Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
National Security and Defence

Issue 15 - Evidence, March 1, 2005 - Morning meeting

VANCOUVER, Tuesday, March 1, 2005

The Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence met this day at 9:40 a.m. to examine and report on the national security policy for Canada.

Senator Colin Kenny (Chairman) in the chair.


The Chairman: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is a meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on National Security and Defence. My name is Colin Kenny and I chair the committee.

I will start by introducing the members of the committee to you. On my immediate right is the distinguished senator from Nova Scotia, Senator Michael Forrestall. He has served the constituents of Dartmouth for the past 37 years, both as a senator and as a member of the House of Commons. While in the House of Commons, he served as the official opposition defence critic from 1966-76. He is also a member of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs.

To his right is Senator Michael Meighen. He is a lawyer, and he is also the Chancellor of the University of King's College and past chair of the Stratford Festival. He has honorary doctorates in civil law from Mount Allison University and the University of New Brunswick. He is chair of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs and a member of the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce.

Next to Senator Meighen is Senator Peter Stollery from Ontario. He was first elected to the House of Commonsin 1972, re-elected in 1974, 1979 and 1980. He was appointed to the Senate in 1981. Senator Stollery is chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, and he is also a member of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.

Next to Senator Stollery is Senator Nolin from Quebec.


He chaired the Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs which released a report calling for the legislation and regulation of cannabis in Canada. He is currently serving as Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration. On the international front, Senator Nolin is the current Chair of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly's Science and Technology Committee.


On my immediate left is Senator Joseph Day from New Brunswick. He is the deputy chair of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance and also of our Subcommittee on Veterans Affairs. He is a member of the bar of New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec and a fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada. He is also a former president and CEO of the New Brunswick Forest Products Association.

At the end of the table is Senator Tommy Banks from Alberta. He is the chair of the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources, which recently released a report entitled the One-Tonne Challenge. He is well known to Canadians as a versatile musician and entertainer; he provided musical direction for the ceremonies in the 1988 Olympic winter games; he is an officer of the Order of Canada; and, he has received the Juno award.

Our committee is the first Senate committee mandated to examine security and defence. The Senate asked our committee to examine the need for a national security policy. We began our review in 2002 with three reports: Canadian Security and Military Preparedness in February; the Defence of North America: A Canadian Responsibility in September; and, an Update on Canada's Military Crisis, a Review from the Bottom Up in November.

In the year 2003, the committee published two additional reports, The Myth of Security at Canada's Airports in January, and in October 2004, the committee tabled two additional reports, National Emergencies: Canada's Fragile Front Linesin March, and, recently, the Canadian Security Guide Book, 2005 edition.

The committee is currently reviewing Canadian defence policy. During the next few months, the committee will be holding hearings in every province and engaging with Canadians to determine their national interest, what they see as Canada's principal threats and how they would like the government to respond to those threats. The committee will attempt to generate debate on national security and forge a consensus on the need and type of military that Canadians want.

Today we are in Vancouver, and the topic of the first panel is aid to civil authorities. We have before us Mayor Walter Gray, a retired radio station owner and executive. He was first elected to Kelowna city council in 1986 and served as a councillor for two terms. He has been the mayor of Kelowna since November of 1996.

We also have Mr. Ron Mattiussi who was appointed Director of Planning and Development Services Department, City of Kelowna, March 1, 1995 and is currently Director of Planning and Corporate Services. During the 2003 wildfire Mr. Mattiussi was director of the regional emergency operation centre. His team coordinated all aspects, namely, evacuations, logistics planning and social services of the emergency, with the exception of fire suppression.

We also have before us Colonel Jim Ellis who joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1983. His first posting was to the Lord Strathcona's Horse, Royal Canadians in Calgary. Colonel Ellis served as a squadron commander with the Strathcona Battle Group in Bosnia, as part of the United Nations protective force. He later returned to the Strathcona Battle Group as part of the stabilization force in 1997. In the year 2000, he returned to Edmonton for his fifth tour with the Lord Strathcona's Horse as commanding officer. In 2002, he was appointed to land force western area where he served as G3 and Chief of Staff. Promoted in 2004, Colonel Ellis was appointed commander, Task Force Kabul, Canada's contribution to the International Security Assistance Force. Colonel Ellis has just returned from Kabul for a few weeks and is currently on leave in Edmonton.

We appreciate very much your taking the time to travel to meet with us today while you are on leave. Thank you very much, Colonel.

Gentlemen, we understand that each of you has a brief statement prepared and the colonel will be the first to present.

Colonel Jim Ellis, 2nd in Command, Operation Peregrine, National Defence: Thank you, sir. Good morning and thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee today. I am Colonel Jim Ellis, currently back as the Chief of Staff, land force western area, in Edmonton.

It is my pleasure to provide some background in the most recent western area domestic operation, Operation Peregrine, the support to the British Columbia forest fire fighting efforts in August and September 2003. During this operation, I filled the position of chief of operations in the deployed headquarters in Vernon, B.C., working directly for Major-General Ivan Fenton, who was at that time the force commander and the area commander, LFWA.

Before describing the mounting and execution phases of Operation Peregrine, it is important to recall the state of affairs in Western Canada at the latter part of July and early August 2003: Fire conditions after another relatively dry spring were extreme. A significant number of forest fires were burning out of control in Alberta and Manitoba, but by far, the most extreme problem existed in B.C.

On August 2, 2003, during the August long weekend, LFWA headquarters received warning from our permanent domestic operations liaison officer in Victoria that the B.C. government would be requesting army assistance for fires burning in the Okanagan Valley region. The original request was for 85 firefighters with their requisite commanding control and logistic support. Within three hours, another LO was dispatched from Penticton to the fire centre at Kamloops. We maintained liaison with the fire centre throughout, initially setting up for firefighter training and then assisting in the reception of follow-on groups of troops to the region.

The decision was made to send the vanguard company, B Company 1 Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry from Edmonton. The reconnaissance group from the company parted by road six hours after the original request was received with the remainder of the company deploying during the night. The company arrived complete at the Kamloops fire fighting centre within 22 hours and commenced training almost immediately. The initial request was received at perhaps one of the worst possible periods in the summer. Most LFWA units, less the immediate reaction unit battalion, were on summer block leave.

The request was received, and the forces moved throughout the August long weekend. The traffic en route in Alberta was extremely heavy due to the holiday weekend travellers. Complicating this move was the fact that Alberta was experiencing a large number of fires that resulted in only one route being available for transit. In the area of the fire, most of the civilian cellular phone towers had been destroyed, making initial communications difficult with deployed troops. LFWA received multiple requests for support during the August time frame.

On August 22, 2003, with the city of Kelowna threatened and a large number of troops deployed forward, the force commander ordered LFWA headquarters to deploy to Vernon and establish a forward headquarters. This was the first time the area headquarters completed deploy for a major domestic operation.

This operation was unique in many ways. It was characterized by multiple short-notice requests often detailing exact numbers of firefighters. The situation was extremely fluid requiring quick reaction and the multiple regrouping of forces. There was a regular and reserve force mix completely integrated in the various task forces. Finally, a tailor- made support concept was developed based on static fire camps located throughout the valley. At the height of the operation, over 2,200 troops were deployed in the valley at four different fire locations, including Barriere, Kelowna, Chase and Vaseaux Lake.

The force included four distinct task forces, each commanded by a regular or reserve unit headquarters, including First Battalion Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, the Lord Strathcona's Horse Royal Canadians, the British Columbia Dragoons and the Loyal Edmonton Regiment. Each of these task force headquarters had between two and four companies attached to it for fire fighting duties. There were companies from LFWA regular force units and reserve units as well as two companies from MARPAC in Victoria, the navy, and one company from the air force in Cold Lake. Operation Peregrine had a very large support component as well as a helicopter detachment of four Griffin helicopters and one search and rescue Griffin helicopter.

During the operation, almost 870 reserve soldiers deployed to the valley. This included seven reserve companies, complete with commanding control capabilities but only limited integral support. Reserve personnel provided augmentation to the military police and medical units in the valley, as well as various LOs located throughout southern British Columbia.

The lead reserve unit, the British Columbia Dragoons, provided the task force headquarters for the central Kelowna and Mountain Park fires. The Dragoons are located in Kelowna. The companies attached to this task force were tri- service and a mix of regular and reserve.

The operation taught us a number of valuable lessons and although the area headquarters successfully deployed and coordinated the operation, we now know that it is not manned or equipped to carry out protracted domestic operations. During the fire headquarters required significant augmentation to complete its tasks. Normally, the CF joint operations group from Kingston and 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Headquarters provide headquarters for austere locations, as with the Winnipeg floods in 1997.

For Operation Peregrine, however, 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade headquarters was held in reserve in order to respond to other areas within Western Canada threatened by forest fires. Secondly, although the reserve commitment to this operation was outstanding, their initial class c screening was somewhat arduous. Steps were developed throughout the operation to streamline this process. Also, there continues to be no reserve call-up legislation. Employers and high school and university staff were extremely supportive of the reserve personnel that assisted duringthis provincial emergency. As this deployment pushed intomid-September most high school and universities allowed for late registration up to the end of the deployment. Although this worked well for the operation, it was on a volunteer basis as there was no mandated employment protection legislation in place. Finally, the central support concept and use of task forces comprised of independent subunits was validated during this operation. It provided for a flexible and sustainable force employment model.

This operation was highly successful for all LFWA units, both regular and reserve. The lessons learned will allow LFWA and the CF to react to short-notice emergency domestic situations in the future.

Senators, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to address your committee. I am ready to answer any questions you may have after the mayor of Kelowna has completed his presentation.

The Chairman: Thank you.

Mr. Walter Gray, Mayor of Kelowna: Thank you. It is a pleasure to be here today.

The Okanagan Mountain Park fire began with a lightning strike around five minutes to two o'clock in the morning on August 16, at a point about 200 metres above lake level, Lake Okanagan, just north of Wild Horse Canyon in Okanagan Mountain Provincial Park. The fire was located on the east side of Okanagan Lake across from Peaceland, in an area of the park that is inaccessible by road.

To paint a more explicit geographic picture for you, because not all of you will be familiar with the geography I just explained, the fire started between Penticton and Kelowna, closer to Kelowna, on the east side of Lake Okanagan. The fire moved over many days, and it gradually became apparent that it was going to invade the south boundary of our city.

The fire came to be known as the Okanagan Mountain Park fire, the largest interface wild fire in Canadian history, and before it was controlled, it had burned nearly 26,000 hectares of forest through to the south slopes of the City of Kelowna and into the city, consuming 239 residential homes with an estimated loss of $100 million. We now know, many months later, that the original estimate was low and that the current estimate is over $200 million in claims to burned property.

On August 2, two weeks before the fire started in our area, and with fires burning all over the province, the Government of British Columbia declared a state of emergency. The next day the B.C. government requested military assistance, and Operation Peregrine was launched. At the height of the crisis, about 800 fires were burning in the Province of British Columbia, and eventually more than 2,200 Canadian Forces personnel were involved in fighting fire of the worst kind at Barriere-McLure, Okanagan Mountain Park, Vaseaux Lake, McGillivray Lake and Kuskanook Creek.

Mr. Mattiussi, who was the director of the EOC at the time of the fire, will make other more detailed comments, and then I will have a brief close before we make ourselves available for questions.

Mr. Ron Mattiussi, Director of Planning and Corporate Service, City of Kelowna: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senators, the Canadian Armed Forces played a very important role during the fire situation extinguishing hot spots and stabilizing the less active fire areas in the zone. This was a gruelling task undertaken in difficult terrain in extreme heat over a very wide area. If you have been to Kelowna, the central interior, you know our temperatures get up into the high 30s, so we cannot say enough about the extreme conditions in which the forces were working.

The Canadian Forces provided the incident commander with an important resource at a time when all available forestry and structural firefighters were being deployed trying to contain the wild fire, which at times moved to a rank 5-6, rank 6 being the hottest fire.

