Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 25 - Evidence of October 27, 2003


OTTAWA, Monday, October 27, 2003

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 7:35 p.m. to examine and report on the need for a national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the Chair.

[English]

The Chairman: Honourable senators, I call the meeting to order. Good evening. It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. This evening the committee will hear testimony from federal officials about Canada's ability to respond to natural or man-made emergencies.

My name is Colin Kenny. I am a senator from Ontario and I chair this committee.

I should like to introduce Senator Michael Forrestall, the distinguished senator from Nova Scotia. Senator Forrestall has served the constituents of Dartmouth for the past 37 years, first as their member of the House of Commons and then as their senator. Throughout his parliamentary career he has followed defence matters and served on various defence-related parliamentary committees, including the 1993 Special Joint Committee on the Future of the Canadian Forces.

Senator Jack Wiebe is from Saskatchewan. He has been a leader of the farm community throughout his life. He served as Lieutenant-Governor of Saskatchewan and as a member of the Saskatchewan Legislative Assembly before his appointment to the Senate in 2000.

Senator Wiebe is the deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Agriculture and Forestry. Currently, this committee is studying the marketing of value-added agricultural, agri-food and forestry products. Senator Wiebe sits on the Standing Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament, and on our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

Senator Norm Atkins is from Ontario. He came to the Senate in 1986 with a strong background in the field of communications and with experience as an adviser to former Premier Davis of Ontario. Senator Atkins is a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and also of the Standing Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. He also serves as chair of the Senate Conservative caucus.

Senator Michael Meighen is from Ontario. He is a successful lawyer and businessman who has made a contribution to a wide range of charitable and educational institutions. He is Chancellor of the University of King's College in Halifax, and he was appointed to the Senate in 1990. He has a strong background in defence matters, and is chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. This subcommittee is presently studying commemorative activities.

Senator Meighen is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce that is examining the state of the domestic and international financial system.

Our committee is the first permanent Senate committee mandated to examine security and defence. Over the past 18 months we have completed a number reports, beginning with "Canadian Security and Military Preparedness." This study, which was tabled in February 2002, examined the major defence and security issues facing Canada.

Then the Senate asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. So far, we have released three reports on various aspects of national security. First, "Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility," published in September 2002; second, "An Update on Canada's Military Crisis: A View from the Bottom Up," published in November 2002; third, and most recently, "The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports," which was published in January 2003.

The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canada's ability to contribute to security and defence of North America. The committee is continuing its long-term evaluation of Canada's ability to contribute to security and defence in North America.

As part of its work, the committee has been holding hearings on the federal government's support to the men and women across the country that respond first to emergencies or disasters. Recently, just a few days before Hurricane Juan hit Halifax, our committee heard from representatives of the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Province of Nova Scotia.

This evening we shall hear officials from the office of Office of Critical Infrastructure, Protection and Emergency Preparedness, OCIPEP. They will provide information on Canada's emergency management system.

Last week we heard from Mr. James Harlick, Assistant Deputy Minister of OCIPEP. Tonight we hear from three regional directors. Mr. Michel Sigouin is the OCIPEP regional director for Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Before joining the public service in 1987, he was a police officer for the municipality of Gatineau. He worked for the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and then in 1998 he was appointed assistant regional director for Emergency Preparedness Canada, in Alberta.

Mr. Robert Bégin is the regional director for Quebec. A graduate of the Royal Military College in mechanical engineering he completed a military career of 23 years, retiring in 1985 as a Lieutenant-Colonel. He then joined Public Works Canada. He has extensive experience in the management of emergencies and crises. During the ice storm of January 1998, he set up and directed a technical team for the acquisition and distribution of vast quantities of emergency material. In his spare time, he is a reservist.

Mr. Shawn Clarke is the OCIPEP regional director for Prince Edward Island. He has a background in policing, having served as a member of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Service and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Police Service. He then joined the public service working with Emergency Preparedness Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 1995, he became associate regional director of Emergency Preparedness Canada for Prince Edward Island.

I welcome all of you to the committee.

Mr. Michel Sigouin, Regional Director, Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness: Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today.

I intend to give you a quick overview of the three jurisdictions I cover in my role as regional director and highlight some of challenges and opportunities we face.

Our office is located in Edmonton, Alberta, and I have the privilege of benefiting from the excellent services of three staff officers. While we currently do not have a physical presence in either Yellowknife or Iqaluit, we still enjoy an excellent working relationship with their Emergency Measures Organizations.

Alberta has a strong legislative base for emergency management. Each municipality within Alberta must have an emergency plan that must be exercised every four years. Our provincial counterpart, Emergency Management Alberta, EMA, through its district officers assists these municipalities in reviewing, developing and exercising their plans. We work hand-in-hand with EMA particularly in the administration of our Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, JEPP, through which about 70 per cent of funds available to Alberta go directly to municipalities and counties for equipment to support elected officials and first responders.

In the Northwest Territories, the Emergency Measures Organization of the Municipality and Community Affairs department also has a well-established territorial program through which emergency management training for elected officials and first responders is delivered. The JEPP funds are mainly used to support the territorial EMO and its activities.

In Nunavut, the challenges are more acute as that territorial government is heavily focused on other governmental priorities such as education, health issues as well as developing the required infrastructure and government programs. Having said that, we still enjoy a very good working relationship with the Nunavut Emergency Measures Organization and provide support to them via the JEPP.

As Mr. Harlick noted in his opening remarks last week, and within the context of managing emergencies, the main roles of our office are to monitor civil emergencies and report, as required, to other federal departments on the emergency and any measures necessary for dealing with it; coordinate or support, as required, the provision of federal assistance to a province during or after a provincial emergency; and provide financial assistance to a province when authorized pursuant to details stipulated in the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.

Allow me to provide you with further details on how we discharge those responsibilities in the region. We do so by working in partnership with our provincial and territorial counterparts and with our federal partners. While this may seem an obvious statement, it is a true reflection of the reality on the ground and that is: for large-scale disasters, no one has the resources or capacity to deal with a given situation on their own.

I should like to give you a practice scenario to better explain this reality. One of the large-scale events we plan for in Alberta is the outbreak of infectious disease in animals. As some of you may know, on both sides of Highway 2, between Calgary and Lethbridge there is what is known as "Feedlot Alley." Huge feedlots operate side by side to receive and process cattle before sending them to slaughterhouses. At any given time, upwards to half a million head of cattle can be found in that area.

While the BSE or mad cow disease of this summer has had a huge economic impact on that industry, it is still not considered an "infectious" disease. Consider instead a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak such as the one that affected the United Kingdom a few years back.

As a result its high level of transmission from one animal to another a single case of foot and mouth disease in Feedlot Alley would have catastrophic consequences. In this scenario, the lead federal agency is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, CFIA. The Health of Animals Act provides the CFIA with the legislative authorities to contain, control, and eradicate any such outbreaks. However, with the scale involved, CFIA cannot do it alone.

Foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and is transmitted to other animals through physical contact and through airborne exposure. The solution to foot and mouth is to restrict all movement within the affected area, eradicate the affected livestock, and thoroughly decontaminate everything — equipment, tools or clothing — that might have come in contact with an infected animal. Imagine the challenges for CFIA if such an outbreak occurred in Feedlot Alley.

To deal with this type of event CFIA developed the Foreign Animal Disease Eradication Support Plan, FADES. This plan describes the various activities to be undertaken the CFIA and a multitude of federal, provincial and municipal agencies and departments.

A few years ago, our office was asked by the local CFIA emergency planners to review their plan and ensure consultations with the other federal partners. For example, the FADES plan called upon the RCMP to control and restrict all movement in and out of the affected area. CFIA officials did ask for assistance and thanks to our networking and partnering activities, we were able to consult and discuss with all those federal departments involved in a response and the plan was refined accordingly.

Although it is not a lead agency for a foot and mouth outbreak, OCIPEP brought value-added by helping to coordinate federal and provincial departments and agencies tasked with responding to this emergency. I like to refer to us as brokers of information and goodwill. It is important to note that on the FADES plan, our provincial counterpart, Emergency Management Alberta did the same thing with provincial departments and municipal officials, as they would also have a huge role to play.

Unfortunately, no amount of preparedness activity will prevent disasters. Floods, tornadoes and the like will continue to affect people in their environment. We hope to mitigate the impacts of these events by our preparedness activities.

We also provide assistance to our three jurisdictions via the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, DFAA. Both Alberta and the Northwest Territories possess well-established and defined disaster assistance program by which they provide financial assistance to victims of disasters and it is my understanding that Nunavut is also looking at establishing such a program. Our DFAA is designed to assist these jurisdictions with recuperating some of the extraordinary costs of response. Our excellent working relationships assist us in sorting out eligibility issues when new situations occur during disasters.

Finally, I would like to draw the honourable senators' attention to an important challenge: the increased demand on the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program. For the past five years, we have consistently received more applications for projects to fund from municipalities than there are available funds. JEPP is a success story and a perfect example of governmental cooperation at all three levels with a direct positive impact at the community level. Unfortunately, it is regularly over-subscribed in Alberta and in the Northwest Territories.

In closing, I wish to thank the chair and committee members for the opportunity to share some of my experiences in the region. I look forward to your questions.

The Chairman: Thank you. Mr. Bégin, please proceed.

[Translation]

Mr. Robert Bégin, Regional Director, Quebec Regional Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness: Mr. Chairman, I am the Regional Director of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness. You have already received my opening remarks. Please allow me to review with you the main elements affecting the province of Quebec.

As you probably know, over the past few decades, Quebec has had the misfortune to suffer a series of major disasters, including the earthquake in Chicoutimi on November 25, 1988; the fire at a PCB depot in Saint-Basile-le-Grand in August 1988; the torrential rains and flooding in the Saguenay region in July 1996; and a devastating ice storm in January 1998.

Since 1970, Quebec has used up more than 62 per cent of the funds allocated to it by the Canadian government under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements program. Over those 33 years, half of the most expensive natural disasters for the Canadian Treasury occurred in the Province of Quebec. And that is not all: additional sums of approximately 90 million and 160 million have been earmarked for the flooding in the Saguenay region and the ice storm. So there are more funds yet to come.

The provincial government of Quebec has not been slow to react. In December 2001, it adopted a new Loi sur la sécurité civile aimed at favouring the global management of disaster risks. The Government of Quebec is about to finalize its Plan national de sécurité civile which calls upon all provincial ministries to take effective and coordinated action when disaster strikes. For slightly over a year now, the province has had a Centre de veille de la sécurité publique, which has been a real success story.

The mission of this centre is to anticipate events that may have an impact on emergency protection and to alert and inform the authorities and other partners. I wish to emphasize that the capacity to anticipate disasters presents a major and important challenge.

The Government of Quebec has also set up a decision-making structure which includes the Conseil pour la sécurité civile. This council includes deputy ministers, members of the Organisation de la sécurité civile du Québec, that is to say a group which represents almost all of the provincial ministries, in the person of associate deputy ministers and directors. It also includes seven regional emergency preparedness organizations and many municipal emergency preparedness organizations.

The Sécurité civile du Québec, which in other provinces is known as Emergency Measures Organisations, has also implemented an organizational structure comprising seven regional branches and covering every region of Quebec. These large-scale developments commenced in 1998 and are extremely encouraging.

In case of an actual or apprehended disaster, my regional Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness (OCIPEP), which is located in the city of Quebec, is guaranteed an immediate presence in the Sécurité civile du Québec emergency measures coordination centre. Our participation and presence is thus guaranteed in this location in the event of a disaster. This arrangement is only one of the many channels of cooperation established between the OCIPEP regional office, the Sécurité civile du Québec and other federal, provincial, municipal and private sector partners. The exercises, training programs, regular coordination meetings, workshops and contributions to projects of the Joint Emergency Protection Program merely offer additional proof of the high degree of cooperation and mutual assistance that has developed between the different levels of government and the private sector.

The Joint Emergency Protection program — the PCPC or, in English, JEPP — functions extremely effectively in the province of Quebec. Year in and year out, the province submits between 20 and 30 projects for approval, meticulously evaluating the requests and setting the order of priority for the projects submitted. This is of course a reflection of its deep interest and responsibility in this area.

Municipalities in the Province of Quebec are not sufficiently familiar with the JEPP program when compared to other provinces like Ontario. However, the province has focused more attention on this problem in the past two years. Consequently, all the Sécurité civile du Québec regional directors have been given more specific instructions that will enable them to give this program more support in their administrative regions. In addition, the ministère de la Sécurité publique du Québec (Emergency Protection Ministry) has issued detailed instructions concerning this program on its Internet site, which is helping enormously to publicize this program in the municipalities and to facilitate access.

I have often had occasion to visit facilities that have profited from JEPP funding, and I am convinced that the program has made an extremely positive contribution by improving security and the management of emergency measures. The JEPP is an investment that is having a significant and proven influence in helping the municipalities and the province to prepare for emergencies more effectively and improve the security of Canadians.

In conclusion, Quebec is certainly among the provinces in Canada that have the most experience in the management of emergency measures and is certainly the best prepared, structured and equipped to manage emergency situations on its territory and intervene promptly to ensure the safety of its citizens.

[English]

The Chairman: Mr. Clarke, please proceed.

Mr. Shawn Clarke, A/Regional Director, Prince Edward Island, Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness: Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this evening.

