Canadian Civil Alert System (CCAS)

CANADIAN CIVIL ALERT SYSTEM (CCAS) (from a status report in the late 1980s)

1. The Purpose of the Canadian Civil Alert System is to signify to government departments and agencies at all levels, and when appropriate to the public generally, the times at which the Canadian Government, in the light of the prevailing international situation considers it necessary to increase the state of national emergency preparedness.

2. The Canadian Civil Alert System is comprised of 5 stages which span the period of transition between a normal peacetime condition and the outbreak of hostilities. During that period of transition, preparations will be undertaken in a graduated, selective and effective fashion to mobilize people and resources to meet our defence requirements and commitments, to put the nation on a war-footing, and to provide for the protection and survival of the population and its government in case of attack.

3. The Canadian Civil Alert System is intended to provide general guidance to governments, agencies-and institutions, and in later stages to the public, on the rate and timeliness of implementing progressive measures of preparedness. Given the difficulties of assessment and interpretation of available international intelligence, no alert system or single stage thereof can be tied to specific international events, but a series of alert stages may serve to impart a tangible awareness, on a relative basis, of increasing danger. The federal government must attempt to impart that awareness to the nation as a whole, and must determine for itself the appropriate points in time at which to undertake certain pre-planned actions or measures.

4. Each request to Cabinet for approval to declare and disseminate a given stage of the Canadian Civil Alert System also serves as a request to Cabinet to authorize the initiation of a range of associated measures. Consequently, the stages of the Canadian Civil Alert System are themselves included as measures in the Government Emergency Book (GEB). They have been inserted into the reference numbering system at transition points in the nature of the inventoried measures, to provide a framework for an appropriately graduated national response to a developing war crisis. Each civil alert stage must be approved by Cabinet, and effectively represents Cabinet direction to proceed with all previously unauthorized lower-numbered GEB measures, unless specifically excepted at the time.

5. The stages of the Canadian Civil Alert System are:


Represents the point during a period of rising international tension at which it is considered necessary to undertake a comprehensive review by all levels of government of their respective wartime plans, capabilities and preparedness deficiencies.


Represents a point in the deepening of international tension, at which the following are considered necessary : the acceleration and completion of federal and joint contingency plans against potential aggression, capital expenditures on protective infrastructure and emergency operating equipment, the provision of civil support to military preparations, the pursuit of mitigating diplomatic initiatives, and the taking of remedial action on current political, economic and supply problems.


Represents a stage of deteriorating international relations at which time the following are considered to be essential: introduction of a limited array of emergency powers of government, the selective control of essential resources through the establishment of regulations and special regulatory or service organizations, the initiation of public protection measures, and the taking of steps to facilitate the continuity of government.


Represents a situation close to war, or one in which elements of the NATO Alliance are engaged in a state of hostilities, at which time the following are considered to be necessary: the federal invocation of broad emergency powers and the implementation of measuresto safeguard national security, enforce public order, counter potential enemy activities and complete all preparations for an attack on North America.


Represents the commencement of attack on North America which warrants the authorization of public.warning, the implementation of all emergency measures not heretofore implemented, and all subsequent survival measures. N.B. – In the absence of other notification, action under Stage Five will be taken on the sounding of the ATTACK WARNING SIGNAL by sirens or by announcements over the radio and television.

Federal Warning Centre from whence the sounding of the Attack Warning Sirens would have been ordered.