The Canadian Forces provided a self-contained, self-sufficient well organized group of personnel to assist in our crisis. During an emergency the management of a volunteer group is difficult and to have the organized CF on hand was of great assistance to us. In catastrophic events or other natural disasters, the immediate response of trained and properly equipped response groups is critical. In our case, the RCMP were also scrambling. They did amazing work in evacuating over 30,000 residents one night through horrendous conditions. However, there was a high demand for those resources, and there was demand throughout the province. The saving grace in our time of crisis was the extremely active community of RCMP volunteers, rural volunteers, auxiliary members, and, in the heat of the moment, regional bylaw officers, conservation officers and search and rescue volunteers. All of these groups worked together to secure the area and evacuate the residents.

The main point we would like to make is that these broader volunteers may not be available in all situations. In our case, we also would have needed those types of resources. It is our opinion that this resource should be made available quickly, and we see that in fact that is a very fitting role, if we could have had the Canadian Forces, if not in an evacuation role but as a security function. One issue we had, as the fire was burning, was to provide that security function through the myriad roads and mountainside roads into the rural area. That is one point we certainly think needs to be emphasized.

Finally, on a more day-to-day level, in review of our current situation in the aftermath, we have made the recommendation that within our regional emergency plan we would like to have a member of the Canadian Forces as a liaison person, as there were times where we needed to have quick and direct communication and could not move up through the provincial PEP organization and then down through the chain of command to the Armed Forces.

Mr. Gray: The citizens of Kelowna will always be indebted to the men and women of the Canadian Forces who came to our aid during one of the most horrendous incidents in our one hundred year history. In fact, Kelowna is one hundred years old this May 5. Our Canadian Forces toiled in extreme summer heat, as Mr. Mattiussi outlined, on steep slopes in the dangerous aftermath of a rank 6 fire to stabilize conditions for the safe return of our citizens. We are very grateful for their help.

We appreciated in particular that the forces were self-contained and independent. At the EOC, Mr. Mattiussi and people at the centre that were handling evacuees were busy with otherthings. I remind you that in our community of a population of 100,000, we had evacuated 30,000 people and some of those people were evacuated twice. When you are dependent on a volunteer base to do a lot of the evacuations, and many of volunteers are being evacuated themselves, it creates a real challenge; we are blessed that our people did not panic.

Chairman: Thank you very much. I want to mention that Senator Ross Fitzpatrick expresses his regrets at not being able to be here today.

Senator Forrestall: Thank you, chair. Welcome, gentlemen. Welcome, Colonel. Coming from the East coast, I can only say that we followed the events closely with prayers and a deep interest.

I will start out by suggesting that this committee hopes to look back at the study, National Emergencies: Canada's Fragile Front Lines, which we issued in March 2004. We would like to update that report from your point of view, and from the basis of the lessons learned over a longer period of time for reflection. We would like to examine, perhaps through you, Colonel, but the mayor as well, the lines of communication, the aid, the concept of aid to civil power, and how it functions in terms of response to the needs that you had during the crisis.

Mr. Mattiussi, we understand the fires had been burning in British Columbia for some period of time before the military was called in to assist. Why were not they called in sooner?

When was the military called, and what did you think of the speed and effectiveness of its response?

Was working with the military less or more difficult than you might have expected?

Mr. Mattiussi: Mr. Chairman, I can only speak for the situation within the City of Kelowna because the Okanagan Mountain fire began on August 16, and by August 2, the provincial government had already called the state of emergency. I believe at that time there was no direct involvement between the City of Kelowna or the regional emergency operations centre and the military; that arrangement was through the provincial emergency program, PEP. If the emergency operations in Kelowna at any time had made the request, it would have gone through PEP.

My first contact was with representatives of the department of defence, and I believe it would have been on the Thursday night, which would have been August 21 or August 22. The time blurred for me as I did not leave the centre for a number of days, but it would have been the night of the major evacuations.

Senator Forrestall: Would that be about three weeks, more or less?

Mr. Mattiussi: Yes. The representatives came in for an assessment of what was happening on the ground and determined in which areas they could provide their services. The next contact was to determine where we could accommodate the Canadian Forces within a particular area that could be secured.

Senator Forrestall: Why did you wait three weeks to call?

Mr. Mattiussi: The provincial government made that call.

Senator Forrestall: Mr. Gray, would you have made the call had you been able to call the federal authority directly?

Mr. Gray: That gives me an opportunity to suggest that because the premier of the province had called a provincial state of emergency before our fire started, there was never a point in the whole summer of 2003 where there would have been involvement by the mayor. In other words, there would have been no point in having a local state of emergency, so that never became an issue for me. However, my observation is that when the military was needed, they were there, but that would not have been because of anything I did or did not do.

Senator Forrestall: Would it have been as a result of initiative on your part, Mr. Mattiussi?

Mr. Mattiussi: Mr. Chairman, it certainly would have been by outlining the problems that we had when we were trying to deal with that wide area. One of the problems with fire is that it is a disaster that comes at you relatively slowly but then grows very exponentially, and it was literally on our back doorstep one night. There were long hours of waiting and moments of terror as the fire moved very quickly.

At the point in time when the scale of the fire became so large, certainly, it would have been the call of the incident commander within the chain of command in how we work. The incident commander in this case was forestry. The forestry department would have made the decision that the Armed Forces were needed, and I believe that call then went out and the Armed Forces arrived. My comments dealing with evacuation and security are more about securing the area once the people are evacuated.

Senator Forrestall: In general, the broader picture concerns us. In our report, gentlemen, we recommended that the federal government compile lists of community critical infrastructure assets, threats, and shortfalls, in meeting those threats to hold meetings with other orders of governments to discuss deficiencies and run exercises with orders of government to develop the lessons learned.

Has Ottawa demonstrated any willingness to go along with that suggestion, that is, take on this knowledge base and run from it?

Col. Ellis: Senator, I can only speak to what, on the DND side, we are working with right now, and it is the fact that prior to my going to Afghanistan, which was about seven months ago, we had the plan for contingency liaison officers. We have eight permanent domestic operations positions in Western Canada. We have a major and a captain permanently deployed in Victoria and they liaise with PEP and OCIPEP.

In this case, we were watching forest fires from about the second week of July, not hoping for requests, but, certainly, we were keeping an eye on what was going on specifically in B.C. They had the link with PEP, and they gave us the warning that a request was coming through. Throughout the situation from August 2, when we first deployed, until we left around September 26, we received our orders for forest fire fighting directly from the forestry people. They were the leaders. Once the initial request came in, we then went under command basically of the B.C. forest folks, and that is where we got the request for Kelowna, around August 22. At that time we were deployed in Barriere fighting the forest fires in that area. The orders came from forestry to move military people down into the Kelowna region, and that is when we moved B Company from the 1 PPCLI.

Senator Forrestall: Did you feel any sense of frustration about the delay while? I know how we felt in other parts of Canada.

Did you as a military leader and the people working closely with you feel any sense of frustration knowing that you could help but nobody was asking?

Col. Ellis: We tried to maintain the theory of last in, first out. I will tell you, as chief of staff in the headquarters, right from the beginning of July, we always made sure we had that battalion on high readiness. We were very clear that there was a potential from about the middle of July that a request might come, so we had to ensure that we had everything ready, as we are normally supposed to, but we made doubly sure that they were ready to go. I do not want to say that I was frustrated. We were ready for any request that might come through.

Senator Forrestall: Have there been any meetings between the provincial, national and local officials and the military to discuss any lessons that were learned from the operation? To your knowledge, have there been any such meetings?

Col. Ellis: On the national level we are heavily linked with the Province of British Columbia due to the threat of a catastrophic earthquake here in this province. COP Panorama is a national level contingency operation that we in Western Area deal with on a monthly basis. We had a worst-case scenario plan prepared and we used it during the operation. While we were deploying to the fire we referred to this plan to see just what to do while we tried to get en route to B.C. We learned a lot of lessons from the firestorm operation. We took a lot of the work we had done there with PEP.

We did a major exercise last February 2004, where we went into British Columbia with all of the leadership from Land Force Western Area, both regular and reserve, and did reconnaissance throughout the area. We met with the RCMP, PEP and OCIPEP; we do that on a fairly regular basis. We are very tight with B.C., and we are quite close with Alberta. We have officers in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, but we find there are less domestic problems in those provinces, other than the Winnipeg floods which we worked with in 1997. We do a lot of liaison with them, but I would not say it is day-to-day.

Senator Forrestall: Is there less apathy now than before the fire?

Mr. Gray: I do not think there was ever any apathy.

Senator Forrestall: Perhaps we had better clear the record because Kelowna responded this way to a questionnaire, and I quote:

We appear to have a lot of apathy within our population when it comes to disaster planning.

We simply found that surprising since that questionnaire was completed in 2003.

Mr. Gray: Well, I may not know as much as I should on that questionnaire, but I would be disappointed if, in fact, it was apathy.

The Chairman: In fairness, it is on the public record. The assistant fire chief made that comment, and we do not think it was an unreasonable comment to make.

Mr. Gray: I understand now that we know the author of the comment because until you are faced with the facts of an emergency it is very difficult to get people excited about fire drills at school et cetera. I believe that was why he commented in that way.

The Chairman: The essence of Senator Forrestall's question is whether the attitude has changed in the community.

Mr. Gray: We are on high alert as a community about everything. There have been a lot of positive outcomes as well. We have become much attuned to everything around us.

Mr. Mattiussi: To answer your question on the one of the changes, most of our work was through the Filmon inquiry that looked at all fires. One of the changes, which I pointed out in my brief, is that we have now asked for a Canadian Forces military liaison in the EOC, just to provide that absolute direct link.

Senator Forrestall: I like that face to face communication.

The Chairman: Just to put it in context, because I have a feeling that some of these questions appear to be coming at you from an angle that you did not quite expect. We went through a process a little over a year ago of questioning every community in Canada of over 20,000, including yours, about what emergencies they expected might happen, what assets they had to deal with them, what their deficiencies were and what the cooperation was like from the different orders of government. We did this to get some sense of how Canadian communities and the front line responders were prepared to respond, and whether they calling on what was then OCIPEP or the Canadian Forces or CSIS, if necessary, or other Canadian federal agencies as needed. That is why we are asking the questions the way we are. The objective, frankly, is to find out if our theory is correct, that spending a small amount in preparation is worth an awful lot later on when the bad news comes along.

It is with that background that we are asking you these and other questions.

Senator Day: Mr. Mattiussi, could you give us a bit of background on the emergency operations centre? Each province seems to have a bit of a different emergency preparedness structure.

Mr. Mattiussi: The emergency operations centre is set up on a model that we have in British Columbia called BCERMS, B.C. Emergency Response Management System. I notice that the next panel has Mr. Paul Bugslag, and he will probably be able to give you the background history. Essentially, it allows for, in our case a regional plan and a regional group. We have a regional plan, and we have practiced many emergencies throughout the years; now we certainly have been tested.

Within the operations, you have a director, which is my function. The director's role is that of the decision maker and the communicator between the elected policy makers. In an emergency situation the director tries to separate the policy side from the day-to-day decisions that have to be made.

Below the is an operations area, and in our case, it contains the fire department, the RCMP, the ambulance service, the hospital, and those people that may be on the front line of any emergencies, namely, the city's public works.

It also has a logistics group whose job is to provide anything that the responders or the community needs. If your community is cut off because of an earthquake that group would have to determine whether the community needs blankets, water, food and so forth. The logistics group answers all of those logistical questions.

There is a planning unit that tries to determine the extent of the damage and work ahead of it to try to determine what is happening. The planning group produced maps, tracked the fire, and tried to determine and preplan the evacuations. We carried out evacuations on the advice of the planning unit.

As in most things, there is a financial unit that has to track costs because we have to be responsible to the public and risk management and communications.

Senator Day: That is helpful. Are we talking about a municipal planning group? All of the various components of that sounded to me like they were all part of the municipality as opposed to being outside the municipality.

Mr. Mattiussi: It is a combination of both. We have a regional group because rarely do emergencies end at a municipal direction.

Senator Day: Did you have one at that time?

Mr. Mattiussi: Yes, we always have had a regional group.

