Note: Apologies to David McConnel and academics everywhere but in order to conserve space on this site I have had to (hopefully temporarily) remove the ENDNOTES at the end of each chapter. The fully annotated document is available in electronic and printed form in the Archives of the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, Carp, Ontario.
Plan for tomorrow …TODAY!
The Story of Emergency Preparedness Canada 1948-1998
by David McConnell Heritage Research Associates Inc. 1998
In 1998, Emergency Preparedness Canada celebrates its 50th anniversary. It was founded in 1948 as a civil defence organization in the Department of National Defence in response to the beginning of the Cold War. Over the next 50 years, it was transferred from department to department, until once again it has returned to National Defence. This study traces the development of the organization against the rise and fall of international tensions. It relates its history to the shifting priorities of domestic politics and to the continuing tensions of federal-provincial relations. It chronicles the slow change from strict civil defence, or wartime emergency planning, to the all-hazards approach of emergency preparedness in the 1990s. This is a record of dedicated public servants who continued on in the face of an indifferent public and hostile politicians. This is a story of fluctuating budgets and staff, of a program that stayed the course as public opinion and government policy determined its course and acknowledged its value. It is the history of a national institution
The following account is the product of early research on the predecessors of EPC and of new research on the organization’s history since 1974. The files of EPC contained a draft history of emergency measures from Air Raid Precautions in the Second World War to 1974. Its origins are unclear. One section dealing with the Second World War was written during July and August 1949 by R. J. Rennie, a wartime major in the artillery, who had an MA in history.i It has been suggested that the section from 1948 to 1951 was written by J. F. Wallace, a long time employee of the organization.ii The rest of the draft history may be the work of summer students hired to record ongoing events. The account of the period from 1951 to 1959, for example is attributed to a Susan McCoy.iii The authorship of the remainder is unknown.
Rather than entirely redo this early history, the present author agreed to use the draft history as the basis for the history up to 1974. Its references and account were verified and then the author revised, reorganized, and elaborated the information it contained as he saw fit. Nevertheless, the contributions of Major Rennie, J. F. Wallace, Susan McCoy, and the other anonymous writers are substantial, particularly with regard to content, and are acknowledged. S. N. White, retired Director General Plans, was asked by EPC to comment on the early draft history and his comments are gratefully received. That portion of the history from 1968 to the present is almost entirely the work of the present author.
Finally, I would like to thank Margaret Carter, Heritage Research Associates Inc., for her editorial assistance and Mike Braham, Director, Emergency Programs and Exercises, for his supervision of the project and his patience in seeing it through to completion.
iRG 29, Records of the Department of National Health and Welfare, Vol. 639, File 100-1-10.
iiPersonal Correspondence, S. N. White to Dave Peters, EPC, 12 June 1997.
iiiLawrence S. Hagen, Civil Defence: The Case for Reconsideration, National Security Series No. 7 (Kingston, Ont.: Centre for International Relations, Queen’s University, 1977), p. 82, fn. 58.
Civil Defence in the Second World War: The Air Raid Precautions Organization (ARP)
Civil defence, or passive defence as it was called before the Second World War, “…may be defined as comprising those measures of protection which can be taken on the ground to minimize the effect of attacks from the air, both of personnel and material.” Some of the measures, such as setting up warning systems, can be prepared in advance. Others, such as population evacuation, can be instituted only upon warning or expectation of attack. In all cases, the extent of planning, training, and implementation which occurs prior to the attack increases the effectiveness of the measures.
The origins of civil defence in Canada can be traced back to the creation of the Air Raid Precautions organization (ARP) by the federal government in the Department of Pensions and National Health before the Second World War. Since passive defence was an aspect of national defence, it was regarded as a federal responsibility. The protective measures required to implement it, however, were local by their very nature. While this dichotomy was recognized in theory, until the jurisdictional, financial, and practical responsibilities were precisely defined, there was constant federal-provincial tension. Political fears of national disunity associated with questions of war shrouded pre-war planning in secrecy and prevented consultation with the provincial governments. Consequently, the first two years of the war were marked by frantic activity at the local and provincial levels and ad hoc solutions to problems at the federal level. Not until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor did the three levels of governments work out acceptable policies to establish an efficient civil defence organization in Canada.
II Pre-War Preparations
As the international situation in the Far East and in Europe worsened in the mid-1930s, the newly elected Liberal government of William Lyon Mackenzie King began slowly and deliberately to prepare for a possible war. In August 1936, the government established the Canadian Defence Committee as a committee of cabinet: its mission was to plan for the defence of Canada. At its first meeting the committee discussed the danger of air attack and the provision of adequate protection for the civilian population. On the recommendation of the Department of National Defence, the Prime Minister approved the creation of six interdepartmental committees in April 1937. One of them was the Interdepartmental Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Committee whose purpose was to examine the problem of air raid precautions (hence its name) and to recommend actions to be taken by federal authorities to protect the civilian population. Almost a year later, in March 1938, an order-in-council formally established these committees, stipulating that they were to report to the Minister of National Defence rather than to the Defence Committee.
Because measures to protect the public from the effects of air raids (especially gas attacks) were likely to be medical or health related, the Interdepartmental ARP Committee was placed under the authority of the Department of Pensions and National Health with the Deputy-Minister of that department, Dr. R. E. L. Wodehouse, as chairperson. This committee, which represented eight federal departments, began its deliberations on 29 March 1938. It was instructed “To enquire into and report upon non-military measures which should be adopted against the possibility of air attacks, including gas attacks, and the co-ordination of the action of the various authorities concerned, both public and private.” It studied British precedents, including the 1934 Handbook of Passive Air Defence. The Department of National Defence provided estimates of the forms and scale of air attack on east and west coast cities in the event of an European or Asian war as a basis for planning. Any consultation with provincial or municipal authorities was precluded, however, by the government’s insistence on secrecy lest it be thought that Canada was preparing for war.
The first (and last) report of the Interdepartmental ARP Committee was submitted on 30 June and approved by Cabinet in late July 1938. In this report, the committee raised jurisdictional and financial questions which would continue to bedevil the ARP organization throughout the Second World War. As an aspect of national defence, the committee argued, passive defence was the primary responsibility of the federal government which should prepare a handbook outlining the shape of the organization to be created and the nature of the passive defence measures required. Of necessity, implementation of these detailed schemes would devolve upon the municipalities. At this local level, the necessary administrative machinery already existed and could be augmented by volunteer workers. The federal government would bear the cost of services beyond those which a municipality had in place, such as producing the handbook, of procuring gas masks for the civilian population, of buying decontamination materials, and of training instructors. The link between the federal and municipal governments would, it was hoped, be provided by the provincial government, an arrangement which confirmed the existing political situation. The Interdepartmental ARP Committee also recommended that the Department of Pensions and National Health, which already dealt with several provinces and through them the municipal bodies on matters pertaining to the physical well-being of the population, assume responsibility for ARP. After Cabinet approval of this report, the committee effectively ceased to function.
As a follow-up, Wodehouse set up a committee of six officials from the Department of Pensions and National Health to continue to develop federal aspects of the program. He enlarged this group of officials by adding two representatives from the Department of National Defence, the Director of the St. John Ambulance Association, and the Dominion Fire Commissioner. Wodehouse also provided the committee with ambitious terms of reference, too ambitious as it turned out for the government. Its mission was to consider
all points arising in connection with air raid precautions schemes, to act, when necessary, as the medium of consultation with outside authorities and also to provide generally for co-ordination, not only between government departments but with such other authorities as may be concerned. It is responsible for submitting to the interdepartmental committee matters on policy on which decisions are required, together with recommendations as to the course of action suggested.
The major accomplishment of the Departmental ARP Committee was to produce Air Raid Precautions, General Information for the Civil Authorities, a Canadian version of the British Handbook of Passive Air Defence issued in 1934. Amended and adapted to the Canadian situation, this handbook was intended to provide instructions to Canadian provincial and municipal authorities when the time came to set up local ARP organizations. Although 500 copies were printed in October 1938, they were not issued until August 1939. (In addition, 700 sets of handbooks and memoranda about particular aspects of ARP were purchased from the British government.) As well, the committee prepared requisition and other forms and instructional material for local use. It also collected data on the population and resources of vulnerable areas, on the availability of fire fighting equipment in them, on the dangers of infection of crops and farm animals, and on other matters it considered relevant. It suggested an alternative plan of action if the provincial governments refused to assume their designated roles and recommended the creation and organization of an ARP headquarters in Ottawa.
Having compiled the handbook and collected a great deal of information, the Departmental ARP Committee submitted a report to the Minister of Pensions and National Health on 5 December 1938. The committee now wanted to move ahead with more concrete proposals and to involve the provincial authorities. It recommended that plans should be made for the evacuation of non-essential civilians from areas that were either under attack or likely to be attacked. It saw the need to set up first-aid stations, build up Canadian stocks of narcotics, and provide additional hospital accommodation and equipment in vulnerable areas and receiving areas. It suggested that warning systems be installed in vulnerable areas and that air raid shelters be built. To deal with the destruction of an aerial attack, it recommended the provision of additional fire-fighting equipment, the training of auxiliary firemen, and the procuring of wrecking equipment in vulnerable centres. Wodehouse recommend to his minister that a budget be prepared for cabinet approval to carry out the committee’s plans. The necessity to defend spending such large sums on ARP in the House of Commons created a difficulty. This, together with the publicity that would undoubtedly accompany a suggestion that the provincial authorities be consulted undoubtedly convinced the government to halt all progress in ARP measures. The Department of Pensions and National Health was forced to mark time until the Polish crisis in August 1939.
While the federal government had clearly recognized the need for passive defence planning in the pre-war period, it was only prepared to act within a restricted sphere. Financial restraint and the danger of national disunity limited activity to the provision of a secret rudimentary plan of action and a skeleton federal organization. Because the government insisted on secrecy in preparing the ARP scheme, there was no chance to consult with provincial and municipal authorities, especially on the sharing of responsibilities and financing. Such consultation could have obviated the subsequent wrangling over finances early in the war. As well, a clear-cut announcement of government policy on ARP measures might have restrained the hysteria following the fall of France in 1940 as local authorities and agencies scrambled to put passive defence measures in place. Ultimately, the officials of the Department of Pensions and National Health could do little more than copy British measures. Secrecy prevented these schemes from being tested against Canadian conditions.
III The Development of ARP, August 1939 – December 1941
As Hitler prepared to invade Poland in August 1939 and pushed Europe to the brink of war, the federal government acted swiftly to set up a civil defence system before war was declared. In accordance with a pre-arranged plan, members of the Departmental Committee in the Department of Pensions and National Health were sent to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and British Columbia on 25 August and to Quebec a week later. The Government of Ontario, however, refused to participate. As federal officials met with representatives of the provincial governments and explained the principles of passive defence, they suggested that steps be taken to meet emergencies and offered federal co-operation. The legal basis for implementing ARP measures was established by Sections 32-36 inclusive of the Defence of Canada Regulations (DCR) promulgated on 3 September 1939. Under these regulations, the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Pensions and National Health, or his delegate (usually the provincial premier), had sweeping powers to order evacuations, to put precautionary measures in place against attack, to close or destroy damaged or contaminated buildings, to limit lights and sounds, and to institute curfews.
To carry out federal ARP responsibilities, an officer of the Department of Pensions and National Health was appointed to assume control as Executive of Air Raid Precautions for Canada on 1 September. The Departmental Committee would advise him on policy matters. His duties were never specifically defined, but many evolved over the next two years. He advised provincial and municipal ARP committees, made provincial tours of inspection, maintained liaison with the Home Office in the United Kingdom and later with the Office of Civil Defence in the United States, and supervised the manufacture and distribution of ARP equipment. He also prepared and distributed ARP publications, made public addresses, and advised the Minister and Deputy Minister on policy questions.
Federal civil defence intentions were outlined in the handbook, Air Raid Precautions, General Information for the Civil Authorities, which the Departmental Committee had prepared in 1938. This document provided the basis for provincial and local organization and described ARP services. Usually, an ARP Committee of the provincial government was set up to deal with general policy and to advise those municipalities declared by the Department of National Defence to be vulnerable to attack. Municipal or local committees, made up of volunteers, were established to be responsible for the detailed organization of ARP measures. Auxiliary firemen and auxiliary public utility workers were designated to maintain vital services during an emergency. First-aid workers’ duties included staffing first-aid posts, acting as stretcher bearers, driving ambulances, and generally taking care of casualties after an attack. Air raid wardens were to act as auxiliary police, with authority for maintaining order during a blackout practice or an actual air raid and responsibility for transmitting necessary information to the public. Except for Ontario, the designated provincial governments responded quickly and enthusiastically to these federal overtures. Each put its own individual stamp on provincial ARP organization.
Nova Scotia established an ARP committee on 29 August 1939, and local units were set up in Halifax and Sydney shortly thereafter. For all intents and purposes the provincial and Halifax committees operated as one, concerning themselves solely with Halifax. Cape Breton acted on its own and the ARP organization in Sydney extended to embrace local committees throughout the island. In Halifax, the main concerns were practicing blackouts and setting up first-aid posts. While the federal government undertook to provide first-aid, anti-gas, and decontamination equipment, it arrived very slowly. Halifax provided its own electronically operated air raid warning sirens.
Since Saint John was the only vulnerable area in New Brunswick, federal and provincial authorities agreed that the local ARP committee would also be the provincial committee. It began by establishing first-aid posts and holding blackout practices, although it also prepared an elaborate evacuation scheme to remove non-essential people to the interior of the province. While Moncton had not been declared a vulnerable area, it lobbied to have an ARP organization. When the Department of National Defence declared that there was danger of sabotage, that city too received some federal funding. By July 1940, excitement was so high that the provincial government decided to set up a province-wide skeleton ARP organization without federal aid. By this time, ARP organizations in Saint John and Moncton were well underway. Both established complete warden and first-aid organizations. Both had air raid warning systems: Saint John provided its own, while Moncton secured federal aid to install its system.
In late August 1939, British Columbia established a provincial ARP committee and by 7 September, local committees for the Victoria and Vancouver areas were set up. In each case, sub-committees were appointed to handle specific responsibilities. Initially, British Columbia’s ARP organization was most concerned to detect and deal with damage resulting from sabotage. No air raid warning systems were installed or blackout exercises held until 1941. ARP measures were, however, put in place in Prince Rupert at the end of 1939. On its own initiative, the province also organized Nanaimo. Bickering among the participating municipalities resulted in the disbanding of the Vancouver area committee in May 1941 and of the Victoria area committee at the end of the year. They were replaced by separate committees in each of the area municipalities.
In Quebec, the organization of ARP committees was delayed during a provincial election campaign resulting in the defeat of the Duplessis government. By December 1939, a provincial committee was established along with local units in Montréal and Québec City. The southern and eastern parts of the province were organized without federal funding. By December 1940, the whole of the St. Lawrence Valley from Gaspé to the Eastern Townships was covered by a net of organizations that included an air raid warden service, an auxiliary fire service, first-aid posts with first-aid workers, and auxiliary municipal workers. There was also an armed Mobile Force organized to combat subversive activities. Despite all this activity, neither Montréal nor Québec City had held blackout exercises.
By August 1940, public opinion forced the Ontario government to reconsider its original refusal to participate in the ARP program. On 12 September, a provincial ARP committee was established by order-in-council. By March 1941, it had organized 43 ARP units in the 14 vulnerable areas. In May, the first blackout exercise was held in Toronto. A Volunteer Corps previously organized to guard certain installations against sabotage was drawn into the organization to perform warden duties and other services. The Committee also prepared manuals on the warden service, engineering services, and fire service, the last of which was adopted by federal authorities for use throughout Canada.
Because of the large number of government agencies and employees in Ottawa and Hull, the federal ARP office decided to organize a separate committee for the Federal District. Established in October 1940, it reported directly to the Minister of Pensions and National Health. By April 1941, it had set up some 30 first-aid posts and enrolled about 2,000 wardens. The Federal District organization held its first complete blackout on 26 October 1941.
As the war continued, initial provincial enthusiasm for ARP proposals was inevitably replaced by questions of federal-provincial jurisdiction. Although federal authorities claimed they had primary responsibility for ARP as an aspect of national defence, they envisioned its implementation at the local level by volunteers using existing organizations and services. Unfortunately there was no clear-cut definition of federal financial responsibility or of the amount of equipment that was needed. Ad hoc federal reactions to provincial requests increased both confusion and frustration. With no clear definition of financial authority, no precedents or firm figures for planning, relationships soon deteriorated.
As the provinces became increasingly involved in civil defence activities, it was soon evident they took a wider view of federal responsibilities. Before long they began making demands for money to pay the salaries of provincial officials, for office space, and administrative costs. These demands were met by a grant of $5,000 for each of the four provinces in January 1940 accompanied by a warning to expect no more. Nova Scotia and British Columbia managed within the limit of these funds, but New Brunswick soon spent her grant and returned for more. Quebec submitted accounts for costs of non-designated items, which the federal government initially rejected but later settled in favour of Quebec after a second grant was made to the province.
Immersed in financial wrangling, the federal government inconsistently stated that provision and maintenance of ARP warning systems and fire fighting equipment were local responsibilities. Both Moncton and Saint John worked out compromises for sharing the cost of their warning systems, and by the end of 1941, the federal government had funded the installation of sirens in Victoria, Vancouver, Prince Rupert, Toronto, Ottawa, Hull, Montréal, and Québec City. Also, in July 1941, the federal program ordered 200 portable pumps and over a million feet of fire hose, which were placed at the disposal of the provincial ARP committees.
Given the preliminary state of pre-war planning, unanticipated responsibilities were bound to arise. One was provision of compensation for ARP volunteers injured or killed on duty. The provincial governments flatly refused to accept it. After initially evading the issue, the federal government agreed in September 1941 to provide pensions for ARP workers injured during training or by enemy action and for dependents if the workers were killed.
In addition, there was a legal question of whether the Minister of National Defence or the Minister of Pensions and National Health had sufficient discretionary power to enforce compliance with ARP orders issued under the Defence of Canada Regulations. Federal officials initially preferred to secure co-operation by persuasion and good will. When, in May 1941, a Superior Court judge in Quebec dismissed a charge of failing to comply with blackout regulations on the grounds that the federal power had not been properly delegated to provincial officials, the federal government took action to clarify its position. The Regulations were amended, transferring authority solely to the Minister of Pensions and National Health and simplifying the issuing of orders and regulations, including the power of delegation. Further amendments gave the Minister sweeping discretionary powers to restrict public assemblies and outdoor lighting in areas considered vulnerable to hostile attack. The federal and provincial authorities now had strong legal authority for any ARP measures that might be considered necessary.
At the end of 1941, provision for Canada’s civil defence was well underway. ARP groups existed in about 150 communities and almost 95,000 volunteers were registered as ARP workers. First-aid training was well advanced, special courses had begun for auxiliary firemen, and, with the limited equipment available, some anti-gas training was occurring. The federal government had spent $350,000 on equipment (most of it for first-aid), $40,000 on incidental expenses for the provinces, and $10,000 on training through the St. John Ambulance Association. Orders had been placed for fire equipment and sirens, and a nation-wide issue of gas masks was under consideration. Although local ARP organizations varied greatly in character and achievement, each one addressed needs it considered important in its area. The St. John Ambulance Association was noteworthy for the thorough instruction of first-aid workers provided by its volunteers. In truth, most other volunteers probably did not thoroughly understand their jobs. They suffered from a lack of proper equipment, inability to train under realistic conditions, and a dearth of properly qualified and experienced instructors. It is fortunate that Canada did not receive even a small-scale air attack between 1939 and 1941 when ARP was insufficiently organized and equipped. Even after 1941, there still remained conflicts between the federal and provincial governments over financing. Training, while going on, was largely incomplete. Supplies of equipment were inadequate. Although a beginning had been made during this early period, much remained to be done.
IV The Maturing of ARP, 1942 – 1946
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 gave new emphasis to the importance of ARP, especially in British Columbia. Even before that disaster, the Chiefs of Staff had extended their definition of the area exposed to definite risk of air attack to include all of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, all the lower St. Lawrence Valley, the coastline of British Columbia, and Vancouver Island. Western Quebec north to James Bay, much of north-eastern Ontario, southern Ontario, and British Columbia west of the Cascade Mountains were deemed areas of slight risk. In December 1941, all of these areas were included in the compensation order covering the injury or death of volunteers. In addition, the responsibilities of both federal and provincial ARP agencies were increased to emphasize the growing importance of passive defence. Effective 1 January 1942, R. J. Manion (the former leader of the federal Conservative Party) was appointed Director of Civil Air Raid Precautions with deputy minister status, responsible only to the Minister of Pensions and National Health. Until his death in July 1943, Manion approached his duties with enthusiasm and energy. According to his successor, Brigadier General Alexander Ross, much of the success of the ARP organization until the end of the war, especially in the securing of adequate supplies of equipment, was due to his efforts.
Manion moved to eradicate the serious flaws in ARP organization which the first two years of the war had revealed. In particular, the federal-provincial financial policy was inconsistent. After a false start in February 1942, the ARP office developed a satisfactory system of assessing provincial claims to federal grants in June 1942. It was based on the degree of risk each province faced, the areas involved, and the density of population. The provinces shared the grants with the municipalities (a 40/60 split was suggested) and the municipalities were expected to match the federal grant, although few did. Usually the amount available was greater than the claims submitted. This arrangement worked so well that it was continued until the end of the fiscal year 1944-5 when most ARP organizations were disbanded.
Another problem clarified under Manion’s direction was the nature and extent of equipment the federal government was to provide to ARP units. A complex policy for issuing equipment was worked out early in 1942. This established a basis for assessing requirements using the number of ARP workers in each area and degree of defence risk associated with local activity. A list of equipment was established for particular types of jobs and activities (such as fire-fighting and first aid), then equipment was distributed according to a priority system of designated risk. In 1942-3, additional orders were placed for sirens, first-aid, anti-gas, and fire fighting equipment and by the end of that fiscal year, $5 million worth of equipment had been provided to the six organized provinces and large quantities had been stockpiled.
Although gas was never actually used as a weapon in the Second World War, the possibility of gas attacks was taken very seriously. In April 1942, it was decided to equip all ARP workers with special respirators and to distribute gas masks to the whole civilian population in areas of definite risk. An order for two million civilian respirators, which included special types for children, babies, and helpless hospital patients, was placed with the Dominion Rubber Company. By December 1942, these masks were in the hands of the provinces but, despite some limited attempts to distribute them, most remained in storage unassembled. At the end of the war they were turned over to the War Assets Corporation.
Throughout 1942, gas advisers or officers were appointed to plan the ARP defence program for federal and provincial organizations and committees in larger centres. Gas instructors were trained at McGill University, and in February 1943, gas training began in many centres across Canada. Local decontamination squads were instructed, and gas cleansing centres were set up. When the possibility of enemy gas attacks became remote at the end of 1943, Brigadier General Alexander Ross cancelled further orders for anti-gas equipment and clothing. Ross had become Director of ARP after Manion’s death on 2 July of that year.
The war with Japan revived the possibility that it would be necessary to evacuate the civilian population from vulnerable areas. The Departmental Committee had considered this eventuality before the war, but only New Brunswick had prepared an evacuation plan to transport the non-essential population of Saint John to the interior of the province. In 1942, the federal government realized that areas on both the east and west coasts might have to be evacuated and an evacuation officer for each coast was appointed to the staff of the Director of ARP. Danger to Vancouver Island if the Japanese dropped incendiaries in its forests was the primary concern. British Columbia began developing evacuation plans for the island, but before reception arrangements on the mainland were complete the possibility of attack had become remote. In 1943, the federal evacuation officers were transferred to other duties.
During his time as Director of Civil Air Raid Precautions, Manion had continually asserted the importance of ARP as an aspect of national defence in his dealings with the Department of National Defence. Although ARP officials reported good co-operation with the military establishment in such local matters as developing an efficient air raid warning communications system, Manion felt that liaison between his office and National Defence officials in Ottawa was inadequate. He insisted that one officer from each service attend his staff conferences despite the reluctance of the Chiefs of Staff. After Manion’s death, however, Brigadier General Ross cancelled the new appointment of a full-time staff officer to the ARP staff. Ross had no compunction about approaching the Chiefs of Staff directly. Just after his appointment, a second area of tension between ARP and the military flared. This was the continuing loss of key ARP personnel to the armed forces, especially to the Reserve Army in British Columbia. In 1943 the Minister of National Defence issued instructions not to recruit key ARP members without the permission of the provincial committee.
Brigadier General Ross was just as aggressive as his predecessor in asserting ARP’s importance. In 1943, he recommended to the federal government that the name of his office be changed to Director of Civil Defence and that the ARP organization be known as Civil Defence. Such a change was in line with the nomenclature in the United States and Great Britain and, with provincial agreement, made for uniformity of name throughout the country. This change also suggests that, in the minds of some officials at least, Civil Defence had become an integral part of National Defence strategy. ARP had progressed from performing a peripheral role in air raid protection to claiming an important function in the defence of Canada.
While Manion and Ross were overhauling the central organization, the tempo of activity in the provinces was picking up. Local ARP organizations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick began very actively training and recruiting in 1942 and 1943. In November 1941, Prince Edward Island was declared a vulnerable area and organized shortly thereafter, but Islanders never took ARP very seriously. Lighting restrictions were imposed in all three provinces in January 1942, although they were progressively relaxed until they were removed in 1944. Even though they were never called on to respond to an air raid, the ARP organizations demonstrated their usefulness in dealing with civil emergencies. In New Brunswick, workers contained several forest fires. In Nova Scotia (where the provincial organization was deliberately renamed the Provincial Civilian Emergency Committee), it responded to explosions at the Naval Arsenal in Dartmouth in 1944 and again in 1945. Once it became clear that the war was coming to an end, these organizations were disbanded. Removal of the siren system from Halifax in October 1945 marked the end of wartime Civil Defence in the Maritimes.
Civil defence in Quebec followed a variation on the same pattern. Much of the province had been organized before parts of it were declared to be vulnerable areas. By March 1943, Quebec’s organization had reached its peak with 145 ARP units staffed by 37,600 registered workers. While the number of units had decreased to 139 by March 1944, the number of workers had increased to 53,860. It is difficult to estimate the efficiency of the organization in Quebec, but the province was ready for a complete blackout by February 1942. A dimout was ordered until the end of navigation from Rivière du Loup to Gaspé because of submarine activity in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in September 1942. This was reimposed the following spring and extended to cover a greater area along the north shore from the Saguenay River to the Labrador border. The dimout was enforced through the co-operation of ARP units, the Aircraft Detection Corps, the Reserve Army, and the RCMP. It represents Quebec’s major ARP accomplishment.
The Ontario Civilian Defence Committee developed the most elaborate organization in Canada by March 1943 with 71,587 registered workers in 123 ARP units in 15 areas. The chairman and vice-chairman both applied themselves with great energy to their tasks and forced the federal government to clarify the legal and financial arrangements of ARP. The Fire Marshall of Ontario was also Manion’s advisor on fire-fighting equipment and methods, and his Fire Services Manual was adopted Canada-wide. The Chiefs of Staff excluded Ontario from the risk of attack in November 1943, however, and most of the Ontario ARP organization was subsequently disbanded. Committees in the border communities of Sault St. Marie, Sarnia, Windsor, and Niagara Falls continued to function because their warning facilities were combined with those of the neighbouring American cities. Thus, 22 ARP units (14,180 registered workers) maintained their organization until the end of 1944, reporting directly to the federal office.
Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, ARP preparations intensified in British Columbia. The Premier of British Columbia reorganized the provincial ARP committee to deal with the increased demands and to control the politic-ridden ARP organizations in Vancouver and Victoria. He created a Civilian Protection Committee of four officials along with an Advisory Council whose main purpose was to eliminate the bickering between the different associations and groups involved in ARP. By March 1943, 139 units had been formed with 62,845 registered workers. A warning system of sirens was installed at the end of 1942 and the province held wide-spread blackout exercises. An evacuation scheme was also developed before federal evacuation officers were removed in October 1943. With the disbanding of ARP units in Ontario at the end of 1943, more fire fighting and anti-gas equipment was sent to the west coast. Japanese balloon bombs were dropped on B.C. in February 1945, prolonging the life of the Civilian Protection Committee in British Columbia until August.
The federal government began to wind down the Civil Defence organization once the risk of air raids diminished. As the Allies began to win the war, Ontario’s ARP organization was the first to be disbanded in November 1943. The central ARP office was the next to be weakened when the federal government decided that a full time Director of Civil Defence was no longer needed in August 1944. Brigadier General Ross, however, agreed to stay on without pay. Temporary success of the German Ardennes offensive in December 1944 delayed further destruction for a time. In 1945, the provinces were advised to disband their organizations whenever they wished, and they were notified that all federal aid would cease with the end of the fiscal year on 31 March 1945. Because of their special circumstances, only the British Columbia and Halifax groups continued to function beyond that date.
Provincial committees were instructed to liquidate their financial obligations, account for all equipment issued to them, and turn it over to the War Assets Corporation. Personal equipment could be retained by workers, all of whom received a certificate signed by the Prime Minister and the Director of Civil Defence acknowledging their service to the country. Finally on 14 September 1945, the relevant Defence of Canada Regulations (except for parts of Regulation 35) were rescinded thus removing most of the restrictive measures for civil defence purposes.
During the war, about 775 communities were organized and received some equipment for ARP purposes. At its peak, about 280,000 workers were enrolled, most of whom were unpaid volunteers. In many smaller communities, the wartime ARP organizations, especially auxiliary fire services, did not disband but served on after the war. The governments of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and British Columbia purchased all fire fighting equipment provided by the federal government with the result that more than 500 small communities, previously without organized fire protection, obtained organized, trained, and equipped fire brigades.
Conceived by a government plagued by financial problems and the fear of national disunity, ARP could do little other than plan in secrecy before the Second World War. Once war came, the federal organization scrambled to bring vulnerable provinces onside, offering them organizational advice, limited financing, promises of equipment, and some training. It was not until after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 that ARP organizations began to coalesce. Under the energetic leadership of R. J. Manion and his successor Brigadier General Alexander Ross, financial problems with the provinces were solved and sufficient supplies and adequate training provided. By late 1943, danger had clearly passed and the ARP organizations were slowly disbanded. Even though ARP was never tested during the Second World War, it cast a long shadow over civil defence organizations in Canada in the Cold War era. The ARP philosophy that civil defence should be a voluntary local responsibility guided and supported by a central organization was to persist for years to come.
Table of Contents
Prologue – Civil Defence in the Second World War: The Air Raid Precautions Organization
Chapter 1 – Civil Defence in Canada: 1948-1957
Chapter 2 – The Rise and Fall of the Emergency Measures Organization: 1957-1968
Chapter 3 – The Fall and Rise of Civil Emergency Measures: 1968-1981
Chapter 4 – The Reform of Civil Emergency Measures: 1981-1988
Chapter 5 – Toward the Millennium — Emergency Preparedness Planning in the 1990s
Chapter 6 – Summary and Conclusion
List of Appendices (Critical Documents were provided as appendices in separate volume).
Webmaster note: The referenced documents are in the archives of the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War museum in the sole-copy printed version of this document. An electronic version has not yet been produced and thus not included here.
Chapter I- Civil Defence in Canada: 1948-1959
Following the Second World War, the federal government wanted to have done with all things warlike, including civil defence, and get on with building a peaceful country. Its optimistic intent, however, could not be sustained in the hostile post-war international atmosphere created by the Cold War and the destructive potential of the atomic bomb. In 1948, building on the experience of ARP, the federal government decided to re-establish a civil defence organization. Once again federal officials assumed a planning and coordinating role, providing training, research, and limited financing. As before, civil defence services were to be provided through the extension of the functions of existing agencies, public and private, and by the efforts of volunteers. Civil defence was again decentralized, with the federal and provincial governments responsible for planning, training, and coordinating and the local governments responsible for implementing the program. Although civil defence was reborn within the Department of National Defence, it was shortly transferred to the Department of National Health and Welfare because of the nature of the services it would supply to the civil population in the event of war. From 1951 to 1958, the Department of National Health and Welfare coordinated civil defence, until new forces, national and international, forced a re-evaluation.
II Civil Defence in the Department of National Defence 1948-51
Brigadier General Alexander Ross, the Director of Civil Defence at the end of the Second World War, believed that civil defence was an essential element of national defence: consideration of a permanent civil defence organization should be included in any post-war defence planning. Before retiring, Ross submitted a report to the government outlining the nature of such an organization and the problems that would have to be solved in establishing it. In his view, federal and provincial governments should assume responsibility for planning and training, while the municipality served as the operational unit. Ross emphasized that local authorities would be ultimately responsible for civil defence, most of the work volunteer. Although financing the necessary skeleton organizations and the purchase of equipment would have to be met through federal assistance, the federal government should refrain, as far as possible, from exercising any direct control. The federal role would be to advise and coordinate, supplying such assistance as might be required to develop local resources. Ross envisaged the peacetime creation of a skeleton organization in every locality ready to implement an approved civil defence scheme. The extent of local resources should be inventoried and the amount of auxiliary aid needed should be estimated. Key personnel should be appointed to every branch of the organization, then trained to put the scheme into operation on the shortest notice. Such measures would permit rapid and complete mobilization in the event of surprise attack.i
Ross’s report was ignored by a government that was intent on rapid demobilization and on building a peace-time Canada, not preparing for another war. It soon became very clear, however, that the post-war world was still very dangerous. Even before the war was over, the Igor Gouzenko spy case in Ottawa had signalled that the Soviet Union had hostile intent. By 1946, Churchill described an Iron Curtain descending on eastern Europe, and Communist threats were being defeated in Greece and Italy. In February 1948, a communist coup replaced the legitimate government in Czechoslovakia. One month later the Soviets blockaded West Berlin. Although the immediate Soviet threat was in Europe, the United States began to plan for the defence of North America. Despite doubts about the necessity of these defensive measures, the Canadian government felt compelled to reassure the Americans in order to maintain Canadian sovereignty. Canada continued to sit on the Permanent Joint Board of Defence and in February 1947, it signed a bilateral agreement committing Canada to the use of American weapons, equipment, training methods, and communications.ii Although the Soviet Union did not explode an atomic bomb until 1949, her scientists were known to be actively pursuing atomic research. In this darkening world, the question of civil defence was raised once again.
Early in 1948, the Minister of National Defence directed the Chairman of the Defence Research Board, Dr. O. M. Solandt, to prepare an appreciation and to make recommendations concerning civil defence planning and organization. In April of that year, Solandt sent a memorandum to the Defence Committee of Cabinet. The contents were based on the assumption that any future war would likely include an attack on the North American continent, either by air or sabotage. Solandt defined civil defence clearly as an aspect of total war:
all those defensive measures which can be taken on behalf of the civilian population to insure that when such an attack is made the will to resist is maintained, and the economic and social organization of the community will function effectively in support of offensive operations.
