In an effort to improve Canada’s emergency response capacity, Senator Mac Harb today tabled Bill S- 224, An Act to establish a national volunteer emergency response service in Canada.
Citing a recently released internal government audit that revealed Canada’s public health agency is not prepared to handle emergencies such as natural disasters, pandemics or terrorist attacks, Senator Harb said a national volunteer service would add critical capacity to strained public agencies in times of crisis.
“Canadians have always spontaneously risen to the occasion to help one another, but without adequate training and preparation, they face unacceptable risks. It is time we put a national structure in place that ensures volunteers stepping forward to help have the necessary training to prevent, mitigate and respond to a disaster situation” said Senator Harb.
While volunteer response groups exist in small pockets across the country, the majority in a search and rescue role, Senator Harb suggested that the proposed national service could provide links and communication channels for sharing information, resources and training. Canada will join other countries such as the United States and Australia with services in place to increase the surge capacity of existing professional services.