In my capacity as acting regional director, I would like to provide you a brief overview of the Prince Edward Island region, describe our relationship with the provincial Emergency Measures Organization, and to highlight some of the challenges and opportunities facing the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness regional office in Prince Edward Island.

The OCIPEP regional office, which has a total staffing compliment of two full-time equivalents, is collocated with the Emergency Measures Organization, EMO, and the provincial office of 911 in a Joint Emergency Operations Centre that is situated in the heart of downtown Charlottetown. The EMO has a staffing compliment of two full-time equivalents located in Charlottetown, and the office of 911 has a total of five personnel. In addition, the provincial EMO maintains a satellite office with two full-time equivalents in the City of Summerside.

We are one of only two regional offices that have entered into collocation arrangements of this nature with our provincial counterparts — the provincial Emergency Measures Organization and the provincial office of 911. The other regional office with this arrangement is in Nova Scotia. This arrangement has proven very successful over time and holds continued promise to further enhance our relationship with our provincial partners. To put it mildly, the arrangement is worth its weight this gold.

Since collocating with the aforementioned organizations in December 1999, many benefits have been realized by both. The mere fact that we work so closely on a daily basis has enabled all parties involved to be better prepared for any eventuality. We work collectively as a team in times of need. The equipment in the facility is used every day so whenever problems arise, they have to be dealt with immediately. This effectively reduces the need to regularly test the various systems on a more frequent basis.

Additionally, the facility is used on an ongoing basis by representatives from the first responder community — federal, provincial, municipal and non-government sectors. It is used for regular business meetings, for planning, training, education and exercise purposes.

The legislative basis for the EMO in this province is found in the Emergency Measures Act of Prince Edward Island, although the legislation does not make it incumbent upon municipalities to have emergency plans.

The primary challenge facing the Prince Edward Island regional office is that of capacity, as we presently do not have sufficient resources to fully satisfy the mandate of OCIPEP. As indicated, the office has a complement of two full-time equivalents to carry out the organization's mandate at the regional level. The effort required to satisfy the mandate of the OCIPEP is no less than that of most other regions, despite the fact that Prince Edward Island may appear to be the size of a postage stamp on some maps of Canada.

Operationally, the regional office has experienced four separate events requiring activation of the joint emergency operations centre. These are: the Y2K rollover event; the January 2002 storm surge flooding; the March 2003 storm surge flooding; and Hurricane Juan in September 2003.

As well, with the exception of the Y2K rollover event, the remaining occurrences all resulted in formal requests from the province for financial assistance under the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, all of which remain outstanding. The audit process associated with each DFAA claim usually takes approximately three to four years to complete before a final payment can be made to the province.

The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program, JEPP, is designed to assist provinces and communities with special projects that enhance the overall emergency response or preparedness capability of agencies at both levels, but especially at the first responder level. Prince Edward Island uses its JEPP allotment to fund the provincial emergency preparedness program, but municipal first level responders' demands cannot be met because the program is oversubscribed and under-funded.

The regional office also assists the Emergency Measures Organization in the delivery of basic emergency preparedness training for first responders, federal, provincial and municipal officials. Additionally, the regional office works closely with officials in the area of exercise design and delivery, elements essential to the maintenance of a good emergency preparedness program. Recent exercise initiatives involving partners from all levels of government and first responder communities in Atlantic Canada include exercise Atlantic Guard and exercise Atlantic Tour. As we speak, exercise Atlantic Guard Two is being conducted and will run over the course of the next several days in Atlantic Canada.

Another regional issue that continues to draw the attention of the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness is the Federal Regional Council for Prince Edward Island, considering the current operating environment in which we find ourselves. To play fully in this area would require additional resources.

Other new program areas affecting regional operations include the National Critical Infrastructure Assurance Program, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Program and the National Disaster Mitigation Strategy. It is safe to say that the latter is probably of greatest importance to Prince Edward Island, considering the fact that the island rests on a bed of sandstone. Sandstone is highly vulnerability to erosion, especially when climate warming and the resulting increase in hurricanes, tropical storms and associated storm surges, are factored in. The National Disaster Mitigation Strategy is of paramount importance to the province in that it is critical to the preservation of island.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my regional perspective with you this evening. I welcome any questions from the Chair and committee members.

Senator Meighen: I am looking at the last paragraph on page 3 of your very helpful presentation. You say that "Prince Edward Island uses their JEPP allotment to fund their provincial emergency preparedness program, but municipal-level first responder demands cannot be met because the program is oversubscribed and under-funded."

Please correct me if I am wrong, but I am getting the impression from our session last week and from what you have said that there is obviously a general underfunding difficulty. More importantly, since the municipalities have to speak through their provincial government to access JEPP funds — which are federal funds — that the provinces —in this case Prince Edward Island — are getting their perceived requirements answered first and foremost at the expense of the municipalities, which are left at the end of the line with no further money and no room to meet their demands.

Is that what you are saying here on page 3?

Mr. Clarke: Yes, that is what I am saying in respect of the first responders and other proposals that come from the municipal level. We presently deal with those on an ad hoc basis in that we receive the proposals through the province and we hold them in abeyance until close to year-end in the hope that lapsed funds for other projects that were previously approved would become available. Even in that instance, the funding that becomes available within the last two to two and a half months of the fiscal year can only be put toward projects from the municipalities and first responders for off-the-shelf items — that, is items that can be purchased off the shelf and payment made and invoices received within that time frame.

Larger projects, such as the design of an emergency operation centre or a special vehicle within a municipality, are not "off-the shelf" items; they are rarely ever looked at.

Senator Meighen: Is there an answer to this? It seems the natural disaster is likely to happen in Summerside; and if they do not have any equipment to deal with it, at the expense of the province having installed a nice emergency telephone network or whatever, we have a bit of a problem. How do we break the logjam?

Mr. Clarke: I did state that the program is oversubscribed and underfunded.

Senator Meighen: Then it is money?

Mr. Clarke: Yes. It is a financial resource issue.

Mr. Sigouin: From another perspective, senator, for example, I have three jurisdictions — Alberta, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Alberta, as I stated earlier, basically flows about 70 per cent on a given year directly to first responders and municipalities. However, that is not the case for the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. The simple fact is that those funds are mainly there at the discretion of the territorial government to support their emergency measures organization.

The added benefit to first responders is that through that influx of federal funds, they are able to provide valuable training to first responders in the North, which is particularly difficult because of time and distance. It is horrendously expensive to bring first responders to Yellowknife to train, but that is the only way to ensure that they do come to receive that kind of basic training. In a way, those funds do benefit the first responders because if we did not supply and support the Northwest Territories EMO, they would not be able to get any kind of training.

Senator Meighen: I will try Mr. Harlick on this. Suppose that you decide that after X years' operating the program, that the municipalities are getting the short end of the stick — that the province got more or less what it wants, but that we need more emphasis at the municipal level. Could you say, for example, that preference will be given to requests for equipment and such like at the municipal level? Could that be said if it were deemed advisable to fund more projects at the municipal level, rather than at provincial level?