He recognized that any plan for civil defence would have to take into account the difficulties arising from climatic and geographic conditions. He also acknowledged the jurisdictional division of responsibility between the federal and provincial governments. Preventive measures, such as early warning, internal security, industrial dispersion, and evacuation, would call for planning and execution on a national and regional level. Even remedial measures would require centralized planning due to the magnitude of the problems associated with an atomic explosion, although the organization and delivery of health and welfare services would still remain a local or municipal responsibility. The local and volunteer nature of civil defence was still clearly recognized.
The report recommended that an agency responsible for planning civil defence should be established within the Department of National Defence because of the need for close integration of civil and military defence plans. A Civil Defence Advisor to the Minister should be appointed to begin planning the creation of this new agency. He should “…be capable of taking full charge of Civil Defence in time of war. He must be experienced in administration and in public relations and have served in one of the Armed Services, preferably the Army.” In his planning he should delegate all possible responsibilities to existing departments of government and other agencies. At the same time, he should retain responsibility for ensuring that federal government policy was clearly formulated and implemented. The Advisor and his staff should also handle major problems which could not be delegated elsewhere, such as those associated with shelter policy, decentralization of industry, timing of implementation, publicity, and decisions concerning the scale of civil defence preparedness relative to other defence needs.iii
Effective 1 October 1948, Major General Frederick Frank Worthington, recently retired from the Army, was appointed as Special Advisor to the Minister of National Defence to act as Civil Defence Co-ordinator.iv His responsibilities were succinctly stated:
The Civil Defence Coordinator will be responsible to keep abreast of the Civil Defence situation and plan the necessary organization with the appropriate agencies of the federal, provincial and municipal governments. At this stage he will act purely in an advisory capacity and will be assisted by a committee representing various government departments concerned. He will keep informed of Civil Defence requirements and developments in other countries and advise on measures that changing circumstances might require in this country.v
His immediate task was to study the requirements of civil defence and to make recommendations to the Minister of National Defence about measures that should be taken to meet a possible emergency. In formulating this plan, he was directed to take into account current thinking on the nature of possible enemy attacks against Canada. At the same time he was not to lose sight of such requirements as dispersal of industry, evacuation of population, provision of deep shelters, and other long term considerations.vi
In November and December, Worthington visited all the provinces to explain to the provincial governments the probable nature of the federal civil defence organization and to ascertain particular problems affecting each province.vii (While he was in Regina, he met with Brigadier General Alexander Ross to benefit from his Second World War experience.viii) In the meetings with provincial officials (usually the premiers), he stressed that the primary object of civil defence was to minimize the effect of disaster on the civil population, on industry, on commerce, and on public utilities in order that normal functions might be resumed with as little delay as possible. He explained that he wished to create an organization which could expand rapidly in time of a national emergency. Since the proposed plan was to work through provincial civil defence organizations, it was hoped that the provincial governments would set these up in the near future. It was suggested that the organization should include the premier of the province as head, with a full-time Director and a small staff capable of rapid expansion. In general, the provincial officials reacted positively to the federal initiative, indicating the need for more civil defence planning both at the federal and provincial levels.ix
In January and February 1949, Worthington visited the United Kingdom and other Western European countries to make a thorough study of their civil defence organizations. He found the trip to be useful, both for isolating problems and for suggesting solutions. For example, very early in his study Worthington became convinced that most civil defence functions could be placed in federal government departments as an extension of their peacetime duties. Under this arrangement the civil defence agency would supply only the necessary co-ordination and direction in emergency planning.x During the trip he also found that civil defence organizations in several countries played an active role in the event of a natural disaster.xi These and other ideas were incorporated into his thinking as he prepared a plan for civil defence in Canada.
On the 17 March 1949, Worthington presented an outline plan for a civil defence organization to the Minister of National Defence.xii At the national level, it divided civil defence headquarters into three main branches — plans and operations, technical services, and training. It made provision to keep the public informed and to maintain intelligence liaison with the armed services. The report proposed civil defence duties for the various federal government departments. A similar organization was proposed for the provinces, although Worthington took great pains not to appear to be dictating to the provincial governments. After discussions with the cabinet secretariat, it was decided that the whole subject of civil defence should be placed before the War Book Committee. In August 1949, Worthington’s recommendations were considered by it.xiii
The recommendations which the Civil Defence Co-ordinator made to the War Book Committee were based upon certain clearly defined principles:
∙ to set up in peacetime the framework of a civil defence organization that could be expanded quickly and efficiently when an emergency threatens;
∙ to take preparatory steps in peacetime on those measures which should be carried out before an emergency exists; and
∙ to determine policy on those measures which would not normally be taken until an emergency threatens.
Worthington sketched out the suggested roles of the three levels of governments. He proposed that the federal government should take the initiative in planning civil defence on a national scale and that it should function as a coordinating agency. To accomplish this end, a Federal Office of Civil Defence should be established to keep civil defence plans under constant review and to advise the Minister on any changes which could become necessary because of strategic developments. The provision and coordination of training for civil defence personnel, the preparation of information for the public, and the provision of liaison officers with the armed forces were also considered to be part of the functions of the Office. In addition, it would be responsible for the coordination of the emergency plans of other government departments and agencies and it would assist the provincial governments in preparing their civil defence plans. It would also assign to the various federal government departments responsibilities for the planning and execution of those civil defence measures which were natural extensions of their normal peacetime functions. The provincial governments would assume the role of area planners and co-ordinators within the scope of the broad national plan. They would also provide those services which were their responsibility in time of peace. The municipalities would direct local planning and, with some assistance from outside, control the execution of civil defence measures.
Civil defence planning would be premised on the assumption that any attack on Canada would be of a diversionary nature, while the main war was being fought in Europe. It was expected, however, that there would be an air attack using high explosives and other conventional weapons directed against large centres and vital industries. To meet this threat, planning for both preventive measures (such as setting up a warning system, consideration of the dispersal of industry, communication facilities, and the building of air raid shelters) and remedial measures (such as fire-fighting, the restoration of devastated areas, and caring for the injured) needed to be in place. The need for an organization planned and trained in advance on a national basis was therefore clear although it was also evident that the actual execution of civil defence measures would have to be decentralized to the greatest possible extent. Therefore close cooperation and coordination among the various levels of government and departments involved in emergency planning was necessary.xiv
The War Book Committee agreed to Worthington’s proposals. Subsequently, it established a sub-committee, chaired by the Civil Defence Co-ordinator, made up of representatives of those federal departments which were to be responsible for aspects of civil defence — initially National Defence, National Health and Welfare, Transport, Trade and Commerce, Reconstruction and Supply, Labour, Finance and the cabinet secretariat. Representatives of the RCMP and other departments were added as the need arose. The overall responsibility of this Co-ordinating Committee was to coordinate the early activities of the civil defence organization. As its immediate task was to study Canadian organizational requirements for civil defence, Worthington and a number of his staff were sent to the Civil Defence Staff College in the United Kingdom to study methods of training and organization. During the latter part of 1949 and the first few months of 1950 a number of projects were initiated. National fire-fighting capacity was evaluated and a program of standardization of equipment was begun. Advisory panels were set up to deal with various technical problems, shelter requirements, disaster relief, and transportation. Preliminary steps were taken towards the establishment of a civil defence training school and the preparation of training literature. The first steps were also taken toward the establishment of provincial civil defence organizations.xv
The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 and the possibility of yet another world war emphasized the need for civil defence. As a result, it was decided to hold a Dominion-Provincial Conference in August 1950 to discuss both what had been accomplished and what had yet to be done. Of particular interest to the provinces was a clear statement of the responsibilities to be assumed by the federal and provincial governments. The delegates agreed that national policy and the coordination of provincial planning must be the responsibility of the federal government. Since civil defence was a national concern, they considered that the costs would also have to be borne in some part by the federal government, largely in the form of grants. Federal officials, they acknowledged, would have the authority to decide on local requirements across the country. The delegates also agreed that the federal government would be responsible for setting up central schools for the training of instructors and leaders, preparing instructional manuals, and providing training materials. The provinces were to ensure the formation of local civil defence organizations, coordinate civil defence plans and training within the provinces, organize mutual aid and reception areas, and provide the necessary legal authority to establish these programs.
With a clear framework established by the conference, the provinces acted quickly. Within six months all ten provinces had nominated ministers to take charge of civil defence and had set up provincial civil defence organizations. Many municipalities were well advanced in their planning and organization, as well. Consequently, a second Dominion-Provincial Conference was held in February 1951 at which the main topic of discussion was the financial responsibility for civil defence training, equipment, and supplies. The federal government agreed to assume responsibility for stockpiling medical supplies, for providing equipment for protection against sabotage, for conducting research and development in civil defence matters, and for providing staff courses and special courses on Atomic/Biological/Chemical (ABC) warfare and other technical matters. The federal government also agreed to establish a warning system in cooperation with the provinces and local authorities; it would supply and install sirens and other warning devices in municipalities having a population over 20,000 and in municipalities forming part of a target area. The conference also considered in detail many technical aspects of civil defence, such as warning, shelters, treatment and hospitalization, evacuation of casualties, maintenance of law and order, restoration of public utilities, and firefighting. Upon conclusion of the conference, a continuing Dominion – Provincial Advisory Committee on Civil Defence was set up, composed of representatives of the federal and provincial governments, to keep these matters under review.xvi
Thus by early 1951, the government of Canada was once again planning to protect its citizens from the effects of war. The initial euphoria at the end of the Second World War had been replaced by the anxieties of the Cold War. This led the federal government to appoint Major General Frederick Worthington as Civil Defence Co-ordinator to advise the Minister of National Defence on civil defence matters. Aware of the experience of ARP during the Second World War and recognizing the jurisdictional and geographical problems of the country, Worthington recommended the creation of a decentralized skeleton civil defence organization. The federal government would plan, coordinate, and, to some extent, finance the effort. The provincial governments would create the provincial organizations and local volunteer agencies would be responsible for implementing the civil defence plans. In August 1950 and in February 1951, two Dominion-Provincial Conferences were held to negotiate the respective responsibilities of the provincial and federal governments. Then the Department of National Health and Welfare was assigned the responsibility of implementing the civil defence policy.
III Civil Defence In the Department of National Health & Welfare 1951-59
1 Governmental Organization
Following the Dominion-Provincial conference of February 1951, the responsibility for civil defence was transferred from the Minister of National Defence to the Minister of National Health and Welfare.xvii At the same time, the responsibilities of the federal and provincial governments were set out more precisely. Civil defence was to be organized within the existing governmental framework, respecting the boundaries of federal-provincial jurisdiction. While civil defence was clearly an aspect of planning for war, it was agreed — apparently at provincial insistence — that the organization could deal with natural disasters as well. Although reluctantly accepted by the federal government, this agreement foreshadowed the shape of things to come.
Under these new circumstances, the federal government undertook to set out an organization plan as a guide for each level of government to follow. It assumed responsibility for coordinating the activity of the various levels of government and for maintaining liaison with the armed forces and the civil defence organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States. It would conduct research, provide training programs, supply equipment (such as training aids, radiation detection devices, respirators, steel helmets, etc.), and give direct financial aid to the provinces and municipalities on a dollar for dollar basis. It agreed to share with the provinces the cost of a compensation program for injury or death of civil defence workers.
For their part, the provincial governments agreed to set up civil defence organizations along the lines set out by the federal government. They undertook to ensure that the municipalities in the urban target areas put in place local organizations. Where necessary, they were to cooperate with the civil defence organizations of the adjacent states. They agreed to assist in training workers by establishing schools or assisting municipalities in their training programs. Equipment issued by the federal government would be distributed through the provincial agencies. They agreed to keep the federal authorities informed of the progress of their programs and to suggest changes or improvements where required.
Major General Worthington, who remained as federal Civil Defence Co-ordinator, was transferred to the Department of National Health and Welfare and directed to work through the Deputy Minister of Welfare. His responsibilities were essentially the same — to advise the Minister and Deputy Minister on civil defence matters, to coordinate federal planning and action, and to maintain liaison with civil defence agencies in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries. He was also chairman of the Civil Defence Co-ordinating Committee, an interdepartmental body which had been established previously to oversee civil defence planning in designated federal departments. It had been expanded to include representatives of the departments or Agriculture, Finance, Labour, National Health and Welfare, Public Works, Resources and Development, Trade and Commerce, Transport, the RCMP, and the secretary of the Chiefs of Staff Committee. Representatives of other agencies were brought in as the need arose.
The day to day duties of the Civil Defence Co-ordinator were carried out by the staff of the Civil Defence Division within the Department of National Health and Welfare. It was divided into three sections:
Operations and Training was responsible for developing strategic and tactical operational plans, conducting training at federal schools, and assisting provincial and local schools as required.
Administration and Supply dealt with problems of administration, including relationships with other federal departments and with provincial civil defence authorities. It was responsible also for the procurement of training aids and equipment through the department’s Purchasing and Supply Division.
Other Service Activities included health planning, welfare planning, communications and transport, plant and animal diseases, police matters, research and development, and information services.
A section of the Civil Defence Division, organized in August 1951 to be responsible for developing a program of civil defence preparations for the federal civil service in the Ottawa area, should be noted as a precursor, in part, to the future continuity of government program. Its mandate was to ensure that there would be one organization in each federal building capable of being merged into an organization which the city of Ottawa might form in the event of a civil defence emergency. Over the next six years, over 5000 trained volunteers were enrolled into operational teams throughout federal buildings. In addition, all government buildings in Ottawa were surveyed with respect to shelter plans, means of evacuation, and existing alarm systems. In 1955 the Civil Defence Division was assigned the responsibility for the organization and maintenance of the Fire Warden service and conducting evacuation practice drills in premises owned or occupied by the federal government in the Ottawa area. Subsequently, annual emergency evacuation drills were held in the majority of federal buildings. Attention shifted during 1957 from mass indoctrination towards more specialized training. Rescue, radiation monitoring, first-aid, home nursing, casualty simulation courses, staff indoctrination, and control centre operations, including teletype practice, were undertaken.xviii
During 1954, in response to the growing size and complexity of the civil defence program, the Civil Defence Division was reorganized. It was made up of the following branches and services:
(a) Administration Branch
(b) Training and Operations Branch
(c) Plans Branch
(d) Transportation and Communications Branch
(e) Public Relations
(g) Library and Statistics
(h) Health Services Branch
(i) Welfare Planning Group
(j) Canadian Civil Defence College, Arnpriorxix
Over the next few years as more information became available on the effects of thermonuclear war, the division’s responsibilities expanded. In April 1955, two new sections were authorized: a Planning Section and a Liaison Section. The Planning Section was to assist in the development and rehearsal of evacuation plans for the population of areas threatened by attack. The Liaison Section was to maintain direct contact with provincial civil defence authorities on all matters, but in particular on the Federal Financial Assistance Program and on related planning.xx In January 1956, a Special Weapons Section of the Health Services Branch was set up to study defensive measures against nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.xxi Late in 1958, the engineering functions of the Plans and Operations Section were transferred to a new Engineering Section. Eventually, this section became involved in the design of a range of bomb shelters for incorporation in all types of buildings and the engineering portion of a shelter/evacuation study.xxii
While the federal government was developing its civil defence organization, the provinces and municipalities were setting up their own parallel organizations. By 1951, each province had created a civil defence organization with a minister responsible for civil defence and a provincial co-ordinator or director. At the time of the transfer of responsibility for Civil Defence, the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario had already conducted civil defence training courses to train local instructors and key municipal personnel. The instructors in these schools had, for the most part, been trained at federal training centres and at federal expense.
At the municipal level, all potential target areas and communities of over 50,000 population (with the exception of Ottawa) had set up civil defence organizations by the end of March 1952. In a number of cities — Halifax, Montreal, Windsor, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Vancouver, and Victoria — local training schools were established. With the exception of Quebec and Prince Edward Island where activity remained at a minimal level, the provinces and most of their important municipalities had made substantial progress by 1955. A total of 554 municipalities possessed some form of a civil defence organization, while 128 had fully developed programs which included included a director, various services, and training facilities. In 1951, 50,000 civil defence workers were enrolled; by 1957 enrollment had increased to 275,319 workers. Of these 248,850 were trained. This group included full-time provincial and civil employees, such as fire, police, utilities, and civil defence personnel, and part-time civilian volunteers. The civil defence organization usually consisted of a number of services — intelligence and information, communications, transport, police, fire, health (medical and welfare), engineer and public utility, rescue, ambulance, and warden. Most of these services already existed in the communities and needed only to be expanded by volunteers in time of a war emergency.
2 Attack Planning
With the advent of the atomic and hydrogen bombs and long range bombers to deliver them, North America lost the immunity from enemy attack that it had enjoyed during two world wars. From 1949 to 1954, however, the Canadian General Staff continued to believe that aerial attacks on North America would be diversionary in character, designed to draw forces away from the main area of attack in western Europe. Under these circumstances, Canada was thought to have three advantages. First, few Canadian cities were likely to be attacked initially since the main targets would be in the United States. Secondly, few centres of dense population were near each other, thus limiting the damage that could be accomplished with a single strike. Thirdly, an excellent transportation service existed to move people or supplies to or from attacked areas. Consequently, civil defence planning was directed toward protecting the public in target areas against a nominal atomic bomb of 20kt. Thirteen cities were classified as target areas: Montréal, Toronto, Ottawa-Hull, Windsor, Niagara Falls, Halifax, Vancouver, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Québec City, Saint John, and Victoria. It was accepted that extensive damage would be inflicted on people and property if any of these cities were hit, but national survival under such an attack was never seriously considered.xxiii
During the early 1950’s Canada was divided into three distinct types of functional areas for civil defence organizational and planning purposes:
TARGET AREAS: These were centres which were considered liable to attack because of population density and industrial importance. The target area consisted of one or a number of adjacent municipalities. In every case the organization was built within the framework of the civic government. Where more than one municipality formed a target area a joint control committee was established. The organization and planning of civil defence for the target area was designed to meet the war emergency within the limits of the area itself.
MUTUAL AID AREAS: These consisted of all the communities surrounding the target area within a distance of 50 to 70 miles. Civil Defence in those areas was organized into a mobile column (to move in and reinforce the target area personnel) and a static group (to accommodate injured and homeless people).
MOBILE SUPPORT AND RECEPTION AREAS: These were composed of municipalities outside the above-mentioned areas. They were organized to act as a general reserve, receiving the overflow of casualties and some priority classes of homeless, and providing certain forms of mobile support in specialist personnel and resources.xxiv
It was not at that time the policy to evacuate large numbers of people. It was thought that they would have to stay and deal with the crisis in the target area and live there after the disaster in order that the war effort would not falter.
In February 1954, the United States Atomic Energy Commission released factual information on the results of a thermonuclear device, a hydrogen bomb, with megaton yield which was exploded in December 1952. Further tests in 1954 disclosed the terrible effects of radiation fallout. As a result of these disclosures the assumptions behind civil defence planning were reassessed and it became gradually apparent that Canada was faced with the problem of national survival. From the start of any Third World War North America must be prepared for attack by nuclear weapons with little warning. Strategists believed that the retaliatory power of the United States Strategic Air Command would ensure that this phase of the war would last a matter of days rather than weeks. However, they also realized that even a few days of nuclear warfare would produce widespread destruction, disrupting communications and public utilities. It was possible that local government would collapse and that public morale would be strained to the breaking point.
The introduction of the hydrogen bomb altered planning assumptions. Well constructed buildings would withstand the blast of an atomic bomb and their basements would give ample shelter except directly under ground zero. A ‘take cover’ policy, however, would be of little use during an attack by the more powerful hydrogen bombs. It was estimated that of a total population of 5 million in the thirteen target cities, 3,500,000 would be killed, 1,250,000 would be injured, and only 250,000 would be uninjured should there be a nuclear war. A stay-put policy was clearly no longer feasible and consideration had to be given to large scale evacuation of the civilian population of urban target areas.
On 28 July 1956, the Honourable Paul Martin, Minister of National Health and Welfare, announced government policy in the House of Commons:
We now believe that our civil defence policy should be based on the development and testing of plans for the orderly evacuation of the main urban areas in our country should the possibility of attack on such areas by nuclear weapons appear to be imminent.xxv
He then went on to name the thirteen cities that had been designated target areas on the advice of the Chief of the General Staff and approved by the Federal Government Civil Defence Policy Committee (see above). This policy was not challenged by any provincial government and there was no disagreement about the chosen Urban Target Areas.
The survival plan which was developed was outlined in “A Guide to Survival Planning”, issued in 1956. The plan involved four phases:
Phase A: Pre-attack evacuation of the non-essential personnel of the Urban Target Areas, based on a strategic warning of 8 to 12 hours;
Phase B: Planned withdrawal of the remaining population of the Urban Target Areas, based on tactical warning of three hours after enemy aircraft are detected on radar screens;
Phase C: Immediate action after a hydrogen bomb burst directed toward the saving of life;
Phase D: Aid and rehabilitation.xxvi
In order to make the plan workable it was necessary to change the civil defence area organization. Instead of three defensive areas, there were now four:
TARGET AREAS – These were expanded to include all the population residing within a 15 mile radius of a probable ground zero.
TARGET SUPPORT AREAS – These included the area lying immediately beyond 25 miles of probable ground zero. The resident population of this area would not evacuate, and it would receive the components of the Target Area Civil Defence forces who would evacuate. Phase ‘C’ operations would be conducted by civil defence forces in the communities of the Target Support Area.
RECEPTION AREAS – These are the areas beyond the boundaries of the Target Support Areas. The habitable parts farthest from the Target Area were reserved for Phase ‘A’ evacuees while those parts closer to the Target Area were reserved for those evacuated during Phase ‘B’. In addition to the reception functions the Reception Area was responsible for organizing Task Groups (composite mobile defence columns) which could be directed to relief or reinforcement in damaged areas.
STANDFAST AREAS – Areas lying within the possible fallout area, based on predicted wind information, were designated Standfast Areas. These areas would not evacuate and would not receive evacuees prior to bombs falling. If, after nuclear explosions, the area was not affected by fallout then it would possibly receive evacuees who had carried out remedial evacuation from seriously affected fallout areas. The Standfast Area would also be expected to organize Task Groups.
The responsibility for designating the various defensive areas within a province rested with the provincial civil defence authorities, although it was recommended that the boundaries of the areas conform to existing municipal boundaries. In some provinces consideration was given to grouping these areas into zones for administrative and operational reasons. Individual communities were also given the responsibility of coping with local or natural disaster situations.
Survival studies carried out prior to 1957 showed that the danger from radioactive fallout, which could occur almost anywhere in Canada, made a study of shelter requirements, as well as evacuation plans, necessary. It was thought that public shelters would only be required on the periphery of target cities for the use of a strictly limited number of police, firemen, and other essential civil defence workers who would have to remain after evacuation to protect the city. Elsewhere, refuges against radioactive fallout would be required for the general public.xxvii
Early civil defence planning addressed the threat of the piloted bomber. By 1957, however, the Soviet Union had developed a force of Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM). The speed of these missiles meant that there would be hardly any tactical warning. It was thought, however, that there would be adequate strategic warning because of the necessity for immense preparation by the enemy for an attack. Instead of two warnings upon which to base plans for evacuation, the civil defence organization would have only one, in effect combining Phases A and B.
ICBMs, unlike manned bombers, could not be intercepted in flight. In an attack on the United States there would be less likelihood of random air bursts over Canadian territory. Canada would only be hit by those missiles directed expressly at her major cities and perhaps by a very small number that might become erratic in flight and fall short of their target. The introduction of the ICBM, therefore, reduced the threat of widespread radioactive fallout which had been characteristic of piloted bomber attack.
The advent of the ICBM did not greatly affect evacuation policy. The aim of civil defence was still to evacuate major target areas if possible. Even if warning times were reduced, it would be extremely unlikely that the enemy would be able to launch an ICBM attack in which the missiles were timed to arrive simultaneously at all selected targets. Inevitably, priority targets would have to be selected and attacked first, and this would allow further warning time to those in secondary targets. In a global war, which it was assumed any nuclear war would be, the enemy was not likely to regard any targets in Canada as primary objectives for nuclear attack.xxviii
3 Civil Defence Services
Although the extent and intensity of the threat of nuclear war increased throughout the 1950s, the essence of civil defence services remained the same. The Civil Defence Division within the Department of National Health and Welfare remained responsible for establishing a warning and communication system, for studying the transportation needs and problems associated with civil defence, for training workers and instructors, for planning and studying health services, and for planning and studying welfare services.
i Warning and Communications
The Civil Defence Division was responsible for provision of an advanced warning and communication system. It was composed of three elements. A telephone and teletype system provided communications between Air Defence Control Centres and Civil Defence Headquarters and between the three levels of civil defence within the country. The civil population would be warned of impending attack by sirens set up in the designated target areas. A civil defence radio network would then advise the public and keep them informed of developments before and after attack.
The telephone and teletype system was built in successive stages. By the end of the fiscal year 1952-3, civil defence officials had completed negotiations with telephone companies, allowing the installation of sufficient private and toll lines to create a national civil defence warning system. The system consisted of direct telephone lines from Air Defence Control Centres in Canada to selected target cities (main key points) and from there by priority toll calls to other target cities (key points). In 1953-4, the system was completed by establishing direct lines into the American system and to the St. John’s Newfoundland key point. Farther improvements were made in 1957-8 by provision of a direct telephone line from the Air Defence Command at St. Hubert to the government exchange at Ottawa and from there to the Civil Defence Control Centre recently established at Arnprior. At Ottawa, direct lines from the government exchange connected the Prime Minister, the Civil Defence Co-ordinator, and the RCMP. By May 1958, a national teletype system had been completed linking Civil Defence in Ottawa to civil defence headquarters in the provinces, providing a means of passing warnings from Federal Civil Defence to all provinces. By the end of March 1959, a new National Attack Warning System was operational on an “engineered” basis ( i.e. it was not fully active but could be activated on short notice). It provided direct telephone lines from Air Defence Command and Federal Civil Defence to all provincial civil defence headquarters and from there to target areas. It also supplied direct telephone connection between Air Defence Control Centres to provincial civil defence headquarters.xxix
A system of warning sirens was installed in designated target areas to warn the civil population of impending attack . Specifications were developed for a siren similar to that used in Great Britain during the Second World War — a 5 horsepower undulating 2 tone siren with local and remote control facilities. From 1952 to 1955, these sirens were manufactured in Canada and progressively installed in target areas across the country. In 1956-7, 100 more powerful 10 horsepower sirens were purchased to augment coverage in the designated target areas and 100 more were acquired the next year. In 1959, Federal Civil Defence, the Department of National Defence, and the United States Civil Defence agreed on common signals: a steady note for three to five minutes meant turn on the radio for instructions; a rising and falling note meant attack was imminent and take cover. The cost of installation, line rental, and maintenance had been shared with the provinces on a 50% basis, but late in 1957 the federal government assumed all costs.xxx
Throughout the early and mid-1950s, studies were conducted to develop a civil defence radio communications system. Plans and procedures to serve as a guide to the operation of existing services were compiled, including the integration of amateur radio services and the broadcasting industry. In 1956-7, a plan for emergency broadcasting was approved and a contract was placed for 10 transportable 1-kilowatt broadcast transmitters for full scale field trials, which were completed by May 1958. Progress continued in setting up provincial and municipal civil defence radio networks, and the problems associated with federal-provincial radio communications continued to be studied and discussed with the Department of National Defence and the Department of Transport.xxxi
The Federal Civil Defence Transportation Committee was formed in April 1951 under the chairmanship of a member of the staff of the Board of Transport Commissioners. Composed of representatives of the major transportation agencies, its job was to undertake a “… study of the overall transportation problems which could arise in the event of a disaster, such as the transportation of supplies, material, and personnel to back up the resources of the provinces and municipalities concerned.”xxxii The effectiveness of this group is difficult to judge from the departmental annual reports. Since it met only once in the first nine months of fiscal 1952-3, its initial activities may have been limited.
The Committee recommended the appointment of a transportation officer and then of a Director of Transportation. These positions were filled in January 1953 and June 1954 respectively. There was also an early initiative to encourage the enrolment of motor vehicles for civil defence. By 1954 50,000 vehicle registration stickers had been issued to the provinces to be placed on vehicles registered for use in a national emergency. During subsequent years, national transportation of all types (air, water, rail, motor) remained under continuous study and the ability of the transportation system to meet anticipated emergency requirements was continually assessed. The provinces were encouraged to incorporate all fields of transportation into their civil defence operational plans. Transportation forums met regularly with national transportation associations and close liaison was maintained with the United States Federal Civil Defence Section through the exchange of information and knowledge.xxxiii
The federal civil defence training program began in 1951 for provincial and local officials as well as for certain federal government employees. From 1951 to 31 March 1959, over 17,500 men and women were trained in various civil defence subjects under federal auspices. At the same time, the provinces set up their own civil defence schools with federal encouragement and assistance. By 1 January 1959, 248,850 persons had been trained for civil defence work in provincial training schools.xxxiv
From 1951 until January 1954, federal courses were given at the Federal Civil Defence Staff College in Ottawa. Each province was allocated a certain number of vacancies and the provincial authorities would determine which candidates would attend. As well as staff forums and courses for instructors held in Ottawa, special courses were given in Atomic/Biological/Chemical (ABC) Warfare Defence at Camp Borden. Each year some selected personnel attended courses at the United States Civil Defence Staff College and at the United Kingdom Civil Defence College. The federal government paid for all transportation costs and living expenses of candidates attending these courses.
When the Canadian Civil Defence College opened at Arnprior, near Ottawa, in January 1954, the capacity of the federal government to train civil defence workers increased immensely.xxxv This college was designed to accommodate about 2,000 students a year, but it usually took in more than that number. The College was established:
∙ to train key Civil Defence personnel in the development of civil defence organization, plans, and operations;
∙ to train instructors for local civil defence authorities; and
∙ to conduct research in proposed civil defence equipment and operational procedures.xxxvi
Standard courses were designed and set up to meet Canadian requirements and, from time to time, special courses were organized. For example, in 1958-9, the types of courses given were:
∙ Staff Courses (including all phases of Civil Defence Orientation, Planning and Operations);
∙ Indoctrination Courses in Civil Defence for Doctors, Dentists, and Nurses;
∙ Welfare Courses in Organization, Emergency Feeding, Emergency Lodging, Personal Services, and Registration and Enquiry;
∙ Indoctrination Conference of Mayors and Reeves;
∙ Forums in Communication and Engineering;
∙ Radiological Defence Courses;
∙ Techniques of Instruction Courses; and
∙ Rescue Instructors Courses.xxxvii
The College maintained contact with civil defence establishments in the United Kingdom, the United States, and European countries, and there was frequent and free interchange of ideas and personnel.xxxviii
It should also be remembered that a certain amount of training was done by outside agencies. In 1954-5, the St. John Ambulance Association recruited and trained enough civil defence workers to staff 450 First Aid Stations. It also provided first aid instruction to other volunteers such as rescue workers, firemen, police officers, and wardens. By the end of March 1955, the St. John Ambulance Association had trained 10,970 volunteers in first aid. In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs operated schools for training Nurses’ Assistants to meet civil defence requirements in the event of a major disaster, and it was reimbursed for this service.xxxix
A number of civil defence exercises (Alert II and III and Co-operation I and II) were conducted between 1955 and 1958. All of the provinces participated in these exercises to develop their own operational procedures and to train Control Centre personnel. Alert II and III were held in conjunction with the United States civil defence authorities, while Co-operation I and II were all-Canadian exercises. As well in 1956-7, the Federal Control Centre was activated for exercises Federal I and II to train federal civil defence employees and certain members of the Civil service Civil Defence organization in Control Centre duties.xl
iv Health Services
The Civil Defence Health Planning Group was given the responsibility
to initiate and co-ordinate health services planning at the federal level; to act as health advisers to the federal Civil Defence Co-ordinator and to be responsible for developing a general pattern for Civil Defence Health Services for Canada to serve as a guide for health services planning at all levels.xli
Its major accomplishments over the next eight years included procurement and stockpiling of health and medical supplies, training, and preparing hospitals for war emergencies.
Health Services compiled lists of medical supplies and equipment to be purchased and stored strategically for operational use of first-aid stations, hospitals, laboratories, and other essential health services in time of war. As early as 1951-2, a yearly program began to acquire and stockpile the supplies and equipment identified. Great progress was made in 1954-5 when $4 million was placed in orders and $3 million delivered. Although the development of thermonuclear weapons with higher yields of radioactivity necessitated changes in the nature of the supplies to be purchased, it did not essentially change the program. With increasing international tensions, the purchase and stockpiling program was accelerated in 1957; by 1959 $11 million had been authorized and supplies valued at $6 million had been received into storage.xlii
In 1952, courses in ABC (Atomic/Biological/Chemical) warfare were held at Camp Borden and in Montréal for doctors selected by provincial health services authorities. At the same time, more than 1,300 nurse instructors were trained in the nursing aspects of ABC warfare. They in turn passed their knowledge on to 20,00 graduate nurses across the country. As well, civil defence nursing was made part of the student nursing curriculum in five provinces. In 1954-5, a Special Weapons Section was added to Health Services Branch to develop a program of research, planning, and training for defence against the effects of ABC warfare. Over the next years, studies were undertaken on the hazards of radioactive fallout and on methods of adequately reporting communicable diseases during wartime.xliii
Health Services was responsible for preparing hospitals and their staffs to deal with war emergencies. Beginning in 1954, a series of Hospital Disaster Planning Institutes were held regionally across Canada. Their purpose was to indoctrinate administrators, chiefs of surgery, and directors of nursing in civil defence planning. Techniques were developed to evacuate hospitals and plans were made to provide alternate hospital facilities, including the design of a portable 200-bed improvised hospital. By 1959, more than two-thirds of the 477 public general hospitals contacted reported that they had prepared or were preparing disaster plans.xliv
v Welfare Services
Immediately after the transfer of responsibility for Civil Defence to the Department of National Health and Welfare, a Civil Defence Welfare Section was established, an administration officer for the section was appointed, and a Welfare Advisory Committee was established. Welfare services included such functions as evacuation and reception, registration and inquiry, emergency feeding, emergency lodging, emergency clothing, and personal services such as counselling.
From 1951 to 1954, the Welfare Planning Section energetically pursued its mandate in a number of different ways. It prepared and conducted courses on Civil Defence Welfare Services generally and on specific topics. These included subjects such as emergency feeding, emergency clothing, and emergency lodging. As well as giving these courses, it aided the provincial authorities in providing their own training courses in welfare services. It continued to produce a steady stream of pamphlets, brochures, guides, and manuals on the various aspects of Civil Defence Welfare Services as instructional aids and guides for provincial and local organizations. Taking advantage of newer technology, the Welfare Planning Section also produced filmstrips on emergency feeding and emergency clothing. In 1954 it released a civil defence welfare film, “the Homeless Ones”, which received considerable favourable comment.
