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How a provincial State of Emergency makes a difference

How a provincial State of Emergency makes a difference

VICTORIA (July 8, 2021) – Amidst growing calls for a provincial State of Emergency with over 200 wildfires currently raging throughout the province, the NDP government has refused to make the declaration.

Not knowing when the wildfires will get even worse, a State of Emergency (SOE) helps heighten public awareness and provides additional tools to be better prepared. Here’s how a SOE can make a real difference in the lives of British Columbians facing wildfire dangers and those emergency responders doing their best to fight the flames and protect the public:

  • Once a SOE has been declared, the Minister of Public Safety can implement all procedures necessary to prevent, respond to, or alleviate the effects of an emergency or a disaster. This includes, among other things, the ability to:
    • Provide for the distribution of essential supplies and provide, maintain, and coordinate emergency medical, welfare, and other essential services;
    • Authorize the entry into any building or on any land, without warrant, by any person in the course of implementing an emergency plan or response program;
    • Conscript individuals to render assistance within their qualifications;
    • Control or prohibit travel to and from any area of B.C.;
    • Evacuate livestock for their safety and make arrangements for the adequate care and protection of those animals;
    • Procure and fix prices for food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical supplies, or other essential supplies, and;
    • Procure the use of any property, services, resources, or equipment within any part of British Columbia for the duration of the State of Emergency.
  • In addition, Cabinet has powers during a SOE that include the ability to establish limits on, or exceptions to, existing legislation.
  • A person who contravenes the Emergency Program Act or “interferes with or obstructs any person in the exercise of any power or the performance of any duty conferred or imposed under this Act”, may be fined up to $10,000, imprisoned for up to one year, or both.
  • There have been four wildfire-related States of Emergency declared in B.C.: 2018, 2017, 2003, and 1996.

“B.C. has incredibly professional emergency workers, and those on the frontlines need a provincial government that responds quickly and effectively so that resources, staffing, and equipment, are never an issue when it comes to life-threatening situations,” said MLA Mike Morris. “As a former Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, I don’t understand John Horgan and the NDP’s reluctance to declare a State of Emergency, especially when they didn’t hesitate declaring one back in 2018. The time for action is now.”

Source: Emergency Program Act

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