Enhancing emergency response

The Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, (Bill 21) helps ensure government has the necessary tools to keep Albertans and their communities safe from emergencies and disasters.

Status: The Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, came into force on May 30, 2024
Ministries responsible: Public Safety and Emergency Services, Forestry and Parks, Environment and Protected Areas, Justice


The Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024, (formerly Bill 21) amends 3 acts to enhance the provincial government’s authority and ability to respond to emergencies like wildfires, floods or drought in a timely and efficient way.

The Act also adopts a new set election date, amending 3 acts, to help mitigate challenges associated with holding an election during the spring and summer wildfire, drought and flood season.

Alberta’s emergency management system relies on local authorities to be the first line of defence for their communities. However, when emergencies cross regions or overwhelm local resources, the provincial government must be able to step in to provide the right support at the right time.

Key changes

The Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 updates the following legislation:

  • The Emergency Management Act


    • ensure government can, when needed, assume authority over local emergency response efforts to help protect lives, property, the environment, and preserve the critical infrastructure of the community and region, include situations where:
      • the local authorities request provincial intervention
      • a local authority’s council or staff may no longer be able to adequately respond due to the overwhelming and sudden nature of the event, or
      • where the event spans several jurisdictions and requires enhanced provincial coordination of resources
    • standardize reporting requirements for local authorities during an emergency to help the province determine which supports are required such as:
      • the nature of an emergency
      • the extraordinary powers the local authority intends to use during the state of local emergency
      • status of evacuation orders or alerts
      • establishment and location of reception or registration centres
  • The Water Act


    • provide Cabinet the authority to direct specific actions during a water emergency, such as:
      • determining the priority of water use
      • allowing temporary low-risk, water transfers between major water basins
      • exempting certain drought or flood mitigation activities to speed up the process
      • allowing temporary entrance, occupation and use of private property and land if specific actions are needed to mitigate the emergency
    • ensure that these decisions would be protected from appeal to ensure timely action
    • improve efficiency and reduce administrative delays by expanding the authority of the designated directors to make water available for priority uses in an emergency 
    • allow quicker action to support access to and management of water resources during emergencies
    • will only be available if a water-related emergency is declared under the Water Act and would only apply to the geographic area designated within the emergency declaration
  • The Forest and Prairie Protection Act


    • provide Alberta’s government the necessary tools and authority in a wildfire emergency response situation to step in and actively support local authorities when additional provincial aid is needed
    • clarify and enhance the discretionary authority the province has to conduct emergency wildfire response for all provincial lands, both inside and out of the Forest Protection Area. 
      • For instance, when large or multi-jurisdictional wildfires occur, Alberta’s government can step in to support and potentially lead response efforts.
    • provide clarifying provisions within the Act, similar to the provisions of the Emergency Management Act, regarding the Alberta government’s authority to construct fireguards and allow the removal of buildings or structures in emergency situations when required by wildfire suppression efforts
    • include clarifying provisions to account for Metis Settlements in the Forest and Prairie Protection Act.
      • We will support these communities with wildfire response, and amendments will clarify that government can step in and take action to fight wildfires on any provincial lands, including Metis Settlements when needed or requested. 
    • require municipalities to report critical information to the province to make sure government can provide the appropriate support at the right time, while still ensuring local authorities retain the primary responsibility for managing emergencies and disasters within their communities
  • The Election Act


    • reduce the likelihood of a provincial election coinciding with a natural disaster, such as a flood or a fire, ensuring government’s focus remains squarely on protecting Albertans and their communities
    • change the date of our next provincial election from May 2027 to October 2027 which would bring Alberta in line with the majority of Canadian jurisdictions
  • The Alberta Senate Election Amendment Act

    Changes adjust the time frame for authorizing a senate election when it coincides with a provincial election.

  • The Election Finances and Contributions Disclosure Amendment Act

    Changes adjust the election advertising period that applies to third party advertisers to align with the proposed new set election date.

Next steps

The Emergency Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 came into force on May 30, 2024.