Senator Day: Was the emergency operations centreregionally-based and not Kelowna-based?

Mr. Mattiussi: That is correct, and it is important because over a longer crisis, you need to be able to circulate people through in each of those positions.

Senator Day: Was the municipal person in charge of the regional operation planning?

Mr. Mattiussi: Yes, in this case, because the City of Kelowna was the city being threatened, I became the director of the EOC and the regional staff reported to me. It was fairly seamless.

Senator Day: There were a fair number of fires going on, and some before the Okanagan Mountain Park forest fire, but because of the threat to the community the Okanagan fire became our main focus. Were you engaged as an observer with respect to the other fires, or were all of the fires within the region of your involvement?

Mr. Mattiussi: No, they were outside of our region. The Okanagan Mountain was the only fire within our region. It was a very busy fire season and I believe the PEP coordinators asked for some fire personnel and our EOC communications person to go to the Barriere fire.

Senator Day: What was your team doing prior to the fire in the Okanagan Park area?

Mr. Mattiussi: The EOC did not open until the City of Kelowna was threatened. The fire struck Saturday night, and Sunday morning I was called in and was told that there was a fire in the park that could potentially threaten Kelowna. At that point, only three people were there; they were setting up.

The command office was being set up at that point in time, and we went out and assessed the fire. Previously, the types of decision we would have to make were in the nature of requests from the fire commission's office. That office requested us to move equipment and resources, such as pumper trucks to go to Vernon, so Vernon could go to Barriere, and so forth.

Senator Day: You were monitoring, and the Armed Forces indicated earlier that they were monitoring and watching this happen.

How quickly were the Armed Forces called in to help you after that fire started?

Mr. Mattiussi: Again, I am not quite sure because I did not deal with the fighting of the fire. Forestry may have called the Armed Forces ahead of time. They appeared in the EOC and requested a meeting on the Thursday night, I believe. It would have been about four days into it, but the fire at that point had just started to threaten Kelowna. It was on the horizon up until then.

Senator Day: Could you give me the date it started in the Okanagan Park?

Mr. Mattiussi: It started on August 16.

Senator Day: When you were talking about the liaison person, I got the sense that you felt that maybe things were not happening quite as quickly as they should have from the point of view of the Armed Forces. I think you said that the Armed Forces should be available quickly and at least a portion of the resource should be on site within 24 hours to 48 hours of a major event. That is a lesson learned, presumably.

Mr. Mattiussi: Yes.

Senator Day: For some reason the line of request and the Armed Forces reaction to that request, without the liaison person, was not as fast as you felt it should be.

Mr. Mattiussi: Certainly, and in fairness to all those involved, the incident commander at forestry made the request, so forestry clearly was in touch.

From the perspective of the regional emergency operations centre, and knowing what I know now, a liaison person could have informed me of the other resources that were available. At the time, it just did not occur to me that, as the EOC director, I could bring in the military.

Senator Day: Colonel Ellis, you were a bit lucky on this because you had a group of reservists who were about to go to Wainwright in August, so they were on standby. If that had not happened, would you have been able to find 500 reservists to 800 reservists?

Col. Ellis: I think we had 870 reservists at the end of it from all across Western Canada. You are right. If it was in the middle of the school year or at any time other than July or August, I am sure we would not have gotten the same number. It is just the fact that, as I said, with no protection for jobs, many of these men and women are in university and high school, and it is very difficult for them to come out. In B.C., they will be the first ones that we can get to a scene. As I said before, we had the high-readiness vanguard, a regular force unit in Western Canada, on site very quickly. For us, the problem was not the movement of troops to the area; it was the actual training through the forestry department. That is where the clog was.

Senator Day: Do you mean the training of your personnel by the forestry personnel?

Col. Ellis: That is correct.

Senator Day: Since that situation, have you done some planning? Are you doing some training so that the preparedness to get in and get right at fighting will be quicker without having to go through a period of training through forestry?

Col. Ellis: The period of training was not that long, quite frankly. We had it done within 48 hours, which is quicker than you normally put them through. Remember, we were not training for rank 5 and rank 6 fires; we were training for mid-level and mop-up stuff, so that the fire would not come back around and burn in behind and cause problems. We do not do forest fire training as part of our regular training.

Senator Day: Do you not have any plans to do that in the future?

Col. Ellis: No, senator.

Senator Day: You will be in the same situation again if you do not do fire training.

Col. Ellis: As I said, the first request was made on August 2 to get to Kamloops and go through the fire fighting training, and we arrived when we were supposed to. We got through the training cycle when they needed us to get through. After our people were trained the forestry ministry determined where they were to go. I should mention that at the height of training we moved forestry people out to Cold Lake and to the coast to train in location.

We had another major problem when we ran out of Nomex suits, which are the anti-flame yellow firefighting suits the firefighters wear. We had to ship them in from Manitoba and Ontario, while those provinces were experiencing their own fire related problems. It was a logistical problem, not military-based, but basic fire fighter equipment was not available. Another problem was the actual expertise to train our soldiers. This turned out to be a bit of the bottleneck in the Kamloops area.

Senator Day: That is helpful. In terms of the personnel that ultimately went from the Armed Forces, regular and reservists, did you send support units, communications, logistics, supply people, or were they all people that took a shovel, or a hose and fought the fire?

Col. Ellis: They were a mix, senator. We had a very large support component, and in fact, we learned something that I learned as the commander in Kabul. Now we run a task force element where we bolt things into a headquarters. We learned the same lessons there. The reserves did not come with a lot of support. They were front-line firefighters, so we brought in from Western Canada about 500 support people, hospital, logistics, maintenance, POL transport and so forth to support the front-line firefighters.

Senator Day: Were those support people supporting only the Armed Forces personnel or everybody else?

Col. Ellis: It was just the Armed Forces.

Senator Day: You have a communications squadron in Edmonton. Did they participate?

Col. Ellis: Yes, as did the reservists in B.C. They provided us with the communications backbone. We used cell phones, HF radios and military radios. We had a linkage with forestry where we used their hand-held sets. The communications were fine.

We learned a valuable lesson when we first went in though, and it goes back to our preparations for COP Panorama and earthquake. Our first troops on the ground got forward in Barriere and the cell phone system was down because the towers burned down.

Senator Day: Did you have the equipment to use satellite, high frequency and that type of thing?

Col. Ellis: That is what we had to use. We had hoped to usecell phones because they are easier and quicker, but we usedsat-phones and HF radios provided by the reserve.

Senator Day: Was that for the entire fire fighting effort, or again, only for the military portion thereof?

Col. Ellis: Just for us, senator.

Senator Day: Did it not seem logical that maybe the communications side would help the entire effort, especially since the towers were burned?

Col. Ellis: From what we saw, there was not a problem in communications on the civilian side. The problem was on ours to ensure we set our backbone up to use our own military equipment and to ensure we had linkages with them. From my perspective, as chief of operations, we never received a request from any of our line troops that were linked in heavily, obviously, with civilian firefighters to provide a communication background. If there was we could have assisted them.

Senator Day: Was your system interoperable with the system that Mr. Mattiussi's group had been using?

Col. Ellis: The easiest thing to do, as he pointed out, was to stick a liaison officer face to face in that headquarters. That is what we should have done.

Senator Day: You did not do that, though.

Col. Ellis: No, we did not. We stayed at the higher headquarters; being the Kamloops fire fighting centre. That is where we had our LO, plus with PEP in Victoria, that is where we had our LOs. The commanders on the ground were linked in heavily with the local authorities. In the case of Kelowna, as an example, the commanding officer of the Kelowna unit, the British Columbia Dragoons, was heavily linked in with the mayor and others that were on the ground.

Senator Day: Were your systems interoperable? Could you talk to one another out in the field?

Col. Ellis: With the sat-phone and cell phones, you can. They cannot talk to us, obviously, on combat net radio and HF sets because they are secure. In the future if something catastrophic happens on the B.C. coast we will send a liaison officer with a communications suite so that he can sit in at their ops centre and use our radio systems to talk back to them.

Senator Day: Then you communicate with them?

Col. Ellis: Yes, senator.

The Chairman: Has anybody been to you from either the federal or provincial level of government to talk to you about lessons learned?

Mr. Mattiussi: Mr. Chairman, the Filmon report was the only review, and certainly we have had our own debriefing, but not at a broader level.

Senator Banks: Mr. Mattiussi, to what report did you just refer?

Mr. Mattiussi: That was the Filmon inquiry.

Senator Banks: Colonel Ellis we are proud to have you back in Edmonton and welcome back.

Your Worship and Mr. Mattiussi, my family and I have been spending a lot of time in your city for the last 40 years and enjoy it enormously. I want to commend you on the cultural component of your city, which is admirable and far beyond any other city in the country. I am delighted to see that, and I partake in it often.

To the subject at hand, what is PEP in Victoria? Is it a provincial emergency organization? What does it stand for?

Mr. Mattiussi: That is a tough question. I believe it stands for provincial emergency program. It is the provincial body that deals with all emergency situations and then coordinates the provincial, federal and local response.

Senator Banks: Colonel Ellis, we have been looking at the question of the integration of the reserve forces with the regular forces. You have been in the position, both in Kabul and Kelowna, in which there was a virtual integration of reserve forces and regular forces. You have made references to the lack of legislation that would protect the employment of reserve members.

We have heard conflicting ideas from all sorts of people, including many members of reserve and militia units as to the advisability of that legislation. There is a difficulty that in the initial stages of employment, if you answer yes to the question as to whether you are a member of the reserve, you do not get the job.

Would you talk about that for a moment? I gather you have a fairly strong opinion on that issue.

Col. Ellis: While I was in Afghanistan I worked very closely with U.S. forces and I understand how they do business. The U.S. reserve forces fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq have a certain amount of legal protection and are looking forward to and are comfortable with the fact that when they get home after their mission they will have a job to go back to. I do not know the ins and outs of how that works, but I do know that for troops in that theatre of operations it is extremely important as a morale issue.

In this case, as I said earlier, the fact that we were doing this in the summertime was a godsend because we had those reserve soldiers. In fact, a lot of them were under contract with us and were being paid because they were in the box ready to go to Wainwright.

Without that situation, had it been a mudslide or earthquake in October or November, I would not be comfortable telling you that I could count on the reserves to be there. The reserves were available during the summer but to leave for eight or 10 weeks during any other time of the year might not be as easy for them.

Senator Banks: Are the reserve forces integrally and conditionally important to doing that kind of job, that is, a mudslide in November?

Col. Ellis: We as a regular force are stretched right now, and I think you know that. In Western Canada, and I know it is similar across the country; we rely on the reserves to assist us in those types of circumstances. All of our COP plans that we now have, Panorama and Paladin being the response to the earthquake, call heavily on the reserve forces. We work very closely with them. We ensure they are involved in all of our planning and exercises and everything else because they will form an important part of the force that responds to domestic operations.

It is the same for the ice storms and the floods. They have been there when we needed them. However, for protracted major operations, we look at them as superimposed onto the regular force because we cannot guarantee that they can come for that length of time.

Senator Banks: I am asking this question because you have been in command of forces that have been seamlessly integrated. We have heard testimony from folks that once the regular forces are beefed up to the point that they can be less stretched and less stressed on a trade basis than they are now, perhaps the reserve forces ought to be given different jobs. They ought not to be trained to be war-making soldiers but trained to do domestic things like act in fires and in ice storms. What is your view of that idea?

Col. Ellis: Senator, I have served with reservists on two heavy missions in Bosnia and the most recent one in Afghanistan. We rely on reserves to integrate with us, and they need to be combat troops first. They need to be trained to assist us in our regular force operations all over the world. That is part of their mandate, and they need to continue to have that mandate.

To train them specifically for domestic operations, be it training them to be level 3 forest firefighters or heavy urban search and rescue for an earthquake in Vancouver, those are certainly other things that they could look to do, but they must have basic military combat troop training. That is what they are there for. I know that with that training, just like the regular force, we can react to anything that comes our way domestically. Given a little bit of training in specific activities, they can respond as opposed to having this policing, specially trained organization that would go out specifically to a bunch of British Columbia Dragoons trained only as firefighters. They are not BCD; they are forest firefighters.

