Emergency Social Services

The Department of Community Services' Emergency Social Services (ESS) Section is part of a province-wide emergency preparedness network that plans for the unexpected.  This may include planning for natural disasters, such as major storms, hurricanes or floods, technological or environmental accidents such as chemical spills, power failures due to adverse weather conditions, major urban or forest fires etc. 

The responsibility for emergency preparedness is dictated by the Emergency Management Act of Nova Scotia and the Regulations made under the Act. That emergency network is organized and controlled under Emergency Management Office Nova Scotia (EMO NS). Under the Emergency Management Act every municipality in the province must also have an emergency response plan and a designated emergency management coordinator.

Community Services is responsible for coordinating the province-wide Emergency Social Services component, in cooperation with EMO NS and each municipality in the province.

What is meant by "Emergency Social Services"?

When a state of emergency is declared in an area of Nova Scotia or at times when a large emergency happens requiring some aspects of Emergency Social Services, a reception centre or shelter can be set up where any combination of the following services can be activated:

  • emergency food
  • emergency lodging
  • emergency clothing
  • registration of evacuees or those affected, including handling related enquiries
  • personal services for those affected by a disaster
  • reception centre/shelter management

There are designated department personnel assigned to coordinate these services.  There is a full time Director of Emergency Social Services, four regional Emergency Social Services Coordinators, plus 13 Alternates, who have these responsibilities in addition to their regular positions.

Under the terms of a written Agreement, the Canadian Red Cross assists Community Services with province-wide preplanning, exercising and response in all areas of Emergency Social Services.  The Department is still responsible for Emergency Social Services, but the Red Cross works directly under Community Services as the provider of this service.  The Red Cross partners with other community groups, such as the Salvation Army, St. John Ambulance, Feed NS, etc to assist them in various areas of emergency response.

The Emergency Social Services Team in 2013

The Emergency Social Services Team

Contact information

Information on the Community Services Emergency Social Services program:

Joanne Lawlor
Director of Emergency Social Services
5675 Spring Garden Road
Nova Scotia Department of Community Services
PO Box 696
Halifax NS  B3J 2T7
Phone: 902-424-8333
Fax: 902-424-0661
E-mail