CITY OF TORONTO
The Acting Chair: Next, from the city of Toronto, is Warren Leonard, manager, office of emergency management.
Mr Warren Leonard: Thanks to all the members of the committee for this opportunity to address you this afternoon. My name is Warren Leonard. I'm the manager of the city of Toronto office of emergency management. That's under our technical services division in the works and emergency services department. I've been directly involved in full-time emergency management in the city of Toronto and the former Metro for over 16 years, since 1988.
I'm going to address some of my comments to the municipal role in emergencies. I'll start with those. When an emergency takes place, response is undertaken by the local municipal emergency response organizations. This includes the traditional response groups of police, fire, EMS and public health, but it also includes social services, works, parks and rec, buildings and inspections and, even more, it includes those non-traditional response groups such as labour relations, human resources and finance.
It's because municipalities deliver front-line services to the public on a daily basis that we're in the most practical and practised position to do so during an emergency. Policy or directives that come to us from the province or the federal level are implemented and operationalized at the local municipal level. This has been repeatedly demonstrated during SARS, the blackout and other events that have been mentioned this afternoon.
Since response to an emergency begins at our level, it's imperative the local voice be heard at the provincial and federal levels, because our services operationalize those response plans. So we appreciate being here this afternoon.
From a municipal perspective, we look to the provincial government to support municipalities in terms of training, equipment and other assets funding necessary to ensure that we are able to identify our risks, prepare our plans, and have sufficient properly trained personnel and the necessary equipment to protect the health, safety and welfare of our residents.
The current provincial legislation, the Emergency Management Act that came into force in 2002, now mandates municipal risk assessment, emergency plans, critical infrastructure identification, training and public education. A community framework has been developed by the province to phase in a comprehensive emergency management program. However, the accompanying regulations have yet to be published. Our first deadline is December 31, 2004, and I'm already well into my 2005 budget process.
There is also a marked difference in the nature of municipalities in Ontario, and a cookie-cutter approach will leave out the needs of somebody along that spectrum. Toronto, being in the sometimes unenviable position of being the largest municipality in the province -- we have 25 million residents, and if you come in from outside, like many of us do, estimates swell to over an additional million people per day. If things happen during that time, those people are our responsibility.
things that tend to be attracted to large urban centres, and we have most of those risks right here in the city.
We do have a comprehensive approach to emergency management, with an emergency management office -- that's my office. We're charged with developing, maintaining and coordinating the overall program for the municipality. There is an emergency management committee made up of executive members, some of whom you heard from this morning. Others will be appearing later on, I understand. We have an emergency operations centre, of course. We have mutual assistance agreements with all our surrounding regions, and we have two special initiatives here: HUSAR, which is a heavy urban search and rescue team that's one of five proposed across Canada, and we have a CBRN -- that's chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear -- one of three in Ontario.
For our provincial linkages, on most of our emergency management issues we deal primarily with EMO, Emergency Management Ontario, but there's also direct contact between a number of our city divisions and provincial ministries. For example, Toronto Fire Services deals with the Ontario fire marshal on a number of things directly. Our emergency medical system and public health link with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care directly on issues.v
Critical infrastructure is a new issue that we're looking at. As we're into this project now, upwards of 85% to 95% is the most bandied-about percentage of the critical infrastructure that's owned by the private sector. So while provincial legislation compels us at the local level to gather critical infrastructure information, there is nothing that compels the private sector to release it to us.
The identification of critical infrastructure seems to be a project that's underway at all three levels of government. Some of the comments we've had from the people we've approached is that they've already spoken with the feds and with the province and now we, the municipality, are talking to them as well. A national approach to that and some standards in what kind of information we're looking for would be useful.
The key issues -- and I'll wrap with this -- in emergency management now, as we see it, are:
(1) Resources: the need for sustained funding levels -- there's a very limited surge capacity that exists in the municipalities -- identifying and sharing interjurisdictional operational resources and locating and accessing stockpiles;
(2) Media and public communications: getting key messages through the media and assisting the public to cope with emergencies and recovery;
(3) Perhaps most importantly, the various roles and coordination in this business: the vertical and horizontal linkages that exist among jurisdictions, the information flow along those lines, upwards and sideways, the decision-making process upwards and sideways, and the front-line operational voice in planning and strategy versus a top-down approach.
In summary, the provincial act now mandates municipal risk assessment, emergency plans, training, public education. This is clearly the right direction to be going, but there's been no accompanying flow of money to assist municipalities in meeting those new legislative responsibilities.
The Acting Chair: Thank you, Mr Leonard.