Senator Banks: In that respect, you mentioned that the command capacity of the dragoons, which is the local reserve regiment, was not quite up to the task with which it was presented, but not because of anything to do quality of the people. Is that correct?

Col. Ellis: No, senator.

Senator Banks: Tell me again then.

Col. Ellis: That unit headquarters from Kelowna did an outstanding job. They set up an operations centre immediately when required, and we bolted regular force companies, reserve companies, air force and navy company groups into that organization.

Lieutenant-Colonel Denis Cyr from Kelowna is the local BCD commander. His organization did an outstanding job. As I said, I was in Vernon travelling back and forth liaising with him, working for General Fenton, and I can tell you that we had absolutely no difficulties with him. Had we had any concerns with that reserve headquarters, we would have moved it out and put a regular force in there only because we were facing the most difficult fire in the Kelowna region. To stick him in there was not to raise the flag. Initially, it was the thing to do because he is a local commander and they were local troops. General Fenton and I had a number of discussions in the early days where we watched, because it was the most difficult fire in the whole region, how that headquarters dealt with it, and they did an exceptional job. There are 95 per cent reservists in that headquarters with just some augmentees from his regular support staff.

Senator Banks: I am glad to learn I misunderstood you.

Mr. Mattiussi, I am going to go back to communications again. You may gather we have a fixation on communications, and it is because we have been in most cities in the country, including yours. We have asked those cities to respond to questionnaires from first responders, and the extent of interoperability and intercommunication between first responder agencies is different in every place. The military has secured communications that nobody else will ever get into, which is why the process you are talking about with having a person there is exactly right. However, when you are sitting in your EOC, can you to talk to your emergency medical technicians, police, fire department and the like at the same time, or do you have to talk to four separate people and have them pass on the message?

Mr. Mattiussi: No, we did not have a unified communications but that was never an issue because the operations group is made up of RCMP, fire and ambulance. They all have their communications and they are all sitting literally right next to each other within the command centre. Although there is not necessarily a unified frequency between all those groups that you mentioned, that aspect of communications was not an issue. It was almost as difficult even within the fire fighting group itself. Within the fire fighting group, we had structural firefighters from across the province. We had forestry, and again, the role of the incident command is to ensure that all those groups are met. However, communications in that sense was not an issue.

Senator Banks: Therefore, it worked. I am an Albertan and very proud of it, so I always ask this question. Mr. Mattiussi mentioned that this was a relatively slow moving disaster, but sometimes disasters can happen quickly. In these instances you may either have to tell the residents to run for the hills or to keep their doors closed et cetera.

In Alberta we have an early emergency warning network. It is voluntary on the part of the broadcasters and all except two broadcasters signed on to it. I do not think anybody else in the country has that yet.

This committee is considering a recommendation that signing on to it should be made a mandatory condition of licence from the CRTC. The concept is that once the system is in place it would allow somebody to push a button and interrupt every broadcast, radio or television, commercial or non-commercial, governmental or otherwise in the province so that everybody with a radio on or a television set would hear that message in the next 15 seconds to 30 seconds.

If you need to let somebody in Peachland know to stay inside because there is a cloud from a gas truck that has overturned, how would you do that?

Do you know whether British Columbia is considering a broadcast interruption type warning system?

Mr. Gray: I am not aware, Senator Banks, of anything being proposed such as you suggest, but as a person who has been involved in the broadcast industry and the media for 43 years, I certainly subscribe to the direction in which you are going.

Senator Banks: That is why I asked you the question.

Mr. Gray: That idea was on my mind during this fire. I must say that for the first time in my history in the media, the media people in Kelowna came together in a common cause. They worked together to help each other rather than maintain their competitive posture and were helping one another out.

I give a lot of that credit to the lady that Mr. Mattiussi appointed to be the media control person; for the first time in my entire career, I met someone who was able to manage the media.

The biggest job was managing the national media because they would literally barge in to get the story. The ground rules were set clearly in the beginning: they would get what they needed; they would get their file footage; and, there would be a daily briefing. If they were answering to a desk in Toronto or wherever, they knew that none of their competitors could scoop them, which gave them some comfort, and also that when news was available, they would get it and get it honestly. There was a great degree of discipline and comfort set up for media in the beginning.

From the mayor's standpoint, that was very important because in the total EOC operations, I had no direct involvement because once you have a state of emergency, the policy is set, the plan is established, and you are handing it off. In this case, two weeks before we had our fire, the premier had handed it off.

My role was to sense the mood of the community and what it needed, and what we did not need, of course, was panic. The medias' discipline throughout the crisis helped to keep the residents calm and well informed.

What occurred to me that now that we are in the day of the Internet it would be a good idea to have an overriding discipline or regulation by the CRTC or whomever, even on a volunteer basis through VCAB, to do that in the case of an emergency.

I think the emerging media will be the Internet. We had in our community a little company that was an adjunct to Silk FM with Nick Frost, whom I think you know, called "Castanet,'' that was getting over a million hits a day on their Internet site. They broadcast everything that happened and provided the population with a steady stream of information, so that we never had to fear panic.

The media has this great ability to prevent panic, even when the news is bad, because if members of the public feel informed in an accurate sort of way, then they can discipline themselves in terms of evacuation and so on.

I subscribe to the kind of idea that you have suggested. I suggest that we advocate, through PEP, the establishment of mobile media centres that are distributed through the Internet.

Senator Meighen: I want to ask Colonel Ellis a couple of questions to ensure I understand the military component.

Were the 870 reservists as many as you could lay your hands on, or was that all that was needed?

Col. Ellis: We requested seven companies, and we got them: four companies from British Columbia, two from Saskatchewan and Manitoba and one from Alberta. The Alberta folks were focused on the Wainwright training because we had anticipated that we would try to do the major exercise at the end of August, and it was not until probably August 18 or August 19 that the general said to put our focus there.

The answer to your question is we got the amount of troops we asked for from the reserve world.

Senator Meighen: Back this to this question of job protection, I am still not sure which way I come down. Let us say I come down the way you do, and that is with a law. For example, if I am a computer programmer and a reservist who goes to Afghanistan, when I come back my job is waiting for me. That is how maternity leave works, and that seems to work well. I do not think there is any reason we could not offer the same protection to the reservists.

How do we deal with the university and high school students who make up quite a large proportion of reservists? Not only would we have to get employers to sign on and be covered by the law, but we would also have to cover university registrars and high school principals.

Do you think that is feasible?

Col. Ellis: I am not an expert on this issue. I can only relate my experience with the U.S. reserves.

Senator Meighen: Were there university students in Afghanistan?

Col. Ellis: Yes, but they do not have the same system. They take a year off school to go overseas. In this case, I suppose those university students, if they were not given the backing that the universities and schools in B.C. gave them, would have had to take off the first semester of school in order to serve their country.

Senator Meighen: What if there is a forest fire or a flood and it was a question of taking off two weeks?

The other side of the coin is that in our system, and I guess it is the same in the American system, the reservist can say that he or she is not available during those two weeks.

Col. Ellis: Welcome to the world of the reservist, sir. That is their right. It is the same with their job. If they could not get two weeks off of work, then they could not come and work in the reserve units.

Senator Meighen: Are you telling me that as far as you could understand from your American contacts, they can get that two weeks off?

Col. Ellis: I do not know, senator, how they do business on the domestic side. I do know that the students will take a full year off of school.

Senator Meighen: That would be the same case in our forces.

Col. Ellis: You would have to take the time off.

Senator Meighen: We talk a great deal about the technological gap between the American forces and the forces of almost every other country.

From your experience overseas, is there a technological gap between reservists and regulars? We have heard many stories about reservists not having the opportunity to train on the latest equipment, and as a result, arrive in a theatre of operations and have to be trained on site.

Have you run into that problem?

Col. Ellis: I have not, senator. The reserves that I had working for me were filling infantry roles; they were not in the mechanized infantry. They have specific roles that they can fill and do very well. We have very high-tech equipment. I am an armoured officer. The new Coyotes that we have are complex, and that is why we do not have them in the reserve world. It just takes too much time, and reservists can do many other things for us that they are far better suited to do.

Senator Meighen: You are saying that an army reservist is not trained to form part of a Coyote team?

Col. Ellis: If they have the time, we will train them in that area. In fact, we did a plan for Roto 15 in Bosnia, which is the one that just came back. One of the plans that we looked at was to train a reserve LAV company in the high-tech LAV vehicle to go into that operation because we wanted to send 100 per cent reservists in there. We had a plan to do that and would have been successful at it.

Senator Meighen: Just one final question for the civilians on the panel: Do I take it that you are satisfied with the way the system works in this country, and that the burden of requesting the involvement of the Armed Forces rests upon the provincial government?

If that is so, do you think there is any impetus to delay that decision, given the fact that once the provincial government makes that decision, they then have to pay for it, both literally and figuratively?

Mr. Mattiussi: Senator, the system worked out very well. I believe the resources were there when we needed them. My comments about earlier deployment to deal with evacuation were more in the "perfect world scenario.'' An emergency may not ever give you the opportunity to do that.

In answer to your question, I believe the system that has been set up puts the appropriate checks and balances in the system, therefore, the EOC director in the middle of a crisis does not call out the Western Canadian Forces, and I think those checks and balances are necessary.

Senator Meighen: As another example, the mayor does not call out the army to shovel the snow or anything like that. Coming from Toronto, I can say that.

Mr. Gray: I do that personally in election years.

Senator Meighen: I am sure that is why you are still elected.

Senator Stollery: I recall when the mayor of Toronto panicked and called out the Armed Forces. Most of us thought it was pretty ridiculous. Today, they are having a snowstorm in Toronto that my neighbour, who is about 90, tells me is the biggest she has seen for the last 20 years.

Colonel Ellis has referred to a potential earthquake. I am from Toronto and I know that the West Coast has a potential for earthquakes. Could you just expand on that a little? Does someone follow this all the time? The impression you gave me was that this sort of potential problem is followed. Would you expand on that a little bit?

Col. Ellis: There is a national plan in the department called COP Panorama, which stands for contingency operation plan Panorama. COP Panorama deals specifically with the potential of a major earthquake on the West Coast. It is updated annually. It is run by the joint staff continental out of the national headquarters in Ottawa, and land force western area has a sub-plan for the army in Western Canada called COP Paladin, which is our response to that plan.

As I said, we ran into an exercise last February where we brought the navy and the air force in with us. We travelled through Western British Columbia, from Chilliwack to Vancouver and across to Victoria, and we met with the emergency planners. We met with all kinds of other people, including civilians, and we discussed what our reaction to a catastrophic earthquake might be. Anything that we can get on the military side to prepare us to assist on that will go a long way. That is why I said that when we ran into a few problems with the forest fires in B.C., we referred to the communication plan for COP Paladin. We used the information from all the work we have done on that to assist us with that problem.

Senator Stollery: Is the centre of the earthquake plan at headquarters in Ottawa, while the regional centre is in Victoria?

Col. Ellis: Do you mean for the military?

Senator Stollery: Yes, for the military.

Col. Ellis: We would run it out of headquarters in Edmonton.

Senator Stollery: What would happen if there was an earthquake this afternoon? What would take place in terms of the emergency services which would involve the military?

Col. Ellis: It would be a normal request up through the province, to the Solicitor General and across, and a request down for assistance. OCIPEP would take the lead on it, the request would come to the military, and we would react to that request. We have permanent liaison officers in Victoria with PEP. They work on a day-to-day basis as required. It is very similar, in fact, to what happened to the forest fire request that came through. We would take a look at it, do the planning and all the timelines and determine the correct response and respond accordingly.

The Chairman: Colonel, you made the comment, "Welcome to the world of the reservists.'' I know it was an off the cuff remark.

Is that it is a problem you struggle with on an ongoing basis or it is a problem that you have to work around?

We think we are in the business of changing things. Help us with your experience to understand how you would change things to use the reservists in a different way.