During 1952-3, the Welfare Planning Section held a number of conferences to involve officials at the local level. One of these was a conference for directors of municipal civil defence welfare services, held to discuss general welfare problems. Other conferences considered emergency feeding and emergency clothing. The following year, two forums were convened for key personnel of 30 national organizations and agencies, such as the Salvation Army, the I.O.D.E., the Catholic Women’s League, and the Federated Women’s Institutes, which it was hoped would provide volunteer services. As a result of the meetings, many of these organizations appointed provincial or municipal civil defence liaison officers.
While these activities were going on, Canadian civil defence welfare officials maintained continuing liaison with parallel organizations in the United Kingdom and the United States. Officials of the three countries also made reciprocal visits, enabling Canadian civil defence officials to keep abreast of current developments in civil defence welfare services.xlv
The emphasis in Civil Defence Welfare Group planning changed in 1955-6. In 1954, the Americans had released data on the effects of higher yield thermonuclear weapons (the H-bomb), especially the possibility of radioactive fallout being carried by the prevailing winds over extensive areas. It became evident that large scale evacuation of the 13 Canadian urban areas designated as principal targets would be necessary in the future. Consequently, the emphasis shifted to the planning of welfare services in evacuation reception areas. Three new staff members were added to the section to accommodate the demands of the new program. Staff participated in evacuation exercises in the United States, discussions were held on evacuation and reception in various centres in Canada, and planning began on reception plans in some rural areas.xlvi
From 1957 to 1959, the Welfare Planning Group concentrated upon the completion of priority programs and the development of emergency operational procedures. Registration and Inquiry kits were produced and made available to the provinces in 1957, and research on a 3 day survival food kit was completed. During 1958, a public education initiative was undertaken. It sought to prepare the public to survive on their own food resources for the first seven days of an emergency. A pamphlet entitled Your Evacuation Pack was prepared and distributed. Policy and procedures on emergency clothing were completed and an instructional manual was produced. Surveys were carried out and reception plans were developed in Nova Scotia and Ontario.xlvii
Federal officials, who were very active during these years, often complained that the provinces were slow in organizing welfare.xlviii By the end of the fiscal year 1959, considerable progress had been made, however. Five provinces (Nova Scotia, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia) had directors of Welfare Services, New Brunswick had a part-time director, and the remaining four provinces were actively seeking means of organizing the service. As a result of this progress it was possible in 1959, for the first time, to hold a joint Federal/Provincial Welfare Conference to provide the basis for inaugurating closer joint planning and training — some eight years after the beginning of work on welfare services!xlix
4 Federal-Provincial Cooperation
i Financial Assistance Program
The federal Civil Defence Financial Assistance Program was authorized in April 1952 to assist the provinces in developing and strengthening their civil defence plans. This assistance was directed primarily towards the provision of services, either the improvement and extension of those existing or the provision of new ones. Projects were to be related to, or provide for:
(i) organization, administration, and training expenditures, including training exercises;
(ii) equipment and clothing, including uniforms required for administration, training and operations for which there is normally no peacetime use other than for Civil Defence;
(iii) construction and alteration for civil defence purposes;
(iv) operational equipment having a peacetime use.
During 1956-7, the federal government extended the criteria to include projects having a peacetime use.
Initially, the federal government set aside $1,400,000 annually for the program; in 1954-5, this amount was increased to $2,000,000. The proportion of the total sum available to any province was calculated on a formula based upon the relative distribution of population in target and non-target areas. Provincial governments qualified for their share of the grant by sharing one half of the cost of specific projects, mutually agreed to. In 1954-5, this formula was made more flexible. The federal government agreed to contribute 25 percent of the cost of certain classifications of projects, irrespective of whether the provincial government contributed funds. If the province did contribute funds, the federal government agreed to match the provincial contribution dollar for dollar to a maximum contribution of 50 percent. In March 1959, the Prime Minister announced that henceforth the federal government would raise its contribution to approved projects from 50 to 75 percent on provincial projects and from 25 to 50 percent on municipal ones.
During 1952-3, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and Newfoundland took advantage of the Financial Assistance Program. Nova Scotia joined during 1953-4 and New Brunswick the next year. The increased flexibility in the funding formula encouraged a number of Ontario municipalities to apply for funds in 1954-5. Ontario began to participate in 1955-6 and Prince Edward Island first applied in 1958-9. Quebec never did participate in the program although a number of Quebec municipalities received funds.
From 1952 to 1959 federal yearly contributions to the Financial Assistance Program almost quadrupled, from $250,000 to over $1,000,000. Annual figures were:
1952-3 $ 250,000
1953-4 $ 322,000
1954-5 $ 415,825
1955-6 $ 646,865
1956-7 $ 813,685
1957-8 $ 967,896
ii Hose-Coupling Standardization
While civil defence was still the responsibility of the Department of National Defence, the federal government had initiated a program of hose-coupling standardization with the aim of increasing the interchangeability of fire-fighting equipment.li Initially, Ottawa agreed to pay one-third of the cost of new hose couplings only. Subsequent discussions with the provinces resulted in an extension of the offer to include one-third of the total cost of standardization of hose couplings. During 1951-2, Alberta and Ontario accepted the offer and British Columbia joined the program the following year. Ontario completed standardization during 1954-5, Alberta during 1955-6, and British Columbia in the summer of 1957. The federal government contributed $367,000 to Ontario, $60,000 to Alberta, and $92,000 to British Columbia. No other provinces took up the federal offer.lii
iii Supplies and Equipment
When responsibility passed from the Department of National Defence to the Department of National Health and Welfare in February 1951, the federal government assumed responsibility for the provision of certain equipment and training aids free of charge. These included
∙ provision of radiological and technical instruments, respirators and special protective clothing for designated civil defence workers in selected areas, in connection with atomic, bacteriological and chemical warfare defence;
∙ provision of stirrup pumps and auxiliary pumps for training purposes; and
∙ provision of training aids, manuals and badges for civil defence workers.liii
Under this program, the federal government provided a great variety of equipment between 1951 to 1959. Among the items were blankets, rubber boots and coats, coveralls, steel helmets, stretchers, reconnaissance ABC kits, pyrotechnic devices, first aid training kits, training films, and fully equipped fire fighting and rescue vehicles.liv Federal government expenditures on supplies and equipment from 1 April 1951 to 31 March 1959 totaled $1,762,183. This was divided among the provinces as follows:
British Columbia $318,856
Saskatchewan $ 76,141
New Brunswick $ 61,429
Nova Scotia $113,254
Prince Edward Island $ 5,291
Newfoundland $ 44,047lv
iv Compensation Agreements
As a means of stimulating recruiting in the more hazardous aspects of civil defence work, the federal government obtained the authority to enter into special agreements with the provinces during 1952-3. These arrangements permitted compensation for injury or death to an enrolled civil defence worker during civil defence training in peacetime to be shared on a 50-50 basis by the two levels of government.lvi Over the next six years, agreements were negotiated with all of the provinces, except Prince Edward Island and Quebec.lvii On 9 January 1959, authority was granted to extend the agreements to cover enrolled civil defence workers while engaged in operations arising out of a natural disaster.lviii
For over ten years the federal government, with its provincial and municipal counterparts, had worked to set up a national civil defence organization in Canada designed to protect the civil population in time of war. Relying largely on the experience of ARP in the Second World War, federal officials planned the civil defence organization within the Department of National Defence from 1948 to 1951. As in the Second World War, the federal government was to assume a planning and coordinating role, with responsibilities for training, research, and some financing. Civil defence services would be provided through the extension of the function of existing agencies and would be carried out largely by volunteers.
In 1951, responsibility for implementing the civil defence program was transferred to the Department of National Health and Welfare. That department carried out a great deal of planning and research, published various brochures, pamphlets, guides, and manuals, and trained many civil defence volunteers. A great deal of health and medical equipment was stockpiled at sites across the country. Communication and attack warning systems were installed in designated target areas. The federal government aided the provinces and municipalities in their civil defence work through a financial assistance program. A skeleton organization from the federal government to the provincial government to local organizations was put in place, ready to expand if a crisis occurred. By 1957, however, unsettling winds were blowing with the advent of the hydrogen bomb and the ICBM. Civil defence was no longer only about saving people; it now had to concern itself with national survival. While the Department of National Health and Welfare retained its lead role until 1959, other forces, both international and national, and new players would force a reassessment and reorganization of civil defence in Canada.
Chapter II – The Rise and Fall of the Emergency Measures Organization: 1957-1968
I Creation of the Emergency Measures Organization
1 Civil Defence Reassessed
In the decade following the Second World War, the Government War Book was revised, up-dating the contingency plans of federal government departments and agencies in the event of war. At the same time the federal government established a Civil Defence planning and training organization, first in the Department of National Defence and then in the Department of National Health and Welfare. Its purpose was to coordinate civil defence planning across the country. After 1954, however, the Liberal government began to worry about the efficacy of the civil defence program. The development of the hydrogen bomb by the Soviet Union and its capability of delivering thermonuclear weapons to the heart of North America by long range bombers and then by ICBMs heightened government fears. Revelation that Canada’s population was endangered by wind-borne radioactive fallout from nuclear explosions even if Canadian targets were not directly attacked further emphasized the horrific danger of nuclear war. At a time when the military of both the United States and Canada were actively organizing the air defence of North America, civil defence planning seemed out of balance with its military counterpart.
Consequently in 1956, the federal government set up of an Interdepartmental Working Group on War Measures, reporting through the War Book Committee, to consider the whole problem of civilian preparations for a nuclear war. Its terms of reference were:
1. Generally, to undertake a preliminary review of the civil measures that appear necessary to prepare for war under the conditions now anticipated should a major war break out.
(a) To isolate in as much detail as possible the problems that will have to be solved to meet the following possible contingencies of a nuclear war:
(i) Evacuation of thirteen major urban areas;
(ii) Destruction of some of these and/or other areas;
(iii) Contamination of some of these and/or other areas by radioactive fall- out.
(b) To consider whether any changes should be made in the present inter-governmental division of responsibility for civil defence and decide on the precise boundaries of Civil Defence’s responsibilities as an agency.
(c) To suggest outlines of possible solutions to the problems selected under (a) above.
(d) To suggest forms of organization to continue the study of these problems to the point where concrete and properly co-ordinated plans will emerge.i
The Working Group submitted its report in January 1957.
In its assessment of the status of civil defence and civil emergency planning, the Working Group took into account certain general assumptions concerning the characteristics of a future major war, considering both the nature and implications of the threat. It was assumed that nuclear weapons of all sizes would be used in another major war, with little or no warning of impending attack on North America. Such a war, it was anticipated, would be characterized by an initial stage lasting a few days or weeks of maximum destruction. This would be followed by a second phase of indeterminate length, the nature of which would depend on the outcome of the initial nuclear exchange. Canada would have to expect random explosions of nuclear weapons and probably also deliberate attack on one or more of her major cities. Such a threat would imply the evacuation of some major Canadian urban areas as soon as war started, as well as widespread destruction, and contamination by radioactive fallout. Provision would therefore have to be made for both the maintenance of government authority (to ensure the survival of Canada as a nation) and for civil defence (to ensure the survival of the Canadian population).
Planning for the maintenance of government authority considered communications, law and order, legal problems, and essential records. It also included provision for emergency government headquarters at the federal, provincial (regional), and local (sector) levels. Because some governments were located in areas liable to deliberate attack (and therefore subject to evacuation), the Working Group pointed out:
If provision is not made in peacetime for emergency re-location sites, these governments may be unable to function when war starts. There will be no time then to improvise the necessary facilities outside the present capitals….It is therefore considered that steps should be taken now to develop an emergency government organization comprising a federal emergency headquarters in the vicinity of Ottawa, a regional emergency headquarters in each province that would include both a federal and provincial component as well as an army component, and possibly a number of sector headquarters in each province. The various headquarters would be interconnected by an integrated, government communications network so designed as to permit the exercise of either decentralized or centralized control.ii
It also recommended that, since the federal government would have to bear the ultimate responsibility for the conduct of war, it should also bear the cost of both regional and federal headquarters. The cost of sector headquarters should be divided in proportion to the extent to which provincial and municipal authorities wished to share in their creation and peacetime control. Such an arrangement would ensure that there would be financial obligations to match provincial and municipal responsibility for peacetime decisions.
The Working Group recognized that public support for such a program was essential. Consensus could only be obtained if the Government created it.
The implication is unavoidable that if the Government approves the programme, a vigorous public education campaign should be initiated to convince people of the dangers of our situation, and at an appropriate time a general enabling statute would be needed. It seems clear, also, that a special federal agency will have to be formed to provide direction and coordination for the program, to give it the necessary momentum, and to take charge of the physical preparation of the federal emergency headquarters. This will be referred to as the Emergency Measures Organization.iii
The Working Group also reviewed the status of the civil defence program, concluding that, however notable its achievements to date, much more had to be done: “There does not appear to exist in any Canadian city a Civil Defence organization capable at present of meeting effectively the challenge of nuclear warfare.” The principal weaknesses were seen to be:
(a) The dependence of the federal authorities on persuasion to get things done at the provincial and local levels.
(b) The inability, or the reluctance, of provincial and/or municipal authorities to provide funds for civil defence purposes.
(c) The uneven progress and the lack of uniformity in civil defence preparations among even those provinces and municipalities that have made some effort in this direction.
(d) The stand taken by at least one province [Quebec] and certain municipalities that civil defence is exclusively a federal responsibility, resulting in almost a complete lack of preparation in these places.iv
The Working Group suggested three ways of creating an effective civil defence organization in Canada. The first was to make greater use of incentives to evoke the necessary cooperation at the provincial and local levels. The second was to arrange for the Federal Government to assume primary responsibility for civil defence. The third was to re-divide responsibility among the three levels of government on a functional or other mutually agreeable basis. The Working Group believed that a more determined effort should be made to make the existing system work before embarking on fundamental alterations. The government should make a full statement of the threat confronting Canada and of the consequent need for effective civil defence preparation. Federal financial assistance to provinces and municipalities should also be substantially increased. As a further consideration, the Working Group added the following advice:
If the Federal Government initiated a vigorous programme of emergency planning within its own sphere of responsibility, this would set the necessary example. The creation of an Emergency Measures Organization, if known by the public, would for instance be a clear and practical demonstration of the Government’s concern about the situation. If Civil Defence at the federal level were brought within the orbit of this agency, the impact on the public would be even greater.v
In stressing the need to find a way to make civil defence more effective, the Working Group pointed out that the present division of governmental responsibility had been decided upon before the days of thermonuclear weapons. Then, it was possible to think in terms of strictly community efforts in executing passive defence measures, of people taking shelter against bombs and relying on the principle of ‛self-help’ to see them through an emergency. Under nuclear attack, on the other hand, no community could be expected to be self sufficient, no shelter would save people within the immediate area of an explosion, and ‛self-help’ could have only a limited application. The Working Group emphasized that should the present policy fail to produce a national civil defence organization adequate to meet the new condition, provinces and municipalities might well conclude that such a task was entirely beyond their capabilities. In such a case, it would be necessary for the federal government to accept primary responsibility for civil defence. A province or municipality which was unable or unwilling to undertake civil defence preparations might well damage or destroy the total ability of the nation to fight back.
After considering measures for a more effective civil defence organization, the Working Group had a further suggestion to make. For peacetime purposes, Civil Defence in the Department of National Health and Welfare could well be incorporated into the proposed Emergency Measures Organization. This would potentially provide a single channel of ministerial authority for the development of emergency planning policy and overall plans. It would also facilitate the coordination of present and future plans with those of agencies responsible for transportation, food distribution, manpower mobilization, and so forth. Moreover, if Civil Defence was to function in wartime as an integral part of the emergency government structure, it should be a peacetime component of the agency charged with the responsibility of developing the wartime organization to avoid confusion in the moment of crisis. The Working Group also recommended that, as emergency planning in fields other than civil defence developed, responsibility should be transferred from Civil Defence to other government agencies for such things as medical and hospital services, public health and sanitary measures, and welfare services for the billeting, shelter, feeding, and protection of evacuees. This would restrict Civil Defence to the following functions:
(a) Warning of attacks and instructions for leaving dangerous areas.
(b) Management of the movement of persons from dangerous areas to reception areas.
(c) Preparation of the public for evacuation and relocation.
(e) Rescue operations to the extent radiation hazards make this possible.
(f) Detection and monitoring of radiation hazards and prediction of fall-out dangers.
(h) Treatment of casualties (but not necessarily the operation of emergency hospitals handle all medical requirements during the emergency period).
(i) Provision of shelters for the public at large and for Civil Defence forces (but not for emergency government headquarters).vi
In its review of departmental emergency planning, the Working Group found evidence of conflict and duplication in the arrangements of many government departments. This, in fact, was one of the strongest reasons for proposing the establishment of an Emergency Measures Organization. An agency of this kind would bring unresolved questions to the attention of the inter-departmental emergency measures committee, and ensure that departmental planning was in harmony with the plans and measures adopted by related departments and with the larger conception of civil emergency arrangements.
The Working Group concluded its report with a detailed proposal for the Emergency Measures Organization, assigning as special functions:
(a) Initiation of an overall federal programme of emergency planning;
(b) Stimulation and co-ordination of planning within departments of government;
(c) Development of an emergency government organization with regional and local sub-divisions as required;
(d) Preparation of an emergency headquarters for the Federal Government;
(e) Preparation, in conjunction with the provinces, of regional emergency headquarters;
(f) Planning of the required communications in such a way as to procure the necessary co-ordination for all services;
(g) Arranging with departments for the recruiting of an “Executive Reserve”;
(h) Responsibility for planning, in connection with a major war, in areas not specifically the responsibility of any existing department;
(i) Development of a system for coordinating damage-intelligence;
(j) Liaison, as appropriate, with emergency planning organizations in the provinces and other countries.vii
In peacetime, EMO would coordinate departmental planning in preparation for nuclear war. In the event of war, its principal operating responsibility would be civil defence, although it would also form part of the emergency government structure. The Working Group made it clear, however, that the Emergency Measures Organization would not be an entity which would take away responsibility from existing departments:
The creation of an Emergency Measures Organization is altogether consistent with retention of responsibility by the various departments of government….Although the organization envisaged will be a working entity going beyond anything in the nature of a coordinating committee, and will have certain operating functions, its principal purpose will be to aid departments of government to further their own internal emergency planning. It will give the departments concerned the general assumptions, kept up-to-date, against which they should make plans and develop programmes. The Emergency Measures Organization will, by working in close liaison with the departments, ensure that their planning and programmes are in focus with the single objective, how best to prepare civilians for a possible nuclear war.viii
2 The Creation of the Emergency Measures Organization
The Working Group’s principal recommendation that a central coordinating agency be constituted, preferably responsible to the Prime Minister, was accepted by the Liberal Cabinet in April 1957, then subsequently by the new Progressive Conservative government of John Diefenbaker. In June, an agency known as the Emergency Measures Organization was set up in the Privy Council Office with R. B. Curry as its first director. The new organization was given a number of specific assignments:
(a) planning for the continuity of government in wartime;
(b) revision of the War Book (an over-all statement of governmental emergency plans);
(c) planning for the general control of communications in wartime;
(d) planning for the wartime control of road transport; and
(e) assuming responsibilities for civilian emergency planning in NATO.
At the same time, EMO was also assigned the general function of stimulating and coordinating emergency planning among the departments and agencies of the Canadian government. To carry out this assignment, it formed an interdepartmental committee to ensure appropriate planning within individual departments. Bridges had to be built between the civilian departments as well as the Department of National Defence and Civil Defence which remained within the Department of National Health and Welfare.ix
In effect, there were now two planning agencies concerned with civil defence — EMO in the Privy Council Office with responsibility for continuity of government and overall planning coordination, and Civil Defence in National Health and Welfare with responsibility for the well-being and survival of the Canadian people following a nuclear attack. This arrangement might have worked had Worthington remained as Co-ordinator of Civil Defence. But Worthington retired in September 1957, and his successor soon began to argue with the Privy Council Office.x Before a final decision on the future of the two agencies was made, a further study of civil defence was undertaken by Lieutenant General Howard D. Graham, who had just retired as Chief of the General Staff. In 1958, Graham toured the country and was appalled to find that the provincial political leaders and the general public knew little about civil defence. Moreover, he observed that there was no coordination of provincial planning. He also came to the conclusion that mass evacuation was impractical and unacceptable to the population. In the end, Graham recommended that the federal government should accept full responsibility for, and bear the full cost of, civil defence. The responsibility should lie with the Department of National Defence. Graham’s report was dated 31 December 1958 but it was not delivered until mid-January 1959.xi
On 23 March 1959, the Prime Minister, John G. Diefenbaker, announced in the House of Commons that the government had reviewed the arrangement of responsibility for civil defence tasks in the light of the Graham Report and other studies by military and civilian officers, and that
the government proposes to transfer certain of the responsibilities for civil defence functions insofar as the dominion is concerned, and to offer to assume directly certain responsibilities hitherto assumed by the provinces and the municipalities.
The Prime Minister explained that the proposed change meant that the Army would undertake responsibility for certain technical civil defence functions which previously had been carried out by provincial and municipal civil defence organizations. These tasks were to include warning of attack, the location and monitoring of explosions and radioactive fallout, the assessment of damaged areas, the decontamination and clearing of such areas, and the rescue of the injured in such areas. The provinces were to retain direct responsibility for medical and hospital services, public health measures, emergency billeting and feeding, and other welfare services, but they would be assisted by increased financial and technical assistance from the federal Department of National Health and Welfare. Federal aid for approved provincial and local civil defence projects was raised from 50 to 75 percent under the Financial Assistance Program. The Prime Minister indicated that the federal government would permit civil defence personnel and facilities to be used to meet the humanitarian requirements of peacetime disasters as well. The effect of this rearrangement of civil defence functions on the provinces was to lessen their responsibility for technical tasks (to be assumed by the Army) and to increase considerably their responsibility for health and welfare services.
The Emergency Measures Organization would coordinate the work of other departments and agencies for civil defence as it was already doing for continuity of government. EMO would undertake any work that was not the responsibility of other departments and assume general responsibility for relations with provincial authorities.xii What the Prime Minister did not make explicit was that the Civil Defence organization in the Department of National Health and Welfare was abolished although, as indicated above, the department retained civil defence responsibilities for medical and welfare service planning. EMO had won the conflict between the two civil defence agencies.xiii
These changes, outlined by the Prime Minister, were incorporated in the Order-in Council, PC 1959-656.xiv A Dominion-Provincial Conference on civil defence arrangements was subsequently held in Ottawa in April and then in October 1959, and the provinces agreed to accept their new responsibilities.
In March 1959, the federal government’s general attitude to civil defence was expressed by the Prime Minister in his statement to the House of Commons:
I should like to take this opportunity to emphasize that this government believes that civil measures to prepare for the possibility of nuclear war must be taken as seriously as are military measures. Civil defence can serve a deterrent purpose by demonstrating to a potential aggressor that Canada is determined to survive even a nuclear war and carry on as an organized society and united nation in the face of the utmost perils and hardships.xv
The government’s decision to alter the structure and direction of civil emergency planning was to have far reaching consequences in the years to come. The Privy Council Order created a new character for civil emergency planning in that, for the first time, programs to ensure the survival of the population were fully integrated with programs to maintain continuity of government. Emergency preparations were divided into clearly defined tasks and assigned to those levels of government and departments which could best fulfill them.
II Civil Defence Order 1959 and the Division of Responsibilities
1 Emergency Measures Organization
Under the Prime Minister, EMO had acquired general responsibility for both civil defence and continuity of government. The new Civil Defence Order spelled out what this meant:
a) the co-ordination of civil defence planning by departments and agencies of the Government of Canada;
b) the preparation of civil defence plans in relation to matters that are not the responsibility of any other department or agency of the Government of Canada;
c) assistance to provincial governments and municipalities in respect of preparation of civil defence where assistance is not the responsibility of any other department or agency of the government of Canada; and
d) general liaison with other countries, with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and with provincial governments on matters relating to civil defence.xvi
The responsibilities of three departments were specifically outlined in the Civil Defence Order.
2 Department of National Defence
The 1959 Civil Defence Order assigned to the Canadian Army technical tasks for which it was especially suited. One of these was to provide a public warning system in case of attack. Another was to determine the location of nuclear explosions and the patterns of fallout. After an attack, the Army was responsible for assessing damage and casualties and, along with local agencies, for controlling, directing, and carrying out rescue operations of the injured and trapped, repair and maintenance of essential services, and supporting provincial and municipal authorities in maintaining law and order.xvii In addition, the Army agreed to construct the central and regional emergency government headquarters.
There were two aspects of public warning. The first was the necessity to relay tactical warning of nuclear attack. Communications stretched from NORAD to National Defence Headquarters to the operational centres set up in each province which were responsible for coordinating the local civil defence efforts. To accomplish this task, the Army developed a national teletype network, the National Survival Attack Warning System. The second was the need to warn the public directly. It was decided to continue to use sirens for this purpose.xviii By 1960, approximately 350 sirens had been installed in Canadian cities. The Army installed another 1,360 during the next two years. By then, all potential target cities had an operational warning system which relayed the information received to provincial radio networks, and they in turn broadcast warnings and other information to the public. By 1962, the warning systems were in place and manned around-the-clock.
To determine the location of nuclear explosions and to monitor the patterns of fallout, the Army created the Nuclear Detonation and Fallout Reporting System (NDFRS). It consisted of four elements. Nuclear Detonating Reporting Posts were set up around potential target cities. Farther afield, some 2000 Fallout Reporting Posts were established to record the incidence and radioactivity of fallout. The Army made plans to predict nuclear explosions and the pattern of fallout at the central and provincial warning centres. Lastly, Filter Centres were set up to monitor reports coming in from the Fallout Reporting Posts.xix
The Army was assigned the responsibility of building facilities to house the national and provincial emergency governments which would direct the nation during and after a nuclear war. The Central Emergency Government Headquarters was built at Carp near Ottawa with a transmitting station a few miles away. Essentially a hardened concrete box of four levels, surrounded by a gravel envelope and buried in sandy soil, the Central Headquarters (irreverently referred to as the Diefenbunker) was capable of withstanding a 5 megaton hydrogen bomb blast with a ground zero at 1.1 miles. After detecting a nuclear blast the building shut down automatically and became almost completely self-contained. It was capable of sustaining over 400 people for 30 days without resupply. It was to operate as an Army signal centre in peacetime. Excavation began in the summer of 1959 and the bunker was operational by December 1961.
While the federal government initially intended to build 10 regional headquarters, cost considerations reduced the number to six in 1960. They were located on Army bases at Nanaimo B.C., Penhold Alta., Shilo Man., Camp Borden Ont., Valcartier Que., and Debert N.S. Design and construction began in May 1960, and all six centres became operational between May and November 1964. In peacetime these sites were part of the Army’s communication network. In wartime they would house elements of the federal and provincial governments as well as Army command and communication units. Although the other four regional headquarters were never built, temporary facilities were set up in federal buildings in Regina, Camp Gagetown, N.B., Charlottetown, and St John’s.xx
3 Department of National Health and Welfare
After the promulgation of Civil Defence Order 1959, the Minister of National Health and Welfare no longer retained general responsibility for civil defence. His department nevertheless continued to aide the provincial and local governments and private agencies in organizing, preparing, and operating medical and welfare services. As well, it retained control over the Canadian Civil Defence College at Arnprior.xxi
Within the Department of National Health and Welfare, the Emergency Health Services Division developed four major programs. It set up offices in federal, provincial, and local emergency government facilities. It encouraged hospitals to carry out disaster planning. It published pamphlets, brochures, and other publications to help people plan to be self-sufficient if an emergency arose. It also continued to stockpile emergency medical supplies at strategic locations. By 1963, the value of these emergency medical supplies and facilities had increased to $12 million of an authorized total of $18 million.xxii
The Emergency Welfare Services Division was responsible for planning programs for emergency clothing, lodging, and feeding of people displaced by a serious emergency as well as offering advice on registration of evacuees and providing counselling services. In keeping with the jurisdictional primacy of the provincial and local governments in these areas, the Division offered guidance and assistance to the lower levels of government in planning, organizing, and operating emergency welfare services. As in the past, the Department of National Health and Welfare continued to stress individual self-help in coping with serious emergencies.
While it would have made sense to transfer responsibility for the Canadian Civil Defence College to EMO, the college remained under the authority of the Minister of National Health and Welfare. Since the Director of EMO chaired the Interdepartmental Training Policy Committee formed in November 1959, EMO did assert some control over training policy. Membership included the College Commandant, and representatives of the Departments of National Defence and National Health and Welfare and of the RCMP. The College had two main functions. It conducted courses that both trained specialists in aspects of civil defence work and assisted those with local civil defence responsibilities. Primary among these were courses on National Survival Orientation and National Survival Operations. The College also convened conferences of mayors and other civic officials to indoctrinate them in the philosophy and practice of civil defence and emergency planning. In March 1962, the government explicitly made civil emergency training the responsibility of EMO and set up an Interdepartmental Civilian Training Committee to advise EMO on training policy.
4 Department of Justice
The Minister of Justice exercised his civil defence power through the RCMP. The civil defence order specified that in conjunction with the Army, the RCMP would be responsible for maintaining law and order and controlling and directing traffic for civil defence exercises and operations.xxiii Since the federal force acted as provincial police in eight of the ten provinces, these duties were essentially extensions of their peacetime responsibilities. Only in Ontario and Quebec would it be necessary to ensure cooperation with provincial police. Some progress was made in 1960 when a police conference was held at Gravenhurst involving Ontario authorities. At the same time the RCMP stepped up its training program. It developed a direct liaison with the Army for survival planning and for purposes of maintaining law and order and traffic control.
5 Other Departments
As well as the three departments specified in the Defence Order, other federal departments were instructed to cooperate with EMO in preparing emergency plans. The Department of Transport began to prepare emergency control plans in four transportation fields: rail, air, water, and road. The Department of Defence Production, in conjunction with the departments of Trade and Commerce, Agriculture, and Fisheries, set about coordinating plans to procure food, fuel, and other essentials in the event of a national disaster. The Department of Labour and the National Employment Service began working out policy plans on manpower allocation.xxiv
6 The Role of the Provinces
The Civil Defence Order did not, of course, assign responsibilities to provincial authorities. The federal government recognized that it had no power to do so. Although the Department of National Defence once contemplated requesting a law making civil defence mandatory, no federal cabinet minister was ever foolhardy enough to bring it forward.xxv The federal government continued to rely on persuasion and financial incentives. Accordingly a series of Federal-Provincial Conferences were held between April 1959 and December 1962 to work out the responsibilities of the provincial governments.
The provinces agreed to undertake certain wartime civil defence responsibilities:
1 Preservation of law and order and prevention of panic, by the use of their own police, municipal police, and special constables, with whatever support is necessary and feasible from the RCMP and the Armed Services at provincial request.
2 Control of road traffic, except in areas damaged or covered by heavy fallout, including special measures to assist in the emergency movement of people from areas likely to be attacked or affected by heavy fallout.
3 Reception services, including arrangements for providing accommodation, emergency feeding and other emergency supplies and welfare services for people who have lost or left their homes or who require assistance because of the breakdown of normal facilities.
4 Organization and control of medical services, hospitals, and public health measures.
5 Maintenance, clearance and repair of highways.
6 Organization of municipal and other services for the maintenance and repair of water and sewage systems.
7 Organization of municipal and other fire-fighting services, and control over and direction of these services in wartime except in damaged or heavy fallout areas, where fire-fighting services would be under the direction of the Army as part of the re-entry operation.
8 Maintenance and repair of electrical utilities, and the allocation of the use of electricity to meet emergency requirements.
9 Training of civilians as civil defence workers.xxvi
Once these responsibilities were clear, each province had to put in place the proper organization to carry them out. The federal government offered advice, training, and of course, financing of approved projects. By 1963 all provinces were engaged (to varying degrees) in civil emergency planning. Emergency legislation was passed, provincial EMOs were created with tasks similar to the federal agency, part-time planners were hired, and cabinet ministers were designated responsibility for civil emergency measures.
III EMO and its Programs
In general, EMO had two major responsibilities for civil emergency planning:
(a) Governmental arrangements, dealing with matters related to continuity of government;
(b) Public arrangements, dealing with matters related to public survival.xxvii
1 Continuity of Government
To provide for the continuity of government during and after a nuclear war, EMO was given the responsibility of developing a system of decentralized government which had central, regional, and zonal elements, each of which could function independently if necessary. The central organization would consist of a small core of cabinet ministers, including the prime minister, the governor general, and senior departmental officials who would be located near Ottawa at the Central Emergency Government Headquarters. They would be supported by larger departmental elements located further afield in relocation units. During the first days of attack the emergency central government was expected to do little more than issue general policy guidance. Its next important role would be to bolster morale by providing evidence that the Canadian government continued to exist and was in control.
The country was divided into ten administrative regions each of which corresponded to a province (except Alberta which included the Yukon and Northwest Territories). Each region was to have a federal Regional Emergency Government Headquarters. Depending on regional need, the federal staff would more or less correspond to the departments and agencies represented at the Central Headquarters. The premier, ministers and other key provincial government officials, including the lieutenant-governor, would also be present. These officials would be supported by larger groups at regional relocation units.
Beneath the regional was the zonal organization. (It was intended to have a sub-regional structure between the region and the zone in Ontario and Quebec because of their size, but it was never implemented.) The number of zones varied from about eight in the largest province to one in the smallest. The exact make-up of officials at this level was subject to negotiation between the federal government and provincial governments and seems never to have been worked out precisely. Presumably departments with essential survival functions as well as local and municipal governments would be represented. Provision was made to connect all three levels of emergency government through the emergency government communications network.
Beneath the zone were various local government headquarters and organizations. Planning at this level was entirely a local responsibility and the federal government could only persuade, lead by example, and encourage through financial assistance.xxviii
Plans of course needed to be tested. In 1960 and 1961 three exercises, known by the code name TOCSIN (a tocsin is an alarm sounded on a bell), were held to test the effectiveness of the continuity of government program and to identify problems of implementation. One scholar was of the opinion that
If an enemy attack followed a counter-force pattern against American Strategic Air Command bases, the COG [continuity of government] system as it existed between 1960 and 1963 would probably have been adequate, since damage to Canada would be less than other forms of attack.xxix
If Canadian cities or bases were targeted directly the effects would be more catastrophic.
