Province amends Emergency Management to address COVID-19

by Morinville News Staff

The Emergency Management Amendment Act now allows local and provincial states of emergency to exist at the same time, helping communities and the province to respond effectively to emergencies.

Prior to the new 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,” said Minister of Municipal Affairs Kaycee Madu. “These changes will allow us to better support and work alongside our communities across the province in order to manage emergencies more effectively.”

The government says 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.

Twenty-five local states of emergency have been declared in Alberta as of Friday, March 20.

The Government of Alberta says 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.

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s President Barry Morishita issued a media release Friday endorsing the amendment.

“Alberta’s municipalities and AUMA fully support the provincial government’s recent announcement to amend the Emergency Management Act to remove unnecessary red tape for municipalities during this time of uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Morishita wrote.

“Municipalities and the provincial government enjoy a strong working relationship with emergency management, and we are pleased that the changes to the Emergency Management Act will allow locally- and provincially-declared states of emergencies to run concurrently during this unprecedented time.”

The AUMA letter can be read in full by clicking here.

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