Mr. James E. Harlick, Assistant Deputy Minister, Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Preparedness: We structure the JEPP program. I divided it into two parts. Seventy-five per cent of the funding is dedicated to achieving national objectives and the balance goes to provincial objectives. This allows for important things such as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, CBRN, incidents in the last couple of years, to be assured of some degree of funding but also the program is responsive to the provinces so that is one way of trying to ensure a degree of balance.

Your question goes to the point of respective responsibilities. The P.E.I. example is at one end of the continuum and Alberta is at the other end. In Ontario, hardly any money stops at the provincial level and it does flows to municipalities. It tends to be a function of the wealth of the province, as you can imagine.

I do not think that the issue is to try to circumvent a province and have money go straight to municipalities because I am not sure that would be easily doable, very effective or tenable over the medium term. The better approach would be to augment total resources in the program so that some of the money — even if it were to stop for well-deserved reasons at the provincial level to support EMO capacity — could flow onwards from the province to the municipality.

The program itself has been traditionally funded with $4.7 million a year. We have been able to allocate some additional money — about $5.3 million — for next year. In the 1990s, it was at about $6.5 million and it suffered along with a number of other spending elements in the then Emergency Preparedness Canada by those cuts.

I concur with my colleagues' judgment that provinces could very effectively use more JEPP funding — cost-shared funding — to enhance their own emergency preparedness capacity at the provincial and municipal level.

Senator Meighen: I do not think I suggested seeking any way to get around the province and go directly to the municipality. I was merely asking whether you indicated that in the allocation of funds to the province, they would stand a better chance of getting funds — if circumstances were such that it appeared to be advisable — if there were more directly municipal projects.

Mr. Harlick: That would be a tough trade-off. Following that example, one would say that the province should underfund itself, while more would go to the municipality. As my colleagues have noted, the provincial emergency measures organizations play crucial roles in achieving emergency management coordination, preparation and response. If one were to notionally take away some of that money and pass it down to municipalities, you might also undermine the capacity at the provincial level. The Province of Newfoundland is in the same state as P.E.I. in terms of using some of that JEPP money at the provincial level to augment its meagre EMO resources.

Senator Meighen: Thank you.

[Translation]

Senator Meighen: Mr. Bégin, allow me to ask you one question. On page 3 of your presentation, you refer to the JEPP program which is not sufficiently well known to Quebec municipalities, as compared to other provinces like Ontario. However, the province has focused more attention on this problem in the past two years. Are we to understand that the problem has been solved in the past two years?

Mr. Bégin: No, the problem is still not completely resolved but we have certainly made good headway in solving it. We are still far from an ideal solution, but it is a step in the right direction. The fundamental problem in Quebec I believe is that the JEPP program is not very well known in the municipalities. It is a basic problem and we must react to it by informing them. This program must become better known, even through word of mouth. That indicates success.

Senator Meighen: Is this part of your responsibilities or must someone else do that?

Mr. Bégin: This is clearly part of their responsibilities; as for mine, they are to push for this to happen. This is what I have been doing for several years. I think there has been progress. It is a promising development that with the new Loi sur la sécurité civile du Québec there will be some very clear responsibilities outlined for the municipalities. In other words, the municipalities are going to have to prepare emergency plans, for instance, which requires a series of projects. This requirement offers good potential to generate more projects. When there are not enough projects, it is difficult to give much to the municipalities. As the program becomes better known, more projects will be submitted, and we will build on our successes.

I think we are on the right track. Clearly, municipalities have to be made more of a priority.

Senator Meighen: That is what I was trying to point out earlier; I am not convinced that Mr. Harlick shares my opinion. I would have a second question for you, if you will. You are both regional directors; to what extent do you exchange information amongst yourselves and with the directors of other offices? Do you meet regularly in the course of the year? Do you speak on the telephone?

Mr. Bégin: That is an excellent question; the answer is easy. First, we all keep in close contact, either by telephone, the Internet, through our director who is responsible for the management of provincial affairs or through our director general. We all keep in very close contact through these means.

In addition we have a weekly meeting, a teleconference call to discuss coordination every week. This meeting lasts about an hour — we try to limit it to an hour to keep things clicking along. We do an overview, a brief account of what we have done during the week, our main activities. We discuss different topics of interest. Other persons representing other branches are in Ottawa, around their table, in direct communication with us.

In the very near future we are going to be in even more direct contact. We will be able to see each other because we are going to have a video conferencing system. The equipment has already been delivered and it is only a matter of weeks before it is all hooked up.

So we are very much in touch with each other, and we have opportunities to meet at annual meetings, regular meetings or others. I would say that generally speaking our communication is very good and we are ready to help each other out.

Senator Meighen: Thank you, Mr. Bégin.

[English]

Senator Meighen: Could someone tell me how many Canadian communities have a reverse 911 system, which I gather is capable of handling up to about 1,000 calls a hour, telling people there is noxious gas floating their way or to do something to protect themselves. How many Canadian communities have a backup operation centre for their main operations centre? Is that information available? I do not necessarily mean tonight, but could you get it for us?

Mr. Harlick: It may be a bit difficult to get if you are talking about Canadian communities, it is a rather large number. However, but we will see what the prevalence of the 911 is. I expect it is not that pervasive so we should be able to identify.

Senator Meighen: I would think only larger communities would probably have that.

Mr. Harlick: Yes, I would think.

Mr. Sigouin: I suspect the number will not be that high, senator. Reverse 911 systems are not very common.

Senator Meighen: I do not think Saint Andrews, New Brunswick will have it but it is possible that Montreal might have it.

Mr. Harlick: We will be able to find that. Your second question was pertaining to backup operation centres?

Senator Meighen: Yes.

Mr. Harlick: We can check that and provide that to the committee.

Senator Atkins: Mr. Clarke, you have just gone through an experience with Hurricane Juan. Could you tell us at what point you were aware that P.E.I. was in trouble and what measures did you implement when you realized the seriousness of the hurricane?

Mr. Clarke: In the very early phases — two or three days before the event — we connected with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax. We also received regular updates from our headquarters in Ottawa, the Government Emergency Operations Coordination Centre, GEOCC. We were in a monitoring mode in the days leading up to the hurricane.

The information we had going into that 24-hour period when the hurricane occurred, was somewhat inaccurate. We were not able to make a determination as to the severity of the hurricane and, when it approached close to the shores of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island was still receiving information to the effect that it would probably be a tropical storm. I believe that the wind predictions were in the vicinity of 90 kilometres per hour and the rain predicted was 20 millimetres. We have handled such weather conditions many times before.

