The catastrophic 9.0 earthquake followed by a 3-metre-high tsunami wave and nuclear melt-downs that hit Japan in March 2011, coupled with catastrophic earthquakes in Haiti in February 2010 and in Christchurch, New Zealand in February of 2011, have put the need for national emergency preparedness at the top of Canadians’ minds. Yet in 2010, our federal government cut $35.8 million over three years from the budget of Public Safety Canada, resulting in cutbacks at Canada’s only national emergency preparedness college, and reductions in Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) funding for emergency preparedness infrastructure and training. These cuts were imposed on an already-inadequate budget and severely compromise Canada’s emergency preparedness.
Canadian municipalities, which are charged with the responsibility of preparing for and responding to emergencies, do not, in the vast majority of cases, have the finances to put their local emergency plans into practical use. They need the help of the federal government. The 9-11 attacks in the United States and the SARS epidemic prompted the Government of Canada to provide special funds for emergency preparedness for terrorist attacks and pandemics.
The Green Party believes that the high likelihood of emergencies related to seismic events, tsunamis, and events related to climate change such as catastrophic storms, point to the need for the Government of Canada to fast-track increased funding and support for national emergency preparedness.
Green Party MPs will:
- Work to greatly increase funding through Public Safety Canada and the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) for projects that implement municipal, territorial, and provincial emergency preparedness plans, including: public education and training programs; local emergency infrastructure, such as adequate tsunami warning systems; civil defence sirens and other communication systems; adequate marking of emergency evacuation routes; and means to supply essential services such as medical services, energy supplies, food, and water;
- Push Public Safety Canada to simplify the application process and expand the eligibility criteria for funding through the JEPP;
- Work to increase funding for emergency preparedness training programs for emergency responders, including the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College;
- Work to provide funding to fast-track seismic upgrading of public buildings such as hospitals, schools, and fire halls. The program for seismic upgrading should be coupled with the programs for energy retrofitting of public buildings, so as to ensure efficient use of public funds.