Cross-border Emergency Management Compact Signed

Premier's Office

July 18, 2000 1:39 PM

An agreement signed today by Premier John Hamm and Massachusetts
Gov. Paul Cellucci ensures help will be available from
neighbouring provinces and states in the event of an emergency.

The signing took place in Halifax during the 25th annual New
England Governors' and Eastern Canadian Premiers' Conference.

The International Emergency Management Assistance compact,
involving five provinces and six states, provides for mutual
assistance among the signing parties in managing any emergency or
disaster when the affected jurisdiction asks for help.

"We have a lot to gain from this agreement -- but we also have a
lot to offer," said Premier Hamm. "Weather-related and man-made
disasters over the past few years have enabled us in Nova Scotia
to hone our emergency management and response skills. This will
make it easier for us to offer expertise to our partners, and we
can rest easy knowing they are prepared to come to our aid as
well."

In short, the agreement commits all participating jurisdictions
to provide mutual aid to each other, with the understanding that
provinces and states look after their own affairs first. In
addition, the parties agree to undertake advance emergency
planning.

Mutual aid between the signing parties is not a new concept. The
agreement strengthens an informal arrangement that dates back to
at least 1917 when hundreds of relief workers from the New
England states came to Nova Scotia's assistance following the
Halifax Explosion.

In more recent years, Nova Scotia provided assistance to Maine as
well as central Canada during the 1998 ice storm. Nova Scotia
also remains grateful for the help provided by neighbouring
provinces during the search and recovery effort following the
Swissair Flight 111 disaster.

In 1993, Nova Scotia became party to an Atlantic Provinces
Agreement on Co-operation in Emergencies. The agreement signed
today not only increases the number of participating
jurisdictions, it also spells out more clearly exactly how
assistance will be provided.

The signing also formalizes the International Emergency
Management Group, a committee of emergency measures officials in
the involved jurisdictions. This group takes a proactive look at
emergency management, identifies and eliminates issues that could
hinder mutual aid, and conducts joint exercises to test the
management process.

The overall emergency management process in Nova Scotia is
similar to that in most other provinces. The municipalities
provide the first level of response in an emergency. In the event
of a major emergency, the province's Emergency Measures
Organization becomes the window to provincial government
resources needed in the response. Resources would also be
available from the federal government and through agreements such
as this one.

On an ongoing basis, Emergency Measures Organization supports the
emergency management process by providing training, advice and
evaluation to emergency managers at the three levels of
government and in the private sector.

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Contact: Louise MacDonald
         Nova Scotia Emergency Measures Organization
         902-424-0284
         E-mail: macdonlo@gov.ns.ca

ram                      July 18, 2000 1:39 p.m.