When the hurricane finally hit the Nova Scotia coastline, we became aware of its severity. Discussions occurred at our coordination centre in respect of what this meant for Prince Edward Island. In October, we experienced unseasonably warm temperatures; it was still unseasonably mild on the night in question.

It was not until the hurricane literally came ashore at Prince Edward Island that we felt the full brunt of it. We knew we were not dealing with a tropical storm. One had only to look out a window and it was like watching first-hand news coverage of a hurricane in the Carolinas. During the 24-hour phase immediately prior to the hurricane, the Joint Emergency Operations Centre was activated at 4 p.m. and staffed by the emergency measures people. Later that evening — about 9 p.m. — I checked in to get a situation report from provincial officials on what they were seeing and learning. At the time, the information was that it would be a tropical storm with 90-kilometre winds and a minimal amount of rain.

It was not until later that night when I was home and realized that my house was rocking that I knew this was not simply a tropical storm. I then reported to the emergency operations centre at 3:30 a.m. by which point things had really ramped up. Travelling into the office was like going through a war zone; it was a challenge to travel through the streets. The infrastructure was down; hydro wires were down; and trees were down everywhere. Many streets were impassable and we were dealing with the storm surge.

In the very early morning, provincial officials and I began gathering information for situation reports and feeding them to my headquarters. They then fed the information to their deputy minister at the provincial level and to the Director of EMO. Things kicked into high gear about 4:30 a.m. provincial officials had to make decisions about the closures of schools, businesses, et cetera.

Throughout the next day and a half, we remained at the operations centre working closely with provincial officials to monitor and collect information and feed it to headquarters so that situation reports could be prepared. Throughout the response, I received a number of calls from numerous departmental heads on the federal council who were seeking information.

On day two, the operations centre was shut down at noon. Provincial officials and staff in our office met to talk about disaster financial assistance arrangements, where the province stood on that and where they were likely to go in terms of submitting a formal request for assistance. That formal request came quickly. It was eventually fast-tracked through Ottawa and the reply was received in P.E.I. that disaster financial assistance would be forthcoming.

Senator Atkins: At what stage did operations bring in the media?

Mr. Clarke: The provincial emergency people are responsible for that in such an event. About 6:30 a.m. on the day of, the provincial director of the operation requested that their media relations officials attend to the operations centre. They immediately began to put together information for dissemination to the public and to provincial civil servants. They remained for the duration.

Senator Atkins: How did you get 82 per cent of the voters out on election day?

Mr. Clarke: I truly do not know how that was done.

Senator Atkins: In a different vein of thought, what is the nature of the contacts relating to emergency preparedness between the Canadian and the U.S. governments?

Mr. Harlick: There is a long-standing agreement dating back to 1986 between the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the U.S., which is now part of the Department of Homeland Security, and the former Emergency Preparedness Canada, now OCIPEP. This arrangement establishes coordination contacts and cooperative work between the two agencies that lead their respective federal governments on emergency management.

That agreement forecasts cooperation across a range of activities such as training, et cetera. It also focuses on one crucial aspect of Canada-U.S. emergency management cooperation: facilitating entry of a country's personnel and assets into another country. If Canada called upon the U.S. for both firefighters and firefighter equipment, there would be a means to facilitate their transfer cross the boarder in the interests of speed and arrangements, and vice versa.

We are currently reviewing the arrangement with U.S. authorities. Now that they are in the Department of Homeland Security, DHS, we want to know whether this 1986 agreement is able to meet the challenges of 2003 and on. We think that it could be expanded in several areas of cooperative activity, including exercising, planning, response and coordination, recovery issues, and so forth. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, FEMA, is a large organization with many of its own assets that it puts into the field in times of emergency. In that sense, it has a different modus operandi than does OCIPEP. However, there are many common areas where we can learn from each other. We certainly would like to augment that agreement to take mutual advantage of cooperation in that field.

Senator Atkins: I would assume that the American and Canadian approaches to emergency preparedness are is not exactly the same?

Mr. Harlick: The concepts would be fairly similar. In brief, we both subscribe to four words: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. How one does that in actuality is somewhat different. With 8,000 people, with $8 billion, with the ability to put emergency response teams of their own in the field — as they did in New York City — and with pre-positioned caches of assets and resources around the U.S., they are a substantially different organization on the ground than we are. However, we are really quite similar in respect to looking at the impact of disasters, the development of tools and methodologies for hazards, calculation for training, and so on.

Senator Atkins: Maybe the other gentlemen would like to compare and contrast the United States and Canadian systems from a regional perspective.

Mr. Bégin: I have a few comments. First, there are opportunities for all of us to participate in meetings of coordination and exchange with our U.S. counterparts. We have a number of regional emergency management committees, REMACs. I know of four of these across the country. There is one in the Pacific, one in the Prairies, one called "REMAC Central," that includes Ontario and parts of Quebec, and REMAC East, which comprises Quebec and the four Maritime provinces.

These committees provide an opportunity to make separate agreements of mutual assistance between provinces, between states, and between states and provinces that are close neighbours. This is extremely helpful because it means that we get to know each other; we get to know the similarities and differences between our operations, and, in the case of Quebec, in different languages. We develop means of cooperating together and this is all under the umbrella of the agreement that Mr. Harlick mentioned earlier.

There are also other exchanges taking place between Canada and the United States.

Senator Atkins: Does the federal government get involved in these?

Mr. Bégin: Yes, there is always a federal presence. In all cases except one that I will mention, the federal government is actually an effective member of these meetings.

REMAC East has an agreement with the International Emergency Management Group, IEMG. The federal government is not part of this agreement but we are invited members as observers and partners, so we are always there.

Mr. Clarke: A good example of the effectiveness of the IEMG group just occurred with Hurricane Juan, when some of the utility people from the State of Maine came over under the umbrella of that agreement to provide assistance to the province of Nova Scotia.

Senator Atkins: Do you have a comment?

Mr. Sigouin: We have a somewhat active REMAC in the Prairies, where we work also work with our provincial and state partners, as well as the FEMA regional director based in Denver, Colorado. They have exactly the same kind of activities in regard to awareness, training and support to the States as we have here in Canada.

I would say the notable difference is one potentially of scale, as Mr. Harlick pointed out. As we all know from news media, when a huge disaster hits the United States, the governor will declare a state of emergency. If the president agrees, federal funds and resources flow. We do not work quite that way. Similar parallels would be the DFAA arrangements, but they generally occur after the fact than what is clearly visible on the American news media. That would be about the only distinction; it is more of a scale than another approach.

Senator Atkins: The committee understands that Canada participated in the United States-led exercise TOPOFF 2. This exercise, which was based on plausible, but not credible, threat information involved chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents in Chicago and Seattle. What other training exercises or planning efforts does Canada engage in with the United States?