The first TOCSIN was held on 3 May 1960. It had two general purposes. First, it was designed to test the attack warning and emergency communications system. Secondly, it was intended to check out the manning procedures at emergency government headquarters and to attempt to create the working conditions of an actual attack. The participants had three hours warning time and the exercise lasted 10 hours. It is not clear precisely what was learned by the exercise but there was some evidence that government staff was unable to work effectively in teams and that the communications became rapidly overloaded with traffic.xxx In the opinion of an anonymous official in EMO,
The principal value of the exercise was that it brought the components of emergency government at the national and provincial together for the first time.xxxi
The second TOCSIN was held on 5-6 May 1961. Similar in assumptions and purpose to the earlier exercise, it was designed to practise manning interim emergency government sites and to solve post-attack problems. Attack warning and emergency communications systems were tested, and an attempt was made to raise the consciousness of the general public about survival operations.xxxii This exercise included the participation of three cabinet ministers and staff who were moved by special train from Ottawa to interim federal government headquarters at Pettawawa. Unlike TOCSIN 1960, nine Canadian cities were targeted. The conclusions of this exercise were that while the army staff in the emergency headquarters worked well, the civilians once again had trouble working productively in ad hoc teams. A final report stated:
The scale of attack simulated in the EMO exercise was so heavy that little action could have been taken…to influence the battle for some days. The only role left would have been to gather information, think ahead, and plan to resume centralized control when possible.
TOCSIN 1961B, held on 13-14 November was hastily put together in response to the Berlin crisis of August and a substantial increase in Soviet nuclear testing. It was coordinated with a NORAD air defence exercise in which a missile and bomber attack was simulated on air bases, defence bases, and cities in both Canada and the United States. Direct hits and radiation fallout were postulated. Federal government participation was extensive (17 departments and agencies and six cabinet ministers). Provincial and municipal authorities participated more actively than before. Everything did not go according to plan, of course — some sirens did not go off and the government staff did not clear Edmonton before it was destroyed by a missile. The exercise pointed out the effect of poor living conditions on staff performance and demonstrated the need for much greater interdepartmental cooperation.xxxiii
2 Public Survival
i Shelter and Evacuation Policy
Before the development of the ICBM, the North American air defence system could give a tactical warning of a manned bomber attack of about three hours. This was considered sufficient time to evacuate the main Canadian urban areas. The development of the ICBM reduced tactical warning time to 15 minutes or less, making large scale evacuation impossible, perhaps suicidal. Consequently in 1959, the government announced a new national survival policy. Although traffic plans were developed to facilitate voluntary evacuation from potential target cities (presumably during the longer strategic warning period), the government endorsed individual family fallout shelters as the main hope of survival of the population.
As a result, the federal government undertook an energetic program to encourage families to build fallout shelters. With the understanding that substantial protection from radioactive fallout could be secured at a reasonable cost of two or three hundred dollars, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation was persuaded to allow shelter financing through its loan programs. EMO published a complete range of shelter designs in its “Blueprint for Survival “ series. It established a system of evaluation, approval, and registration of private and commercial designs. Despite all this effort the program was a dismal failure. The cost was manageable but still significant. Most Canadians considered that the provision of shelters was a government responsibility. Moreover, the government did not lead by example, refusing to spend large sums of money on schemes to integrate them into the Toronto subway system or the proposed Montréal Métro.xxxiv
Realizing the failure of its self-help shelter policy, EMO began to move toward creating public shelters by initiating a series of surveys to assess the possibility of creating adequate fallout protection in existing buildings. In 1961, the Department of Public Works surveyed 5000 federal buildings across Canada and EMO encouraged the provinces and municipalities to carry out similar surveys. The same year, the Department of Mines and Technical Surveys assessed suitable mines as potential refuges but immediately rejected them because they were too far from populated areas. By 1963, EMO had decided that a comprehensive national survey of potential fallout shelters was necessary if a credible public shelter program was to be produced.
ii Public Information
EMO was responsible for keeping the public informed about civil defence. To fulfill this mandate it sent out information to publicize the programs, coordinated the emergency information publication programs of all federal departments, and assisted the provinces and municipalities in their information initiatives. In early 1961, EMO developed its own Public Information Plan to inform the public about the effects of nuclear weapons, the plans of the government, and those actions which individuals, groups, and families could take to provide increased protection. Of note was “Blueprint for Survival”, a series of six pamphlets on basement fallout shelters, blast shelters, fallout in rural areas, and steps to take to increase the chances of survival. Numerous pamphlets, leaflets, posters, and displays were made available to the public free of charge. Newspapers, radio, and television were also employed to keep the civil defence message before the public.
Late in 1961, the government approved the wartime information plan, the Emergency Public Information Service which would keep the public up to date on developments and issue warnings, instructions, and advice. The Emergency Broadcasting Plan was developed, organized, and operated by the CBC. It resulted in the formation of the Emergency Broadcasting System, a hook-up of virtually all the radio and television stations in Canada. The network was connected to the Army’s Attack Warning System. The sounding of sirens was the signal for the public to listen to the radio for instructions. The plan also envisaged the presence of representatives of Canadian Press and United Press International in the Central and Regional Emergency Government Headquarters where they would be briefed on developments and be available to distribute warnings, instructions, and advice to the public.xxxv
iii Financial Assistance Program
With the reorganization of civil defence responsibilities in 1959, the administration of the Financial Assistance Program to the provinces and municipalities was transferred to EMO. The federal government had inaugurated the program in 1952 to provide financial support for personnel and administration costs, supplies and equipment, training, and all the other items that arose in the course of local planning. These included communications equipment, construction costs for local emergency government headquarters, payment of fees for first aid training, purchase of protective clothing for volunteers and other emergency personnel, rescue equipment, vehicles, cost of local training exercises, and publication of local survival plans. The government increased its share of the cost of approved items from 50% to 75%. Moreover, there was now a straightforward list of items on which money could be spent which eliminated much of the delays and bickering of the past. Federal appropriations for the program increased from $4 million in fiscal 1960-1 to $4.8 million in 1962-3. At the same time, federal contributions to provincial workman’s compensation programs for civil defence workers injured or killed while on duty was increased from 50% to 75%, but this was never a major expenditure.xxxvi
iv International Commitments
While most of EMO’s energy was directed to its domestic civil emergency programs, it also had international commitments. Under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty, Canada pledged to resist armed attack and to assist its partners in resisting aggression. In terms of emergency planning, this resulted in the appointment of the Director of EMO to the Senior Committee on Civil Emergency Planning in 1963. Canadian representatives were appointed to NATO wartime agencies dealing with such matters as international telecommunications, ocean shipping, food resources, oil resources, and other technical subjects. Several Canadian government departments and agencies were actively involved in planning in these areas. Canadian expertise made significant contributions to the development of civil emergency planning in NATO.xxxvii
EMOs civil emergency arrangements with the United States have been governed by three agreements between the two countries signed on 27 March 1951, 15 November 1963, and 8 August 1967. The first agreement simply called for cooperative civil defence planning. The others called for technical consultation between Canada and the United States. Following the 1963 agreement a new committee, the United States/Canada Civil Emergency Planning Committee, was constituted to study common civil emergency problems. Much planning was already proceeding on parallel lines. Emergency communication links were established between border regions. Operating procedures for reporting radiation fallout were standardized and arrangements were made by several states and provinces to implement them. Emergency radio broadcast messages were reviewed to ensure that they were consistent on both sides of the border to prevent public confusion. Contiguous states and provinces held meetings to ensure the consistency of planned operational activities. In 1964-5 a joint study considered the effects of a nuclear war on the economies of Canada and the United States. The 1967 agreement in particular required close cooperation and technical consultation in civil emergency planning in adjacent areas of Canada and the United States. The Director (or later Director General) of EMO also served as joint chairman of the United States/Canada Civil Emergency Planning Committee meetings.xxxviii
IV The Decline of EMO
The decline of EMO began in 1963 when it was moved out of the Privy Council Office and placed under the authority of the Minister of Defence Production. Although apparently a minor administrative move, the decision to transfer the agency reflected new forces at work in Canada and abroad. The Diefenbaker years had been a period of increasing international tension culminating in the Berlin crisis in 1961 and the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962 when the Soviet Union and the United States appeared on the verge of nuclear war. Having approached the brink, the Soviets and the Americans backed off and began to take steps to normalize relations and reduce tension. In 1963, for example, the two powers negotiated an agreement to restrict the testing of nuclear missiles. While the danger of nuclear war remained, the likelihood began receding and as it did, so did the public perception of the need for EMO and emergency planning.
Election of a Liberal minority government in the Spring 1963 also did not bode well for EMO. Although the new prime minister, Lester Pearson, had managed to reverse Liberal policy from rejection to acceptance of nuclear weapons during the election campaign, there were many in the Liberal Party opposed to this policy. At the same time, there was a growing peace and disarmament movement in the country. EMO and emergency planning began to occupy a lower priority.
R. B. Bryce, the clerk of the Privy Council and secretary to the cabinet, undoubtedly recognized that Pearson and his chief ministers and advisers would have little time for EMO and emergency planning. Pearson had agreed to accept nuclear weapons while stating that he would attempt to renegotiate the commitment. Unlike Diefenbaker, he did not feel the need to have his finger in every administrative pie.xxxix Among the newly appointed cabinet ministers, Bryce discovered that C. M. “Bud” Drury, Minister of Defence Production, was sympathetic to the aims of EMO. During the Second World War, Drury had risen to the rank of brigadier in the Canadian army. From 1948 to 1955, he served as deputy minister of the Department of National Defence. At the time, Civil Defence was being organized in that department and may have piqued Drury’s interest.xl Whatever the reasons, before Bryce left the Privy Council Office for the Department of Finance, he arranged for the transfer of EMO to Drury’s responsibility in June 1963. (At the same time the Canadian Civil Defence College at Arnprior was transferred from the Department of National Health and Welfare to EMO.)xli While EMO was deemed a department, reporting directly to the minister, it was no longer at the centre of power. It had begun to lose status and prestige.
The immediate effect EMO’s transfer out of the Privy Council Office was negligible. Under Drury, EMO continued the programs that had been developed under the Diefenbaker government, modifying, completing, or amplifying them. In the field of emergency communications, for example, the CBC brought its capacity for conveying public information and instruction to a 24-hour a day level. In conjunction with the Defence Research Board and with personnel from the United States and the United Kingdom, EMO developed and tested prototype shelters at Suffield, Alberta. Its research engineers were also developing dual purpose shelters which would have both a wartime and peacetime use. At the bureaucratic level, emergency legislation required by various federal departments had been prepared and was ready to be put into effect almost immediately. The Financial Assistance Program was continued, even increased in 1963-4. The emergency planning guide for municipalities was revised. As before, EMO continued to plan, coordinate, advise, train and publicize to carry out its twin mandates of public survival and continuity of government.xlii
A little more than a year after assuming responsibility for EMO, in June 1964, Drury along with the recently appointed Director of EMO, Paul Faguy, appeared before the Special Committee on Defence which was reviewing defence policy. In his remarks, Drury emphasized that his responsibilities for civil emergency planning encompassed both civil defence and continuity of government. He delineated the three aims of EMO: 1) to plan measures to assist the population to survive a nuclear war; 2) to plan for the continuity of government; and 3) to provide financial assistance to provinces and municipalities to develop their emergency services, to provide courses
at the Canadian Civil Defence College, and to prepare planning guides. He went on to point out that 12 federal departments and five agencies had emergency roles and were involved in varying degrees of planning. He outlined the high priority programs that EMO had instituted to ensure public survival and continuity of government.
Once he had listed the achievements of the agency, Drury put forward an ambitious five year plan to complete the program:
1. Completion of the warning of attack systems, including location of nuclear detonations and fallout reporting.
- Protection of the emergency broadcasting facilities and personnel.
- Completion of the network of emergency headquarters with communications. The zone programme is now underway.
- Completion of the medical stockpile programme and provision of additional welfare supplies and services.
- Consideration is being given to the initiation of a public shelter programme by the identification of available shelter space in existing buildings and with the provision of only the minimum of ventilation, water and sanitation. A survey of all federal buildings has been completed. Another survey of all buildings is being carried out in Alberta to develop techniques which could be applied in a national survey, and to determine the amount of fallout protection which could be made available for public use generally.
This was a logical but expensive proposal to complete the system. It was by no means clear that Drury could get sufficient funds to accomplish it.xliii
When the committee concluded its deliberations, its report noted that EMO, while carrying out its central planning and coordinating functions, had neglected communication and liaison with the provincial authorities.
There has not been a meeting of the Federal-Provincial Conference on Emergency Measures since December 1962, and no meeting is currently scheduled. There has been no national exercise for a number of years. The Committee is concerned that this lack of continuing liaison and exercise with the provinces has seriously impaired the validity of the planning.
It also pointed out a failure that was likely obvious to federal officials: the programs — mortgage loans, bank loans, and publicity — to encourage people to build back yard fallout shelters had been dismal failures. As for EMO’s publicity program, the committee suggested that it fell on deaf ears. The public was not interested in times of relative peace.xliv
The committee then made a number of recommendations to rectify these shortcomings:
(a) that a federal-provincial meeting on Emergency Planning be held before the year end. Future meetings should be held at least annually in order to ensure continuing liaison between the two levels of government. Joint planning must be developed, that recognizes clearly the responsibilities of the various governmental levels;
(b) that EMO national exercises be resumed and conducted on a regular basis;
(c) that expenditures of funds for the current home shelter programme be discontinued;
(d) that research be carried forward so that techniques of providing home protection quickly, with materials at hand, may be developed;
(e) that the study of public fallout shelters in Alberta be completed. An analysis should then be done, based on the data it reveals, as to the cost of providing public fallout shelters across the country and the percentage of population that may be so protected;
(f) that a decision be made concerning fallout protection. The public will not build shelters. It is financially impossible for the Federal Government to provide fallout shelters for the entire population. Therefore the government must decide, based on the costs revealed by the Alberta survey, whether or not it will provide protection for a portion of the population;
(g) that public information programmes be instituted to provide basic information. They should be on a periodic basis on television, radio and in the press; and
(h) that consideration be given to the regular testing of the alarm system in all communities across the country.xlv
These recommendations were designed to improve communications with the provinces, conduct exercises and tests, abandon the home shelter program, and decide about a policy of public shelters. The suggestion of a public information program is curious since EMO had a very extensive set of publications.
In June 1965, the Governor in Council approved the Civil Emergency Planning Order 1965 which replaced the Civil Defence Order 1959 as amended in 1963. In presenting the new order, Drury explained:
It was felt for some time that the 1959 Civil Defence Order was inadequate and that there should be a more definite allocation of emergency powers, duties and functions to all essential federal departments. Whereas only four federal Ministers were mentioned in 1959, twelve now have been assigned emergency responsibilities.xlvi
In the past EMO had to rely on persuasion and its responsibility to coordinate the emergency work of federal departments and agencies. As international tensions relaxed they quite naturally neglected their emergency planning duties. These emergency measures assignments were regularized with the approval of the order-in-council.
Although the new planning order can be seen as a consolidation of existing practices (a housekeeping item), there were certain subtleties that should be noted. The two functions of civil defence and continuity of government were brought together under one planning order and then subsumed, as Drury had noted a year before, by the term “civil emergency measures.” There was a change in ministerial responsibility. EMO followed Drury when he became the Minister of Industry. Essentially, the duties of EMO remained the same as before — responsibility for continuity of government planning, coordination of the emergency planning work of other federal departments, the planning of civil emergency measures not the responsibility of other federal departments, assistance to the provincial and municipal governments, and liaison with other countries and NATO. The Canadian Civil Defence College, which had been transferred to EMO in 1963, remained there. The only new responsibility was “in conjunction with provincial authorities, develop policies and a programme for the control of civil road transport resources in an emergency.” It is not clear why this work was not left to the Department of Transport.xlvii
On 17 June 1965, a federal-provincial conference on civil emergency planning was held in Ottawa under Drury’s chairmanship. While EMO may have been merely responding to the Defence Review Committee’s criticism of a year before, the conference expressed a recognition that if the EMO program was to succeed, the provinces had to be persuaded to participate. Indeed, in the decentralized system of emergency government provincial support was essential. Drury’s lead-off address noted that even though this was the first federal-provincial conference on emergency measures since 1962, consultations had continued at the bureaucratic level quite successfully.
However, I think this conference is timely in that this ministerial conference can confirm the acceptance of some of the proposals submitted and give general guidance to our respective emergency planners.xlviii
One purpose of the conference was to bring the provincial authorities up to date on federal activities. The new Civil Emergency Planning Order was introduced and explained. Participants also learned about the National Fallout Shelter Survey which was to begin shortly as the first phase in public shelter planning. EMO made a commitment to build regional emergency government headquarters in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. Conference participants were assured that the recent reorganization of the Canadian armed forces under Paul Hellyer had not changed the Army’s role in ensuring civilian survival. The Army remained responsible for re-entry and rescue, warning systems, nuclear detonation and fallout reporting, and the maintenance of the emergency government headquarters. These matters were entirely under federal control.
Other questions were of more concern to the provincial officials. One was the issue of the designation of Regional Commissioners. In the early stages of a nuclear war it was likely that the regional emergency government headquarters would be cut off from central control and must act independently. Consequently, it was necessary to have someone in authority to give direction to the combined federal and provincial governments. Rather than have a federal appointee as Regional Commissioner, it was agreed that the premier or prime minister of the province would be the appropriate choice.
Two other issues were discussed. Although Ottawa contributed 75% of many of the costs of emergency measures in the regions through the Financial Assistance Program, the conference agreed that there was a need to improve program management with an emphasis on priority planning, proper evaluation, and long range forecasts. Finally, the conference devoted a great deal of attention to the role of civil emergency planning and emergency organizations in dealing with peacetime disasters, a subject provincial authorities had always stressed. The delegates agreed on the need for planning to cope with peacetime disasters and suggested that joint study groups review the issue.xlix
EMO moved quickly on this last suggestion and convened a federal-provincial study group in the following October to exchange information. The federal officials may have regarded attention to peacetime disasters as a way to keep the provinces involved and to secure additional funding. Their attitude had been expressed a year and a half earlier by a former director, R. B. Curry:
It is most important that emergency measures organizations throughout Canada be fully prepared to turn their personnel and facilities to instant use in the event of natural disasters. This ability will go a long way to justify in the minds of Canadians the effort and expense arising from emergency planning….Canadians will be much more inclined to accept and support vigorously civil emergency planning if they are convinced that it has a real place in respect to natural disasters as well as serving as most worthwhile insurance against wartime hazards.l
Nevertheless, it was still wartime planning with a peacetime application.
The need to plan and coordinate reaction to peacetime disasters was emphasized on 9 November 1965 when a power failure plunged eastern North America into darkness. On 1 February 1966, the Cabinet specifically made the Minister of Industry and through him Canada EMO (the name had been slightly changed) responsible for coordinating the initial response to a peacetime disaster. The Manitoba flood of 1966 provided an almost immediate occasion for examining, assessing, and testing current plans and procedure.li
In October 1966, Canada EMO answered another of the criticisms of the Defence Review Committee. From 12 to 21 October, TOCSIN 66, a national civil emergency planning exercise, was held “…to further develop an operational capability for national survival in the event of a nuclear attack on North America.” This was the fourth in the TOCSIN series, but the first since 1961. (An exercise planned for 1963 had been canceled.) It was the culmination of a two-year cycle of exercises and studies involving provincial and federal government personnel. The public were not involved.
Assumptions about the nature of nuclear attack had changed since 1961. By 1966 planners anticipated that there would be a longer period of strategic warning as international relations gradually worsened and the great powers moved progressively towards nuclear war. Consequently, the exercise was composed of two phases. Phase one was a nine day period in which plans and procedures of the government in response to a deteriorating international situation were reviewed. An Exercise Cabinet of senior Canada EMO and selected departmental officials met daily to consider actions arising from planned incidents and alert measures. Phase two was a one day exercise consisting of the manning of an Exercise Headquarters at the Canadian Emergency Measures College at Arnprior and of certain relocation sites. It took the form of briefing presentations and departmental discussions. Regional exercises took place at the same time based on the same assumptions, but they varied in accordance with the physical facilities available in the regions.lii
V The Fall of EMO
By 1967, Canada EMO was making progress under Drury’s leadership. A reorganization of the agency had been completed and new offices occupied. A Canada Survival Plan had been drafted for the period 1966-71. Treasury Board had agreed to finance a major construction program which included the four remaining Regional Emergency Government Headquarters. A nation wide survey of buildings was under way to determine the number of shelter spaces available for public use. Canada EMO continued to assist the provinces financially in upgrading the National Radiological Defence System. The Urban Characteristics Study of major cities in Canada, begun in 1963, was moving ahead. Planning for peacetime disasters was growing in importance. Money was budgeted to bring EMO publications up to date. The first TOCSIN since 1961 had been organized. The work of Canada EMO had progressed and plans were in place for the next five years.liii Then the axe fell.
In August 1967, the government of Canada announced its intention to reduce government spending in many areas, including civil emergency measures. The international situation was changing dramatically. The Cuban missile crisis of 1962 seemed far away, the Cold War was de-escalating, and détente was the order of the day. Official thinking concerning the amount of warning time preceding nuclear attack had changed. Surprise attack was considered unlikely. Instead there would be a period of increasing international tension which would allow governments some time to get ready for war. As the danger of the nuclear threat seemed to lessen, the need for budgetary retrenchment increased.
Consequently, Drury asked Canada EMO to develop recommendations for continued emergency measures activity in Canada on a very economical spending budget. When he took these recommendations to Cabinet, the government decided to make substantial changes to the civil emergency measures program.liv The target year for the substantial completion of projects already approved for 1971-2 was deferred until 1975. In practice, this meant the postponement of construction of the regional emergency government headquarters; as it turned out, they were never built. New construction and the acquisition of high cost equipment was set aside for 1968-9. Emergency planning began to be considered an everyday part of government activity and not something extraneous to normal departmental activity. Training at the Canadian Emergency Measures College was restricted. Plans were developed with flexibility for rapid expansion when an emergency arose. Financial assistance to the provinces was progressively reduced.lv In a statement to the House of Commons, Drury stressed that it was not the government’s intention to shut down the emergency measures system:
While it is the government’s purpose to reduce recurring administrative and maintenance costs, it is not proposed to proceed with the wholesale dismantling of existing facilities. Major systems such as the emergency broadcasting capacity and emergency government operating centres which have been developed over the past several years will be maintained, in a reduced state but in a condition that will allow their activation in short order in the event of a crisis.lvi
The basis of the government’s thought seemed to be that if the physical facilities were there (even if moth-balled) and plans were in place, there would be time to react to an emergency.
Bluntly put, Cabinet decided to reduce EMO’s budget, cut its staff, and decrease financial aid to the provinces. The Civil Emergency Measures program was nevertheless to remain in operation. The 1968-9 budget was reduced to about $7 million from the $10.7 million of the previous year. Staff shrunk from 140 to 92. lvii In July 1968, Canada EMO was transferred to the Department of National Defence where it became a branch in the deputy minister’s office.lviii On top of the staff and financial loss, EMO also suffered a loss in status and prestige.
The period from 1957 to 1963 was the heyday of emergency planning in Canada. Although the re-evaluation of the nuclear threat and the need for civil defence had been carried out under the Liberal government, the reform of civil defence was executed under the Progressive Conservative government of John Diefenbaker. The Emergency Measures Organization was established in the Privy Council Office in 1957 to plan the continuity of government program and to coordinate the emergency planning of other federal government departments. Initially, Civil Defence was left in the Department of National Health and Welfare, but after further consideration the civil defence function was brought under the control of EMO in 1959. This consolidated the two major functions of civil emergency measures planning — continuity of government and civil defence — under one agency. The Civil Defence Order of 1959 assigned specific technical responsibilities to the Army — attack warning, detonation and fallout monitoring, emergency communications, re-entry and rescue, and the construction and maintenance of central and regional emergency government headquarters. Meanwhile, the Department of National Health and Welfare retained responsibility for planning for the provision of medical and welfare services and for stockpiling drugs and medical equipment. Through a series of Federal-Provincial Conferences, provincial and municipal responsibilities to put in place the organizations to look after the well-being of the civil population during and after a nuclear attack were defined. To encourage local planning and training the federal government instituted a generous Financial Assistance Program.
Election of the Liberal minority government in 1963 resulted in EMO being transferred out of the Privy Council Office and placed under the responsibility of the Minister of Defence Production, C. M. Drury. This loss of status did not initially result in adverse changes in the agency. Under Drury its work continued to progress. Six regional emergency government headquarters were completed. The work of the agency was reviewed by the Defence Review Committee of the House of Commons in 1964. A new Emergency Planning Order was issued in 1965 which set out in detail not only the duties of EMO but also those of 12 federal departments and four agencies. A Federal-Provincial Conference was convened to reinvigorate provincial efforts and a national exercise was held to test the emergency measures system. Planning went ahead and a five year plan was developed to complete the system by 1972. By 1967, however, the Liberal government began a program of financial retrenchment. International tensions had decreased since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962 and war seemed much less likely. Under these circumstances the government froze the EMO program in 1968. The budget was cut and staff reduced, although the government hastened to reassure the public that the existing structure of civil emergency measures was not being dismantled. The final blow to EMO’s prestige was its transfer to the Department of National Defence. There it reported, not to a minister, but to a deputy minister.
By 1968, EMO had an identity crisis. Even though its professional staff faced a hostile government and an indifferent public, EMO remained convinced of the importance of its work.
We are looked upon by well meaning, and not so well meaning, people as being passe [sic], militarists, theorists, impractical and so forth. Yet it was not so many decades ago that those who were pioneering public health were confronted with similar opposition. Today everybody wants more and better public health. Who knows, and God permitting, we may see a similar acceptance of our programme in years to come.lix
EMO needed to rise from the ashes of despair, redefine itself, and convince the government and the public of its usefulness. It would take it a decade to accomplish this mission.
Chapter III -The Fall and Rise of Civil Emergency Measures: 1968-1981
In 1968, Canada Emergency Measures Organization faced an identity crisis. Its very existence seemed to be called into question by drastic budget cuts which severely limited its ability to carry out its mandate. Its prestige was severely reduced when it was removed from the Department of Industry where it reported directly to a minister and transferred to the Department of National Defence where it reported to a deputy. During the next decade the organization strove to redefine its role in a hostile department and to an indifferent public. The 1970s is the story of its descent to the nadir of its existence, of more budget and staff cuts, of depressed morale, of reorganizations, of the loss of more prestige and control over its own destiny. But it survived. In the late 1970s its fortunes began to improve as the international situation changed, public attitudes shifted, and the government began to see that the program could be sold politically.
I Project Phoenix
Even before the transfer of CEMO to the Department of National Defence, officials recognized that the legitimacy of the organization was coming under attack. External forces necessitated a re-evaluation of civil emergency planning. The contest between East and West was entering a new phase as each side realized that the other possessed sufficient second strike capability to render surprise attack increasingly unattractive. Détente, as this development was called, meant that nuclear war, while still possible, was becoming less likely. If it did occur, moreover, it would likely be preceded by adequate strategic warning. With the public perception of the danger of nuclear war receding, other economic and social programs moved to the fore to compete for scarce resources. At the same time, the PMO was encouraging the introduction of new scientific management techniques and procedures to analyse objectives and evaluate programs in terms of their achievements. As a result civil emergency planning was to be reviewed in depth. The need for decision making was propelled by the impending financial reductions, and Project Phoenix was launched in January 1968.
Project Phoenix, it was hoped, would suggest ways to overcome four major shortcomings that had been identified in civil emergency planning. First, there was no satisfactory method of assessing the nation’s readiness and capability to deal with a war emergency. Secondly, there was no means of prioritizing civil emergency measures to receive the limited funds available. Thirdly, the statements of goals in the various agencies were inconsistent and in many cases not co-ordinated with each other. Finally, the program was unbalanced because the zeal and energy of managers varied greatly resulting in some activities being better developed than others. These faults were seen as procedural, not substantial; Project Phoenix would devise systems to correct them.
The Phoenix team made a detailed analysis of everything that comprised national civil emergency measures. Team members identified and described each emergency function that contributed to
72 the national objective and provided each function with a realistic, measurable goal. The sum total of these goals equaled the national capability to meet a war emergency. It was recognized, moreover, that these goals were interrelated and that provision had to be made for the implications of the effects of one goal on another. Once this analysis was completed — in effect disassembling the system into its component parts — the project team faced the challenge of
putting together the component parts in a manner which would most readily adapt itself to the process of planning, programming and budgeting, of coordination and of evaluation….
The team recommended that the functions, or activities, be grouped into six sub-programs, namely:
Essential Societal Services
Continuity of Government
Essential Utilities and Special Services
Economic Planning and Resource Control
Then a network diagram was prepared for each of these sub-programs which illustrated how the various activities interacted within the program and, as well, how the sub-programs related to each other. The process of preparing this report took six months, from January to June 1968. In the words of one official: “It probably represents in terms of man-hours, one of the largest studies of civil emergency measures ever undertaken.”
In its recommendations the report stressed the extent of the national civil emergency measures program, stretching as it did from the federal government, through the provincial and municipal governments, down to the individual citizen. Of necessity the procedures to make such a program work would be complex and they needed to be more formalized to succeed. The report recommended that the coordinating agencies of the various levels of government consult with each other more frequently and more directly in order to establish the objectives, goals, and priorities necessary to allocate resources. It indicated that CEMO would be the prime facilitator. Its role would be to stimulate and to lead consultations with all federal departments and agencies and with the provincial and territorial governments. It would be its responsibility for achieving consensus on priorities and objectives, maintaining flexibility so that the details of the program
could vary region by region, department by department, as the case may be. It argued for a regular evaluation of the program and indicated how modern methods of planning, programming, and budgeting could be applied to civil emergency measures planning. The project’s “…real achievement has been to point the way towards unity and cohesiveness in civil emergency planning, towards purpose and credibility and towards consistency and balance.”i
II Federal-Provincial Conference 1969
The Phoenix Report had recommended more frequent consultations between the various levels of government involved in emergency measures planning. It was essential, of course, that the provinces be consulted, especially as the federal government was not only reducing CEMO’s budget but also the Federal Assistance Program to the provinces. FAP was slashed from $5.2 million in 1967-8 to $3.0 million in 1969-70, a yearly figure at which it would remain until it was reduced to $1.5 million in 1973-4.ii Consequently the Minister of National Defence, Léo Cadieux, convened a Federal-Provincial Conference in Ottawa on 13 November 1969 to explain the civil emergencies measures that the federal government was taking.
The conference dealt with current federal civil emergency planning measures, federal proposals for future activities, federal-provincial planning responsibilities for wartime emergencies and peacetime disasters, federal financial contributions to the provinces, civil-military cooperation in emergencies, and other subjects related to the total defence of the nation. The severity of the effects of a nuclear attack was stressed , perhaps as a way of keeping the provinces involved even while the federal government was cutting back funding. In his address to the conference, Cadieux summarized the accomplishments of the emergency measures program over twenty years. He noted that recently there had been a break from the old to a new approach. This development, common to all the members of the Western Alliance, was necessitated by fiscal restraint and a realization that existing systems within a country’s economic and social structure were often capable of undertaking emergency measures responsibilities. Cadieux acknowledged that the federal government’s reductions to the civil emergency measures program had caused pain, but
It has carved organizations down to a basic core of planners, a basic training arrangement of officials and experts and arrangements to use existing resources if they are needed in an emergency.
At the same time, his predecessor had instructed CEMO to carry out an in-depth investigation of the whole structure of civil emergency measures in Canada and to suggest remedies to weaknesses discovered (undoubtedly a reference to Project Phoenix).
Cadieux’s prescription for the need “…to enhance our state of national preparedness” was planning.
The making of plans [he said] is not an expensive process….As sound planning is the beginning of all emergency preparations there is, therefore, no reason why we cannot make significant headway with the development of competent and professional plans.
Plans should be developed, moreover, which allowed the individual to take relatively low cost measures to reduce the vulnerability of his family. He noted that the federal government had already undertaken a fallout protection survey of Canada (which, it turned out was never developed to a useful level). As well as this, he suggested that an effective information system offering the public guidance on self protection was required. This would ensure that people were kept well informed of current emergency measures activities, adding considerably to the nation’s ability to survive a nuclear attack.
If the dangers from nuclear war did not encourage the provinces to remain in the program in the face of federal funding cuts, Cadieux provided additional incentives. He revived an undertaking from the last Federal-Provincial Conference in 1965, a consensus that emergency resources developed for wartime crisis could and should be used to cope with peace time disasters.
I reiterate…that the federal government assumes that any emergency capacity we thus develop for a war disaster, has a useful potential for peacetime catastrophes and that this capacity should be used, where suitable, in such emergencies.
This statement played directly to provincial prejudices favouring natural disaster emergency planning and was a theme which would be picked up in the mid-1970s.iii
Concurrent with this heightened awareness of planning in 1968-69, CEMO underwent a re-organization. The National Coordinator, Civil Emergency Measures (who reported to the Deputy Minister of National Defence) became responsible for an organization that was divided into three major functional branches:
National Survival and Recovery Program Branch
responsible for planning and budgeting, program evaluation, continuity of government planning, public fallout protection planning, emergency public information planning, and road transport planning.
Long Range Planning and Policy Development Branch
responsible for economic planning, operational concepts and procedures, physical protection planning, radiological biological and chemical defence planning, organization system planning, and international civil emergency planning.
National Training and Exercises Branch
responsible for training development, national exercises planning, and supervision of the Canadian Emergency Measures College.iv
The program for which the new organization of CEMO was responsible derived directly from the Project Phoenix study. The national objective was stated explicitly:
The national objective of civil emergency measures planning is to develop in peace time, civil plans and preparations designed to enable the nation to survive and recover from any war emergency and which, together with military defence measures, represent the total national defence posture in Canada.
To achieve this objective three goals were set out:
First — to work out plans to help protect and safe-guard life and property. In other words, it is a question of measures that will help the people to survive.
Secondly — to set up and maintain a government structure to enable all government machinery which is vital in an emergency, to continue to furnish directives, and to direct the essential services entrusted to its care.
Thirdly — to protect resources, thanks to measures which would insure a systemic administration of all the reclaimed resources in such a way as to facilitate an economic recovery.
To accomplish these goals the program was organized into the six areas set out in the Project Phoenix study (see above) with the addition of a seventh, Service Activities, in which were activities to support the others. These seven areas, or divisions, were further divided into 40 activities. Most of these, 21 in all, were concerned with the organization of emergency measures. Provincial involvement was required in 33 of the 40 activities.v
Both Project Phoenix and the reorganization of CEMO were based on the assumption that CEMO’s objective was to deal with a war, specifically a nuclear war, disaster. In 1970, this assumption was challenged and then expanded by officials within the organization. A threat, which previously had been defined in terms of war, was given a broader definition: “…anything which tends to create instability in our social, political or economic structure….”vi As well as war, this included civil disorder and natural and man-made disasters. The effects of these disasters, whether in war or peacetime, it was argued, differed only in degree;
∙ loss of life and/or casualties
∙ physical damage
∙ impact on local, regional, or national economy
∙ impact on political and social organization and procedures
Consequently, there should be a similarity of approach to the development of plans at each level of government. There should also continue to be a single coordinating agency to ensure the preparation of effective civil emergency plans. These plans should be devoted to two general objectives: 1) to avert a disaster and 2) to restore stability after a disaster has happened. CEMO and local EMOs had advanced farthest with planning for the second eventuality. There remained a great deal of planning work to be done in relation to the first objective.vii
This proposed redefinition of CEMO’s responsibilities — while prefigured in 1965 — was occasioned by considerations of the implications of the Prime Minister’s statement outlining the four aspects of Canadian defence policy in April 1970. In their order of importance they were:
∙ Defence of North America in cooperation with the United States
∙ Maintenance of NATO commitments
Officials in CEMO interpreted the meaning of Sovereignty in terms of emergency planning very broadly. To them it implied
the preparations made to meet floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, civil unrest and disorders — in fact, any peacetime emergency which can disrupt, damage or destroy our civilian society and, hence, hinder national development.viii
This was styled the Internal Threat with implications at all levels of government.