Col. Ellis: That is not an easy question to answer, sir. I have had reservists working under me in both domestic and international operations. I view the reserves as a huge resource that we need to tap into. Unfortunately, I have never been a reservist so I have not walked in reservists boots, but I do know that a large number of them that I work with and rely on have two masters; they have both civilian and military masters.

The Chairman: We understand. Do changes come to mind that we should be thinking about to alter the system?

Col. Ellis: I would like to see some sort of support for them to allow them to leave their civilian work to work in the military when required. I do not believe that system is in place right now, and a number of the reserves have difficulties associated with that problem.

As I said, I do not believe we would have had such a large number of reservists for this domestic operation had it been outside the summer period. I just do not believe they would have been able to return to their regular jobs after taking off that much time to fight the fires. It was convenient that they were available during the summer.

Senator Day: Could you explain your earlier comment about having some difficulty with class c reservists screening?

Col. Ellis: Under all domestic operations, reservists go on to a class c contract, which is the same as what we use on international deployments. It is based on the fact that they are covered for pension if they are injured, especially on one of these high-risk domestic operations.

Initially, when we started doing it with LFWA, we did a regular military screening, as you would for overseas deployment, that includes three months for training and a couple of weeks for paperwork. Major medicals are done as well as panoramic X-rays for dental work, which is a long issue. We went through the national level, back to Ottawa, and they gave us clearance where we could drop a number of these class c requirements that we would use for overseas deployment in order to get people pushed through more quickly for the emergency domestic operations. That was the initial problem we had with the class.

Senator Day: Do you not have these kinds of medicals in place now for your class a normal one-night-a-week reservists?

Col. Ellis: They do, sir, in some instances, but for class c they have to go through a specific checklist to ensure that they can go from class a to class c. As I said, we began with the long medical but have cut it back to a minimum. That examination confirms that they are medically fit and prepared to deploy. Therefore, they are in class c. I am not sure of the pay, if there are additions, but, certainly, pension benefits are the big thing. If they are injured, then they are covered.

The Chairman: Your Worship, we have the impression that the residents of Kelowna have learned a great deal about emergencies and how to deal effectively with them.

We are concerned about how that knowledge is captured, preserved and transmitted to other communities so that they do not go through the same hard learning process that you went through.

We have the impression that aside from the provincial report there is not a readily available checklist that other communities could use in the event of a similar fire.

Have you been approached by anyone to record your experience in order to benefit other communities that might find themselves in a similar situation?

Mr. Gray: I will make a couple of brief comments, Mr. Chairman, and maybe Mr. Mattiussi will want to pick up on that as well. First, the Filmon inquiry was useful in that way because it put everything under a microscope, not just our fire but all the fires.

We must remember that even though we feel we are attuned as to how to handle an emergency, the next emergency may not be a fire. As Mr. Mattiussi said, we had one advantage in this particular one, in that although it sustained itself for over a month, we had a number of days warning so we could really plan. That would not have been the case if the crisis had been an earthquake

The Chairman: With respect, there is. After people go through a few earthquakes they formulate a lessons-learned plan too. The vision we have or the paradigm we are looking at is that as a nation, we should start to catalogue these events so that we can learn from them and be better prepared for the next one. British Columbia is not the only place that will have forest fires.

Mr. Gray: The provincial emergency program in British Columbia is very good. The program gives information on what to do in case of an emergency. It sets out the framework for the organization of an emergency operations centre, how to man that operation, and where to find the pertinent available resources. The program lists the various equipment and materials you will need according to the type of emergency and instructs you on dress rehearsals in order to be prepared.

We often have dress rehearsals that concern our airport, which is an international airport. Even though we are a small community, we have the eleventh busiest airport in Canada, so we do regular exercises that cover what could be called a "generic emergency.''

In terms of the information being shared, Mr. Mattiussi, our fire chief and others have gone on tour to give the benefit of what we learned to other communities who are now more finely attuned to the fact that if it can happen to that wonderful place called Kelowna, it can happen anywhere.

I will let Mr. Mattiussi comment because he was on front line, and I am sure he can tell you how prepared we will be for the next emergency.

Mr. Mattiussi: Certainly, the training and the checklist do exist and are well provided by the provincial government. Everything we did we did not invent in Kelowna. Everything we have we adapted from provincial programs and information. In terms of getting a community ready, it maybe touches on Senator Forrestall's earlier question about apathy. Local government is like all other levels of government and you tend to do these things on the side of your desk. Practicing for a catastrophe when there is not a catastrophe is a difficult thing to do. It is difficult to get people excited, it is difficult to put yourself in that situation because in the end, it is only a practice.

What we found was particularly useful was that because we had practice, everyone in the room knew his or her job, and, in the end, all that really mattered was the communication between all those jobs. It was a series of problem- solving events, and that is the side of it that is a lot more difficult to learn.

We had our Filmon inquiry, but having gone through a major disaster, one of the things you learn quickly is that the whole question of liability puts some constraints on your ability to share every detail of every emergency. Unfortunately, we are living in a litigious society and that is a reality as well.

Although there has not been a national program to find out some of those finer details of what we lived through, there are programs at the provincial level that ensure every community has at least the ability to plan for an emergency.

Senator Nolin: Colonel, thanks from Canadians for a job well done in Kabul. I must relay to you many thanks and admiration from colleagues in other NATO countries that were part of a delegation in Kabul while you were there. They were impressed by the openness and the support that you provided them at that time. Thank you very much.

It is our understanding that Canadian, British and American authorities will participate in a major emergency preparedness exercise called TOPOFF in the future to test our international response to a terrorist attack.

Can you talk to about that and inform the committee how it will perform?

Col. Ellis: Unfortunately, senator, I have been away for seven months and I do not know. I was here as chief of staff when they were going to do the TOPOFF exercise, but it was cancelled. That was almost 18 months ago. If it is the same as the first TOPOFF exercise, it will be run through the national J3 continental branch working directly for the DCDS, and they will split up and exercise regionally with the linkages, but I do not have any further information on how they are running this exercise.

Senator Nolin: It will probably take place this spring, 2005, but we would like to hear more about it.

Col. Ellis: I believe you are speaking to General Beare, Commander, Land Force West Area, next week. He is my boss. As I said, I have been away out of his control for seven months. He will be able to answer that question. His domestic operations folks will be heavily linked with that operation.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank you very much. We have appreciated your coming here and our having the opportunity to learn a bit of what you have learned. I am sure it is not like living through it, but it has been helpful to us in formulating our thinking about where the federal government might usefully and productively involve itself in these things and where we can best focus our efforts toensure that we have a safer society and a better use offederal-provincial-municipal assets when we are faced with these emergencies.

On behalf of the committee, thank you very much for coming. It is most appreciated, and we expect to be back to you folks again with another questionnaire sometime this winter.

We are continuing our look at emergency preparedness. We have on the new panel before us, Mr. Ronald Martin, the Emergency Planning Coordinator for the City of Vancouver; Mr. Bob Bugslag, the Executive Director of the Provincial Emergency Program for British Columbia; and Mr. Paul Crober, who has been the Regional Director for British Columbia and the Yukon, Emergency Management and National Security with the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness since August of 2002.

Gentlemen, welcome to the committee. We understand each of you has a brief statement to make. Please proceed.

Mr. Bob Bugslag, Executive Director, Provincial Emergency Program, Government of British Columbia: I have provided a handout with a number of slides and I will speak to some of the slides.

The principles of emergency management are such that local government has first responsibility for the health and safety of its citizens. If they are activated to respond to all-hazard emergencies the province steps in to assist them. If the province requires, then we go to the federal government for further assistance.

British Columbia has a very strong and proven emergency management structure. On page 1 you will see that government officials and senior officials right up to the premier's office are very supportive of emergency management. They are very engaged in the process of emergency management in the province.

The province of British Columbia is broken into six regions, which you will see on the top of page 2. British Columbia is roughly 950,000 kilometres in size, and is the size of the states of California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho combined. We have a population of 4.3 million compared to the combined states population of 51 million people. How we deliver emergency management services in British Columbia must be significantly different from our neighbouring states.

In British Columbia we use an ICS-based emergency management structure similar to all U.S. states and similar to all our bordering jurisdictions, including Yukon and Alberta. We have facilities capable of immediate activation around the province. We staff with a system called TEAMS. We have 120 provincial employees that are able to staff emergency centres for us.

I have 65 full-time staff in emergency management. That is about the same as six other provinces and three territories combined. In British Columbia we have many national hazards and disasters. If I include my team staff I have as many emergency management staff in British Columbia as in all other provinces and territories combined. We have a very strong and proven robust emergency structure in this province.

Page 3 sets out the model we use in British Columbia. We use what is called an integrated response structure; a functionally integrated structure including local government, provincial government and federal government resources. It includes major utilities, utilities industry and First Nations to coordinate and integrate emergency response to all hazards, emergencies and disasters.

We also have a complement of 13,000 volunteers across the province that act in support of emergency management, which is a tremendous resource in events like firestorm 2003 and the major flooding we had in that year as well.

Respecting most of the initiatives we had, if you go to the top of page 4, you will see this is based on a study that FEMA did of all emergencies and disasters worldwide. There are a number of problems that we see in emergencies and disasters: communications, ambiguity of authority, unplanned media, and engaging the media in response to events. Most of the initiatives we have put in place in British Columbia over the last three or four years have been to address these very problems.

Experience is a tough teacher; she gives you the test first and the lesson later. Unfortunately, in British Columbia we get lots of opportunity to test our emergency management structure.

As you will see from the final slide on page 4, my centre received approximately 250,000 calls last year. We responded to 6600 emergency incidents, with 1,000 search and rescues involved. Come to beautiful British Columbia, get lost, and we will find you. We have had many opportunities to practice and to build a robust structure.

On page 5 we see emergencies of priority. Certainly out of the lessons learned around firestorm 2003 and the floods of the same year, stretching right through to avian influenza and major events in the provinces, there is a very strong support from our minister, right up to the premier's office for emergency management in British Columbia.

There are some key provincial initiatives. We have a proven structure. We have added additional redundancy. As I mentioned previously, we have 65 full-time people in this program in British Columbia. The centre is capable of immediate activation; staff from other ministries is trained to come in and staff those centres in the event of an emergency. We work closely with local government officials. We received $500,000 to train those officials from the Justice Institute of B.C. We are actively engaged with local and federal government officials in exercising our plans for all hazards, emergencies and disasters. We provided grants to local government, we use an all-hazards program, and we are looking at mitigation strategies and introducing a mitigation strategy to prevent further disasters.

We are really addressing what I would describe as a changing face of emergency management; the move from property loss, life safety-type emergencies, to more economic emergencies like avian influenza, SARS and terrorism that have national and international impacts. There is a switch in flexibility in our program to adapt to those news types of hazards that we are regularly facing.

I consider British Columbia to have the strongest EMO in the country. I was disappointed that we were not consulted in the first go-around on this report. We are happy to participate now.

The problem with having a national emergency strategy is you have provinces and territories with very different capacities. It is very difficult to put forward a national program and expect the provinces to come to the table and be able to support that because of those different capacities, different hazards and different opportunities to exercise their plans.

In terms of looking at the federal structure and what I would like to see from a provincial perspective is someone in charge, someone to address that ambiguity of authority issue in the federal government.

In the provincial structure, the provincial emergency program coordinates provincial response; it is one-stop shopping.With all-hazards and the changing nature of emergencies it is critical to have a decision maker at the table. I would certainly like to see that on the federal side.

Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada is well positioned to deal with emergencies and disasters, but the ambiguity of authority issues of dealing with other federal departments will continue to be an issue unless they have the authority and stature within their own hierarchy to be able to make decisions. We certainly saw that in British Columbia with the avian influenza outbreak that occurred last year in the Fraser Valley. It was very much a silo approach and I would certainly like to see that occur at the federal level.

In terms of provincial expectations and what we expect from the federal government, we work very closely with Paul Crober, as the director for Yukon and British Columbia. We work with him in all-hazard response and all-hazard planning.