Mr. Harlick: The most significant one in recent years has been TOPOFF 2, and it is as you described. There was no nuclear component — it was chemical, biological and radiological. In fact, preliminary discussions are not underway with the U.S. on TOPOFF 3, which is planned for 2005. That is the major Canada-U.S. exercise of recent time.

Mr. Bégin: There was one tripartite exercise, Canada, U.S. and Mexico, I believe in either 1999 or 2000, led by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to deal specifically with a foot and mouth disease outbreak, in which Alberta participated actively because of its vested interest.

It was designed to test the response procedure at the federal level to support the provinces and regional and local responders, so that was quite successful as an exercise as well.

The Chairman: Senator Meighen had a small point of clarification.

Senator Meighen: I perhaps did not express myself clearly in terms of operation backup centres. I think the committee is primarily interested in whether communities — no so much the provinces — have such organizations. Obviously, I would be interested myself in whether the provinces do, but do the communities have backup centres?

Senator Forrestall: How short of funds is JEPP with respect to the demands upon it? How wide is the gap? Can you quantify it?

Mr. Sigouin: That is difficult to answer precisely. In Alberta, for example, we always have more projects submitted for application and we have to turn some away. I could ask our provincial counterparts to give us a better understanding of the last two or three years' trend and possibly identify some numbers for you. When the province submits those projects to us for what we call a JEPP review community — which comprises them, a municipal representative and ourselves — there is already a list of projects that come up to the allocated funds.

There is no sense in considering projects that we know we cannot fund. I cannot provide an accurate figure as to how many projects we turn away because that is done at the community level by emergency management Alberta district officers.

Mr. Harlick: We could get you central data, which would explain what the total demand is in any given year versus the $4.7 or $5 million. In my recollection, I think demand would exceed supply by at least 50 per cent. However, we will provide that information to the committee.

The Chairman: That would be helpful. It would also be helpful if we had some sense of the elasticity of the demand. Do you have any sense of whether it would change if the support levels were different?

Mr. Harlick: If there were more money, there would be more demand.

The Chairman: I understand that, but if there were more participation required from the recipients, would there be more demand, even if there were more money?

Mr. Harlick: With respect to the cost-sharing ratio, it is currently 50-50. One would tend to think that there would be more demand.

The Chairman: Whatever evidence you have regarding the elasticity of that demand would be most interesting.

Senator Forrestall: That would suggest that the provincial 50-50 share is used up, but not necessarily the federal contribution. Is that wrong?

Mr. Harlick: It is all used up. We spend every cent of it every year. Occasionally there is a project that cannot be completed. For example, let us say that we provided X amount of money to a province and they cannot spend it during the fiscal year time period. That money — the federal share — would not flow in that case. There would be, perhaps, a little left at the end. However, our managers manage that closely to ensure that there is virtually no lapse at the end of the fiscal year.

Senator Forrestall: Is there anything to suggest that the provinces may be taking more than their share of this to enhance their own infrastructure development needs, and as a direct consequence, impeding the capacity of municipalities to get on with the building of their own resources?

Mr. Harlick: I may have noted earlier in reply to Senator Meighen that I do not think that we would get that impression. Some of the poorer provinces that would keep some of the JEPP money to fund their own operations would feel that if they were not able to fund their operations at that level then they would not have the capacity to discharge their responsibilities at the provincial level and that they and the municipalities would suffer as a result.

While this concerns us from time to time, I think the better solution is to try to augment the total amount of funds available so that more could flow down to the municipal level. It is certainly our view, based on looking at the program and talking through our regional directors to the provinces, that there would be several well-deserving projects that go unfunded in any given year that would be useful and beneficial to the capacity of individual municipalities to do a good job in emergency management.

Mr. Sigouin: It is important to understand that part of our task as regional directors is to manage this process. It is not a rubber-stamping exercise by which the province can submit anything they wish to be funded. There are specific criteria under JEPP and the provinces have to slow value for the limited funds that we have to spend. I have turned down applications from Emergency Management Alberta because they wanted to fund certain things and I decided that it was something that they should fund through their own means.

It is a balancing act of looking at where we get the biggest bang for the buck and showing the greatest value in return. It applies in the same way for municipalities.

Senator Forrestall: Let us go on to the other point that Mr. Harlick was getting at in respect of your authority.

Do you have any option not to act? I am getting the impression that you can only go so far because you too have to answer to a boss. Does this underfunding impede your capacity to build toward national standards or, indeed, even to establish national standards? You build the expectation, you urge people to get on with things and then you do not have the capacity to help them to the point where it leads me to ask this question.

Mr. Harlick: It is certainly the case, senator.

Senator Forrestall: There is a superior capacity to be useful.

Mr. Harlick: The additional funding that could be added to the JEPP program would be put to good use at the municipal and provincial levels in Canada; there is no doubt about that.

We have been able to augment the funding into JEPP by $.5 million and some of that new money comes from the December 10, 2001 budget, which flowed to us in a step increase. Last year we were able to augment that and it will continue. However, that is a modest augmentation.

This is the primary federal government cost-shared government program for building emergency management capacity in other levels of government in Canada. It is highly regarded, as you heard at your hearings in Halifax. There is a desire on the part of provinces and municipalities for more funding to come through to them to help them to meet the current challenges they face.

Senator Forrestall: How much money do we owe the provinces and municipalities for the last five years in these circumstances? Do you have any idea?

What is the outstanding debt? Is it $100 million?

Mr. Harlick: That is beyond our range. Are you talking about federal government monies owed mainly to the province?

Senator Forrestall: For example, how much do we owe in respect of the ice storm?

Mr. Harlick: I see; you are referring to the disaster financial assistance arrangements? For the ice storm in Quebec, there is an outstanding amount of about $160 million. We anticipate another request for an advance payment as further claims are submitted and validated. There have been seven advance payments to Quebec since the beginning of the ice storm in 1998.

Senator Forrestall: Is that over and above the $160 million?

Mr. Harlick: The amount paid is $500 million. It is estimated that the total cost will be $660 million for Quebec.

Mr. Bégin: It should be noted that when you say amount owed, we cannot owe this amount until the provinces actually submitted the final claim.

That is an important point in respect of these major disasters. The claims become so large and complex that it takes time to submit them. The ice storm that Mr. Harlick mentioned is only one example. The final claim for the Saguenay flood in 1996 has still not been submitted. Until we receive the final claim, we cannot pay the province. It is not that the province or any province is dragging its feet but rather because it takes time to put together such a complex claim.

Senator Forrestall: I am not blaming anyone for anything but I am curious about how much money the government owes. What amount does the government owe to Quebec? Would it be $1 billion or $2 billion?

Mr. Bégin: No, it is much less than that. As I mentioned, we owe $160 million for the ice storm.

Senator Forrestall: Is that the largest amount outstanding?

Mr. Bégin: That is the largest amount.

Senator Forrestall: Have you heard any amount in respect of Hurricane Juan and the East Coast?