North American Defence implied armed attack, specifically nuclear attack, which was the threat that CEMO had been created to deal with. This was called the External Threat and it also had implications at all levels of government. In so far as NATO commitments were concerned, Canada would continue to maintain its undertakings to contribute effectively to certain of NATO’s civil wartime agencies. This involved mainly federal departments or agencies. Peacekeeping did not have any major implications for civil emergency planning.
Once the implications of Canadian defence policy were seen in this light, it was necessary for CEMO to assume a new national objective:
to develop throughout the nation non-military plans and preparations for responding to emergencies caused by internal or external threats to the social, political or economic structure of Canada.ix
Planning for peacetime disasters was placed on an equal level with planning for wartime disasters.
Since the difference in the effects of either type of disaster was one of degree, the program which had evolved from Project Phoenix was to be retained. Planning for peacetime emergencies became allied with wartime emergency planning.
The initiative to redefine the purpose of CEMO came from within the organization. Although CEMO tried to justify its program in terms of defence policy, it was in a poor position within the Department of National Defence to bargain for the resources needed to carry out its expanded mandate. DND officials were not sympathetic to CEMO’s aspirations. Rather they saw its role as extraneous to the objectives of the department. They never accepted the view that the department’s active defence role was linked to CEMO’s passive defence role in a single national defence posture. CEMO’s position was organizationally unsound for as “…the organization responsible for co-ordinating the emergency planning of other departments of government [it] had to pass its proposals through internal committees in one of those departments.”x Matters often got sidetracked before they ever got to the deputy. Defence officials had little interest in saving CEMO’s budget in a period of cutbacks; in fact it might be argued that the less for EMO the more for the Department.xi The result was that “personal and bureaucratic conflicts were a major cause of the inability of civil defence to assert itself within the Ministry [of National Defence].”xii
In 1986, a retired official of the emergency planning organization looked back over this period with somewhat jaundiced eyes and summed it up:
It is not difficult to imagine the results. Emergency matters dropped out of sight except when a flood, blizzard or severe windstorm occurred. For most of these there were, in any case, well-tried arrangements in the provinces. Professional attitudes had not changed but there was no audience for their proposals. All that was left for EMO to do was to plan. And plan it did. A great many useful planning guides and manuals were produced during this period. Co-operation continued with the United States and with NATO; conferences and training periods were conducted with the provinces. Looked at from within, the professionals were productively busy, but viewed from outside there was little or no impact on the general state of national preparedness. Knowledge was being accumulated but not used effectively.xiii
CEMO had difficulty redefining its mandate while its legitimacy was constantly challenged in a hostile department.
V The Dare Report
During the same period, the federal government undertook a study of crisis management which would have a profound effect upon the emergency measures organization. Following the FLQ crisis in October 1970, the Trudeau government became concerned about “its ability to respond quickly, intelligently, and efficiently to situations not amenable to being handled in accord with routine decision making procedures.”xiv Accordingly, on 22 July 1971, it initiated a study of crisis-handling methods and structures. On 1 May 1972, a study group was convened by the Secretary to the Cabinet headed by Lieutenant-General M. R. Dare to enquire into:
∙ the state of crisis handling preparedness within the Canadian federal government;
∙ problems of recognizing and anticipating approaching crises;
∙ procedures for handling crises.
The study group was to submit its report before 30 September 1972.xv
In its survey of emergency preparedness in the federal government, the study group reported that there had been a considerable investment of financial resources and departmental effort over the years to make emergency preparations for defence. The measures that existed to reduce the vulnerability of the population, to ensure the continuity of government, and to facilitate control of the nation’s economic resources represented a significant national capability. It noted, perhaps as an oblique reference to under-funding of the program, that these measures “…have been developed as far as past and present allocations of resources have permitted.” The result was that
“…the general state of national preparedness has fallen below its realizable and desirable potential.”
In its analysis, the study group recognized three problems in particular. First, it noted that the Civil Emergency Planning Order which assigned departmental responsibilities was out of date, not having been amended to keep pace with the creation of new departments and agencies. The result in a number of cases was that the expertise necessary to undertake a wartime function existed outside the department charged with carrying it out. Consequently, all civil emergency responsibilities needed to be reviewed, amended or reassigned where necessary, and government plans modified accordingly.
Secondly, the study group commented on the inappropriateness of including CEMO within the Department of National Defence. It recalled that CEMO was originally created within the Privy Council Office specifically to stimulate and coordinate federal civil planning for the defence of Canada. It then pointed out that “[t]he divorce of the co-ordinating agency (Canada EMO) from its main source of authority (the Privy Council Office) has contributed to the present inadequate state of co-ordination.” It called for a review of the goals and objectives of the emergency measures program to ensure their consistency with Canadian defence policy.
Finally, the study group found that there was a lack of balance and cohesion in the emergency measures planned and prepared by the federal governments. It suggested that review of departmental estimates individually by Treasury Board and Parliament was insufficient. It might be better to review these measures as an integrated emergency measures program. There was a need, moreover, to test and update existing plans and review them in the light of existing requirements and methods of operating.xvi
The study group highlighted potential for inefficiency. The federal government often became involved in peacetime emergencies, but usually on an ad hoc basis. Several departments were considering setting up specialized emergency response units to deal with emergencies, such as floods, that tended to recur with the consequent danger of duplication of resources. Neither approach was acceptable.
The state of crisis prediction was also inadequate. There were no standing arrangements for central collection and collation of crisis information. There was no provision for it to be displayed to enable decision making at Cabinet level or for Cabinet decisions and instructions to be disseminated to the appropriate departments. The expertise to respond to emergencies existed, but the mechanisms to apply it remained ad hoc. No department could deal single handedly with major events; each needed help from elsewhere. But no standing arrangement existed to manage common services in a crisis nor to review the compatibility of departmental plans.
Because of the piecemeal way in which departments have become involved in emergencies and because the responsibility for co-ordinating assigned to Canada Emergency Measures Organization (Canada EMO) was only partial and lacked adequate authority, the state of co-ordination is inadequate.xvii
This situation needed to be rectified.
The study group reached the same conclusion as CEMO in regard to the need for similar methods to respond to peacetime and wartime crises. The major differences, it noted, were ones of degree and intensity
It is, in fact, desirable to pattern defence emergency measures and procedures as far as possible on those used in peacetime, and defence emergency organizations on existing departments and agencies. It is believed, therefore, that there is so much in common between planning for peacetime emergencies and planning for war that it is not only possible but desirable to design a single organizational structure and set of mechanisms to stimulate and co-ordinate the planning and preparations necessary for both.xviii
It should be noted that before the Dare Study Group was set up, planners at CEMO were struggling with the same problems. (It is not known what input CEMO made to the Dare study, but it is difficult to imagine that it was not consulted.) The Dare Report, however, recommended a different solution to the problems.
The Dare Study Group submitted its report in October 1972. Cabinet considered its recommendations in 1973, and on 12 March the Prime Minister tabled a condensation of the report entitled The Enhancement of Crisis handling Capability within the Canadian Federal Structure: Report of the Crisis Management Study Group in the House of Commons. At the same time he announced that the government had agreed to the main thrust of the proposals — a new concept for emergency planning within the federal structure and new federal coordinating mechanisms to manage civil emergency planning in Canada.xix
This acceptance provided legitimacy to a long standing pattern of federal involvement. It recognized that, although emergencies were usually dealt with at the local level, the federal government did become involved in certain circumstances. When the scope of the emergency was beyond the capacity of the local resources, federal assistance was often required, usually requested by provincial authorities. At other times when federal authorities recognized the danger of the emergency spreading they did intervene in anticipation of the need. This was usually accomplished by invoking special legislation, such as the War Measures Act, or under the Peace, Order and Good Government clause of the British North America Act. Finally, the federal government did intervene if the nature of the emergency involved major federal responsibilities, such as air or maritime rescue, oil spills, air crash, etc.
Recognizing that past federal involvement in civil emergencies had often been dictated by circumstances at the last moment, the Dare Report recommended a system which would regularize federal response. It set out six functions of government that it argued were necessary to mitigate the effects of a disaster:
Informing — providing information to assist individuals or organizations in coping with emergencies;
Warning — developing systems to forecast and warn of impending disasters;
Co-opting — developing systems to apply “normal” private resources effectively to emergencies;
Providing — maintaining and providing exceptional resources and the diversion of normal government resources to emergencies;
Restoring — using real and financial resources to return to normal;
Changing — effecting desirable policy changes.
All of these functions required both planning and action.xx
It could be argued that this analysis merely applied CEMO’s system, more or less, to all emergencies. Indeed, within this framework a war emergency became just one of many types of emergency. What was novel, however, was the allocation of responsibility to deal with a disaster in terms both of planning and of implementation. The Dare Report distinguished between a “lead” and a “resource” department. A lead department would
have primary responsibility for general planning and would be expected to assume control in an emergency in which the predominant factor involved is one which comes within the department’s normal responsibilities.
For example, the Department of Transport would be the lead department to handle a major rail disaster or a marine oil spill. Its activities would be supported by several resource departments. A resource department was defined as one which could place resources or services at the disposal of a lead department during an emergency. For example, the Department of Health and Welfare would provide medical supplies to assist the Department of Transport in its handling of the rail disaster. Depending on the nature of the emergency, of course, a department could be lead in one instance and resource in another.xxi
Cabinet acceptance of the concept of the lead department had an immediate effect even before the Dare Report was tabled in the House. In 1973, five long time responsibilities were removed from CEMO control. Radiological defence, which included the shelter program, was turned over to the Department of Public Works. Planning for emergency supplies became the responsibility of the Department of Supply and Services. Emergency transportation went to the Department of Transport. Emergency communications, other than what was provided by the Department of National Defence, was taken over by the Department of Communications. The physical operation of the Civil Emergency Measures College at Arnprior was turned over to the Public Works. These transfers decimated CEMO without providing any long term public benefit. All of the transferred programs languished except one. The shelter program prospered, largely due to the enthusiasm of the official responsible in the Department of Public Works.xxii
Along with the concept of lead department, Cabinet agreed to a reorganization of the administration and implementation of the emergency program. Recognizing that the program needed to be nearer the centre of power, Cabinet created a new secretariat in the Privy Council Office, called the Emergency Planning Secretariat (EPS). It was charged with the responsibilities of developing general emergency policy and facilitating the coordination of emergency planning within the federal government. Initially, EPS needed to consult with the various departments to work out a clear definition of departmental responsibilities in relation to emergency preparedness. It was to make its recommendations to a newly created Interdepartmental Committee on Emergency Preparedness. This Committee would review all departmental emergency planning as an integrated emergency program and resolve any disputes that could not be worked out through normal channels. Ultimate responsibility to Parliament for emergency preparedness planning and action, however, rested with the minister of the department responsible for the most closely related normal function.
CEMO ceased to exist, but it was reincarnated as the National Emergency Planning Establishment (NEPE). In accordance with the concept of the lead department, CEMO had already lost a number of its program functions (see above). Under the new arrangement a large part of EPS’s responsibilities for coordination was delegated to NEPE which was to function under the general direction of the secretariat. Only rarely would either EPS or NEPE become directly involved in carrying out plans in an emergency. NEPE was reorganized and reduced in size. Contact with the provinces was to continue to be maintained through the 10 Regional Directors who reported to the Director General of NEPE. (The Dare Report had recommended five regional directors, but this recommendation had been rejected by Cabinet.) Even though NEPE was to be directed by EPS, for administrative purposes it remained within the Department of National Defence, a rather anomalous arrangement.xxiii (In 1975, NEPE was renamed Emergency Planning Canada, EPC, under the Federal Identity Program.)
Planning for emergencies , whether peacetime or wartime, was now the responsibility of the lead departments. But how much planning would be done?
How far departments should go in developing emergency plans and preparations in terms of full-time staff and dedicated resources is to be decided in the light of the Government’s priorities and with a reasonable and sensible appreciation of the risks involved.xxiv
Given budget cuts and hiring freezes, a directive as vague and ambiguous as this resulted in emergency planning receiving a low priority within government departments. Throughout the 1970s, the budgets of both CEMO/EPC and the Federal Assistance Program (FAP) to the provinces were reduced or remained static:xxv
Federal Assistance Program (FAP)
Any planning that occurred under these budgetary circumstances was devoted to plans for natural disasters (which were seen as real and legitimate threats in comparison to wartime emergencies). The outcome was the creation of uneven and low-quality departmental emergency programs.xxvi
VI The Fall of Civil Defence
The Federal Assistance Program, which had been reduced from $5.2 million in 1967-8 to $3.0 million annually from 1969 to 1973, was reduced by half in 1973-4 to $1.5 million. As a consequence many local EMOs protested that they could no longer continue their programs in the face of such drastic cuts. Ontario shortly confirmed this view by repealing its emergency legislation and disbanding its civil emergency program. Paradoxically, despite Ontario’s withdrawal and dire predictions, “[d]isaster planning has thrived rather than died in the absence of federal prodding and federal money.”xxvii During the ’70s strong provincial emergency programs and widespread municipal planning actually flourished. Many provinces required municipalities to have disaster plans and to appoint coordinators to ensure that they met this requirement. These were peacetime plans that addressed natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. The local EMOs had demonstrated the efficacy of such plans when disaster struck.xxviii
The tendency to devalue wartime emergency planning was also evident at the federal level. Because civil emergency planning was concerned with both peacetime and wartime disasters, there was an inclination to concentrate on those areas which had a dual applicability and ignore those areas peculiar to wartime planning. The result was that the federal civil defence program was in a sorry state by the late 1970s. EPC officials indicated that Canada had the most deficient civil defence system in the Western Alliance. No federal-provincial ministerial meeting had occurred since 1969. The Interdepartmental Committee had stopped meeting. The last national exercise had been held in 1966 and it had been at the official level only. Emergency orders and regulations had not been revised since 1966.xxix One scholar summarized the situation:
Cross-Canada civil defence planning no longer exists except in the sense that a number of regional headquarters are available, supplies have been stockpiled, booklets are still available and fallout shelters have been identified (though not marked or called to public attention).xxx
Budget allocations had been entirely inadequate. For example, in 1976-7, EPC’s budget was set at $3.5 million. Of this, $1.5 million went into provincial assistance and $1.4 million toward salary and travel expenses. The remainder, about $600,000, was devoted to non-salary purposes for both civil defence and natural disaster capabilities. No funds were provided for capital acquisition in EPC’s budget. Spending in this area was left up to the lead departments who had very different priorities.xxxi
Planning to protect the population was inadequate. The fallout shelter program was at a standstill. Surveys of existing shelter spaces had been made but they had not been kept up to date and the shelter spaces had not been marked. No plans existed to upgrade them nor were there plans to acquire necessary vital accessories such as power supplies, ventilation equipment, or sanitation.xxxii Moreover, most spaces identified as suitable shelter spaces were geographically distant from major centres of population.
As previously described, Emergency Government Headquarters (EGHQ) had been built near Ottawa for the federal government ( the “Diefenbunker”) and in six of the 10 provinces (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia). While it was intended to complete the system, EGHQs were never built in the remaining four provinces although interim headquarters were provided. The existing headquarters were maintained, but there was serious doubt about their long term sustainability.
The National Survival Attack Warning System, composed of meteorological services, a national siren system, and the Emergency Broadcasting System continued to be maintained, although officials indicated that it was marginal and deteriorating. Actual testing (as opposed to silent testing every six months) of the siren system was last done in 1968. The Emergency Broadcasting System was inadequate and required several months work to reach operational level. As well, the fallout detection and reporting systems (RADEF), while alive on paper, required great effort to be made functional. Finally there was a morale and manpower crisis at EPC. The pool of expertise in wartime emergency planning had shrunk dramatically. Not one EPC employee was used full-time for civil defence purposes in 1976-7.xxxiii
Some critics found this state of affairs scandalous. J. F. Wallace, a former EPC official, bitterly stated:
If a government could be charged with treason, then the present one in Canada should be cited….The neglected state of our civil emergency plans and preparations for a wartime emergency is a downright disgrace.xxxiv
VII The Revival of Emergency Planning
By the late 1970s, the spirit of détente was waning. The Soviet Union had modernized its tank armies to face depleted NATO divisions in Europe. It had deployed new batteries of SS-20 missiles in Eastern Europe, turning Western European cities into nuclear targets. In response the United States had agreed to post a new generation of Pershing and Cruise missiles in Europe to reassure European leaders that they would not be abandoned in a crisis. The Soviet fleet emerged as a world-wide force challenging American naval supremacy from the North Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. During the 1970s, Soviet submarines discovered routes under the polar ice cap to reach underseas locations off North America. In 1979, the Soviet Union flexed her military might and invaded Afghanistan. Even Canada, who clung longer to détente than most of her allies, began to feel the increased pressure of international tensions. Before the 1979 federal general election, both the Liberals and the Progressive Conservatives promised to add 4700 men and women to the armed forces and increase capital spending by a fifth of the defence budget.xxxv
Coupled with this was an increased awareness of the threat of civil disasters. In February 1970, the shipwreck of the Arrow in Chedabucto Bay led to a major oil spill. In 1971 a serious mudslide had damaged St. Jean Vianney in Quebec and Hurricane Beth struck Nova Scotia. In January 1978, a Soviet nuclear-powered satellite crashed in Canada’s north and scattered particles of radioactive debris. In November 1979, a CPR train derailed in Mississauga, Ontario, and sent poisonous gas into the air, necessitating the evacuation of 205,000 people. The crash of the satellite prompted a flood of applications for radiation detection courses which had often before had to be cancelled. The Mississauga crash revived the general interest in emergency planning and it made effective disaster response politically attractive.xxxvi Increased awareness of domestic disasters joined with escalating international tensions to create a sense of public vulnerability. Civil emergency planning in Canada was reinvigorated in response..
After a short Progressive Conservative hiatus, the Liberals returned to power in 1980. In July, Prime Minister Trudeau appointed Yvon Pinard, President of the Privy Council, to be the minister responsible for emergency planning in Canada. At the same time, the Emergency Planning Secretariat and Emergency Planning Canada were merged within the Privy Council Office, the new creation to be known as Emergency Planning Canada. Once again those responsible for civil emergency measures would have direct access to a minister close to the centre of power.
On 3 November 1980, Pinard announced the federal government’s emergency policy. Emergencies beyond the control of private resources could best be met by joint cooperative planning by the federal, provincial, and local levels of government. The federal government pledged to set up appropriate mechanisms for consultation in conjunction with the provinces.
Planning to achieve the desired state of emergency preparedness will be based on what is required to meet peacetime emergencies, together with those additional requirements for war contingencies which peacetime measures will not meet adequately.
For the first time, emergency peacetime planning was given priority over wartime planning in federal policy.
In order to accomplish this objective the federal government aimed:
∙ to provide leadership in working towards improved emergency planning in general;
∙ to develop a credible national capability to meet emergencies of all types;
∙ to work towards adequate and reasonably uniform standards of emergency service across the country;
∙ to be sensitive to humanitarian concerns.
The new policy reaffirmed that the federal government would become involved in peacetime civil emergencies a) on request of provincial governments when local resources prove inadequate or b) in situations where the emergency clearly falls within federal jurisdiction. It also established a Joint Emergency Planning Program to fund emergency preparedness programs and to arrive at arrangements whereby the provinces may receive financial assistance to meet the costs of major disasters.xxxvii
To provide clear direction to carry out the federal government’s emergency planning policy, a new Emergency Planning Order was approved by Cabinet in May 1981 to replace the badly outdated order in effect since 1965.xxxviii It set out the specific duties for both peace and war assigned to the federal government departments. All ministers were called upon to identify the types of emergencies that would fall within their areas of responsibility and to prepare plans and arrangements to deal with them. Any department that was assigned lead responsibility for an emergency was to coordinate federal planning and to secure and control necessary federal support. Supporting departments were to supply resources to ministers with lead responsibility. As part of their planning duties, departments were to provide emergency planning assistance to provincial and municipal governments and to assist in joint federal-provincial development of regional emergency plans. They were required to develop plans for war emergencies, from providing assistance to the armed forces, to meeting international obligations to NATO and the United States, and carrying out civil defence responsibilities. This order clearly built on past experience. It also drew from the concept of lead and resource departments elaborated in the Dare report.
Eleven ministers were specifically identified to develop and maintain plans to establish and operate National Emergency Agencies whose powers, duties, and functions were set out in Part I of the Schedule attached to the order.xxxix It would be these agencies which would swing into action if an emergency arose necessitating federal involvement. In Part II of the Schedule, 11 ministers were assigned additional responsibilities to be carried out in case of war.xl Part II provoked some unfavourable criticism in the House of Commons because it assigned the Solicitor General to set up civilian internment camps and the Prime Minister to establish a body to implement censorship controls. The Emergency Planning Order established a clear network of emergency activity responsibility.
The Emergency Planning Order, however, did not define the responsibilities of Emergency Planning Canada. EPC’s role remained essentially what it had been in the 1970s following acceptance of the Dare Report. Generally, EPC was “…responsible for stimulating, facilitating, and coordinating emergency planning among federal departments, agencies and Crown corporations, and between them and the provincial and territorial governments.” It also coordinated the federal response to emergency situations, either at the request of a provincial government or in areas of federal responsibility until a lead department was named to assume control. It was responsible for administering the newly established Joint Emergency Planning Program (JEPP) and the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA), two funding initiatives. It continued to coordinate Canada’s civil defence arrangements with NATO and the United States. It was responsible for making preparations to ensure the continuity of government in the event of a nuclear war.xli
Under the new arrangement in the Privy Council Office, EPC was headed by the Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Emergency Planning who reported to the President of the Privy Council. Under the Assistant Secretary were two Directors General, one in charge of Plans Branch, the other of the Operations Branch.
The Plans Branch was responsible for:
∙ analysing trends and conditions that might have emergency implications;
∙ formulating emergency policy;
∙ developing and coordinating national emergency plans;
∙ evaluating the state of emergency preparedness in Canada on a regular basis;
∙ training key federal and provincial officials in their emergency functions;
∙ coordinating Canadian aspects of international emergency planning; and
∙ planning national exercises and Canada’s participation in similar international events.
The Operations Branch was responsible for:
∙ identifying operational objectives and priorities, and developing federal crisis management procedures;
∙ coordinating federal-provincial emergency preparedness activities through negotiations with provincial officials;
∙ administering the Joint Emergency Planning Program and the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements on behalf of the federal government;
∙ providing the physical facilities necessary for continuity of government in time of war;
∙ developing an ongoing information program to ensure public awareness of potential emergencies; and
∙ directing the provision of administrative services for the entire organization.
The Director General, Operations, relied on 10 Regional Directors in the provincial capitals to gather information on impending emergencies and to coordinate the federal response when required. They also were to keep in close touch with federal government representatives in the regions to ensure a coordinated response to federal emergency planning. They also maintained a close liaison with provincial and municipal officials to make sure that federal plans were compatible with plans prepared locally.xlii
By 1981, there was a marked increase in federal emergency measures activity. A new government emergency measures policy had been enunciated and, more importantly, a new Emergency Planning Order had been promulgated replacing the outdated order of 1965. This endorsed the Dare concept of lead department, allocating responsibility for specific emergency planning to various federal departments. Its effect was to ensure sufficient resources to permit an effective job to be done.
The new policy addressed planning for both wartime and peacetime disaster. While it completed the shift from war to peace as a basis for planning activity, it established conditions to ensure all aspects of disaster were adequately covered.
As a result of the new emphasis on emergency preparedness, the budget for EPC had been increased and more funds were earmarked for the provinces through two funding initiatives. Although EPC’s mandate was unchanged, its position as coordinator of planning between federal departments and federal-provincial agencies was enhanced. By 1981, EPC was firmly entrenched in the PCO with a minister of its own. Emergency measures had emerged from its decade of trial and its prospects were brightening.
Chapter IV – The Reform of Civil Emergency Measures: 1981-1988
After the doldrums of the 1970s, the winds of reform began to blow briskly in the 1980s. The Minister Responsible for Emergency Planning, Yvon Pinard, had established the basis for a renewal of emergency planning when he announced the federal government policy in 1980 and followed it with the Emergency Planning Order in 1981. Over the next seven years, federal officials, under both Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments, took steps to reinvigorate a national emergency planning program. EPC provided a vehicle for federal reestablishment of the emergency planning relationship with the provincial governments, and, through them, with the municipalities. At the same time, the federal departments were urged to ensure that their programs were in place in accordance with the Emergency Planning Order. EPC undertook to fulfill its responsibilities with increased vigour — coordinating, planning, training, conducting exercises, supervising research, and publicizing. It continued to fulfill Canadian civil emergency planning obligations and renewed a Canadian-American agreement for emergency planning in North America. Finally in 1988, the Progressive Conservative government followed through on a Liberal initiative and passed emergencies legislation to regularize the civil emergency planning program in Canada.
II Federal-Provincial Relations and Emergency Planning
1 Federal-Provincial Conference 1981
The federal government has always held that in a federal state such as Canada the responsibility of planning for, and responding to, emergencies beyond the resources of the private citizen was shared by all levels of government. In November 1980, when Yvon Pinard announced the federal government’s emergency policy, he reaffirmed this doctrine:
…all levels of government have a responsibility to plan and prepare for emergencies for which an adequate response goes beyond what might reasonably be expected to be provided by private means.
Government emergency planning will be most effective when the responsibilities, resources and aspirations of the federal, provincial and local governments are merged through joint cooperative planning into mutually acceptable arrangements covering the preparation for, the response to, and treating the consequences of, such emergencies. Such joint planning should seek to develop strength by providing a common purpose for the exercising of separate jurisdictional authorities.
To ensure that there is an appropriate forum for consultation with the provinces on a cooperative approach to emergency planning, the federal government will in conjunction with the provinces, establish suitable mechanisms whereby such consultations may take place on a regular basis.i
Shortly after the promulgation of Emergency Planning Order 1981, which established the framework for federal emergency planning, Pinard moved to bring the provinces and territories into the process he had alluded to in the policy announcement. As minister responsible for emergency planning, he convened a Federal-Provincial Conference on 5 June 1981. In his opening address to the delegates, he outlined what the federal government wanted to accomplish:
∙ review the current approach to emergency planning;
∙ reaffirm, perhaps in a form more suited to current needs, some of the cooperative understandings currently in place;
∙ discuss financial arrangements in place for both emergency planning and response;
∙ discuss emergency legislation matters arising out of the Federal-Provincial Conference on Human Rights.ii
During the remainder of the conference, Pinard and his officials elaborated on these four points.
The Minister stressed that the federal government was putting its house in order. He outlined the contents of Emergency Planning Order 1981 and explained that under its authority federal departments were preparing their estimates to fulfill the government’s emergency planning policy. Henceforth, Cabinet would review their estimates as a single coordinated emergency planning package, but he warned that financial restraints might limit the funding of all proposed measures.iii
A discussion paper proposed a joint emergency planning policy and outlined the mechanisms by which it could be accomplished. Significantly the federal government intended to treat each province or territory individually in determining types of emergencies, the nature of outside assistance needed, and the form and nature of the planning mechanisms. It proposed that working groups for each province be set up by the EPC Regional Director who would coordinate negotiations between provincial and federal officials.iv
Pinard announced that, in the future, financial assistance to the provinces would be consolidated. EPC would administer the Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) arrangements, in effect since 1970, to help provincial and territorial governments cover the costs of disasters.v It would also coordinate a new initiative, the Joint Emergency Planning Program (JEPP), which had been approved in October 1980. It would absorb and phase out the current Financial Assistance Program (FAP) and provide the provinces and territories with financing for projects which would support federal objectives and enhance national emergency response capability.vi
The very short joint statement issued at the end of the conference, after summarizing the subjects discussed, made three points. First, all ministers agreed that a more structured form of governmental consultation and joint emergency planning would be helpful. Secondly, the federal government promised to take provincial preferences in mind before making any changes to disaster financial assistance. Thirdly, war emergency planning should be studied in depth by officials of both governments. Although the ministers agreed that they would meet as often as possible to review this work of their officials,vii there would be only one other ministerial Federal-Provincial Conference in the next seven years. This conference in 1986 was mainly concerned with emergencies legislation.
As it turned out, the 1981 ministerial conference was the prelude to a series of lower level emergency planning conferences. Over the next seven years, federal, provincial, and territorial officials met yearly at informal gatherings to address matters of mutual interest and concern, to review areas of intergovernmental progress, and to set out future goals. For example, the meeting held at Winnipeg, 1-2 February 1983, dealt with a variety of subjects:
∙ Memoranda of Understanding on Emergency Planning between the federal and provincial governments;
∙ operations of JEPP;
∙ possible amendments to Emergency Planning Order 1981;
∙ federal-provincial aspects of possible new emergencies legislation;
∙ increased provincial participation in federal exercises and training programs.
This meeting also established two task forces, one to study wartime public protection and another to deal with the training of on-scene commanders who must take charge during localized emergencies.viii In 1985, officials who were becoming increasingly concerned with dangerous goods transportation set up a working group to study training for dangerous goods emergency response. A second meeting that year prepared the ground work for the ministerial conference in 1986. In 1986, 1987, and 1988, transportation of dangerous goods, major industrial accidents, media relations, training, and exercises were all pressing subjects of discussion.ix These meetings became welcome occasions where “…potential sources of misunderstanding were clarified, and delegates felt at liberty to speak candidly on complicated and sensitive matters.” Some officials cited them as “…further proof of ‘a new era’ in federal-provincial understanding among emergency planners”.x
2 The Role of Regional Directors
While ministerial and official conferences were undoubtedly important, EPC’s Regional Directors became key officials in day-to-day, face-to-face federal-provincial and -territorial liaison. EPC had 10 such Regional Directors, all reporting to the Director General, Operations. Each Regional Director had offices in a provincial capital and was responsible for that particular province. In addition, the Regional Director for Alberta shouldered responsibility for the Yukon and the Northwest Territories until, in October 1985, the Yukon was transferred to the jurisdiction of the British Columbia Regional Director. These regional managers helped administer federal emergency planning programs, facilitated provincial participation in joint preparedness ventures, and ensured that federal emergency planning initiatives were compatible with those being undertaken by the provinces and municipalities. They also coordinated the federal response to emergencies within their respective regions (if federal assistance was required) and assisted federal lead departments in dealing with specific emergencies. They coordinated the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program and the Disaster Financial Assistance arrangements in the provinces and territories, and, from time to time, they also participated in many provincial training exercises, conferences, symposia, and exhibitions.xi
3 Memoranda of Understanding
One suggestion that emerged from the Federal-Provincial Conference was for a more structured approach to joint planning between federal and provincial authorities. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between each province or territory and the federal government was accepted as a device through which this would be accomplished. The MOU would enunciate the fundamental principles of joint planning for emergencies and set out the functions and responsibilities of each order of government for emergency preparedness. An umbrella agreement was worked out in January 1982 at the first annual meeting of federal and provincial officials,. Based on this, each province or territory engaged to negotiate a separate MOU noting specific additions, exceptions, or qualifications. These individual agreements differed only in detail. Generally each signatory government agreed to:
∙ an identification of these emergency preparedness tasks best undertaken by each order of government
∙ negotiate multi-annual projects within the framework of the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program
∙ participate in the administration of Disaster Financial Assistance arrangements [sic] in case of disaster
∙ create training and public information programs to support common objectives
∙ communicate freely all information relating to emergency preparedness
∙ share human and material resources in case of emergency
∙ consult on agreements with the United States concerning emergency planning and emergency preparedness in the border areas.xii
New Brunswick was the first province to negotiate an MOU, in October 1982, but not all provinces or territories were so eager to sign an agreement. Discussions continued year by year and by 1988, ten MOUs had been negotiated; only Quebec and Alberta had not agreed to terms.xiii
4 Joint Emergency Planning Program
It had always been recognized that as well as providing advice and expertise the federal government would help finance a national civil emergency system. Approved in October 1980, the Joint Emergency Planning Program (JEPP) was conceived to absorb and phase out the current Financial Assistance Program (FAP). This new initiative enabled the federal government either to contribute to or jointly engage in provincial or territorial planning projects which enhanced national response capability. Projects were normally submitted by provincial or territorial authorities with the support of the appropriate federal lead department. They would usually be evaluated by EPC Regional Directors first and then by EPC senior management. EPC would coordinate the evaluation and development of the projects with federal departments.
In order to be considered for funding a JEPP project must:
∙ support national objectives and priorities and enhance the national emergency response capability, with specific priorities identified through federal/provincial consultation;
∙ have a clear objective, an identifiable beginning and end and measurable progress;
∙ include a statement of the precise nature and extent of federal involvement and the method by which federal participation is to receive visibility and recognition;
∙ include an acceptable and approved provincial commitment to the project in funds or in kind, or to ongoing O&M costs, or any appropriate combination thereof; and
∙ either terminate within a twelve month period, or consist of a series of sub-projects, each of which can be completed in a twelve month period.xiv
The federal contribution was negotiated for each project and depended upon the extent of the project’s contribution to national priorities and provincial needs, other projects under consideration, and the amount of funds available. Federal priorities included such matters as:
- severe, but infrequent flooding;
- saving of life and mitigation of human suffering;
- preservation of peace, order and good government of Canada;
- risk analysis, warning and communications; and
- responsibilities normally in the federal sphere.xv
The federal share of the cost varied anywhere from 75% of the total cost to 50%. In 1981, annual funding was set at $6 million. By 1988, it had been increased to $6.5 million, 38% of EPC’s annual budget. The nature of the projects varied greatly but generally they fitted into three categories:
- development and testing of emergency plans;
- conduct of emergency-related training programs; and
- purchase of communications and emergency response equipment.xvi
5 Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements
The other federal financial assistance package was designed to cover some of the costs of coping with the results of disasters. Its costs, consequently, were not predictable. Since the primary constitutional jurisdiction in matters relating to property is provincial, the provinces are responsible for responding to disasters involving property damage. The federal government indicated willingness to assist, however, if the cost of disaster recovery exceeded what a province could reasonably be expected to bear. Hence, in 1970, the federal government set up Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements (DFAA) to provide the administrative framework for providing aid to provinces and territories dealing with, and recovering from, disasters. Such disasters are usually caused by severe weather — floods resulting from quick spring thaws and heavy rains, severe winter storms, or tornadoes. The same arrangements could serve to assist with other types of emergency. When, for example, an epidemic of western equine encephalitis (sleeping sickness) threatened Manitoba during the summer of 1983, federal assistance was provided under this program.xvii
The extent of the federal government’s financial contribution was determined by a formula based on the population of the specific province or territory.
