News release

Cross-border Emergency Management Compact Signed

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