Mr. Bégin: We expect to pay Quebec that additional $160 million. In the case of the Saguenay flooding, the amount is $92 million. There would be similar amounts in Manitoba, for the Red River flood of 1997. I have mentioned the three largest in Canada. There are also much smaller ones amounting to a few million dollars here and there.

Mr. Harlick: If your question relates to what the total amount of DFAA claims still in process — that is, unclosed — the total amount of estimated federal share is $1.55 billion, of which approximately $1.1 billion has been paid. The outstanding amount, therefore, is about $498 million for a number of claims. I could give you the exact figure later if you wish, senator, for all the affected provinces.

Senator Forrestall: We still have not discussed the most unfortunate fires and floods.

Mr. Harlick: Claims for Hurricane Juan and for the floods in Pemberton and Squamish, B.C, are not included in that amount. We do not have those figures yet.

Senator Forrestall: When I first came to Parliament, the total budget for the operation of this country was under $6 billion. This is a staggering amount of money. The costs for this equipment keep going up and up.

Is there another formal way to deal with this among the various jurisdictions or do we just have to keep them on an ad hoc basis — trial and error. With the system that we have, we can only hope to at least tidy up the length of time so that we can save on the cost of the money. Someone has to pay interest on this, and they are certainly not getting it for 2 per cent.

Mr. Harlick: No. There are two aspects in that respect. One would be related to the DFAA itself, which has been under review for the last several years. We put forward some proposals to the provinces. They have replied, in terms of streamlining the program a bit and adjusting eligibility categories. That is one point.

The other point is slightly different. I mentioned earlier, mitigation, and you heard Mr. Clarke from Prince Edward Island talked about the importance of what we call a National Disaster Mitigation Strategy for his province. One way in which we hope to reduce costs of disasters — in fact, U.S. statistics would show it is indeed possible to do so — is to invest now to better prepare for them when they inevitably occur.

The U.S. FEMA had a program during the Clinton administration called "Project Impact." They calculated that for every dollar invested in mitigation now they saved $6 in eventual costs, which we would recover under the DFAA. This gets to infrastructure hardening, developing better land use planning techniques so people do not build houses in flood plains, and better earthquake-proofing of houses.

That is something we have worked up with the provinces. We have a framework and a strategy ready to go. They are interested in participating in this — and they, in fact, are the key players because that work is done at the municipal level. We are looking for an appropriate time to bring that forward, forcing the level of consideration in the government, and to get the required modest investment of funds to make it work.

Like anything new, this will take a modest investment in pilot projects and in similar kinds of activities to kick-start it and show that it is worthwhile. We have not reached that decision-making stage yet but we are hopeful that we will.

The Chairman: As a footnote to Senator Forrestall's question, could you give us those figures and could you age them for us so we have the total. Could you also age them event so that we can see how long some of the dollars have been outstanding?

Mr. Harlick: Absolutely.

The Chairman: At the same time, perhaps you could explain what happens to the citizen who is waiting? Is the citizen waiting for this period of time or have they received compensation from the province already? How quickly does that come to the citizen or entity that has been damaged?

Mr. Harlick: Let me take the first part and then my colleagues can talk about the provincial experience.

The Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements are federal payments to the provinces and territories for compensation they have already paid out to individuals for loss or destruction of their property or the rebuilding of public infrastructure such as washed out roads. This tends to follow from the principle that the provinces are the first level of major response in accountability for disaster assistance and recovery in Canada.

If a person is "waiting" for a cheque for something that is deemed to be eligible under the provincial program, that money comes from the province. The province then accumulates its bills and puts them into the federal government for eligibility under the federal program — the DFAA.

The Chairman: It was a two-part question. The first part was, how long do the provinces wait and whether you could age them. If they are not waiting, how long does it take before the final settlement occurs, and how much is outstanding? Second, can you give us examples of how long citizens wait when they have a claim in with the province? I understand what you are saying about the federal government not paying until the province has paid, but I should like to know how long the province takes to pay in different examples that you can give us?

Mr. Sigouin: In the case of Alberta — and we will have to supplement with some precise numbers for you — there were two cases. One was in 1999 — the huge flood in southern Alberta. The second was the Pine Lake Tornado in 2000. In both instances, Emergency Management Alberta activated their well-defined disaster recovery program that was approved by their cabinet in regards to what they will and will not pay. It is much built along the lines of the DFAA guidelines.

Through the district officers and staff of Emergency Management Alberta, they send people to designated areas and centres coordinated by provincial and municipal authorities. These officers use the media inform affected citizens that they can go to those centres to get the program requirements and the forms that need to be filled out and all the proper documentation that needs to be supplied with their claim, individual claims, to the provincial folks. People in the field will, particularly for large claims, go inspect the sites, take photos and so on and return to issue cheques at the discretion of the cabinet. This happens fairly quickly.

I know for a fact that in the case of the 1999 floods the first cheques went out within a couple of weeks to individual citizens.

The Chairman: Typically 50 per cent would be dealt with, how long in Alberta?

Mr. Sigouin: I will have to ask the question and then have a precise answer for you.

The Chairman: Is Alberta is typical of other provinces or does it perform better than other provinces?

[Translation]

Mr. Bégin: It would be difficult to compare the provinces. One thing is clear: most provinces have developed their own financial assistance program for disaster relief. They want to ensure that their citizens receive these funds as soon as possible through various programs.

In certain cases the funds are given directly to citizens, as was the case after the 1998 ice storm. In other cases the funds are provided to firms or farmers who develop their own program as quickly as possible.

[English]

The Chairman: I am sure they want to respond to their citizens as quickly as possible, Mr. Bégin. We are not asking you to compare the provinces. We would like the figures to speak for themselves. If you provide us the figures, we will draw our own conclusions.

Mr. Harlick: Could we use the three provinces represented here by the regional directors to give you a cross-section?

The Chairman: If that is in fact a good cross-section, Mr. Harlick, please do. If there are provinces that are beyond these three, then include them.

My other question is for Mr. Sigouin. When you were talking about Alberta, you talked about ensuring that the province got the biggest bang for the buck. Could you define "biggest bang for the buck" for the committee, please?

Mr. Sigouin: My comment related not so much to the province as to the first responders in municipalities. The best example I can give you is on the JEPP CBRN funds that we received through the 2001 budget. Ten million dollars were earmarked specifically for the purchase of equipment for the first responders. We knew that the Province of Alberta could reasonable expect a share of that money.

Equipment in the CBRN world is horrendously expensive and there are all kinds of costs involved in regards to training afterwards. With the provinces and seven municipal representatives and tried to determine where we would get the best return on our investment by strategically placing that equipment within the province. We came up with seven centres of equipment.