Per Capita Eligible Cost
0 to $1
$1 to $3
$3 to $5
Federal guidelines describing eligible costs were set out in Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, published in September 1982. In general, such payments were made to restore public works to their pre-disaster condition and to help in the restoration of basic, essential personal property of private citizens, farmsteads, and small businesses. Usually the Regional Director for the province or territory affected maintained liaison with the provincial or territorial disaster assistance administration to advise and help in working out the financial assistance arrangements.xviii Although EPC administered DFAA, the funding did not come out of the agency’s budget but from supplementary estimates providing central, flexible resources. Between 1970 when the arrangements were inaugurated and the end of 1988, the federal government paid out more than $134 million under DFAA, about $55 million since 1982.xix
III Civil Emergency Planning in the Federal Government
1 Departmental Planning and EPC
In order to secure coordination at the highest level, the federal government created the Interdepartmental Committee on Emergency Planning. Chaired by EPC’s Executive Director, it was composed of Assistant Deputy Ministers from 17 federal departments and agencies. It met several times a year to consider matters of policy and to evaluate operations in emergency planning. It advised the Minister on federal emergency policy and addressed issues requiring Cabinet consideration or interdepartmental consultation and coordination at the senior level. It was supported in its work by three subordinate bodies, all chaired by senior EPC officials. The Interdepartmental Working Group addressed emergency planning issues of general concern to all departments. The Interdepartmental Committee on Civil Mobilization focused on planning for the development of NEAs. The Interdepartmental Exercise Control Committee coordinated the participation of federal departments in national and international exercises. (The names of these three bodies varied slightly over the years, but their responsibilities remained unchanged .)xx
The Emergency Planning Order 1981 had assigned to every Minister responsibility
for the identification of possible types of emergencies within or directly related to his area of responsibility and for the preparation, evaluation, testing and implementation, when required, of appropriate related emergency plans and arrangements.xxi
While each Minister had his individual emergency planning responsibilities, it was EPC’s mandate to stimulate, facilitate, and coordinate the departments’ planning. Consequently early in 1983, EPC initiated discussions with the departments to produce an inventory of measures for dealing with peacetime and wartime emergencies. It was intended to list all of the plans and arrangements needed to respond to various types of disasters and to outline the concomitant responsibilities of federal governments and agencies. This listing would provide the framework from which to development departmental Emergency Books detailing the arrangements to implement each emergency assignment. Discussions between EPC and departmental planners led to the decision to produce two volumes, one listing measures for peacetime emergencies, the other for wartime crises. Although Pinard’s 1980 policy had clearly given priority to peacetime emergency planning, the volume on wartime responses was undertaken first because new arrangements were urgently needed to enhance Canada’s ability to participate effectively in cyclical NATO sponsored emergency exercises.
Under the guidance of EPC, the Interdepartmental Working Group reviewed the existing system for alerting the public during a war emergency and then developed a revised listing of measures to deal with civil aspects of a wartime crisis. Each department prepared detailed procedures for those actions for which it had been assigned responsibility. As coordinator of the project, EPC moulded individual departmental submissions into a draft volume consistent in content and style. The draft was reviewed by the Interdepartmental Committee on Emergency Planning (ICEP) and approved as the War Emergency Book in January 1984. Testing in a national mobilization exercise organized by the Department of National Defence later that year resulted in amendments and refinements. Thus it was an improved War Emergency Book which, in February 1985, was available to guide Canadian civilian participation in the NATO exercise WINTEX-CIMTEX 85 “designed to exercise military commands and civilian authorities in the use of operational plans and procedures and emergency communications in the context of a fabricated wartime crisis.”xxii Chaired by EPC, the Exercise Control Group, composed of representatives from key federal departments, used the Emergency Book to direct Canadian play. The exercise was carried out entirely on paper, however, with no actual movement of troops or equipment. Maintaining the War Emergency Book became an ongoing task as subsequent exercises led to new revisions. These were consolidated in a major revision in 1986. In the meantime a companion work on peacetime emergencies had yet to appear. Although consultation to prepare it were underway by 1984, it was regarded as a low priority.xxiii
Although every federal Minister was required under the Planning Order to prepare plans to meet any aspect of a peace or war emergency that might lie within the responsibility of his portfolio, certain Ministers were singled out to set up special National Emergency Agencies (NEA). There were 11 such bodies, responsible for managing and controlling critical resources during a severe national emergency. Since each agency was charged with one aspect of national mobilization, planning for it became the responsibility of the analogous federal department. NEAs were to be created for Food, Energy, Transport, Industrial Production, Health and Welfare Services, Housing, Communications, Human Resources, Financial Control, Public Information, and Construction. Each department was expected to develop plans and procedures so that its NEA could be activated and brought to full readiness within 30 days.xxiv The Emergency Planning Order did not indicate under what circumstances the NEAs would be activated, but EPC’s reports indicate that they were designed primarily to deal with a grave international crisis or a war emergency and would be activated only in extreme circumstances during peacetime.xxv
Primary responsibility for developing and maintaining plans for the establishment of an NEA rested with the designated department, but EPC was involved at two levels. First, it advised individual departments on the preparation of their plans to set up NEAs. Secondly, one of its officials chaired the Interdepartmental Committee on Civil Mobilization which was responsible for coordinating the planning of the NEAs.xxvi In 1984, EPC was assigned the task of planning for the creation of the NEA for Public Information. In the Emergency Planning Order this responsibility was assigned to the Prime Minister, but EPC, through the Minister responsible for emergency planning, was asked to develop the plans for this agency.xxvii
Not surprisingly, planning for the NEAs moved along more quickly in some departments than in others. Many lacked the manpower and resources to carry out the task. By 1986, EPC reported:
Most government departments charged with National Emergency Agency planning have passed, or are about to pass, their first major milestone: the articulation of concepts of operations that will enable them to proceed with concrete policy, organizational, procedural and resource development. By the end of the decade, all departments should have developed their plans and arrangements to the point where the National Emergency Agencies’ plans will be able to be tested in national exercises and used if necessary.xxviii
Despite EPC’s upbeat report, progress seems to have been rather slow.
2 Civil Emergency Planning and EPC
To keep abreast of the latest developments and discoveries in the field of emergency planning, EPC sponsored research on a variety of subjects. Some research was done in-house, but most was contracted out under the supervision of the scientists in the Evaluation and Analysis Division, Director General, Plans. During the 1980s, this research was directed in two general directions:
∙ the study of computers and their potential application in emergency planning;
∙ the study of human and organizational behaviour in crisis situations.xxix
On the first of these issues, EPC decided that computers could be a valuable teaching aid at the Federal Study Centre (later renamed the Canadian Emergency Planning College) at Arnprior. As early as 1982, the school had produced two computer programs for its recently purchased Audio Visual Computer Aided Tutor (AVCAT). Over the next few years, EPC identified computer-assisted learning systems available in Canada and evaluated the school’s training requirements for computer-aided instruction technologies. In 1987, EPC designed and installed computer-aided simulation games at its Arnprior facility. These resembled war or business games, intended to help students develop group decision making skills.xxx
Computers could also assist in planning and decision making. In 1983, EPC decided to develop a database to enable planners to model the effects of emergencies on individual communities.xxxi Over the next few years, EPC initiated studies of geographical data bases and population modelling techniques for casualty estimating.xxxii By 1986, it was developing programs to integrate geographic information software, damage models, and population distribution to create nuclear attack models that could be used by civil defence planners to produce reasonably accurate representations of the damage effects of nuclear weapons on Canada. This program could also be used by planners for peacetime emergencies. The work continued throughout 1987 with a growing realization of the importance of multi-media work stations in emergency planning.xxxiii In 1988, EPC began to develop prototype software to simulate various emergencies in specific geographic areas across Canada, enabling emergency planners to track conditions ranging from chemical plume dispersion to radioactive fallout to satellite re-entry.xxxiv
The second major thrust of research during the 1980s was a continuing study of human and organizational behaviour in crisis situations. This project documented public reaction to emergencies, measuring the effectiveness with which authorities in charge of emergency response communicated with the public. It was carried out by the Emergency Communications Research Unit (ECRU), an organization headed by Professor Joseph Scanlon of the School of Journalism of Carleton University. Employing student volunteers from the university, Scanlon sent a team into a community immediately after a crisis to study public and organizational response to the emergency and its immediate aftermath. Among the communities and emergencies studied were the following:
Miramichi area, N.B.
Corner Brook, Nfld.
Princeton and Pemberton, B.C.
patterns of communications during earthquakes
response to life-threatening toxic spills
train derailment involving dangerous goods
study of crowd management during papal tour
forest fire threat
In 1987, Scanlon was commissioned to produce a compendium of findings on the behaviour of organizations. His work was based mostly on Canadian sources, from information accumulated in these studies.xxxvi
While computer applications to emergency planning and human behaviour in crisis situations occupied a great deal of the research effort of EPC, other areas of study were not neglected. Two of these, earthquakes and strategic metals, are noteworthy. In 1982, a contract was awarded to an outside researcher to examine the nature of seismic sea waves and their effect on coastal environments with regard to the impact of the 1964 Alaska earthquake on Port Alberni.xxxvii In 1987, an ambitious two year pilot study was undertaken by a research team from Laval University. EPC commissioned the researchers to develop and demonstrate a methodology to predict the effects of earthquakes given certain factors such as soil structure and terrain. This study was to focus on Quebec City, the largest urban area near Charlevoix County where historically severe earthquakes were known to have occurred.xxxviii
Beginning in 1985, EPC began to show an interest in the availability of strategic minerals during an emergency situation. That year its officials conducted an economic impact assessment of the effect of interruptions in the supply of strategic minerals.xxxix The next year EPC awarded a contract to a University of British Columbia research team to investigate the feasibility of using Leontieff’s input/output approach to identify and assess the availability of critical minerals. (This approach was developed by the economist W. W. Leontieff and was widely used in economic planning.xl) When the research team demonstrated the feasibility of the approach and recommended further research, EPC set up an input/output sub-committee to oversee the work. So significant was the research that other departments — National Defence, Energy Mines and Resources, Regional Industrial Expansion, Statistics Canada, Supply and Services — expressed an interest.xli In 1987, the research team completed its work and submitted two reports on the application of input/output analysis to critical minerals within the overall context of the mobilization of natural resources in a national emergency.xlii
A related research initiative was EPC’s sponsorship of a doctoral research fellowship. In 1984 it was named in honour of Stuart Nesbitt White, Director General, Plans, who retired from the Public Service in December of that year after 35 years devoted to emergency planning and preparedness.xliii The purpose of the fellowship was “…to encourage disaster research and emergency planning in Canada by developing a number of qualified professionals in the field.” When their studies were completed the fellows had no formal obligation to EPC, but it was hoped that they would have developed a continuing interest in the subject. Almost any aspect of disasters or emergency planning might be eligible for consideration of a study fellowship. For example, from 1982 to 1988, fellowships were awarded for studies in anthropology, strategic minerals, emergency telecommunications policy, urban planning, earthquake mitigation policy, emergency social services and disaster planning, and atmospheric sciences. These fellowships were held at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia (2), Laval, McGill, and the University of Colorado.xliv The value was $10,800 annually as well as tuition and compulsory fees. A supplementary spousal allocation of $2000 and relocation costs might also be paid. The fellowship was tenable for up to four years, provided progress was satisfactory.xlv
ii Special Projects
From time to time on an “as needed” basis, EPC was called upon to undertake special projects. One such project related to communications. EPC relied upon commercial telephone networks to maintain communications between headquarters and the federal regional offices, a system which was extremely vulnerable to interruption during an emergency. In 1985, EPC obtained high frequency radio equipment to provide a backup system in case of commercial failure. When the system was set up, it provided enhanced communications between the federal regions and, where necessary, between Canadian and American civil emergency planners. At the same time, EPC established a special committee of emergency planning and communication experts to consider the feasibility of interconnecting provincial emergency communications systems. As a beginning, representatives from Communications Canada and from the provinces of Quebec, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick (provinces which had been especially active in the communications planning field) were invited to participate in initial studies.xlvi
Another major concern, arising out of the Bhopal chemical disaster in India in December 1984, was the possibility that such an incident might happen in Canada. In March 1985, Environment Canada established a joint industry-government steering committee to examine the potential. It would review existing measures for preventing such accidents and assess the collective capabilities of industry and government to respond in the event of an actual chemical release. EPC was to play an increasingly important role as the investigation progressed.
Initially, EPC’s Planning Coordinator for Public Protection was a permanent member of the committee and its Regional Directors were instrumental in getting input from the provinces.xlvii Following completion of the steering committee’s report in the mid-1980s, EPC set up a task force to respond to its recommendations.xlviii Then, in May 1987, at the instigation of EPC and Environment Canada, the federal government struck a steering committee to launch the Major Industrial Accident Coordinating Committee (MIACC). Its mandate was to examine the potential for major industrial accidents in Canada and to improve the collective ability to prevent and respond to such incidents. Following a number of meetings of the steering committee and smaller working groups, “[t]here was a clear consensus that a cooperative approach to mitigation, response actions, information flow and education was required.” The first annual meeting of MIACC was held in Ottawa toward the end of November 1988. Some 150 delegates from government and the private sector were in attendance.xlix
Three other special projects should also be noted. The first was a response to a request from a special African Famine Relief Committee established by the Canadian government. From December 1984 to April 1985, an officer of EPC was loaned to the Committee as a logistics advisor to coordinate arrangements for transporting Canadian relief supplies to African locations.l The second concerned Pope John Paul’s visit to Canada in 1984. EPC staff played an important role in planning, setting up, and operating communications at each mass site. They also assisted in establishing and manning the local emergency operations centres where most communications equipment was housed. Not only did EPC make the papal visit go smoothly but it also had a chance to exercise skills and capabilities that would be needed in actual emergency situations.li Finally, EPC helped to form the Task Group on Emergency Management/News Media Coordination made up of members of the Radio and Television News Directors Association and members of the federal and provincial emergency preparedness community. The Group met twice to discuss how the media and emergency planners might help each other, “…urging members to work together in an atmosphere of trust and cooperation.” Such amity apparently had not characterized earlier relations.lii
iii Training and Education
An important part of EPC’s mandate was to provide a training and educational program in aspects of emergency planning and operations to federal, provincial, and municipal officials, both elected and appointed, who had emergency planning responsibilities. This was carried out at the Federal Training Centre (FSC) in the small Ottawa Valley town of Arnprior. As previously described, this facility was once the Civil Defence College, turned over to the Department of Public Works in the mid-1970s. Since EPC continued to be the most frequent user of the Centre, an agreement was negotiated with Public Works Canada to transfer responsibility for the facility to EPC early in 1985. It was renamed the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College (CEPC).liii
EPC courses at Arnprior included accommodation and were offered free of charge, with EPC covering travel expenses. From 1982 to 1988, the Centre or College was used more and more. In 1982, 80 courses were offered; in 1988, the curriculum had increased to 110 courses. In 1982, about 1720 candidates participated in the program; by 1988, the number had risen to more than 3000. Under EPC, the College saw its budget rise from $2 million in 1985 to $2.5 million in 1988. That year, moreover, Treasury Board approved plans to add a $5 million, 120 unit residence to the College to replace the 85 sub-standard rooms in aging Second World War temporary buildings.liv
The program of training and education offered at Arnprior had three components.lv First, there were courses conducted by EPC officials. While additions were made from time to time, there was a core curriculum:
∙ Plans and Operations, Peace;
∙ Plans and Operations, War;
∙ Emergency Operations;
∙ Exercise Design.
Later courses included Emergency Communications and Emergency Public Information. EPC also organized an annual conference for mayors and elected officials to assist them in their responsibilities for the development and implementation of plans to meet emergencies at the local level. EPC considered these conferences especially important because emergency services would have to be delivered at the local level and therefore local planning was essential.
The second component was composed of courses sponsored by EPC but given by officials of departments with expertise in special aspects of emergency planning. Health and Welfare Canada gave general courses in emergency health services and social services planning and instructors’ courses in casualty simulation and special care facilities. The Department of National Defence taught radiological defence, Transport Canada the transportation of dangerous goods, Public Works Canada the design of fallout shelters, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada the problems of fisheries in an emergency, especially a nuclear war. New courses were added from time to time and others deleted.
The third component was made up of symposia, conferences, and workshops whose nature changed from year to year. EPC held an annual national symposium on a subject related to emergency planning, such as Public Information (1983), Emergency Preparedness Training (1985), or Emergency Communications (1987). The major conference was a yearly federal-provincial gathering on training. Until 1985, this group met only to consider the course requirements of CEPC, but in that year its mandate was expanded to include a broader consideration of cross-Canada training needs for emergency planning and response. The conference was intended to function as a national clearing house for the collection and dissemination of information on training needs at local, regional, and national levels. At the same time, it was to be kept informed of courses being offered in various parts of the country. The intent was to identify gaps and overlaps in current training and to coordinate recommendations for joint federal-provincial initiatives to resolve training problems.lvi Perhaps an immediate outcome of this more inclusive view was that CEPC arranged to pay travel and accommodation costs for two candidates from each province to attend a course given by the Alberta Public Safety Services in 1986. This was a course not offered by CEPC.lvii
Besides symposia and training conferences, a number of miscellaneous conferences and workshops were held from time to time. In 1983, EPC convened a conference on search and rescue. The next year it conducted a pilot course on emergency site management. In 1985 and 1986, it held orientation seminars for new departmental planners. Emergency public information was the subject of a seminar in 1987, followed by a workshop on earthquake emergency response the next year.
While EPC was very good at planning and education, its record of holding training exercises was less praiseworthy. Plans needed to be tested and a national exercise had not been held in Canada since 1966. Even the 1966 exercise involved only officials. Limited testing occurred when a paper exercise accompanied completion of the War Emergency Book in 1984, leading to participation in the NATO exercise WINTEX-CIMEX 85. EPC continued to coordinate Canadian participation in the cyclical NATO exercises HILEX and WINTEX-CIMEX. Interest in test activity picked up in 1987 when it was decided to plan a national exercise for 1990 to assess the country’s capacity to respond to a national emergency. The next year was busy. EPC co-sponsored and participated in the development and conduct of a Canada-United States exercise that simulated a cross-border terrorist incident. Nearer home, EPC ran an exercise named Fourth Key at the CEGHQ in Carp to familiarize designated members of EPC staff with their duties in the event of a nuclear crisis. Planning proceeded for the NATO exercise WINTEX-CIMEX 89 and for the national mobilization exercise planned for 1990.lviii
iv Public Awareness
To fulfill its mandate to keep the public informed EPC staffed a Public Information Directorate, under the Director General, Operations. Its job was to answer questions from the public about the types of emergencies citizens may have to face and the preparations required to meet them. It met this mandate in three ways:
- by publishing and sending out informational brochures, self-help advice pamphlets, report manuals, and a quarterly digest of articles on emergency planning;
- by preparing exhibits and displays for use at public exhibitions; and
- by making its officers readily available to the media.
In April 1982, the senior management committee of EPC approved a completely revamped public information program which included 30 separate information packages. As well as the conventional means, this plan called for the use of broader media, such as updated radio and television spots, professionally produced audio-visual programs, direct mail, cooperative advertising ventures, and the provision of public speakers. Clearly, EPC was going to make a concerted effort to get its message to a broader audience.lix
In 1983, the danger of nuclear war was a major preoccupation for EPC’s Public Information Directorate. Nuclear arms negotiations had stalled, super-power rhetoric was becoming increasingly angry, and new weapons were being deployed. At the same time, disarmament groups were creating considerable publicity by arguing that civil defence was futile and contributed to the likelihood of nuclear war. “The Day After”, a TV movie about the aftermath of nuclear war, prompted a flood of enquiries to EPC’s regional staff. EPC took advantage of the heightened interest, making senior headquarters and regional officials available for interviews and panel discussions. This was a serious attempt “…to promote greater public awareness and understanding of federal initiatives to provide for the protection of Canadians in the event of nuclear war.”lx
Another public information initiative provided displays and information booths to major public exhibitions, such as the Pacific National Exhibition at Vancouver or the Quebec Provincial Exhibition. The scaled-down model of a basement fallout shelter provided for the Quebec Home Show in 1984 proved so popular that officials decided to build a full-scale model for the Montreal Home Show in March 1985. Working with Public Works Canada and SURVIVAL, a local firm, EPC created a major display on wartime public protection. It featured a full-size model of a basement fallout shelter, fully stocked with enough supplies for a family of five for two weeks.lxi
Throughout this period, relations with the media were an on-going concern. Although EPC made a point of ensuring its senior officials and Regional Directors were readily accessible and in 1984 organized two media training seminars, media relations were characterized by distrust. To overcome this, in 1985 the Radio and Television News Directors Association of Canada (RTNDA) proposed joint planning for media liaison in emergency situations. EPC responded by setting up a small working group of federal and provincial planners and representatives of RTNDA to develop a model media liaison plan. Together, the two groups held a seminar on emergency public information which stressed that an up-to-date and practised media information plan was essential. Senior federal and provincial information officers were instructed to work with the media not deal with them.lxii
There is evidence that senior management was less than satisfied with the information plan inaugurated in 1982 for in 1986 a new Director of Public Information was appointed followed by subsequent appointments to key positions within the directorate.lxiii The function of the directorate was enlarged to provide communication advice, writing, editorial, graphic art, publishing, exposition, library, and audio-visual services to the Minister, senior EPC executives, and CEPC at Arnprior. EPC also took a hard look at its current publication program.lxiv
Existing visual and printed materials were studied for effectiveness and recommendations made for implementing a new corporate look consistent with the image of a dynamic organization responsible for encouraging preparedness across the country.lxv
This new look was based on a highly visible colour scheme of black and yellow which was reflected in all new public information material and in older material as it was redone and phased in. The quarterly digest was renamed Emergency Preparedness Digest (in keeping with the name change of the organization) and underwent a format revision with the first issue in 1987.
A number of new initiatives were launched. The Directorate became a clearing house for information on emergency preparedness in Canada and consolidated its position as a credible source of information on emergency preparedness to Parliament, the public, the media, and emergency response officials in Canada and elsewhere. It built up a research centre available to outside researchers which included books, reports, studies, videotapes, photos, and slides.
The Directorate continued its information program, keeping Canadians informed of the necessity to “Plan for Tomorrow…Today.”lxvi It prepared a series of public service announcements for TV and radio and produced videotapes for TV. It continued to send out self-help brochures and the Emergency Preparedness Digest. In 1988, it introduced a pilot study into 15 Ontario schools to test the practicality of introducing a multi-media program on emergency preparedness into school curricula. In sum, the Directorate was working aggressively to get the emergency preparedness message before the public.lxvii
v Continuity of Government
The 1981 Emergency Planning Order assigned responsibility to “[d]irect the implementation of arrangements to provide for the protection and continuity of the Government of Canada during an emergency” to the Minister responsible for Emergency Planning.lxviii This was, of course, not a new responsibility for EPC. The Continuity of Government Program was initiated by the Diefenbaker government in 1958, and considerable planning had taken place under both the Progressive Conservatives and the succeeding Liberal government. Emergency government headquarters had been built near Ottawa and in six of the provinces before the program was frozen to a halt in 1968. Drastic cuts in capital expenditure kept the system dormant, with only sufficient funds to maintain the buildings and prevent them from deteriorating irretrievably.
In 1983, the Federal-Provincial Conference of Senior Officials on Emergency Planning set up a task force to investigate, among other matters, the state of the Continuity of Government Program. On the one hand, the task force found that the purpose behind the Program were still sound:
∙ to preserve the thread of constitutional authority in Canada by protecting those in whom it is vested; and
∙ to provide a site from which survival operations could be directed by federal and provincial ministers.
On the other hand, its comments on the ability of the program to carry out its mandate were less than flattering: “The fact is that the continuity of government program is not in good shape today….” It questioned the ability of governments to be able to function out of the emergency government headquarters. They were not in good mechanical condition. Their communication equipment was badly out of date. Few essential records were stored in them. There was no capacity for electronic data processing in any of them. Finally, they stood every chance of being isolated from the citizenry by electro-magnetic pulse (EMP). This phenomenon accompanies every nuclear blast and can knock out electronic equipment unless it is especially protected.lxix
After a decade and a half of neglect, the federal government began to take some steps to transform the Continuity of Government Program. Even before the Task Force reported in 1985, there were some efforts to modernize and repair existing facilities at the central and regional levels. Progress was slow because of financial restraints.lxx EPC also turned its attention to completing the system of regional emergency government headquarters, of which four were still unbuilt. In 1983, officials began discussions with the New Brunswick government about building a regional emergency government headquarters as part of the Maritime Forestry Complex near Fredericton, but negotiations fell through.lxxi There was no progress on completing the other regional headquarters, and the system remained essentially as it was when funding was frozen in 1968.
In 1985, EPC began to take a greater interest in the Central Emergency Government Headquarters. It negotiated a revised Memorandum with DND for the operation and maintenance of the building at Carp. Under this agreement, DND retained responsibility for maintaining and equipping the physical facilities for emergency government in support of the planning arrangements developed by EPC. For its part, EPC began to revise the outdated plans and procedures for manning, activation, and operation of the CEGHQ. At the same time, it established an advisory committee composed of representatives of departments with emergency government functions to review and update their operations manuals; this group met at the central facility several times.lxxii By 1987, EPC and Supply and Services Canada had completed a review of all material requirements for emergency government headquarters and EPC continued to evaluate proposed emergency rations to be stored in protected sites.lxxiii Finally, during 1985, 1986, and 1987, EPC conducted a number of training exercises at CEGHQ which simulated nuclear attacks on North America.lxxiv
IV International Relations
1 North Atlantic Treaty Organization
EPC was responsible for coordinating Canada’s civil emergency planning obligations under NATO. It maintained a permanent attaché to the Canadian delegation at NATO headquarters in Brussels, and EPC representatives sat on a number of NATO committees. The Executive Director attended the twice-yearly meetings of the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC) which reported directly to the NATO Council on emergency planning matters. The permanent attaché represented EPC at the Committee’s monthly sessions.lxxv
SCEPC planned and coordinated the activities of eight committees or boards, including the Civil Defence Committee, upon which the Director General, Plans, sat. Representatives to the other committees were provided by federal departments which were responsible for individual functions (for example, an official of Agriculture Canada on the Food and Agriculture Committee). These were planning committees concerned with preparing detailed operating procedures. They were responsible for manning NATO Civil Wartime Agencies (NCWA) which would come into being if NATO were faced with a serious crisis or war. (These appear to be analogous to the Canadian NEAs.) EPC arranged for an interdepartmental review of all emergency planning papers for NATO meetings to ensure consistency with federal policy.lxxvi
In the 1970s and early 1980s NATO paid little attention to civil emergency planning even as the armed forces of the member nations (which were suffering cutbacks to their logistical capabilities) were coming to depend more and more on civil resources to back them up.lxxvii This NATO emphasis began to shift by 1984. That year the Organization held a National Emergency Planning Symposium, and the next year it inaugurated a yearly training course on civil-military cooperation in wartime planning. EPC sent representatives to the symposium and participated in the training courses held in West Germany.lxxviii
In Canada, EPC contributed to enhancing NATO’s civil emergency planning capabilities. In 1985, EPC officials briefed students from the NATO Defence College on Canadian civil emergency planning during a visit to Ottawa on their North American tour. EPC coordinated Canadian civil participation in NATO high level exercises in the HILEX and WINTEX-CIMEX series. Through the Interdepartmental Exercise Coordinating Committee, EPC was able to arrange for senior participation which contributed significantly to the success of the exercises and to practising and improving Canadian crisis management machinery.lxxix
2 United States of America
Agreements on cooperation and coordination of the use of resources for the defence of Canada and the United States date back to the Ogdensburg Agreement of 1940 and the Hyde Park Declaration of 1941. Subsequent agreements in 1951 and 1963 addressed civil defence arrangements but proved inadequate. Consequently, in 1967 the United States/Canada Civil Emergency Planning Agreement was effected by an exchange of notes and signed in Ottawa on 8 August 1967. This agreement provided for consultation and cooperation in civil emergency planning between the two countries. Its purpose was to ensure that the national plans of each were as compatible as was considered desirable and possible by both parties. Between 1967 and 1972, there was considerable activity and a number of committees were set up to study different sectors of civil emergency planning, such as transportation, manpower, food, etc. At the same time, over 60 separate agreements were signed between contiguous provinces and states to arrange for assistance in emergencies. In 1972, all formal bilateral activities under the Agreement ceased. The civil emergency organizations in the United States and Canada were being restructured. The doctrine of mutual deterrence to prevent nuclear war downplayed the necessity for civil defence with a consequent reduction in funding. For about 10 years, the Agreement, while technically in effect, lay dormant.lxxx
When the Cold War began to heat up again in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, Canada’s role in the joint defence of North America once again became a matter for discussion. This recognized the interdependence of the civil emergency planning in the two countries. Consultation was revived in February 1982 when American and Canadian officials met in Washington to determine if the 1967 agreement still provided an adequate framework for cooperation in civil emergency planning for war. They agreed that the accord should remain in effect while all existing bilateral arrangements covered by it were to be reviewed sector by sector (e.g. transportation, communications, etc.) to determine whether they were still valid. As this review went forward it was expanded to include planning for peace time emergencies as well. By June 1984, an umbrella agreement had been drafted. It provided for the negotiation of bilateral sub-agreements on specific emergency planning subjects of mutual concern. Over the next two years, discussions continued between EPC and the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Finally, in Ottawa in late April 1986, the Agreement between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Cooperation in Comprehensive Civil Emergency Planning and Management was signed by W. B. Snarr, Executive Director of EPC and the Honorable Julius W. Becton, Jr., Director of FEMA.lxxxi
The centrepiece of the Agreement was a list of 10 principles of cooperation intended to establish a framework for the conclusion of future bilateral arrangements for civil emergency planning. It set out the reciprocal rules for treating citizens, workers, equipment, and other resources entering or in the other country’s territory. Neither government was to levy taxes on or make unusual charges for the use of the other’s equipment. Each government pledged to facilitate the movement of workers and equipment across the border when deemed necessary. The agreement’s principles allowed for the proper security and cooperative use of equipment and personnel and the disposal of perishable goods on the other’s territory. Finally, each government undertook to encourage contiguous provincial, state, and local governments to conclude cooperative emergency agreements.
The Agreement also established a consultative group of officials, co-chaired by the Executive Director of EPC and the Director of FEMA. Its mandate was to encourage, facilitate and oversee the coordination of civil emergency planning and management in all areas of mutual interest. Among its responsibilities was making recommendations to the governments of Canada and the United States about the development of studies, the exchange of information, and the development and coordination of emergency plans and recommendations. As well, this group was to encourage and facilitate the planning and development of mutual cooperation for comprehensive civil emergency management by provinces, states, and municipalities. It could establish working groups to carry out various tasks.lxxxii The Consultative Group very quickly began its work. By 1988, working groups had been set up to study exercises, communications, transportation, and health services with mandates to propose detailed bilateral arrangements.lxxxiii
V Emergencies Legislation
At the Federal-Provincial Conference on emergency planning in June 1981, Yvon Pinard questioned the adequacy of Canadian emergencies legislation, in particular the War Measures Act. He pointed out that the War Measures Act was deficient on two grounds. First, it did not embody human rights safeguards as set out in the Canadian Bill of Rights of 1960 or in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or in Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil Rights to which Canada had been a signatory. Secondly, the War Measures Act was designed for a war emergency, not for civil disasters, and its use during the FLQ October Crisis of 1970 provoked adverse criticism. What was needed, Pinard argued, was a continuing statute on emergencies. Without such legislation in place, it would be necessary to enact hurriedly prepared and perhaps flawed provisions, or, if Parliament were not in session, to act extra-legally.
Pinard defined four categories of emergencies:
∙ public safety and welfare
∙ public order
∙ international crisis
He argued that new legislation was necessary to deal with each type of emergency. Such legislation should embody a number of basic principles — safeguards to protect individual rights, prompt confirmation of its invocation by Parliament, compensation for losses suffered by the use of exceptional powers, and timely consultation with provincial governments and private interests directly affected.lxxxiv
Soon responsibility for civil emergency planning was transferred from Pinard as Secretary of State to the Minister of National Defence. Perhaps this is the reason that reform of emergency legislation hung fire under the Liberal government. During the election campaign of 1984, the Progressive Conservatives promised to repeal the War Measures Act. In 1985, following their victory, the Minister of National Defence announced that it was the government’s intention to enact comprehensive emergencies legislation covering the full spectrum of potential emergency situations. In consultation with the provincial governments and other federal departments, EPC undertook to develop drafting guidance for this legislation.lxxxv
The proposal put forward was very similar to that outlined by Pinard in 1981. The four categories of emergency that Pinard had defined were retained. Fundamental freedoms and civil rights were to be respected. Provincial governments were to be consulted. In February 1986, in preparation for introducing this legislation into the House of Commons, the Minister convened a Federal-Provincial Conference of ministers responsible for emergency planning. Work continued on the legislation throughout 1986 and into 1987. On 26 June, two bills were introduced into the House of Commons, the Emergency Preparedness Act (Bill C-76) and the Emergencies Act (Bill C-77). The Emergency Planning Order 1981 was revoked at the same time.lxxxvi
The Emergencies Act, which replaced the War Measures Act, provided the government of Canada with the means to respond to national emergencies. Actions taken under its provisions would be subject to Parliament’s right to review and the provinces were to be consulted. At the same time the fundamental rights of individuals were respected. The Act defined four types of emergency:
∙ Public Welfare Emergency
∙ Public Order Emergency
∙ International Emergency
∙ War Emergency
It provided for the Governor in Council to declare an emergency under one of these headings and then to make orders or regulations to deal with it. Such measures would be subject to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights. It must also take into account the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, especially in regard to those fundamental rights that were not to be limited or abridged even in an emergency. Before the government could declare an emergency, moreover, the provincial authorities in the province or provinces affected had to be consulted.
The Act required that the government account for its actions before Parliament within a specified time. Before the government could extend or amend a declaration it had to come back to Parliament for approval. The period during which any declaration applied was limited and the nature of the emergency measures that could be undertaken were also restricted. Furthermore, the Act provided for compensation for loss, injury, or damage unfairly suffered by an individual as a result of its application. The Act was designed so that each part of it could be invoked separately, but in the unlikely event of an extreme situation more than one part could be invoked simultaneously.lxxxvii
At the same time that the Emergencies Act was introduced into the House of Commons, the government also fulfilled another of its election promises. While in opposition the Progressive Conservatives had criticized Emergency Planning Order 1981 both for its content and for its legal basis. The Order relied upon the Royal Prerogative rather than a statute, an unusual situation. Legally it was not clear how the National Emergency Agencies (NEA) set out in the Order could be activated to deal with a peacetime emergency since no special emergencies legislation existed. In wartime, of course, the War Measures Act applied. The official opposition also expressed grave concerns over certain powers to be exercised during a war emergency — namely, the creation of internment camps and the imposition of censorship.lxxxviii In addition the mandate, role, and responsibility of EPC had not been defined by statute. Consequently the government revoked Emergency Planning Order 1981 and introduced the Emergency Preparedness Act.