The authorities from Ottawa, those national level authorities, and regional offices, need more power to be able to bring other federal players to the table. The silo approach is alive and well in many areas of the federal government and I would certainly like to see a more integrated approach with the province.

Improvements to the DFA programs need to reflect the changing nature of emergencies and disasters: BSE, avian flu and SARS. All those kinds of things need to be considered. The national mitigation strategy to look at spending a dollar now to save $3 to $5 down the road makes all kinds of sense to me. Certainly the province is introducing a mitigation strategy and I would like to see that fully supported by the federal government as well.

I have a comment on our provincial structure. We have a lot of north-south dependencies. If you look at our major utilities such as the gas pipelines, and the electrical grid, you will see that the north-south dependencies are actually more important to us than many of the east-west dependencies. The Rocky Mountains prevent a lot of those dependencies from happening so the partnerships we have with bordering jurisdictions, like Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska are critical to how we deliver emergency management in the province.

When we had the firestorm in 2003 we were getting 1.3 million hits a day on our website which is Right after the tsunamis, for the next month, we averaged 100,000 hits a day on our website. If we have an event going on in our province and you want to find out about emergency management in British Columbia, our website will keep you well informed.

The only thing tougher than planning for emergencies and disasters is explaining why you did not plan for them. I believe British Columbia is well prepared for emergencies and disasters.

Mr. Paul Crober, Regional Director for B.C. and Yukon, Emergency Management and National Security, Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada: We have responsibility for the branch offices in Victoria and Vancouver. We are the largest of the regional offices. As a quick overview of my presentation, you will see the headings of organization, functions, recent emergent events, relations with stakeholders, planned operational enhancements, and some other issues.

On the third slide, under the SADM, Paul Kennedy, who I am sure you have talked to several times, we are under DG Operations. If you swing over to page 4, you can see under DG Operations the regional directors and the regional offices. You can see the government operations centre there, the incident warning analysis plans and cyber analysis. There is a regional coordination cell that helps us out with the DG in terms of our administrative and routine business.

Our own organizations you will see on slide 5. I say we are the largest of the EMNS regions; we have four people in Victoria and two in Vancouver. We have a regional director, an assistant regional director, and an operations officer, a finance administrative officer in Victoria, a critical infrastructure officer in Vancouver and a communications officer. We are one of the five offices in the country that have communications, i.e. public affairs, public information, not telecommunications.

The reason we have an office in Victoria and Vancouver is because the provincial government is in Victoria, so my main office must be there. All the other government departments, plus the navy and the air force, which are on the island, all the other government departments for which. we would lead coordination are in Vancouver; in fact, mostly downtown Vancouver. This is why we have our office there.

Our main job is to deliver and coordinate programs like JEPP, DFAA, the CBRN, HUSAR, Heavy Urban Search and Rescue, assist development of capabilities, and respond to emergent events, which involves the activation of the federal operations centre. We participate in emergency preparedness education and training, public fora, and the two of us are right now at the emergency preparedness and industry and commerce council. We will be going back to that shortly. We represent the federal government from a generic emergency management point of view in all the normal phases of mitigation preparedness response and recovery.

We have a slide on the JEPP. The most important part, of course, is the 50 per cent of federal cost sharing in that program. In this particular year $410,000 is going to B.C., which is up from last year, and $156,000 is going to the Yukon. Almost all of that will go to the municipalities.

There is a slide on FACTS, the Financial and Claims Tracking System, which is being developed in B.C. with federal money for the purpose of rolling out across the country so that both DFAA and eventually JEPP can be tracked in a computerized system. The provincial emergency program is developing that with our funding.

The most significant emergent event we participated in was the 2003 forest fires in B.C. Colonel Ellis has spoken to you in regard to the military involvement and as you well know, the military can work directly with the province.

My office coordinated all other departments. PEP did not need any assistance, but the B.C. forest service did, as we found out as we dealt with them. We coordinated the Coast Guard, Industry Canada, Environment Canada, HRDC, as it previously existed, and a number of others that I can speak to later if you wish.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency was the lead for the avian influenza virus, but our office recommended that it was an emergency event that required both provincial and municipal input. Our recommendation was followed with a lot of influence from the province, as you have already heard.

The next slide deals with our relationships with our partners. We attend all the major emergency management and security conferences. We participate in over 25 EM, or security related committees or groups in B.C., Yukon and Washington State.

I chair the Security and Safety Advisory Committee for Pacific Council, SSAC, which has a number of subcommittees: emergency management, PFCEMS, Pacific Federal Council Emergency Management Subcommittee; internal security; the designated security officers, DSOs; and the IMOC-P, which is Interdepartmental Marine Operators Committee-Pacific now chaired by the navy chief of staff. The last chair of this was Ms. Bev Busson, who is the Deputy Commissioner for the RCMP here.

We have a relationship with the GVRD. I have my guy over here, who is the critical infrastructure officer. He is a member of the REPC, Regional Emergency Planning Committee, JELC, the Joint Emergency Liaison Committee, and a number of other organizations.

As far as cross border coordination, we are members of PNWER, Pacific Northwest Economic Region; CREW, which is Cascadia Region Earthquake Workgroup; and WREMAC, the Western Region Emergency Management Advisory Committee. They are the four states that surround B.C. and Yukon and include B.C. and Yukon provincial, state, and federal representatives, including FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, region 10.

On page 12 you can see the federal operations group, which is meant to be physically and/or virtually co-located with the province, which is what we do in times of emergent events. The structure is based on ICS, the incident command system.

I am not sure how much information you have on this, but the federal government through PSEPC is swinging over to the incident command system. This is relatively recent. I do not know how many times you have interviewed anyone from PSEPC since October, but it is a moving target; to the extent that the instruction of operations staff, communications staff and regional directors in PSEPC will be done out here, at the Justice Institute of B.C., which is the main institute for teaching instant command system, police, fire and corrections in this province. There is no other institution in the country like it. They are all coming out here to get that kind of training.

Senator Banks: Is that from the whole country?

Mr. Crober: They are starting from the whole country because of a switch to ICS, which our college in Ottawa is not prepared to teach at this point. I will speak later to how ICS is related to NERS, the national emergency response system. They have to start somewhere so they are starting out here.

Page 14 shows some of the responsibilities of the federal operations group. The main point in there is we are split. We have people that will be in the centre with Mr. Bugslag's group in Victoria at the PECC, Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre, and I will have people coordinating a federal operations group in Vancouver to coordinate all the other government departments. This split between Victoria and Vancouver is not the only one in the country. Quebec has that as well, between Montreal and Quebec City, and they are about to do the same thing as we are doing.

In relation to planned operational enhancements, we are getting more people. I can speak to the specifics of that later. We are getting more EM and CIP critical infrastructure staff. We will get the generic operations centre in Vancouver. As well, there are various methodologies being looked at to enhance our surge capacity. Down the line both governments are looking at theco-location of our office in Victoria with the office of the director of PEP in their new facility, which must be earthquake resistant to the highest degree possible.

From my perspective, issues such as regional restructure, which NERS is rolled out regionally, and it is happening at the headquarters but how it will happen in the region will be interesting to watch.

The issue of infrastructure is critical and the importance of it within the province cannot be underestimated. The whole aspect of federal coordination with provincial infrastructure is important. How we coordinate and when we coordinate is vital. We must be aware of what we are allowed to do, what we are not allowed to do, and what we can do within the framework that we have been given under the new legislation for PSEPC. The ICS basic training will eventually expand to the whole federal government national emergency response system training, and that is being worked on. You cannot do the training for NERS unless you have completed the doctrinal work, and the doctrinal work is being worked on in headquarters.

Finally, we have our emergent event priorities. We have pandemic on our list based on what we are hearing. There will be another drought in this province like there has been for two or three years. We all know that drought can lead to forestfires. Floods are always a problem because of the nature of floods in this province. Of course, there is always the threatof an earthquake and tsunami. We are also preparing forthe 2010 Olympics, and the emergent events that may come out of that for which we can either prevent or prepare.

Mr. Ronald Martin, Emergency Planning Coordinator, City of Vancouver: Welcome to the city of Vancouver.

We are very committed to emergency preparedness because we have a responsibility to deliver that front line service to our citizens. As a result, we are currently in year 5 of a 10-year program that has been approved by our municipal council.This particular program has a series of initiatives attached to it, including enhanced sheltering, and infrastructure upgrades, which include the installation of a post-disaster emergency operations centre, which your group has seen. The program will see the creation of a multi-agency interoperable radio system, a dedicated fire protection system to ensure that we have adequate fire fighting, water and services, upgrading of our bridges and critical infrastructure such as water reservoirs, and our final bridge will be upgraded this year. The Burrard Bridge is the last bridge to be upgraded. There has also been the movement of our critical computer infrastructure into a seismically hardened environment, which is now completed.

We have a very comprehensive neighbourhood emergency preparedness program which is essentially an education initiative aimed directly at the citizens to help ensure that they are prepared to be self-sufficient for that gruelling 72- hour period that we profess to in the emergency management field.

To help our staff, we have placed emergency supplies in cabinets in municipally owned buildings, and we have taught people how to use the equipment and materials contained within them. We have also conducted detailed seismic and non-structural office component upgrading to ensure that our work sites are safe for our staff.

One of the other key and very important initiatives that we have undertaken is to preposition caches of emergency supplies and shelter equipment at various locations throughout the city. We currently have 18 of these caches already located atmunicipal community centres, and we have two in place for staff support so that our first responders, if they have to remain on 24/7 operations for an extended period of time, have the tools, equipment and services needed to support themselves while they are providing help in the response.

The neighbourhood emergency preparedness program is a very comprehensive educational initiative that we actually roll out multilingually to various community centres throughout Vancouver. We teach such things as emergency preparedness, first aid, damage assessment, and also light urban search and rescue. We also offer the fundamentals on how to maintain safety around infrastructure and services that may have been damaged, such as broken gas services and electrical systems. We also offer large multi-site training, where we actually send out trained staff to teach to large community groups such as co-ops, apartment complexes, seniors housing, et cetera.

The seismic retrofitting program has just been completed. That will ensure that we are able to continue functioning and offer city services to the citizens following a disaster.

A couple of key components of our emergency program include our emergency social services group; this group provides us with the personal disaster assistance team group that actually goes out to the smaller emergency, such as house fires, and provides services to people who have been displaced by that kind of an event.

We also have a very large urban search and rescue team that is specifically trained for the recovery and rescue of people from collapsed structures. The team has received its UN certification and we consider it to be a national resource.

We are now working closely on the enhancement of our chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear capability through our HazMat teams. This has been actively funded through the federal and provincial governments and something we are very pleased with at this point in time.

One of the other key components that we have is our amateur radio group that provides us with emergency communications should we ever find ourselves in the event where our primary communication systems have been disrupted or cut off.

I will talk about some of the things that have worked well for us this year and we are very pleased with. As you may be aware, we had a large weather-related event in the beginning of this year. Following the cold weather snap we got a very unseasonably heavy rain storm that came in off the Pacific with lots of moisture. We were very happy to see how well we were able to work with our provincial and our federal colleagues when things started to go wrong.

We had a land slide in North Vancouver and we also had a number of slides within the Vancouver city jurisdiction. Along the UBC endowment lands we had to physically cut off roads and warn homeowners that there was a potential risk to their property. We had a similar situation in Stanley Park where we had to close off sections of the seawall.

Having the contacts and the healthy working relationship with the province and the federal components was very critical and we were very pleased how smoothly it worked this time around. There has been some marked improvement in how we communicate with each other. The city uses the ICS model that we have been talking about and it allows us to talk amongst ourselves with a common language and off the same sheet, and as a result, our interoperability has been greatly enhanced.

Senator Banks: I hardly know where to start. I will go backwards.

Mr. Martin, I hope that you have better luck with your caches of emergency stuff located throughout the city than the federal government has had with theirs. According to the picture, they are in containers. Are they just hanging out there? Are you not worried that they would be subject to vandalism and theft?

Mr. Martin: We do have some concerns about the security of the contents and we maintain an active program of visiting each of the containers on a regular basis to ensure that the security has not been compromised. In order to deal with that we have put tamper-resistant equipment on the containers to make it extremely difficult to break into and we have seals on them so we can tell if there has been any tampering or opening of those containers.

