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New legislation to help in emergencies


December 11, 2007
By Fire Fighting in Canada

Ontario is a safe place

TORONTO –  The McGuinty government is moving to strengthen Ontario by introducing a bill that would, if passed, give the government the tools it needs to deal with emergencies while also protecting the rights of Ontarians, Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Monte Kwinter announced Dec. 19.

“Ontario is a safe place – but in the presence of new global threats, we must make it safer,” said Kwinter. “This bill, if passed, would provide effective emergency powers that we need to act quickly and protect Ontarians in case of an emergency.”

If passed, the legislation would help clarify the conditions under which the province can declare an emergency. It would provide authority to cabinet and the government, including: restricting travel or ordering evacuations, establishing facilities for the care, welfare, safety and shelter of individuals, including emergency shelters and hospitals, fixing prices for necessary goods, services and resources, prohibiting  price gouging and widening job protection for people who are unable to work due to declared emergencies.

 “With the lessons we learned from SARS and with other areas of the world experiencing the threat of avian flu, it’s critical that we have a plan and the proper measures in place to protect Ontarians,” said Kwinter.
“If passed, this legislation would better equip Ontario to deal with emergencies, whether natural or man-made,” Ontario Commissioner of Emergency Management Julian Fantino said. “At Emergency Management Ontario, we are committed to streamlining the government’s response and approach in times of declared provincial emergencies. This legislation would enable us to do that.”

Under the new legislation, the cabinet or the premier would have the authority to declare a provincial emergency if the resources normally available to the government were considered insufficient to respond adequately to the crisis. This declaration could not extend for more than 14 days unless renewed by cabinet for a further 14-day period. Currently, Ontario is the only jurisdiction in Canada without this type of emergency legislation.

“Just like other jurisdictions around the world, we must add the further steps of creating the legal authority to support effective emergency response,” Kwinter concluded. “Ontario must have effective emergency powers to respond to future emergencies.”