The Emergency Preparedness Act established EPC as a branch of the Public Service of Canada, presided over by a Minister and under the direction of an Executive Director. Its mission was clear:
The purpose of Emergency Preparedness Canada is to advance civil preparedness in Canada for emergencies of all types, including war and other armed conflict, by facilitating and coordinating, among government institutions and in cooperation with provincial governments, foreign governments and international organizations, the development and implementation of civil emergency plans.lxxxix
The act went on to detail the functions of EPC with respect to the development of civil emergency plans. These included provincial and local planning, providing training and education, enhancing public awareness, conducting research, providing for continuity of government, and coordinating and supporting the development and testing of civil emergency plans of government departments, provincial and local authorities, and international agencies. It also set out EPC’s functions with respect to the implementation of civil emergency plans. These included monitoring potential, imminent, or actual emergencies, and the coordination or support, as required, of federal departmental plans and of assistance to a province during or after an emergency. The Act went on to define federal ministerial responsibilities to develop civil emergency plans for peace and war emergencies related to the minister’s area of accountability. Finally, it made provision for the government to make orders and regulations dealing with departmental plans and the use of federal resources in response to emergencies.xc
The Emergency Preparedness Act was finally approved on 27 April 1988 and proclaimed on 1 October 1988. Essentially it gave statutory recognition to an existing situation. In the words of one writer:
Proclamation of C-76 [Emergency Preparedness Act] will mean little change to the work of emergency planners. The political and legal atmosphere in which it is carried out, however, stands to improve appreciably. Emergency preparedness now has a statutory base.xci
At the beginning of the decade, civil emergency planning in Canada was moribund. By 1988, it had been given vigorous new life. In the interim, lines of communication were reopened between the federal government and the provinces and a series of Memoranda of Understanding had been signed which defined their respective responsibilities in the field of civil emergency planning. A new joint financial program (JEPP) had been put in place to encourage provincial participation. EPC had assumed the administration of the Disaster Financial Assistance (DFA) arrangements which helped to pay for disaster recovery. Federal departments (to a greater or lesser extent) were taking disaster planning more seriously and their plans were being considered in totality rather than piecemeal. EPC was actively pursuing its mandate.
Once it was transferred back to EPC, the Canadian Civil Emergencies College at Arnprior offered an increasing number of courses to federal, provincial, and local officials charged with emergency planning responsibilities. EPC sponsored research on a wide variety of subjects related to emergency planning, but in particular on computer applications for teaching and for decision making. A major continuing project also investigated the behaviour of organizations and individuals in crisis situations. EPC had been increasingly aware of the need for communication with the public and instituted an active publicity program through radio, television, publications, and exhibits. While there was new attention paid to the continuity of government program, the system of emergency government headquarters was not completed. Although EPC continued to work with NATO, major international attention focused on the renewal of Canada’s lapsed emergency planning relationship with the United States. A new agreement was negotiated to provide the framework for a series of bilateral studies and agreements on emergency planning.
Finally, new emergencies legislation was enacted. When the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act, it set out the rules for dealing with four types of emergencies (including war) while preserving fundamental human rights. For the first time the Emergency Preparedness Act established Emergency Preparedness Canada as an agency of the Public Service of Canada reporting to a minister and set out its responsibilities. The stage was set for Emergency Preparedness Canada to move on into the 1990s.
Chapter VToward the Millennium — Emergency Preparedness Planning in the 1990s
With the passing of the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Preparedness Act, the statutory foundations of emergency preparedness planning and response in Canada were in place. Emergency Preparedness Canada needed to stand back and examine the implications of the legislation. The Emergencies Act defined four types of emergency requiring much broader planning and an increased emphasis on the need for provincial consultation in the preparation and implementation of emergency plans. At the same time, federal-provincial financial programs, like JEPP and DFA Arrangements, continued unchanged.
Under the Emergency Preparedness Act, EPC’s role remained much as before. Its responsibilities continued to be to encourage, coordinate, and facilitate emergency preparedness planning within the federal government and between federal, provincial/territorial, and municipal authorities. EPC continued to emphasize research, training, and public awareness although it became more involved in exercising plans than it had been in the 1980s.
These new acts were passed in a relatively stable climate in 1988. Soon afterward, things rapidly began to change. The political revolutions that were unfolding in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union meant a refocusing of EPCs international commitments, especially in NATO. In Canada, budget cuts and downsizing began to have dramatic affects on EPC. During the 1990s, the organization would lose its departmental status and have to seek new ways to continue to fulfil its mandate. As the millennium approached it joined other government departments in the search for private sector partnerships.
II Civil Emergency Planning in the Federal Government
1 Organizational Change
At the highest level, emergency preparedness planning by the federal government was guided and coordinated by the Minister’s Advisory Committee on Emergency Preparedness (MACEP). This Committee was set up following the creation of EPC as a separate agency within the Public Service of Canada. It was chaired by EPC’s Executive Director and composed of assistant deputy ministers from the principal departments and agencies with policy and program responsibilities for emergencies. Its mandate was to advise the Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness on major policy and program issues affecting federal emergency preparedness as a whole. MACEP was also to be a vehicle to encourage cooperation among government departments and agencies. Its role was to reinforce the importance of emergency preparedness and response among senior officials.i
The Emergency Preparedness Act, which was proclaimed on 1 October 1988, designated EPC as a department within Schedule B of the Financial Administration Act. Under its provisions, EPC was no longer dependent upon the Department of National Defence for certain administrative matters, but instead was entirely responsible for its own affairs.ii This shift in responsibilities resulted in a reorganization of the agency. The major change was the creation of a third branch, Corporate Programs, under a director general. With four directors, this new branch was responsible for corporate planning and coordination, finance and administration, human resources, and informatics. The other two branches were renamed Readiness and Operations (formerly Operations) and Program Development (formerly Plans). While there were minor changes in these branches (as reflected by changes in nomenclature), their responsibilities continued much as before. There were now three Directors General under the Executive Director who in turn reported to the Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness, the Minister of National Defence.iii
This organizational arrangement remained in effect until early in 1992. In February of that year, as a cost cutting measure, it was announced in the budget speech that EPC was to be rolled back into the Department of National Defence. Under the new arrangement, EPC no longer reported to the Minister of National Defence but to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. While the agency was still headed by the Executive Director, the positions of Directors General of Corporate Programs and Program Development were eliminated. The position of Director General, Readiness and Operations, to whom the nine Regional Directors reported, remained on the organization chart. Some of the administrative functions of the former Corporate Programs Branch were also diverted to the Department of National Defence.iv These organizational changes did not affect EPC’s responsibilities. These administrative changes have remained in effect throughout the 1990s v, although they required confirmation by an amendment to the Emergency Preparedness Act under which EPC had been created. This statutory requirement was fulfilled when Bill C-65, an act to reorganize and dissolve certain federal agencies, received royal assent on 31 July 1995. Its amendments were entirely administrative and did not in any way affect the mandate of EPC.vi
Following the decision to fold EPC back into the Department of National Defence, MACEP was replaced by the Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee which assumed its responsibilities. Although it was still composed of assistant deputy ministers of the federal departments and agencies directly involved in emergency preparedness, the advisory committee was chaired by the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff who, as noted above, was directly responsible for EPC. The mandate of the Committee remained the same as that of MACEP.vii In the words of the Annual Report of 1992-93:
The Emergency Preparedness Advisory Committee will be the main forum for interdepartmental consultation and management of the government’s emergency preparedness program, balancing program priorities to ensure that high-probability, low impact emergencies can be responded to effectively in all parts of the country, while also providing for the development of emergency arrangements to deal with less likely, but large-scale emergencies.viii
In other words, anything from a winter storm to a nuclear accident.
2 Orders and Regulations
Once the federal government began to consider the ramifications of the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Preparedness Act, MACEP recommended that EPC begin developing the orders and regulations that were required to bring into effect provisions of the new acts.ix EPC also began work with the Department of Justice to assemble materials so that it could advise the departments on the implications of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in their planning activities. This advice was especially important as departments began to draft orders and regulations for use in a national emergency.x
EPC prepared model proclamations declaring in effect the four states of emergency defined by the Emergencies Act. These were drafted in such a way that the actual details of the emergency could be inserted as necessary for a draft proclamation to be immediately dispatched for Cabinet consideration. As legal instruments that would require immediate execution, they were carefully prepared in conjunction with the Department of Justice and vetted by the department’s Privy Council Section.xi EPC also prepared draft orders declaring certain provincial emergencies to be of concern to the federal government and authorizing financial assistance to provinces requesting aid. This action is allowed under Section 9 of the Emergency Preparedness Act.xii
Part V of the Emergencies Act provides for paying reasonable compensation to any person who suffers loss, injury, or damage as a result of actions taken under Parts I to IV of the Act or of any proclamation, order, or regulation made under it. When the Gulf War prompted EPC to think seriously about the need for compensation regulations, it consulted with a number of interested departments to prepare draft regulations. Under the appropriate circumstances, these could be used to give effect to Part V of the Act.xiii
In consultation with key departments and agencies EPC also began to prepare the Civil Emergency Preparedness Management Order. In part, this Order was intended to replace the recently revoked 1981 Emergency Planning Order. It set out the particular responsibilities of Ministers for emergency planning in their respective sectors. By 1991, a consensus had been reached and the general form of the Order was ready for promulgation. By then, however, priorities had changed. Work on the Order was replaced by the more comprehensive review of Canada’s 12-year-old federal policy for emergencies.xiv
3 Emergency Preparedness Policy
The Annual Report to Parliament, 1992-93, announcing EPC’s integration into the Department of National Defence, noted that “[t]he federal government’s emergency preparedness policy is not directly affected, but is under review for routine updating.”xv That policy originated in 1980. The other document defining government activity, the Emergency Planning Order 1981, which outlined the duties of key departments and agencies in an emergency, had been revoked in 1987. Therefore, a review of policy was both timely and necessary to make sure it conformed to the new emergencies legislation. In early May 1995, the Government approved a revised Federal Policy for Emergencies.xvi
The new policy was not a radical departure from preceding practices, although there were some features that should be noted. It included a description of the emergency planning responsibilities of key departments, agencies, and crown corporations. While individual Ministers remained responsible for identifying and planning for emergencies under Section 7 of the Emergency Preparedness Act, the nature of the emergencies to be accommodated had broadened. This was addressed by instituting two stages of planning. The first would handle emergencies of a lesser scale, which were within the department’s normal legislative authority, such as providing assistance to a provincial or territorial government or dealing with a crisis in its jurisdiction. The second would relate to catastrophic natural disasters, threats to the public order, international crises, or war which might entail the use of extraordinary powers as outlined under the Emergencies Act.
Another new feature was the explicit statement of an all-hazards approach to emergency preparedness. This provided formal recognition of a basic principle of emergency preparedness in Canada and indeed in most Western nations. EPC had identified more than 60 potential causes for emergencies in Canada: devising response plans for each emergency was unrealistic. Instead, plans were keyed to the adverse effects common to most emergencies rather than to their diverse causes.
The 1995 revised Federal Policy for Emergencies reaffirmed the federal government’s leadership role in developing a credible national capability to meet all types of emergencies. It recognized that working closely with other governments, voluntary and private agencies was necessary to achieve this capability. It also restated the mission of EPC:
Emergency Preparedness Canada’s role, on behalf of the Minister Responsible for Emergency Preparedness, is to advance civil preparedness in Canada for emergencies of all types, including the four types of national emergencies set out in the Emergencies Act. This is accomplished by facilitating and coordinating, among government institutions and in cooperation with provincial governments, foreign governments and international organizations, the development of civil emergency plans and assisting, when required, in their implementation.xvii
4 National Emergency Arrangements
The 1980 Federal Policy on Emergency Planning and the 1981 Emergency Planning Order had assigned certain departments and agencies the responsibility of creating National Emergency Agencies (NEA). The purpose of these bodies was to control and regulate the use of national resources when a serious national emergency occurred, although it was not until the mid-1980s that departments were given additional resources to focus on this task. Even then, the initial planning of NEAs had focussed on the threat of war. This may have been because the only circumstances envisaged in which an NEA would be activated was a conventional war overseas or a nuclear attack on North America or because the War Measures Act was the only legislation which could be invoked to activate an NEA. In any case, when the passage of the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures Act as the basis for crisis response, it provided a broader definition of national emergency, one which included public welfare, public order, and international causes as well as war.xviii
While creation of NEAs was the responsibility of certain departments, the Emergency Preparedness Act required that all departments develop emergency plans within their area of responsibility for peace or war. This would enable them to provide for the safety of their organizations and staffs, to ensure the continuity of essential services to the public, and to provide support to other departments and other levels of government facing an emergency. This system reduced the importance of NEAs. Rather than the main vehicles for federal emergency response, they became only one element in the wider range of national emergency arrangements for which all departments were responsible.
In its role of facilitator and coordinator, EPC attempted to establish milestones for the development of national emergency arrangements. It targeted the fall of 1990, the date established for the start of the exercise CANATEX 90, as the completion date for the federal component of national emergency arrangements planning. Most departments had completed the federal component of their national emergency arrangements for emergencies under Part III (international) and Part IV (war)of the Emergencies Act by this date. At the same time , all departments made good progress in the planning of their contributions to the National Earthquake Support Plan. Developed to meet the possibility of a major earthquake in British Columbia, this plan became a model for developing a generic set of national emergency arrangements for a Part I public welfare emergency. The departments also collaborated to create a national counter-terrorism plan. This was to be the basis of national emergency arrangements for a Part II public order emergency.xix
The Emergencies Act required consultation between the federal and provincial governments before an emergency could be proclaimed. These consultative requirements were especially stringent with regard to public welfare and public order emergencies which were under provincial government jurisdiction, with the federal government assigned a supportive rather than a lead role.xx At a conference in February 1992, senior federal, provincial, and territorial officials endorsed a set of consultative guidelines which were to be followed in a national emergency.xxi Then, over the next few years, these governments began the complicated process of working out specific consultative arrangements and coordinating the application of their individual emergency plans. The emergency arrangements being devised were considered “national” not “federal”, acknowledging the joint efforts of all orders of government as well as the private sector and non-governmental organizations.xxii Their work continued, but
progress is to a considerable degree dependent upon the extent of intergovernmental consultation that can be undertaken with the limited planning resources and competing priorities common to many jurisdictions.xxiii
III Federal-Provincial Relations and Emergency Planning
1 Federal Provincial Conferences
Consultation and cooperation between the federal and provincial/territorial governments has always been considered of prime importance in creating a national emergency preparedness program in Canada. For many years, this was facilitated by holding annual federal-provincial conferences for officials and meetings for ministers responsible for emergency measures as the occasion demanded. Such conferences “…provide[d] a high-level forum for discussion of policy and planning and operational matters of mutual concern.”xxiv This practice of high-level consultation continued after the new emergencies legislation was passed. Indeed, there seemed to be an increased interest at the ministerial level. Ministers met in Prince Edward Island in 1989, in Alberta in 1990, and in the Yukon in 1992.xxv
A number of decisions were made at these meetings. One was the creation of a Council of Ministers Responsible for Emergency Preparedness. Another endorsed Canada’s participation in the International Decade for the Reduction of Natural Disasters and subsequently established federal, provincial, and territorial representation on the National Committee to organize Canadian activities. The Council recognized the importance of training at the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College and instructed officials to develop a national training strategy. It also worked out the inter-relationship between provincial and municipal emergency plans and federal emergency plans for land under federal control, such as Indian reserves, national parks, and military bases.xxvi
Senior officials hold annual meetings to deal with issues raised by the ministerial meetings and to work out other problems. In fact, the new emergencies legislation raised a need for more frequent and formal inter-governmental consultation. Before a state of emergency could be declared, the federal government was required to consult with the provincial government or governments affected.xxvii The Emergency Preparedness Act made it incumbent upon EPC
to establish arrangements with each province whereby any consultation with the lieutenant governor in council of the province with respect to a declaration of an emergency under any Act of Parliament can be effectively carried out.xxviii
EPC recognized its responsibilities, and at conferences in 1989 and early in 1990 officials began discussions to work out the appropriate consultative process.xxix
2 The Role of the Regional Directors
From a federal standpoint, the Regional Director in each provincial capital is the key figure in coordinating the cooperation that creates a national system of emergency preparedness and response. (By 1991-2, Prince Edward Island had become the responsibility of the Regional Director in Halifax.xxx) He works very closely with provincial, territorial, and other federal officials. He keeps the federal government attuned to provincial and territorial needs. He helps to administer federal emergency planning programs and ensures that federal emergency planning initiatives mesh with those undertaken by other governments. He facilitates joint ventures between various levels of government. At times of emergency, he coordinates federal support in the absence of a lead department or until such a department is designated.
The Regional Director provides a single point of access to the federal government on all emergency preparedness matters. As such, he handles all provincial requests for training at the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College in Arnprior. He advises and coordinates the preparation and submission of JEPP proposals to the Headquarters of EPC. He assesses and processes claims made under the Federal Disaster Assistance Arrangements. In summary, the Regional Director serves as a critical conduit between each province/territory and the federal government.xxxi
3 Memoranda of Understanding
During the 1980s the federal government had negotiated Memoranda of Understanding with provincial and territorial governments, setting out the functions and responsibilities of each for emergency preparedness. By 1988, 10 MOUs had been signed with the provinces and territories, with only Quebec and Alberta not formally agreeing to terms. This remains the case in 1998.
4 Joint Emergency Preparedness Program
The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) was founded in 1980 to provide federal support to provincial/territorial projects intended to enhance national emergency response capability. During the 1990s, it continued to allocate substantial federal funds for this purpose. In 1988-89, this was a $6.5 million program, but as the federal government began to practise increased fiscal restraint, its funding began to decline year by year. By 1996-97, it had been reduced to $4.2 million. A similar amount was committed for 1997-98.xxxii As in the past, the projects submitted for funding varied greatly. During the 1990s, they had ranged from purchase of specialized rescue equipment for Beauséjour, Manitoba, to funding for a multi-departmental radio system to improve emergency response for the Yukon, to support for a province-wide high-frequency-based emergency telecommunications system in Quebec. Projects approved had generally emphasized development and evaluation of emergency plans and training programs and the purchase of communications and emergency response equipment.
Although all the funds available were not used in the early years of the program, they were committed well before the end of the fiscal year in the 1990s. To ensure fair access to all provinces and territories EPC was prompted to make changes to the program. A new block funding arrangement was implemented in fiscal year 1994-95. This set aside a certain sum of money — “guarded funds” — for each province or territory, making up about two-thirds of the annual allocation. The amount was calculated according to a set formula: a base amount of $150,000 plus $0.10 per head of population. (For example, in 1993 Prince Edward Island would receive $163,000 as compared to Ontario’s allocation of $1,162,000.) Final approval for projects financed by this money lay with the Executive Director of EPC. JEPP committees in each province or territory performed a preliminary evaluation of proposals and, with the recommendation of the EPC Regional Director, then submitted prioritized lists to EPC headquarters on a fixed date. At the same time that they were reviewed, EPC evaluated proposals competing for non-guarded funds. This new system was designed to allow provinces to recommend the proposals best suited to their needs while escaping from the first-come first-serve situation which had characterized the timing of past applications.
Block funding was not the only change made to JEPP. In-kind contributions (as opposed to actual cash outlay) had been permitted as a form of project funding, but their presence had led to a variety of misunderstandings and aberrations. Consequently it was decided to restrict their use to Five Year Plans and national emergency arrangement planning. Funding for Five Year Plans was also regularized. Five Year Plans had been introduced as a formal approach to initiate some provincial programs with the expectation that federal contributions would decrease as provincial funding grew. When this expectation was not fulfilled, the federal government considered dropping them but realized that withdrawal would unfairly burden the smaller provinces. Eventually Five Year Programs were retained , but funded out of guarded funds only. Problems concerning inconsistent methods auditing projects were also addressed. EPC set out new guidelines, limiting provincial audit to projects with a federal contribution of $50,000 or more. EPC still required that supporting financial documentation be provided for all projects, and that all projects be subject to federal post audit. Finally, since national priorities for JEPP projects had never been properly stated, EPC proposed to collaborate with the provinces and territories to establish national priorities regularly and to review them annually. This would make possible a more efficient deployment of JEPP resources.xxxiii
5 Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements
These arrangements were inaugurated in 1970 to help provinces cope with the cost of disaster recovery. It was placed under EPC administration in the early 1980s and has continued to function. Requests for assistance under the Arrangements continued to be made in the normal manner following a disaster. Although it has not happened, Section 9 of the Emergency Preparedness Act allows the Governor in Council to declare a provincial emergency to be of concern to the federal government and to provide assistance, including financial aid under DFAA, if requested by the province.xxxiv Under DFAA, financial assistance has been provided for recovery from natural disasters such as floods and severe storms. In 1988, DFAA funds provided relief from earthquake damage in Quebec while also funding recovery from a man-made disaster, the PCB fire in St-Basil-le-Grand.xxxv Payments under the DFAA have varied greatly from year to year. In 1990-91, they totalled about $7.5 million, while in 1996-97 they exceeded $144 million.
6 Workers’ Compensation
Throughout the 1980s, the federal government renegotiated workers’ compensation agreements with the provinces and territories that had been in effect since the 1960s. They provided for joint responsibility to share the costs of paying compensation to registered volunteers injured or to their heirs if they were killed during emergency response duties. The federal government was willing to reimburse 75% of payments made by provincial workers’ compensation boards for injury or death to encourage volunteers to participate in emergency response activities. By 1991-92, all provinces and territories, except Ontario and Quebec, had signed these agreements.xxxvi Over the years, federal expenditures under these agreements have never been very significant. In 1992-93, for example, the federal government paid out $29,242 for worker’ compensation.xxxvii
IV Civil Emergency Planning and EPC
At the end of August 1988, all EPC Headquarters staff moved into new accommodation on the second floor of the Jackson Building, 122 Bank Street, Ottawa. This involved much more than merely moving people, desks, and filing cabinets. In particular, the Government Emergency Operations Coordination Centre (GEOCC) had to be brought to full operational readiness in the building. GEOCC, which serves as the ears and eyes of the government of Canada’s emergency preparedness and response system, is a self-contained facility with independent telecommunications, electrical, heating, and ventilation systems. Through its highly sophisticated telecommunications system, it is able to access information from around the world and to monitor potential and actual emergencies around the clock. It collects, analyses, assembles, and distributes information to key decision makers, allowing them to decide which department to recommend to take the lead when an emergency arises. During emergencies, it gathers information vital to the planning of responding agencies.xxxviii
GEOCC is operational 24 hours a day. At night, it is staffed by a watch officer who alerts a senior “on call” officer as well as other federal government control centres if an emergency occurs. In the daytime, a supervisor, a watch officer, and three operations officers normally control the Centre. During an emergency, however, three shifts, each with 10 employees, keep GEOCC operational on a 24 hours basis.xxxix
It is an article of faith that “[e]mergency preparedness depends upon ongoing research and development as the basis for the better delivery of programs, better training methods, and faster and more effective methods of emergency response.”xl One of EPC’s national aims is to stimulate related research and development activity. This is pursued by funding applied research, particularly at Canadian universities. To the same end, EPC sponsors annual symposia on topical subjects for those working in emergency preparedness and related fields. It also encourages the development of Canadian researchers by funding the Stuart Nesbitt White Fellowship. Generally, these projects address four concerns:
1) development of risk and damage assessment models;
2) development of simulation techniques for planning, training, and exercises;
3) development of computer assisted learning and training techniques; and
4) development of methods for evaluating the effectiveness of emergency preparedness measures.xli
EPC has both initiated or sponsored many research projects. One example is an Earthquake Vulnerability Analysis, that was started in 1987 and completed during 1990-91. It was designed to help planners and officials to understand better the behaviour of soils and buildings in earthquakes. Its conclusions could have an impact on land use, building codes, and retrofitting policy.xlii An associated Rockslide Hazard Analysis was supported to assess the probability and behavioural characteristics of rockslides in mountainous terrains. A second example is HERMES (Heuristic Emergency Response Management Expert System) and its successor HERMES II. Developed by EPC with a number of public and private sector partners, HERMES is an emergency response system applicable to dangerous goods mishaps. It uses geographical information systems to generate appropriate response plans specific to the characteristics of the incident.xliii A similar system creating an inventory of health and environmental hazards in the Quebec City area, as a pilot project, was to be used in conjunction with a Geomatic Hazards Simulation Workstation. It provides emergency managers with a comprehensive computer program identifying emergency resources, hazards, and potential effects for any geographical area contained in the database. The Workstation employs a map of Canada from a video disk developed in cooperation with Energy, Mines and Resources Canada.xliv
In keeping with the spirit of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), EPC has been active in creating and coordinating a three-layered multi-hazard approach to natural hazard risk assessment. These layers are made up of i) Atlases, ii)Electronic Map Assessment Tools, and iii) a Poster-Map. The Atlases are intended to be multi-disciplinary, integrated sources of natural hazard and socio-economic data. Several federal agencies gathered information to create such databases. The Atlases will be used by emergency planners and responders to identify potential risks from various natural hazards in the development of emergency plans. They are to be available on CD-Rom. The Canadian Natural Hazards Poster-Map, produced in 1996 by EPC in association with other private- and public-sector sponsors is a full-colour illustrated poster-map displaying a wealth of historical and technical information on the impact of various kinds of natural disasters across Canada.
The other layer is the Natural Hazards Electronics Map and Assessment Tools Information System (NHEMATIS). Developed by a consortium of private sector companies, NHEMATIS is a computer program for the collection, representation, and analysis of natural hazard information which, when combined with information on population and infrastructure, would enable planners and managers to conduct a wide range of analyses relating to risk and vulnerability. It uses an overall hazards display map of Canada along with detailed maps of various cities; more cities are to be added as the project progress.xlv
Finally, EPC continues to award the Stuart Nesbitt White Fellowship for doctoral work on disaster research and emergency planning. The subjects remain varied. During the 1990s, they encompassed psychological reactions to disaster, aspects of training, decision making, and the spread of heavier than air gases over land and water. One interesting award was given to a researcher at Oxford to conduct research on the organizational pitfalls of privatizing social services.xlvi Over the years, the monetary ceiling awarded has been increased; while $10,000 awards have been common, more recently the amount has grown to $15,000 and $18,000.xlvii
3 Training and Education
Following the creation of EPC as a separate agency, the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College at Arnprior remained the fountainhead for training in emergency preparedness and response in Canada. The College gave about 110 sessions of 4 ½ days each year in both official languages. An average of 3,000 participants attended yearly, mostly municipal officials or employees. The teaching staff could train up to 90 people at a time, in three classes of 30 each. During July and August, the school was closed, and staff time was spent evaluating and updating course material.
The core program was taught by CEPC staff. The basic course, “Plans and Operations, Peace”, was a prerequisite for such courses as “Exercise Design, Emergency Operations” or “Emergency Site Management.” The curriculum also offered advanced and highly specialized courses by invitation only — such courses as “Train the Trainer” or “School Board Emergencies Workshop”. An essential 3 ½ day course entitled “Mayors and Elected Officials” was designed to acquaint municipal officials with their role in emergency planning. At the same time, CEPC cooperated with the Department of National Defence, Agriculture Canada, Employment and Immigration Canada, Ports Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and Health And Welfare Canada to provide facilities for their specialized emergency courses. Finally the Arnprior campus was also the site for many one-time seminars as well as an annual national symposium on selected emergency preparedness or response subjects.xlviii CEPC was a highly regarded institution. According to its Director, Hugh Gamble, “Canada was the first country to go into the business of training for peacetime emergencies. We’re years ahead of everybody. In fact, the Americans come up and ask us for advice.”xlix High praise, indeed!
Despite this success a radical change was in the wind. The first indication of change was the Northern Training Initiative. In 1989, college staff developed and taught a course designed for elected officials in the north. The first session was given in Iqualiut to an Inuit audience from all over the Eastern Arctic, and then in Fort Providence to Dene mayors and councillors from the lower Mackenzie region. Simultaneous translation into native languages was provided during both presentations. So successful was the course that it was repeated during succeeding summers in Rankin Inlet, Tuktoyaktuk, and again in Iqualiut.l An emergency preparedness training program for Indian reserves was similar to the Northern Training Initiative. Such a program was considered necessary because of the relative isolation of many reserves, the limitation of services generally available, and the dangers of natural disasters. EPC advised Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, which was the lead department for emergency preparedness on the reserves, on developing courses to train Band members in emergency preparedness and response.li The Northern Initiative was a minor change although indicative of a major shift in training philosophy that was to come.
In 1988, a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Conference decided that the number of people being trained in emergency preparedness and response was inadequate to meet the need. This decision was recognized the next year when the Federal-Provincial Committee of Senior Officials Responsible for Emergency Preparedness created a Task Force on training, education, and research relating to emergency preparedness. The Task Force found that the current training capacity could meet, at most, only 10% of the essential needs across the country. In 1991, the Task Force report and recommendations were put before the Council of Ministers Responsible for Emergency Planning.
The Task Force recognized the need to train 30,000 workers a year in emergency preparedness and response. To accomplish this tremendous task, it recommended a decentralized program in which each provincial jurisdiction would handle its own basic training requirements in accordance with national standards. CEPC would remain the focal point for training, but it would offer only specialized courses and other training requirements which were primarily federal in nature. Federal training resources should remain at the current level or, if possible, be increased. In addition, each jurisdiction should draw up plans to take over the responsibility for training over the next three years. An implementation task force should also be established to develop a transition plan to coordinate the process and to recommend a permanent mechanism to oversee emergency preparedness in Canada. The Council of Ministers accepted the report, approved the recommendations, and commissioned an Implementation Planning Group (IPG) to prepare a detailed plan to realize the federal-provincial strategy.
By September 1993, the IPG had submitted a national strategy for emergency preparedness training and education that was approved by the Council of Ministers. This plan provided for a transition period of five years, over which the provinces and territories would concentrate on the delivery of training courses. CEPC would focus on providing support through research, program development, and the training of instructors. Direction and coordination of the transition would be the responsibility of the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Training Conference. While IPG recommended that each jurisdiction should allocate additional resources to implement the strategy, it also recommended that more JEPP funds be allocated to training purposes. Greater effort was required to involve other agencies and organizations, especially in the private sector.lii The effect of the implementation of the plan on the college would be substantial. The number of courses would be reduced and the staff would be doing much more development work training the trainers and assisting other people doing training. The College, nevertheless, would remain a centre of excellence. According to the CEPC Director, “Our role, from now on, will be more that of an advanced training centre and a catalyst for emergency preparedness and response in Canada.”liii
4 Planning and Exercises
“One of the basic tenets of emergency preparedness is that an emergency plan that is never tested is next to worthless.”liv EPC continued to be involved in planning and conducting exercises on a number of levels — departmental, provincial, national, and international. All departments were required by Section 7 of the Emergency Preparedness Act to produce emergency plans and to test them. Over the years EPC helped a number of departments to develop plans and stage training exercises. This background has been very important in civil emergencies. In the spring of 1997, for example, 24 departments and agencies successfully activated their emergency plans to respond to various circumstances of the Winnipeg floods.lv Through its Regional Directors, EPC was often a key player in planning and staging joint federal-provincial exercises. REACT 90 in Nova Scotia, for example, involved EPC with private sector, municipal, provincial, and federal emergency response officials, in implementing the largest exercise of its kind ever held in the province.lvi These joint exercises were invaluable. As the Regional Director in Manitoba commented: “I was thankful during the Manitoba floods [of 1997] for all the joint exercises that we have had over the past few years. Although the situation was worse than any of the exercises practised, we were ready to take action.”lvii
At the international level, EPC was responsible for Canadian government participation in NATO exercises and various bilateral exercises held under the authority of the Canada-United States Working Group. EPC and designated departments participated in NATO’s WINTEX-CIMEX 89, designed to test arrangements within the Alliance for intergovernmental consultation and civil support for military activities in an international crisis. The next year, however, NATO cancelled its annual exercise to test member reaction to threats from the Warsaw Pact. As the situation in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe changed, the international climate increasingly called for peace and disarmament.lviii
TRANSBORD III was perhaps the most important exercise held under the authority of the Canada-United States Working Group. It was a bilateral counter-terrorist exercise which EPC co-sponsored with the Ministry of the Solicitor-General along with the collaboration of other departments. In December 1990, EPC hosted a follow-up table top exercise to help pinpoint the deficiencies in cross border and inter- and intra-governmental arrangements for handling terrorist incidents. Thereafter, EPC assisted the Solicitor-General’s department in conducting a series of domestic counter-terrorist exercises.lix
Another major training event was the annual Canadian participation in the Global War Game held at the United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. EPC coordinated the activity of Canadian representatives from eight departments, often at the assistant deputy minister level. These war games provided a comprehensive forum in which to discuss and test civil emergency procedures for responding to an international crisis.lx
Nationally, EPC develops, conducts, and evaluates exercises to ensure that the plans of the various levels of government are compatible. CANATEX 90, held in 1990, was the first national emergency exercise conducted in over 20 years. In cooperation with 21 other federal departments, EPC developed and staged this national civil emergency exercise. Its purpose was “…to exercise crisis management plans and procedures during a national /international crisis requiring the potential mobilization of national resources, military and civil.” Cabinet gave final approval to conduct the exercise in February with the constraint that in deference to the volatile international situation, EPC was “…not to attribute the simulated events of the exercise to real national or geographic areas.” Since this directive precluded debate over geopolitical implications of hypothetical world events, it made the exercise more efficient. It restricted play to activities of departments after they received direction from Cabinet or the Privy Council Office Coordinating Secretariat.
The exercise was a success, if only because it highlighted a number of weak points in federal government emergency planning. The Government Emergency Book, on which Departmental Emergency Books were based, was revealed to be outdated. It needed to detail the transition from peace to international emergency more accurately. None of the four alert systems were found to be particularly helpful in giving officials adequate time to respond to an emergency situation. Departments often needed to intervene before a state of emergency was proclaimed under the Emergencies Act, and it was suggested that modest legislative changes were required to allow for this. Policies for public protection and continuity of government were judged inadequate. Canada required an industrial mobilization plan to support the armed forces. Communication arrangements were also insufficient and it was recommended that the federal government upgrade its secure communications network to meet the needs of an international emergency.
