High River urging the province to better coordinate emergency response
The Town of High River is calling on the province to merge emergency management and emergency social services into one ministry in order to better coordinate responses to disaster.
In a petition to be presented later this month in Calgary at a meeting of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, High River called for the creation of “a single, all-hazards, public safety oriented government ministry” to respond to unfolding emergencies.
Currently, the province’s emergency management response is the responsibility of municipal affairs, while emergency social services is housed within the ministry of community and social services.
And, according to High River, during some of Alberta’s worst disasters — the Wood Buffalo widlfire, the southern Alberta floods and the Slave Lake wildfire— the divided ministry caused problems.
“(This) separation results in a loss of coordination, communication breakdowns, and conflicting messages to evacuees who need certainty in order to make decisions about their homes and businesses,” the draft resolution reads.
“Local authorities would be best served by a well-coordinated, integrated provincial approach to emergency management and emergency social services.”
And once the initial emergency response is over, the town said, the recovery effort “must be community-led to be most effective.”
The petition also referenced findings from a number of post-disaster reviews and investigations that recommended closer integration of emergency social services into the overall response.
The draft resolution also acknowledged the threat of increasingly frequent largescale disasters thanks to climate change.
The resolution will be presented at a meeting of AUMA members between Nov. 22-24 at the Telus Convention Centre.