely other provinces and territories.

Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Programs Include Provision of Emergency Health Services
Canada’s Emergency Preparedness Programs Include Provision of Emergency Health Services

Incidents happen everywhere.  But, Canada’s emergency preparedness, awareness, and response programs make me feel safe.

For this, I am truly grateful.

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