Oversight of Emergency Management in Ontario

Why governments do not learn from Chernobyl and Fukushima’s catastrophes? Ontario has three nuclear power facilities and 18 operating reactors, which makes it the largest nuclear jurisdiction in North America and one of the largest in the world. Unfortunately, Ontario is still not prepared for a large-scale emergency and has not updated its emergency preparedness plan or provincial nuclear response plan since 2008 and 2009 respectively.

Find more here: The Office of the Auditor General of Ontario: 2017 Annual Report. Chapter 3. Section 3.04 Emergency Management in Ontario.

Within this 256-page report, 46 pages were dedicated to emergency management concerns with over a dozen recommendations for immediate improvements to reduce vulnerabilities following floods, ice storms, health epidemics, prolonged power outages and nuclear accidents. “The province’s overall state of readiness to respond to emergencies needs significant improvement, in order to minimize the harm or damage that may result.” Lysyk’s report further criticized how the health ministry has a “stockpile of over 26,000 pallets of supplies for medical emergencies,” including respirators, face shields, needles, disinfectant wipes, disposable thermometers and other items, but “more than 80 per cent of these supplies have reached their expiry date.”

Oversight of emergency management in Ontario is the responsibility of the Cabinet Committee on Emergency Management, however, the committee has not met for several years, Lysyk said. That has left potential devastating impacts from climate change, cyber attacks or terrorists unaddressed in terms of a coordinated emergency management response, she said.

The local press investigates all possible consequences. The London Free Press reports that Ontario’s lack of readiness for nuclear emergencies is a frightening situation that should alarm every resident, especially those in Southwestern Ontario. According to WINDSOR STAR, the government’s lack of emergency management planning for municipalities across the province is a disaster waiting to happen. The auditor general detailed a litany of provincial emergency management failures that included no traffic evacuation plans by the Ministry of Transportation, no information technology program connected to municipalities and no iodide pills from the province for many residents.