In addition, the containers inside have been specially coated and treated to prevent things like humidity build-up, condensation issues and whatnot. We have also looked at the contents being as robust as possible, so we have picked materials and items that we know will not be a long-term maintenance issue for us.

Senator Banks: In this city in particular that is a very good idea. I am a Prairie guy so all our cities are nice and flat and you can go anywhere you want, but in Vancouver there are impediments to ease of travel from one part of the city to another having to do with water, so that is a very good idea.

Am I presuming correctly that you are in the municipality of the city of Vancouver only?

Mr. Martin: That is correct.

Senator Banks: Does it work well on a regional basis? Is that through PEP or is there something that regionally intervenes between the city of Vancouver and PEP? Is there something that involves the whole Lower Mainland?

Mr. Martin: We do have the GVRD, however, so if we are in an emergency operation mode we would go directly to the province for requests for assistance.

Senator Banks: Mr. Crober, I should tell you that I happen to be the person who is responsible for making you honest. The PSEP legislation to which you have referred has not yet passed. I am its sponsor, therefore I am concerned with making you honest but you are still legal because you are operating under Orders-in-Council, so PSEP is fine.

Mr. Bugslag you talked about the necessity of one-stop shopping. I do not know if you know this, but the fact that there is PSEP and the fact that the reigns of all of the federal functions, having been placed into the hands of one senior minister, is we immodestly think the direct result of our recommendation that it should happen, that there were too many silos. That has happened now.

Many of the federal agencies that would be involved in an event such as the kind with which you would be concerned are in the hands of one very senior federal minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, and that has been the case for a little while.

Have you noticed a difference? You referred specifically to the difficulty of not being able to find out who is driving the bus.

Mr. Bugslag: Actually, senator, I would have to say, "Quit telling me and show me'' because I did not see that during the avian influenza. I saw the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada going there and trying to assist their federal counterparts in CFIA and they were almost unwelcome at the door. It was not until the provincial people at the highest level, at the premier's level, talked to the PMO that the province took a very strong position, and I had 130 staff at the emergency management centre within two days to assist the CFIA.

I have not seen a lot of movement. I certainly think there is a lot of desire to move forward for that one-stop shopping to which you referred, but I have not seen a lot of evidence of that as yet.

Senator Banks: I have to ask Mr. Crober, what is happening? Maybe the will is not there. Maybe that is the problem. The mechanics are there to do what Mr. Bugslag is talking about. How come it is taking so long?

Mr. Crober: The legislation of course has not passed yet.

Senator Banks: That should not inhibit doing what needs to be done.

Mr. Crober: The perfect example is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was the lead department for the avian influenza and they were deemed be so in Ottawa. We followed that particular methodology partly because PSEPC was a brand new department and they did not even have their operating instructions sorted out by February of last year; it had just been created.

More important, we were still following the lead department way of doing things, which is a way the province used to do things with lead ministers. They converted over to an integrated response, not so much one lead ministry, but an integrated response in this province. Some others have done that as well. It is the intent for PSEPC to do the same thing.

We need to do a couple of things before we do that. We have to have the capability to do that. That capability is inherent in Ottawa, with the improvements that are going on there, and there have been fantastic improvements there. The potential that is there now, the attitude is, I can safely say, far better than what I experienced as a regional director under OCIPEP. It needs to happen at the regional level as well, with the authority to move ahead and act as a coordinator.

In some cases, if you still have a lead department, we will go through phases where we will see if CFIA had another one of these avian flu situations, they may end up being the lead department again and we would be their coordinator of all other federal resources. If it happened two years from now, we would be in charge and CFIA would be plugging into us. That is the intention.

Senator Banks: What is the problem? Why is it taking that long?

Mr. Crober: Part of it is legislation, part of it is resources.

Senator Banks: The legislation is not an impediment. The authority exists in this department to do that now and it exists on the basis of Orders-in-Council. We have all the assurances that the legislation, which is an approval in effect after the fact, is not an impediment to doing it.

Given what you have just said, do you have frustration with some authority that has not yet been devolved to you?

Mr. Crober: It is partly that, but at this particular point it is more on the resource side. The regional restructure that is happening in the Emergency Management National Security Branch is rolling through as we speak and should be complete by the fall. That will enhance the ability of the department to do a couple of things. We will have permanent resources that are higher in terms of capability and numbers than we have now and, most important, we will be able to have surge capability. If we do not have those two things, we cannot lead the federal government in terms of emergencies.

Senator Banks: What capability is that?

Mr. Crober: A permanent capability that is larger than what we have now and that is intended. I will have nine people in my office between Victoria and Vancouver. I will have the largest of all of PSEPC regional offices. Then I will have a surge capacity to hire other government employees from other federal departments that are cross-trained, or hire people on contract like we used to do for the forest fires, which worked out very well. That is why we had success during the forest fires. We were able to hire these extra people. Without that capacity in terms of resources, we will not be able to move as fast.

The attitude within PSEPC in February during the avian flu situation over a year ago, based on the fact that they had just become a new department, is completely different from the way it is right now. There has been a complete changeover in staff. Almost none of the director generals are the same. The government operations centre has been created. They are swinging over to NERS. The whole thing has become more operational. It was not in any way, shape or form ready to lead the federal departments in doing something like this before.

I want to make something very clear: In the case of the forest fires, where the province was in the lead and we coordinated all of the federal support other than the military to the province, we were the lead in the coordination.

What you were talking about in the avian flu, the federal government is the lead. That is a very unusual situation. Normally the province, in most emergent events, is in the lead no matter what province it is. This came up where the federal government is in the lead, it did not recognize immediately the department that was in the lead that they had an emergent event, and took both us and quite frankly more from the province, and it was not just PEP that did it, it was the premier calling the Prime Minister.

Senator Banks: What is wrong there?

Mr. Crober: Each of the federal departments that is out there is not necessarily generically imbued with emergency management capacity. They have scientific capability. In this case CFIA have veterinarian capacity and they proceeded upon that basis of knowledge.

Senator Banks: You are at the pointy end of the stick on this thing. It is easy for people who will not have to do it to sit in the stands and be armchair quarterbacks.

Is the time that this is taking, and you have said it will take another six months, appropriate? Is that okay? Should we accept that and not be frustrated by it, and is it moving as quickly in your view as it reasonably can be expected to?

Mr. Crober: I will probably get in trouble for saying this, but there is not a regional director in the entire country that believes it is moving as quickly as it should.

Senator Banks: Where is the impediment? You know better than we do.

Mr. Crober: The impediment is we are creating from scratch a brand new department, and throwing together agencies that have never hitherto been together, and this is critical, this aspect of throwing the security piece in with the emergency management piece.

Melding together what the Department of the Solicitor General used to do versus what OCIPEP/EPC used to do, is difficult because they were two completely different communities and they have a different approach. That is taking some time, but it is not for lack of trying. There has been an enormous amount of work going out of headquarters.

I have to emphasize that the difference between now and last year is remarkable. If the next time there is an avian flu crisis and the federal government is in the lead and it has to coordinate and pull in all the appropriate partners, municipal and provincial, and we have to be the lead coordinator for it, we will be able to do it. We would not have been able to do that last year.

Senator Banks: Does that give you some confidence, Mr. Bugslag?

Mr. Bugslag: When you look at change and significant change like this on an emergency management model, you will always have departments that will resist that change. The turf issues around the ambiguity of authority issues from federal departments; they have lived historically with this model. It will take some time for PSEPC to have the stature within that federal hierarchy that will adequately address the provincial issues.

The province has a very strong emergency management program. We certainly look to partner with the federal government, but our day-to-day partners are our local governments. As we strengthen their capacities around this province we will be looking less to the federal government and we will only be looking to them in very major events like the forest fires in 2003.

Senator Banks: Mr. Crober, we have found at the federal health department stashes of hospital-oriented kinds of things where when they were opened found not to be really operative and that the first responders, did not know where they were and could not get at them. Have you been able to fix that in this part of the world?

Mr. Crober: That is the responsibility of both Health Canada and the new health agency and not ours, not that we do not know about it, but it is their responsibility to do so.

Senator Banks: Do you know where they are?

Mr. Crober: I know where some of them are.

Senator Banks: Should you not know where all of them are?

Mr. Crober: When we need to access it, we would go and get them from the department that owns them. Like that, you could say that I should need to know everything that the military has, because if we need something from the military I should know where it all is. That is not my job. My job is to go to admiral so and so, or general so and so, tell them what I need, find out what capacity they can supply and they will do it.

Senator Banks: Have you ever had a look at the federal stashes that I am talking about?

Mr. Crober: I have indeed.

Senator Banks: Are you satisfied that they are operative?

Mr. Crober: I am not an emergency management health expert but I have heard the testimony, I have seen the transcripts and I am aware of the issues. I know, for instance, that Health Canada and the new health agency are working to repair that as we speak.

The Chairman: Is there any likelihood that folks who work with Mr. Martin are duplicating stuff that is in those caches?

Mr. Martin: The caches that are owned federally are aimed primarily at the provision of medical services. They are a casualty clearing station. They are not the same type of cache that we have at the municipal level. Ours does have some basic first aid equipment in it, but what our supply caches are aimed at primarily accomplishing is providing emergency sheltering. Therefore they have emergency food stocks, cooking equipment, and light rescue equipment. They have cots, bedding, and all that kind of stuff. Ours is aimed at supporting the population and not at medical service delivery, although we do have minor first aid capacity in each of our supply caches.

The Chairman: Have you received this advice from your medical officer of health?

Mr. Martin: Our chief medical health officer is aware of the medical caches that are cooperatively managed both by the provincial and federal governments. We know where they are all located within Vancouver. We know exactly where they are.

The Chairman: Are you telling me that the senior medical officer for the city is satisfied that there is no duplication and that is system works?

Mr. Martin: He is aware of the contents of the medical containers as well as the emergency sheltering containers, and he is comfortable with the way we have basically carved them out so that the one does not duplicate the other and we have adequate resources in both.

The Chairman: Has he told you that?

Mr. Martin: Yes.

Senator Forrestall: Who has the keys to these caches?

Mr. Crober: The thing to understand with these caches is in the health emergency system, which is fairly well refined in this province, there are six health regions. The health regions deal directly with Health Canada and the new Public Health Agency of Canada. They are not municipally based. They are a creature of the provincial government that is placed out regionally that owns all of the health resources in that particular region, hospitals included, and those caches, if they are provincially owned. They deal with their federal counterpart.

The previous emergency health manager for the whole Ministry of Health is now the federal health coordinator for emergency management in this province. He knows exactly how the provincial system works and he has been at the forefront of improving the regional health capability of Health Canada in anticipation of moving into the new Public Health Agency of Canada.

These are located within the health realm. These are not generic emergency management kits, they are health kits. It is known where they are by the health people that need to know.

Senator Forrestall: I would think the bus driver should know too, whoever he or she happens to be from time to time.

Mr. Crober: They do not have access to it, nor should they.

Senator Forrestall: We have had some pretty shattering news with respect to this aspect of care of the citizenry.

Who checks the validity of medicine, the shelf life of medicine that may or may not be stashed in some of these caches? Does the province share a program with the federal agencies for checking this type of thing?

Who makes the decision whether it is a provincial cache that is accessed or a federal cache?

How do you sort this out, Mr. Martin?

Mr. Martin: We are talking about two different types of caches: One is an emergency health cache, which has equipment for medical service delivery, and the other is a personal support type of cache designed to make sure that you are warm, fed and have water.

We know where the medical caches are and if we ever need to use them we know where they are stored and we know what is in them, but we would not arbitrarily open any of those without permission from the province.

The protocol for us to actually activate one of the medical caches is done through our health region, who then liaises with the ministry of health at the provincial end. The supply cache for personal support, following a disaster for displaced persons, is a municipal cache. We own it, and there are keys at every fire hall. The senior duty officer for the police carries a key on his duty key ring. Every member of the emergency management community in Vancouver has a key on their key ring. As a matter of fact, I have one right on my key ring here. They are all the same key, so no matter what box I go to I can unlock it.

