As part of the government’s actions to respond to COVID-19 and keep Albertans safe during this global public health emergency, government made amendments to the Emergency Management Act.
Prior to the amendment, a provincial state of emergency nullified a local state of emergency, taking some powers away from the local officials. Under the new act, a provincial state of emergency can now supplement and reinforce a local authority’s state of emergency, allowing both levels of government to work more closely.
“These are truly unprecedented times, and the safety of all Albertans remains our top priority. These changes will allow us to better support and work alongside our communities across the province in order to manage emergencies more effectively.”
The amendments provide clarity and improve the coordination of local and provincial response efforts in the event of disasters, such as wildfires, floods and pandemics. They also clarify emergency management responsibilities and ensure that local authorities can remain responsible for their communities in the event of a provincial state of emergency.
As of March 20, there have been 25 local states of emergency declared in Alberta as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise.
In order for municipalities to deal effectively with their individual situations, they need the power as a local authority to direct and control their own response efforts, as well as work with the province. Alberta is in disaster season, and allowing individual communities to run their own state of local emergency will ensure the province is ready and able to respond to additional emergencies and disasters should they arise.
The Emergency Management Act is separate and distinct from the Public Health Act, under which a Public Health Emergency has been declared in order to deal with the health impacts of the COVID19 pandemic.
The Emergency Management Act:
- Outlines the roles and responsibilities of the Minister of Municipal Affairs, the provincial government and local authorities.
- Provides the legislative framework for local and provincial management of emergencies and disasters, such as wildfires and floods.
- Provides the authority to grant additional powers during a provincial state of emergency or a state of local emergency.
- Governs the coming into force, expiration, and termination of these states of emergency.