Although a few departments failed to participate sufficiently to gain any significant benefit from the exercise, most departments responded well. Generally, CANATEX 90 proved to be “…an excellent vehicle to evaluate a broad cross-section of emergency preparedness issues.” It forcibly demonstrated the need for emergency planning. What was needed next was aggressive follow-up. The findings of the exercise needed to be implemented and tested to ensure emergency preparedness activity especially as it applied to Part III (international emergency) of the Emergencies Act.lxi
Four years later, from 2 to 13 May 1994, EPC conducted CANATEX 2. This was a test of the National Earthquake Support Plan in conjunction with the British Columbia Earthquake Response Plan and the Alberta Support Plan. The exercise hypothesized an earthquake off the British Columbia Coast with a consequent tsunami. The two combined to devastate Vancouver and the lower mainland. CANATEX 2 required extensive detailed planning with representatives from 14 federal departments and agencies, the governments of British Columbia and Alberta, non-governmental organizations like the Red Cross, the St. John Ambulance, and the Salvation Army, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency, and 14 municipalities in British Columbia’s lower mainland. Other provinces provided response teams as well as personnel for control and evaluation of the exercise.
CANATEX 2 successfully engaged the cooperation of many participants. It emphasized the need to fine tune and improve plans, particularly those concerning federal and provincial elements at the British Columbia Response Centre. CANATEX 2 had also provided an opportunity to test successfully the prototype for public welfare emergency planning under Section I of the Emergencies Act.lxii
During the 1990s, EPC demonstrated serious commitment to planning and to testing the plans that it created. The result enhanced national emergency preparedness. In the words of one EPC official:
The benefits of the CANATEX series of exercises are two-fold — they not only provide an opportunity to test and evaluate our national plans in situations that involve all levels of government — they also contribute to increased confidence-building between the participating levels of government through greater understanding and cooperation.lxiii
5 Public Awareness
In the reorganized EPC, the Communications Directorate continued to pursue its public information strategy aggressively. Generally, its three objectives were to ensure:
- that Canadians were aware of the nature and possible impact of emergencies;
- that they were aware of the means of preventing or mitigating their effects;
- that they were aware of the federal government’s response plans.lxiv
EPC used a variety of means to accomplish these goals.
One was public consultation. In the early 1990s, EPC began to conduct polls and surveys to determine public goals and to measure the effectiveness of its information program. These surveys revealed that most Canadians felt that they did not have enough information on what to do in an emergency. The public was interested in learning more about emergency preparedness and disaster planning. Surprisingly, most Canadians were well informed about what they should do to personally cope with crisis. They knew what items to have on hand (flashlight, extra batteries, battery-operated radio), and they had personal strategies for action in different kinds of emergencies.lxv
One effective method of informing the public was direct mailing. In 1992-3, EPC answered 3000 written and verbal enquiries, sent out 250,000 copies of brochures, 17,000 copies of guides, manuals, and course calendars, and 25,000 copies of fact sheets and backgrounders.lxvi A quarterly, the Emergency Preparedness Digest, was sent out free of charge to about 16,000 subscribers. The Digest was an extremely popular publication, said to be the best in the world. Unfortunately, it was expensive and senior management decided that it must be published on a cost recovery basis. Working with Canada Communications Group, Supply and Services Canada, EPC turned the Digest into a priced publication that accepted paid advertising beginning with the April-June 1993 issue.lxvii
A second way to get the emergency preparedness message out was through the media, both print and electronic. EPC reached all the major daily and weekly newspapers through a cross-Canada wire service. This resulted in unprecedented coverage and often brought follow-up requests for interviews. It also carried EPC’s self-help hints to an estimated four million readers in the pages of community newspapers. The Communications Directorate also took advantage of numerous cheque presentations under JEPP or DFA Arrangements to explain the federal role in emergencies and the importance of being prepared.lxviii
As well as using the press, EPC worked out cooperative arrangements with radio and television stations to air about $3 million worth of free public service announcements. These often featured well-known personalities performing dramatic vignettes. In 1990-1, for example, EPC distributed nationwide four television public service announcements which dramatized self-help hints on emergency preparedness.lxix
EPC also targeted the primary school system “…to inculcate awareness at an early age.” In cooperation with provincial school authorities in Ontario, EPC introduced a multi-media, bilingual educational kit on emergency preparedness into 15 primary schools. There was a good mix of urban and rural, Anglophone and Francophone students and the reaction of both students and teachers was positive.lxx EPC then turned to the private sector and signed a licensing agreement with a private firm to market and distribute the kit.lxxi This was followed up by a video in 1994. EPC cooperated with teachers and an eight member working committee to produce Emergency!, a video aimed at students in grades seven through 10. It came with a teachers’ guide and was designed to make students aware of the need for emergency preparedness and self reliance.lxxii
Along with other federal government departments and agencies, EPC suffered severe funding cutbacks as the 1990s progressed. In response it became more innovative in working cooperatively with other organizations with emergency preparedness objectives. Launched by EPC in 1995, SAFE GUARD has become the main vehicle for this activity. SAFE GUARD is basically a network of partners representing government, private, and voluntary organizations drawn together by the common goal of promoting public awareness of emergency preparedness and response in Canada. It provides a base from which to share ideas and pool scarce resources to create a comprehensive and focused, national-in-scope communications program. EPC set up a Secretariat to manage the cooperative program, and in October 1995 the first general meeting of SAFE GUARD partners was held (in person or by conference call) at EPC headquarters in Ottawa. There a steering committee was formed to assume strategic leadership of the SAFE GUARD program.lxxiii
Even before the first general meeting a new series of public service announcements were distributed to newspapers, radio, and television across Canada under the SAFE GUARD label, as a joint project of the Canadian Red Cross and EPC. During 1995 and 1996, SAFE GUARD cooperated with a number of partners to revise and re-issue a series of EPC publications. The first of the series, Expect the Unexpected, was produced in association with the Canadian Red Cross. A later booklet, Basic Rescue Skills, was supported by the St. John Ambulance, Sauvetage Canada Rescue, Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs, City of Toronto Fire Academy, and Health Canada.lxxiv A number of other publications were reissued with the cooperation of different partners. Taking advantage of the latest technology, SAFE GUARD developed an Internet site in association with Simon Fraser University. This web site provided links to other partners’ home pages.lxxv During National Emergency Preparedness Week, 5-11 May 1997, SAFE GUARD partners organized a host of activities across the country to illustrate the theme, “Can it happen here? — Know the risks in YOUR community.”lxxvi
SAFE GUARD grew into a very successful program encompassing more than 60 organizations. As a result, it was transferred to the management of a newly formed independent, stand alone, not-for-profit organization, Emergency Preparedness Partners. This was a new organization formed on 18 August 1997, to “…continue the work done by the communications team at Emergency Preparedness Canada….” In this new forum, SAFE GUARD could operate with fewer bureaucratic restraints and have access to an even larger pool of partners. There would be a three year transition period in which EPC would ensure stability by a continuing, although decreasing, financial contribution. EPC would remain a SAFE GUARD partner.lxxvii
6 Essential Records Program and Business Resumption Planning
EPC had always been aware of the need to identify and preserve records that would be essential for government to function during and after a national crisis. In the past, efforts to encourage departments to establish essential records programs had met with mixed success. In the 1990s, EPC continued to coordinate an essential records program although the agency felt the need to issue a warning:
In a period of restraint, senior departmental managers will have to be particularly resourceful to ensure that each department meets its Minister’s emergency preparedness responsibilities [in connection with this program].lxxviii
To help managers do their jobs, EPC revised a 1987 guide to record requirements. It was published in 1994 as The Preservation of Essential Records — A guide for government, organizations, institutions and businesses. This guide
provides a brief introduction to the concept of essential records and gives basic guidelines on establishing an essential records program within the context of emergency preparedness and business resumption planning.lxxix
Business resumption planning originated in the private sector and is a relatively new concept within the federal government. Its objective was to maintain or restore the essential operations of an organization or a government department in a disaster. This capacity to resume operations was seen as particularly important to government departments or agencies that provide a direct and essential service to the Canadian public.
Treasury Board identified the benefits of business resumption planning and set up a working group to examine the concept and to determine how it could be applied to the public sector. The Working Group, which included representatives from EPC, produced a manual in February 1992 “…that defines the standard techniques for business resumption planning in federal departments and provides a methodology for applying the technique.” Since then, information on business resumption planning has been made widely available to managers. EPC, in association with the RCMP and Transport Canada, produced a descriptive video of the technique. EPC also helped to design and conduct a series of training workshops for departmental managers.lxxx
7 Vital Points Program
Certain plants, facilities, and services are vital to the ability of Canadian society to cope with national emergencies. Through the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on Vital Points, EPC manages a program that identifies, and ensures access to, information on which installations should be protected. It has grouped Vital Points into three general categories for administrative purposes. Category I Vital Points are critical to the nation as a whole and are generally unique. Because of their importance, they are protected by the Ministry of the Solicitor-General. Those in Category II and Category III may be either federal or provincial, and their protection is the responsibility of their owners.
Federal vital points are recorded in a computerized listing of approved facilities. This gives quick access to important information on each Vital Point, such as location, similar facilities in the area, and resources available to guard it in a crisis. Except for Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia, which do not participate, every province maintains its own Vital Points list. Provincial Vital Points Committees are Chaired by EPC Regional Directors. Their purpose is to send lists of crucial installations to the Advisory Committee on Vital Points. These are entered in a master data base and centrally coordinated to prevent duplication. This is a continuing process.lxxxi
8 Continuity of Government
According to the Emergency Preparedness Act, one of the functions of Emergency Preparedness Canada was “to establish arrangements for ensuring the continuity of constitutional government during an emergency.”lxxxii At first glance, this statement merely reaffirmed a responsibility first assumed when the original Emergency Measures Organization was formed in 1957. As EPC began to review the implications of the Act, however, increasing significance was attached to the addition of the word “constitutional” to the phrase “continuity of government”. Earlier the governor general, prime minister, and a small group of ministers were assumed to be sufficient to re-establish legitimate government. The addition of the word “constitutional” has more recently forced revision of that opinion. To be constitutional provision needed to be made for all three branches of government — the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
Although this review of the program went through a number of phases, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the subsequently reduced threat of nuclear war removed much of the sense of urgency.lxxxiii International developments as well as budget and personnel reductions at EPC pushed the Continuity of Government Program into the background. When the CEGHQ at Carp (the Diefenbunker) and the six REGHQs were closed in the 1995 budget announcement, the Department of National Defence moved with considerable alacrity to divest itself of these buildings and disposed of them to local interests.lxxxiv Today the Program is still the statutory responsibility of EPC, but at present is dormant.
V Partnering — The Shape of Things To Come
Like all other federal departments and agencies in the 1990s, EPC was subjected to budget cuts and downsizing. In 1992, EPC was allocated 112 person years; by 1998, this allocation had shrunk to 83, a reduction of 26%. The funding drop was even more dramatic, falling from a budget peak of $19.924 million in 1992-93 to $13.729 million in 1997-98, a drop of 31%.lxxxv Such severe reductions in staff and funding raised questions of how to maintain services to clients. EPC was forced to take a hard look at core services, objectives, and its mission.
The developing of partnerships was one of the solutions put forward. Today partnerships with other governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and private sector businesses and institutions are being pursued aggressively. This mode of operation was not entirely new to EPC. By 1992, it had already had partnerships in place with provincial and municipal governments through the JEPP program. JEPP’s budget, however, was being reduced (although not as dramatically as EPC’s overall budget) from $5.5 million in 1992-93 to $4.5 million in 1997-98, a reduction of about 18%. The funding of the other major federal-provincial financial partnership, DFAA, rose precipitately from $8.4 million in 1992-93 to $137.9 million in 1997-98.lxxxvi Being largely uncontrollable, the cost of these arrangements was not funded out of EPC’s budget.
One example of successful partnering was the creation of the Major Industrial Accident Coordinating Committee (MIACC) in 1987 following the Bhopal disaster (see the previous chapter). With continuing support from EPC, this organization was sponsored and funded by a variety of stakeholders from all levels of government, industry, labour, and the universities. In 1991, it was incorporated as the Major Industrial Accidents Council of Canada, a name change that left the initials intact. MIACC’s role was to develop national processes that included standards and guidelines to help industries and municipalities prevent or mitigate industrial accidents. In March 1995, its Board of Directors took into account the increasing level of government cuts and decided to get more directly involved. MIACC shifted from developing tools to ensuring their implementation at the local level. It also undertook a new project, ER2000+, intended to develop a leading edge emergency response system. ER2000+ would use organizational, social, political, technical, and cost perspectives to define the ideal emergency management system for transportation and fixed-site emergencies involving hazardous substances in Canada.lxxxvii
SAFE GUARD, which has been previously described (see above, Public Awareness), is a more recent partnership initiative in the area of public education. It actively seeks out partners in private and volunteer sectors for joint projects with EPC. Under this program, EPC has formed partnerships with the Canadian Red Cross, RCMP, National Search and Rescue Secretariat, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, St. John Ambulance, and the Canadian Automobile Association. Partnership resources were pooled to produce public information materials on subjects of common interest with major cost savings all around.lxxxviii
Another recent partnership innovation relates to the operation of the Government Emergency Operations Coordination Centre (GEOCC). During an emergency it is necessary to have three shifts of 10 employees each working around the clock. In an environment of cutbacks, EPC quickly realized that it would be practically impossible to operate GEOCC for an extended period of time and began looking for another solution. Operations Reserve was created. This was an EPC initiative which negotiated contracts with retired, experienced response officers in the community to return on an as-and-when requested basis. Reserve workers would be reimbursed out-of-pocket expenses and an hourly allowance for their work. After months of negotiations Treasury Board agreed to this program and several contracts are now in place. Short, regular training sessions are being held to keep the group up to date on policies, procedures, and equipment.lxxxix
Local success of Operations Reserve has led EPC to consider applying the idea nationally. Its proposal to establish a national association of emergency preparedness professionals has been well received. It would broker the services of professionals across the country, supplying well-trained volunteers or consultants in any location as the situation demanded. The idea is still in its formative stages.xc
Partnering may be the wave of the future, but it needs to be approached cautiously. If a partnership fails, who picks up the pieces? Usually it is the government partner who bears the cost. Partnerships must be supported by well-constructed contracts, properly vetted by financial, legal, and regulatory advisors, in which the duties and responsibilities of each of the contracting parties are clearly spelled out and understood. Partnering is not a panacea, but it is an idea which may be right for these times.xci In the words of Eric Shipley, Executive Director of EPC:
In an environment of declining budgets and rapidly changing economic and social conditions, meeting Canada’s emergency preparedness challenge demands evermore innovative and creative responses. At Emergency Preparedness Canada, we believe that partnerships represent a proven, cost-effective and increasingly viable approach to building a safer world.xcii
VI International Relations
1 North Atlantic Treaty Organization
As with so much else after EPC’s statutory creation, relations with NATO continued unchanged. EPC maintained a permanent attaché at NATO headquarters in Brussels and supported civil emergency planning sponsored by the Alliance’s Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee (SCEPC). EPC was represented on SCEPC, and the appropriate Canadian government officials sat on its boards and committees. As part of its contribution on behalf of the Canadian government, EPC hosted the NATO triennial Civil Emergency Planning Symposium in Ottawa on 1-3 May 1989. This was the first time that it was held in Canada.xciii
By the early ’90s, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the accompanying political turmoil in central and eastern Europe (CEE) began to have a major impact on NATO and on civil emergency planning within the Alliance. With the danger of a major European war receding, the role and responsibilities of NATO civil emergency planning began to be redefined. Generally two proposals were mooted:
1) that civil emergency planning be extended to deal with peacetime disasters as well as retaining support for the military role;
2) that the civil role be expanded to include cooperation with, and assistance to, eastern European countries.
It was the latter suggestion that struck a responsive chord within EPC.xciv
Although NATO’s 1991 Paris Declaration called for greater cooperation with CEE countries in a number of areas, emergency preparedness planning was not one of them. Despite this, Canadian officials pressed for an extension of ties to the Eastern Bloc countries. In 1992, the Canadian ambassador to NATO, James K. Bartleman, proposed that Canada develop a seminar on civil emergency preparedness for representatives of former Warsaw Pact nations.xcv This was held at the NATO School in Oberammergau, Germany, from 16 to 20 November 1992, and attended by delegates from 15 CEE countries. Presentations were made by Germany, the United States, and some of the CEE countries. A major portion of the program, moreover, was devoted to emergency preparedness in Canada. The Canadian speakers explained the need to integrate information planning with operational planning, and gave specific examples of emergency preparedness planning in transportation, health and welfare, agri-food, and environment sectors. The seminar was a resounding success.xcvi One delegate remarked: “You help us with fish and wheat, and now you are helping us make the ‘netting’ to protect ourselves from disaster. This sort of initiative is vital during the incredible transition we are undergoing.”xcvii
The first seminar generated so much interest that the Canadian initiative evolved into a larger long-term process involving a growing number of NATO and CEE countries. In May 1993, a second seminar was held at the German Civil Defence School near Bonn; in March of the next year a third seminar convened near Prague; in 1995, three seminars were held in Prague, Budapest, and Warsaw. Through EPC, Canada continued to play a major role in all of these seminars. As the series evolved, the total cost of Canadian participation was reduced by the increased participation of a growing number of NATO countries as well as the support from CEE countries in hosting the gatherings. While participating in these multi-lateral seminars, EPC also embarked on a number of bilateral initiatives with Eastern Bloc countries, notably Russia, the Czech Republic, and Ukraine.xcviii
In the opinion of Mike Braham, an EPC official who was closely involved in organizing the seminars:
Initiatives such as the seminar series as well as the bilateral relationships play an important part in promoting the Canadian foreign policy objective of furthering the process of democratization in Central and Eastern Europe. CEE countries are being helped in developing more effective civil emergency preparedness programs, legislation and structures. Slowly, the shift is being made from an almost complete reliance on a centralized response process to one based more on planning, preparedness and decentralization of responsibilities.xcix
To continue this process, delegates from Ukraine have come to Canada to take courses at CEPC at Arnprior and instructors from CEPC have travelled to Prague, Kiev, Budapest, and Bratislava to present the basic emergency course to officials there.c
2 United States of America
The passing of the Emergency Preparedness Act made little difference to the relationship between EPC in Canada and FEMA in the United States. The basis of that relationship was established earlier by the 1986 Agreement between the two countries. A Consultative Group of senior officials from both agencies meets annually to oversee cooperative civil emergency arrangements between Canada and the United States. Each country alternatively hosted these meetings, first in its capital city, and then after 1991 in a regional city. This arrangement recognizes the vital role regions played in bilateral emergency preparedness agreements.ci
Working groups were set up early in these discussions. Their purpose was initially to enhance cooperation in trans-border transportation, telecommunications, health services, and in the development and execution of joint Canadian-American exercises. As they continued to meet they made progress in many important areas. The working group on health services, for example, finalized an agreement to facilitate the easy shipment of medical supplies and equipment across the border in an emergency. Before long, working groups in other areas were created. This included one to discuss agri-food emergency planning and another on nuclear safety.cii
The Exercise Working Group is particularly active in arranging bilateral exercises. In 1989, EPC and the Solicitor General of Canada sponsored TRANSBORD III, a major bilateral counter-terrorist exercise which EPC, along with the Solicitor General, co-sponsored for Canada. The next year, EPC hosted a follow-up exercise, which engaged federal, provincial, and state officials from both countries in pin-pointing deficiencies in cross-border and inter- and intra-government arrangements for handling terrorist incidents.ciii This working group continues to meet alternatively in Canada and the United States to exchange information and to arrange for participation in future exercises.
3 Other International Involvement
When the United Nations declared the 1990s the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR), its intent was to promote worldwide disaster prevention and preparedness. The declaration provided an impetus to devise measures to mitigate the effects of disasters, and EPC was active in advancing these in Canada. Its Executive Director co-chaired the Federal Interdepartmental Committee for the International Decade (FICID) which was established to coordinate and encourage federal government departments to participate in IDNDR during the 1990s.civ EPC also approached other federal departments, the Royal Society of Canada, and the Canadian Academy of Engineering for assistance in creating a Canadian National Committee for the International Decade. Its purpose was to develop national objectives and coordinate participation. Composed of Canadians from the three orders of government, business, industry, academia, and public interest groups, the National Committee held its inaugural meeting in Ottawa on 10 September 1993. EPC was represented by its senior official, Vice-Admiral L. E. Murray, Deputy Chief of the Defense Staff. The federal government provided funding totalling $280,000 over five years through EPC and seven federal departments.cv The National Committee’s immediate task was to prepare and present a report on Canada’s IDNDR-related activities at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction which took place in Yokohama, Japan, 23-27 May 1994.cvi
As well as co-chairing the Interdepartmental Committee, EPC also contributed directly to the work of IDNDR. For example, it researched, developed, and published Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Mobile Command Posts and Similar Emergency Response Vehicles. This publication was an attempt to address many requests from across Canada to create standard vehicle requirements. The Guidelines was made available in English, French, and Spanish in order to be useful internationally. Another contribution prepared for EPC was a report offering guidelines for dealing with large-scale events, Emergency Preparedness Guidelines for Mass, Crowd-Intensive Events.cvii
Both emergency preparedness planning and EPC witnessed many changes in the decade from 1988 to 1998. A major accomplishment was the working out of the implications of the Emergencies Act and the Emergency Preparedness Act. EPC prepared the draft orders and regulations necessary to bring parts of the Emergencies Act into effect. It also negotiated the arrangements for federal-provincial consultation required before parts of the Act could be proclaimed. EPC also facilitated and coordinated the development of departmental plans to deal with the four types of emergency defined in the Emergencies Act.
The practical effectiveness of emergency response was emphasized in the 1990s. CANATEX 90 was the first national emergency preparedness exercise held in over 20 years. Conducted on a large scale, it revealed many shortcomings in the emergency preparedness infrastructure in Canada. This exercise was followed up four years later with CANATEX 2. Although this was a test of the National Earthquake Support Plan, developed to respond to a very real threat in British Columbia, it also served as a prototype for a Part I social welfare emergency under the Emergencies Act. Both of these exercises were successful in pointing out weaknesses in emergency preparedness in Canada to be addressed by future planning.
EPC experienced tribulations over the decade. In 1988, it reported directly to the Minister of National Defence. In 1992, it lost status as it was folded back into the Department of National Defence and assigned to the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff. This organizational change preceded severe downsizing. EPC experienced a 26% staff reduction and a 31% budget cut between 1992 and 1998. These difficulties were treated as opportunities to refocus efforts on core responsibilities and to discover new ways to fulfil the agency’s mandate.
Despite these setbacks, EPC continues to pursue its responsibilities aggressively. In its new headquarters in downtown Ottawa, it created a state of the art communications centre to monitor emergencies and, when required, to coordinate response. EPC continued to put out its message to the public through SAFE GUARD, a partnership arrangement of many public and private sector organizations. Eventually, SAFE GUARD was incorporated into Emergency Preparedness Partners, an independent not-for-profit organization designed to carry out EPC’s communication work. EPC’s training and education program at the Canadian Emergency Preparedness College at Arnprior was streamlined and adapted to new circumstances. Its operating philosophy shifted to emphasize train-the-trainer courses allowing more direct training to be done by local authorities.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the political revolutions in central and eastern Europe brought about a reformulation of EPC’s responsibilities in NATO. Instead of continuing to plan in expectation of a military confrontation with the Warsaw Pact, Canada led the way in sharing her expertise in emergency preparedness planning with CEE countries. EPC organized a number of conferences in western and eastern Europe for representatives of CEE countries. These provided a forum for EPC officials and other NATO experts to share their emergency preparedness knowledge with former antagonists.
The world in 1998 did not look like the world in 1988. EPC in 1998 was not the same organization that it had been a decade before. Despite a loss of status and reduction of personnel and funding, EPC continues to be an efficient organization dedicated to emergency preparedness and response in Canada. It has absorbed adversity. It has devised new ways of carrying out its mandate by working with private sector and volunteer organizations. It is ready to enter the new millennium with energy and confidence.
Chapter VI – Summary and Conclusion
Emergency Preparedness Canada has been safeguarding the welfare of Canadians in crisis for half a century. During this time it has been known by a variety of names, operated under the aegis of several federal departments, and employed a number of organizational configurations. The basic intent, however, has remained the same — preparing the civilian population for times of crisis.
Although EPC was created 50 years ago, its origins go back to the Air Raid Precautions organization of the Second World War. In 1948, in response to the tensions of the Cold War and the destructive potential of the atomic bomb, the federal government appointed Major General F. F. Worthington as Civil Defence Co-ordinator and set up a civil defence organization in the Department of National Defence. In 1951, the responsibility for Civil Defence was transferred to the Department of National Health and Welfare where it remained until 1959.
During the Cold War, the federal government realized that a nuclear attack on North America could endanger not only the lives of individuals but call into question the very existence of civil government itself. In 1957, it created the Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) in the Privy Council Office to plan for the continuity of government. A major reorganization abolished Civil Defence in the Department of National Health and Welfare in 1959, and merged it into the Emergency Measures Organization in the Privy Council Office. Civil Defence Order 1959 outlined the responsibilities of the Emergency Measures Organization, the Department of National Defence, the Department of National Health and Welfare, and the Department of Justice.
Under the Liberal government of Lester B. Pearson, EMO was guided by C. M. Drury who had taken a personal interest in civil defence. It was transferred from the PCO to Drury’s control first in the Department of Defence Production and then in the Department of Industry. Under Drury, EMO made great strides in civil emergency planning and a new, more comprehensive Civil Emergency Measures Planning Order was issued. In 1968, however, the federal government froze EMO’s ambitious development program: its budget was cut and staff were reduced dramatically. The program, then called Canada Emergency Measures Organization, was transferred to the Department of National Defence where it became a branch reporting to the Deputy Minister.
The 1970s was a period of internal and external scrutiny, and of a general deterioration of emergency measures preparedness and response system. Through Project Phoenix , Canada EMO sought to refocus its work in the face of budget cuts. The Dare Report, a general analysis of the federal ability to manage crises, resulted in a number of Canada EMO’s functions being stripped away. At the same time, an Emergency Planning Secretariat (EPS) was established in the PCO to oversee Canada EMO, now called the National Emergency Planning Establishment (NEPE), part of the Department of National Defence. (NEPE was shortly renamed Emergency Planning Canada (EPC).) After funding cuts, facilities across the country deteriorated through neglect. Toward the end of the 1970s, international tensions and a number of environmental disasters redirected public attention to emergency planning. The government responded by merging the Emergency Planning Secretariat and EPC under the Secretary of State, Yvon Pinard, breathing new life into the emergency measures program.
The 1980s was a period of revival. Pinard issued a new policy statement in 1980, and in 1981 promulgated a new Emergency Planning Order replacing the outdated Civil Emergency Measures Planning Order of 1965. Lines of communication with the provinces were reopened. The federal-provincial relationships in emergency planning were defined through a series of Memoranda of Understanding. New funding agreements were made. EPC responded with increased vigour, fulfilling its mandate of planning, coordinating, training, researching, and publicizing. It continued its work with NATO and signed a new cooperative agreement with its sister agency in the United States. In 1988, the federal government passed the Emergencies Act, which regularized emergency preparedness planning for both peace and war, and the Emergencies Preparedness Act, which formally established Emergency Preparedness Canada.
The period after 1988 was one of great activity as EPC began to work out the planning implications of the new acts. Proclamations had to be prepared to bring the parts of the Emergencies Act into effect in the event of a national emergency and procedures had to be in place to consult with the provinces. Planning for national emergencies went ahead and major national exercises were held to test the plan’s effectiveness. Peacetime emergency planning surpassed war emergency planning when the breakup of the Soviet Union lessened the danger of nuclear war. EPC continued its traditional functions, coordinating federal emergency planning, training, publicizing, and conducting research. Although EPC faced severe budget cuts and downsizing along with all government departments in the 1990s, it responded with new partnership initiatives and continued to fulfil its mandate in different ways.
Certain themes can be perceived throughout the 50 year history of EPC. One, aptly called the “roller coaster”, has been EPC’s uneven path as it attempted to fulfill its mandate. Public interest in, government funding of and activity in, emergency measures had a direct relationship to the state of international affairs. The origins of EPC in 1948 are tied to the beginnings of the Cold War and the Korean War. Its next spurt of activity occurred between 1954 and 1962 when strategists determined that ICBMs could be used to attack North America with little warning. Following the Cuban missile crisis, international tensions lessened and the world entered into a period of détente. From 1967 through the 1970s was the nadir of emergency planning in Canada as the federal government directed its energies toward other social priorities. Interest picked up again in the late 1970s when the Soviet Union flexed its muscles and invaded Afghanistan. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1987, war planning retreated into the background. By then, planning for peacetime disasters had assumed greater importance.
The tension between peacetime and wartime disaster planning is a second major theme. For much of its history EPC and its predecessors have been intent on planning for a war emergency. Almost from the beginning, however, the provincial governments attempted to pressure the federal government into extending emergency planning to include natural and man-made disasters. As early as 1951, the provinces extracted a commitment that facilities and services created for civil defence could be used for dealing with natural disasters. While the federal government resisted these pressures at first, a shift in emphasis began in the mid-1960s as international tensions eased. Following the November 1965 power blackout in eastern North America, Cabinet directed EMO to be responsible for coordinating federal response to any peacetime emergency. At a Federal-Provincial Conference in 1969, the Minister of National Defence agreed that emergency resources developed for a wartime emergency could be used to deal with peacetime disasters. EMO subsequently attempted to redefine its role within the 1970 defence policy to place planning for peacetime threats to security on a level with wartime crisis planning. It was only with the completion of the Dare Report on crisis management within the federal government that federal departments were given peace- as well as war-oriented planning tasks. Government policy formally changed in 1980 when Yvon Pinard announced that emergency peacetime planning would have priority over wartime planning. Despite this policy statement, much of the planning in the 1980s remained war-oriented largely because the War Measures Act remained the enabling legislation. It was only in 1988, with the approval of new emergencies legislation, that EPC began to emphasize plans to deal with man-made or natural disasters. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, war emergency planning moved farther into the background. The recent natural disasters — the Saguenay flood, the Red River flood, and the ice storm in Eastern Ontario and Quebec — have only emphasized the importance of peacetime civil emergency planning.
A third theme is volunteerism. While a professional cadre of planners, trainers, and specialists were employed at the federal and provincial level, all expected the delivery of local level service to be performed by volunteers. Whether these volunteers were individuals or organizations, such as the Red Cross or St. John Ambulance, the critical role that they played necessitated an extensive training program. It also initiated early federal-provincial conflict about compensation for registered workers who were injured or killed. Eventually to encourage volunteers to enroll in the program, the federal government agreed to pay 75% of compensation paid out through provincial workers’ compensation boards. This tradition of volunteer service was taken to new lengths in the 1990s when EPC entered into partnering arrangements to carry out parts of its mandate.
Another theme was decentralization. From the beginning emergency planning in Canada has expected the responsibility to deliver services to be local. This was partly recognition of the logistical difficulty of centralizing control in a country the size of Canada. It was equally recognition of the nature of the Canadian federation and the federal desire not to intrude into provincial spheres of jurisdiction. Emergency assistance planning was based on the assumption that first response to an emergency was individual, then local, then provincial, and finally federal. The federal government would set the framework, establish national standards, conduct training courses, and provide much of the funding to create a national system of emergency preparedness and response. While it was agreed that war related emergency planning was primarily a federal responsibility, public welfare or public order emergencies were largely provincial concerns in which the federal government may play a supportive role. The Emergencies Act sets out stringent rules for provincial consultation before emergencies can be declared, especially public welfare and public order emergencies.
Finally, the dedication of public servants who have worked in EPC and its predecessors is remarkable. They have often had a thankless task. When international tensions were winding down, they frequently dealt with an indifferent public and hostile politicians. Their message of preparing for the worst has been interpreted as warmongering: EPC planners have been accused of hastening the event that they sought to mitigate. Through changes in public attitudes, funding cuts and frozen programs EPC’s staff has continued to work confident in the sagacity of emergency planning in a dangerous world. Now that the threat of nuclear war has receded, Canadians are benefiting from their careful planning as natural disasters assume an increasingly prominent role in our lives.
List of Appendices
|Appendix 1||Establishment of Committee on Air Raid Precautions, RG 2, Records of the Privy Council, Vol. 1623, PC 531, 14 March 1938.|
|Appendix 2||Defence of Canada Regulations, Sections 32-36, RG 2, Vol. 1653, PC 2483, 3 Sept. 1939.|
|Appendix 3||Amendment to Defence of Canada Regulations, RG 2, Vol. 1722, PC 4801, 2 July 1941.|
|Appendix 4||Appointment of Robert J. Manion as Director of Civil Air Raid Precautions, RG 2, Vol. 1743, PC 10196, 31 Dec. 1941.|
|Appendix 5||Appointment of Alexander Ross as Director of Civil Air Raid Precautions, RG 2, Vol. 1811, PC 5676, 17 July 1943.|
|Appendix 6||Revocation of certain sections of Defence of Canada Regulations, RG 2, Vol. 1912, PC 5972, 14 Sept. 1945.|
|Appendix 7||Appointment of F. F. Worthington as Special Advisor to the Minister of National Defence to act as Civil Defence Co-ordinator, RG 2, Vol. 2024, PC 29/4855, 23 Oct. 1948.|
|Appendix 8||Transfer of civil defence from the Department of National Defence to the Department of National Health and Welfare, RG 2, Vol. 9099, PC 985, 23 Feb. 1951.|
|Appendix 9||Civil Defence Order, 1959, RG 2, Vol. 2233, PC 1959-656, 28 May 1959.|
|Appendix 10||Transfer of EMO to Minister of Defence Production, RG 2, Vol. 2290, PC 1963-993, 27 June 1963.|
|Appendix 11||Civil Emergency Measures Planning Order, PC 1965-1041, 8 June 1965, Civil Emergency Planning (Ottawa: Canada Emergency Measures Organization, 1965).|
|Appendix 12||Amendment to Civil Emergency Planning Order transferring CEMO to the Department of National Defence, RG 2, Vol. 2400, PC 1968-1302, 12 July 1968.|
|Appendix 13||Amendment to Civil Emergency Planning Order transferring CEMO to the Department of National Defence, RG 2, Vol. 2404, PC 1968-1580, 14 Aug. 1968.|
|Appendix 14||Emergency Planning Order, PC 1981-1305, 21 May 1981, Canada Gazette, 10 June 1981.|
|Appendix 15||Emergency Preparedness Act (assented to 27 April 1988; proclaimed into force 1 Oct. 1988), Chapter E-4.6, R.S., 1985, c. 6 (4th Supp.).|
|Appendix 16||Emergencies Act (assented to 21 July 1988), Chapter E-4.5, R.S., 1985, c. 22 (4th Supp.)|
|Appendix 17||Amendment to the Emergency Preparedness Act, Acts of the Parliament of Canada passed in the year 1995, (Ottawa: Queen’s Printer, 1996), ch. 29, sections 23-32.|
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