Calgary and Edmonton are the two major centres for containment and detection and as well decontamination. There are five other municipalities spread throughout the Province of Alberta that are mainly equipped to detect and contain an area that would have been affected by a suspected CBRN device. Those five smaller centres would call upon the services of Edmonton and Calgary to provide the expertise in regards to the contamination. It provides, with limited funding of $1.3 million to the JEPP, the province with a CBRN modest-response capability of detection containment and decontamination after.

That is what I mean by getting best value for the money rather than just funding all kinds of different projects for municipalities that would have bought gas masks and the like.

The Chairman: I still do not understand your definition of best bang for the buck. How do you evaluate how you are getting the best value for the dollar? What are the criteria for determining the best value for the dollars being spent?

Mr. Sigouin: We look at where we can best position limited funds to maximize our return. We will look at the purpose of the equipment. In this case, the purpose was to provide the province and the municipalities of Alberta with a capability to respond to CBRN incidents. Working collectively, we came up with an approach that was province wide and that enabled a broader capacity to deal with CBRN incidents instead of funding individual municipalities for whatever projects they thought they wanted to have.

The Chairman: I follow what you did. However, you have twice now used the same words in the definition as you have in the explanation. I am asking you not to tell me that you get best value by giving best value. Tell me what you mean by "best value."

Do you have objective criterion or you are just trying say, we think we had a pretty good plan and went with it.

Mr. Sigouin: We think we had a pretty good plan and went with it.

Senator Wiebe: At last week's meeting there was some discussion as to how we are working towards national standards. Tonight, we have spent most of our time on the topic of funding.

I should like to know how much time you and your staff spend dealing with applications, funding problems and this sort of thing. What percentage of time would be spent working towards establishing national standards? Finally, what percentage of your time would be assessing the communities' and the provinces' ability to react in a meaningful manner to a disaster or risk that may happen?

I ask about those three areas because from tonight's discussion, have the sense that that your agency is more of a funding agency — and a duct through which federal dollars can be transferred to the provinces and regions. If you would each like to tackle that or maybe you have a general idea of what that might be.

[Translation]

Mr. Bégin: Obviously the financial aspect is important. For instance, the JEPP projects take up a certain amount of our time.

As for the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, the amounts vary according to the number and scope of the disasters in our province. We devote a very large part of our time to the operational aspect, in particular to prepare procedures to be used when disaster strikes. We establish partnerships with every level of government as well as with the private sector for the purpose of setting up procedures, improving our relations and participating in exercises.

Thus, a large part of our time is devoted to the financial aspect of things. However, we devote more time to operations, at least regional directors do, because they are responsible for a large part of operations and interventions when disasters strike.

[English]

Senator Wiebe: You mentioned the majority of your time is spent on funding and then you said a great deal of your time is spent on other aspects. Would you and you staff spend about 80 or 90 per cent of your time on funding?

[Translation]

Mr. Bégin: Our province was probably among those that were the most affected by major disasters. Approximately 40 per cent of my time is devoted to the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements and to the JEPP; the other 60 per cent is devoted to operations. Most of my time and efforts are thus taken up by operations; I develop partnerships and improve the protection of essential infrastructures.

[English]

Senator Wiebe: I would like to hear from the other two gentlemen as well but thank you so much for responding first, Mr. Bégin.

I have a follow-up question. You mentioned that in the event of a real or anticipated disaster, the OCIPEP regional office is guaranteed an immediate presence in the Quebec Emergency Measures Coordination Centre.

What do you foresee your role to be during that emergency and that of your office?

[Translation]

Mr. Bégin: When a disaster occurs, Quebec emergency preparedness opens its operations centre. As soon as that centre is open, one of our representatives is sent there and functions out of that centre. The disaster is managed from that centre.

The provinces have the lead responsibility for managing the natural or technological disasters that occur on their territory. So that is where the initial management of the disaster takes place.

My role is a strategic one. I must keep abreast of the situation. For this purpose I have at my disposal a limited staff at the provincial operations centre. I must remain in contact also with different management levels, with headquarters and the upper management of Quebec emergency preparedness, for practice and for the purpose of offering federal assistance.

[English]

Senator Wiebe: If there was a need for assistance from the Armed Forces or a need for assistance from the RCMP in the Province of Quebec, for example, would that request from the province or from the emergency measures organization go through you to the proper federal authorities or would it go direct? How would that happen?

[Translation]

Mr. Bégin: Since we are in a good position to be aware of their needs, in many cases we can offer them the range of federal government services that are available. This includes, among others, the Canadian Armed Forces and the RCMP. In several cases, the request comes to our office. However, clearly in other cases contacts have been developed and these requests may go through other channels. If for instance the crisis or the disaster involves security, the Quebec provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, has a very close relationship with the RCMP and together they can coordinate those requests.

Formal requests must go to a higher level and normally come through our office. In most cases these requests would indeed be submitted to our office. In other cases, it is possible that they would go through other channels. Generally however, we are informed very quickly.

[English]

There is a bit of discussion and tailoring on that. When we put together the advisory group in Ottawa for the CBRN equipment, we drew on the RCMP because they have experience in this field; on Defence Resource and Development Canada; and on the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. We also included the CBRN team from Ottawa because we wanted to have direct hands-on practitioners advising the rest of us on how to structure the program. In that way, the best kind of equipment would get to those who would truly need it and who would use it in the best context.

Senator Banks: Before you leave that subject, I think I heard you say that Nunavut did not access any CBRN funds because they could not afford it. Yet, there is no part of the country in which there is a greater per capita threat from CBRN if we take into account the stuff that has been left over from mines and prior installations that have been left in the north.

Is it reasonable to say that there is a palpable, demonstrable threat in the north? According to the official for ecological questions in the Auditor General's office that threat exists particularly in the North, but they cannot have the funding because they cannot afford to put up their end. Does that make sense?

Mr. Harlick: I would make a distinction on the word "threat." Senator, you are referring to leftover, contaminated stockpiles from the Cold War, et cetera.

Senator Banks: — and from mines.

Mr. Harlick: That would tend to be generally a hazardous material or HazMat-base capability. The CBRN funds — although grossly limited — were designed to get at a higher level of response, detection, decontamination and response that is required for a more sophisticated intentional threat such as a terrorist using a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear device. In such an emergency, the first people on the scene must know how to protect themselves — the police and the fire fighters — and must be able to contain it. The emergency medical people must know enough not to take the biologically infected person back into a hospital setting, thereby contaminating it. It was in that sense that it was done.

The Chairman: Thank you. I would like to thank our witnesses for their helpful testimony today. We look forward to receiving the information that you have undertaken to send us.

If you have any questions or comments, please visit our Web site at www.sen-sec.ca where we post witness testimony and confirmed hearing schedules. Otherwise, you may contact the Clerk of the Committee by calling 1-800-267-7362 for further information or assistance in contacting the members of the committee.

The committee adjourned.