OTR magazine editor David Tuley explains what it means to declare a State of Emergency.
Every level of government has the power to declare a state of emergency, including municipalities.
A state of emergency gives additional powers to protect the health and safety of all individuals,
families and businesses as well as the vulnerable populations that we serve.
The Canadian cities and mayors who have charged ahead with emergency declarations often say
they think that they’re aware of and can respond to local conditions more quickly than provincial
bureaucrats, who are dealing with crises on multiple broad fronts.
The declaration allows the town to access resources and funding it says is necessary to
control the spread of COVID-19.
Most importantly, the declaration allows the Town to implement the Town’s emergency
plan and grants the power to protect volunteer emergency workers. The Town activated a partial
Emergency Operations Centre last week and conducts daily meetings to assess the ever-changing
According to Tuley’s research, in Canada the Emergencies Act replaced the previous War Measures Act in
1988, allowing the government to implement “special temporary measures to ensure safety and
security during national emergencies and to amend other Acts in consequence thereof.”
In addition to providing emergency funds, the act allows authorities to prohibit or restrict
travel, order evacuations, and regulate the distribution of essential goods and services.
Another interesting aspect of many EMAs is that they allow for citizens to be conscripted to
help, much like when people are drafted to serve in a war. This may impact businesses, as they have
critical employees such as emergency workers or snow plow drivers enlisted to help elsewhere.
“It is critical that we, as a community, play a role in helping stop the spread of COVID-19,” said
Stouffville Mayor Lovatt. “Declaring a state of an emergency is not to incite panic, but to make people
aware that they have a large role to play in stopping it in its tracks.”
Check out the latest OTR digital edition at http://www.townofws.ca/en/town-hall/resources/Documents/OnTheRoad/OTR_COVID19_3.pdf