Senator Forrestall: That is progress. I am pleased to hear that because I was getting the impression that there was not what you would call a close relationship between the federal department and the province of British Columbia and the City of Vancouver in the control and management of these caches amongst the three different authorities. I will go away from here blissfully happy in my ignorance.

I would like to come back to a couple of questions for Mr. Martin. I do not know why we did not speak to the province when we were here before doing the initial rounds, except that it is one hell of a big country and there are many very active and concerned communities, small cities and big towns trying to wrestle with the province. For whatever the reason and it must have been a good one because we would liked to have talked to you, we did not get to speak with you. We did talk to people here in Vancouver. We talked to Mr. Martin to be exact.

During that visit in January of 2003, we asked you about your relationship with emergency agencies and other orders of government, and whether you were receiving the supplies that you need from the two other levels. Are you receiving what you need?

Mr. Martin: As I said during my presentation this morning, one of the best examples I can give you was the event that we had in January. This January was one of the best responses I have experienced in my six years with the City of Vancouver. I was extremely pleased with the amount of information that was being sent down to us. We were getting timely weather notices as the situation was evolving. We knew what was going on in other jurisdictions and for the first time in the Lower Mainland we had a very coordinated regional response with regard to the management of resources. It worked very well and I was extremely pleased with it.

Senator Forrestall: I am pleased to hear that because I want to draw a conclusion. On many occasions, as I recall, they were not all that good, even a couple of years ago, and I am glad to see that there has been an improvement.

Mr. Martin: One of the reasons there has been an improvement is that the province has fleshed out its organization. As the director pointed out, it is one of the largest EMOs in the country now. They have established standing emergency operation centres that are specifically tasked with supporting us at the municipal level when we find ourselves in trouble, and it has worked.

Senator Forrestall: What is your annual budget, Mr. Bugslag?

Mr. Bugslag: Our annual budget is at about $6.3 million, but in 2003 we spent $94 million. That was on the forest fires. That was an interesting year. We ran from avalanches to SARS to fires to drought to major flooding in the Whistler corridor.

Senator Forrestall: The fire in which Kamloops was deeply involved, was that the type of fire where the authorities and the fire fighting agencies would have decided to do nothing initially, thinking it was inaccessible, and that they would let burn itself out?

Did the federal officials allow it to burn for a long time before outside help was sought?

Mr. Bugslag: In 2003 we had the third year of a drought cycle. We had fire behaviour that was unheard of in British Columbia. Fires were burning at 2200 degrees. It was the first time in history that they had actually seen flames from the satellite imagery from some of those fires. When the Okanagan Park fire started there were almost 800 fires in the province. We were getting literally hundreds of new fires every day.

There are only so many resources. When you look at the population and infrastructure at risk, remembering that 98 per cent of the fires that our forest service deals with in this province are non-interface fires and only 2 per cent become interface, obviously there is some luck involved in being able to apply the resources where they are required.

Senator Forrestall: Could a similar tsunami strike the west coast of Canada and the United States as happened in Indonesia?

Mr. Bugslag: We have two vulnerabilities in coastal British Columbia. We are certainly vulnerable to what we would consider an offshore event. An earthquake or land slippage in the Aleutian Islands or in Japan could result in a tsunami hitting coastal British Columbia.

We also have a near field event or subduction zone off the west coast of British Columbia. It runs from the southern tip of Vancouver Island, right to Kotzebue Sound. There is a potential for a subduction zone earthquake and a similar type tsunami that occurred in Southeast Asia, although the arrival time for those waves would be under 30 minutes. As a result of that, we initiated a TIP project or tsunami integrated preparedness project with the federal government in early January to address coastal preparedness around tsunamis.

Senator Forrestall: Would that include early warning?

Mr. Bugslag: It includes early warning. It includes risk analysis for individual communities, evacuation routes, emergency planning and exercising those plans. I get about onewarning a week from the tsunami warning system. Any earthquake over 6.5 in the Pacific Rim is recorded in our emergency coordination centre.

Senator Forrestall: I suppose that combines both earthquakes and tsunamis, does it? I suppose one triggers the other, either an earthquake or an upheaval.

Mr. Bugslag: Exactly. It is a subduction zone earthquake, where you get a lot of vertical displacement of the sea bottom which generates the waves.

We will be looking very closely at the modeling coming out of Indonesia and maybe having to adjust our safety zones in some of those coastal communities. It is a work in progress.

We are currently doing a manual for homeowners on earthquake and tsunami preparedness for all coastal B.C. communities, and we will be doing a series of workshops starting in June in those communities.

The province provided $1 million in funding to upgrade plans specific to tsunamis for those communities on the coast. INAC provided an additional $500,000 for the First Nations communities in coastal B.C. as well.

Senator Forrestall: How do you cope with a generalprovince-wide emergency alert? Are you like some other communities that rely on the CBC and Peter Mansbridge?

Mr. Bugslag: No, we do not. We certainly have communications issues in British Columbia given the geography of the area and blind spots. We certainly use satellite telephones and build some redundancies into our system. My manager of planning is currently in Ottawa talking to Industry Canada about early warning systems. We would certainly support any move by CRTC to allow us to move forward on early warning and we would support that across Canada.

The Chairman: There are no impediments from the CRTC to institute the sort of system this committee has reported. We have a letter back from the CRTC to the effect that they have no difficulty with it. Do you have some reason to believe that there is a problem?

Mr. Bugslag: No. I am counting on your report to grease the skids a little bit.

The Chairman: Regarding tsunamis, some communities would be far more affected on the coast than others. Have you identified those communities?

Mr. Bugslag: There has been some modeling done by the Institute of Ocean Sciences. They are one of our partners in the tsunami warning system. The federal government, through NRCan probably, requires some additional modeling for coastal B.C. We need to wait, though, and find out some more information and lessons learned out of Indonesia to be able to apply some of the wave run-up information that they are currently gathering over there and then redevelop models to assist us with the risk analysis for coastal B.C.

The Chairman: That sounds like something that is many months away.

Mr. Bugslag: There are a lot of things that can be done by communities in the interim. What we had referred to before was a safe zone in those communities and it was at 10 meters. What we may find out of Asia is that a safe zone may have to be 15 metres.

It is quite easy for communities to go in and do a risk analysis of their populations at risk and determine safe evacuation routes and areas in their community that would be above that safe zone.

The Chairman: Are you satisfied that you have the capacity to communicate with these communities fast enough so they can respond?

Mr. Bugslag: Yes. We exercise that tsunami warning system all the time. We have redundancies in the system using radio, satellite phones, radios and faxes.

The Chairman: Are you satisfied that the communities have a capacity to communicate with their inhabitants fast enough?

Mr. Bugslag: We have that capacity and the recent grants from the province and from the federal government will enhance those plans. As we exercise and refine and we always have lessons learned no matter where the event takes place. Given the information that we have received from Asia, we will be able to enhance those plans to a level that protects those citizens.

The Chairman: As an example, if you visit the inter-coastal waterway in Florida, you will see every 100 meters or so a loudspeaker or a siren on a post that advises people of hurricanes.

Can we envision the same sort of thing in those communities that are most susceptible to tsunami damage?

Mr. Bugslag: One of the most important things about emergency management is that you have to have flexible systems. If you look at the very nature of our communities in coastal B.C., some of them are in a river estuary and some of them are in very steep coastal areas. Those communities need to look at their populations at risk and determine the need for a warning system like the one you mention. We have one currently in Port Alberni based on a 1964 Alaskan earthquake. It is very successful there because you have a very concentrated population in a low lying area. Many communities do not have that same population.

The Chairman: I understand that, sir. I said in those locations where there is a tsunami risk.

Mr. Bugslag: There is still a risk in those other communities but it is a different dynamic. You already have a fire truck with a siren so you could develop some other kind of warning system. There is other potential there and we will be looking at that as part of the TIP project.

The Chairman: What I am hearing from you, sir, is there is not a system in place now.

Mr. Bugslag: I do not think there is a need for that system. It is a very expensive system. It is not necessarily an effective system. You can have a prevailing wind of 10 miles or 15-miles an hour and you will not even hear that siren.

The Chairman: I did not say the siren. Is there a system in place now to warn citizens on the coast?

Mr. Bugslag: Individual communities have a responsibility to have a warning system in place, which could be a door-to-door fan-out. Individual communities are responsible for preparing tsunami preparedness plans for their community, as they are for flooding or any other of the hazards that we regularly face in British Columbia. They choose what plan and what warning system is most effective in their particular community.

The Chairman: Are you satisfied with the plans?

Mr. Bugslag: I am satisfied that we will be working to enhance them. There is always room for improving plans, no matter what particular hazard you are facing.

The Chairman: Have you examined all the plans?

Mr. Bugslag: One of the primary responsibilities of my regional manager is to go and work with communities and look at the potential hazards that community may face and how they would mitigate and look after the health and welfare of the citizens in a given community. It is part of our review process that we look at emergency plans.

The Chairman: Have you reviewed them all?

Mr. Bugslag: Regional managers have looked at and reviewed emergency plans of all jurisdictions. We changed our legislation as of May of last year. In British Columbia, as of last year, only municipalities were required to do emergency planning. In May 2004 we legislated that regional districts and electoral areas within those regional districts had to participate in emergency planning. They have until January 1 of next year to fully participate and engage their staff in emergency preparedness.

If I look at the kind of coverage we have in the province that was certainly a hole. It was a hole that Gary Filman identified during his review and that legislative change will provide us with a blanket of emergency preparedness and a culture within this province.

Senator Meighen: Mr. Bugslag, was it you who said you receive one warning a week about an earthquake or something that would have occurred off the Pacific shore?

Mr. Bugslag: There is an earthquake that is measured almost every day in British Columbia. The protocol for my staff is if there is an earthquake on the Pacific Rim over 6.5 then a tsunami warning is generated.

Senator Meighen: What is done then?

Mr. Bugslag: The tsunami warning centre is located in Palmer, Alaska and in Hilo, Hawaii. Very soon after that an alert goes out. As you pass the tsunami warning buoys, they are able to determine whether a tsunami had been generated. If it has, then a fan-out system to those communities occurs.

The most likely event to British Columbia is a major event in the Aleutian chain, and we have about three and a one- half hours lead time before that tsunami would reach coastal B.C. For the 45 communities that potentially would be impacted, there would be a fan-out process to go out to them.

Senator Meighen: Would you take me through what would happen in the following scenario: Suppose there was a natural disaster close to the border. What is the protocol on one side or other of the border? You emphasize the north- south relationships that exists in this part of the country. What is the protocol that would govern either the United States sending emergency teams to Canada or vice versa?

Mr. Bugslag: The province of British Columbia has an MOU with all bordering jurisdictions. We regularly deal even on search and rescues all along the border. We fully support their teams coming into British Columbia and we would send our teams there. As part of our briefing last year, British Columbia participated in exercise Top-Off 2, and we worked very closely with our counterparts in the U.S. Certainly from our perspective it was a very successful exercise. We work with them on a day-to-day basis and we share resources as required.

Senator Meighen: Does the authority reside with you, as a federal representative, and the state of Washington?

Mr. Bugslag: We have a provincial-state MOU with each of those jurisdictions.

Senator Meighen: Is that adequate?

Mr. Bugslag: It seems to be adequate. The working relationship is a very strong relationship.

The Chairman: On behalf of the committee, I would like to thank all three of you for your assistance. This is obviously a moving target. Mr. Crober, you described it as a work in progress. We are very supportive of the initiatives that you have taken to demonstrate that it is a work in progress.

The objective of this committee is to ensure that Canadians get the best protection they can and that we maximize the use of the assets that are available to protect our citizens, and we are grateful to the three of you for the work you do in the various orders of government you represent. We are pleased to hear of the cooperation that is going on in this province. That is a very important step and we think that ultimately it will provide for far greater service to Canadians.

We have appreciated your testimony. We are grateful for you coming today.

The committee continued in camera.