Emergency Management has been the subject of lengthy studies and discussions throughout North America and globally and, similarly, it is widely practiced. In an attempt to establish a common set of criteria for program development and implementation, standards associations (such as the International Organization for Standardization, the Canadian Standards Association and the National Fire Protection Association) began developing standards on emergency management programs in the 1990s. Although this review is not intended to assess the EMAP against these standards, it does incorporate the fundamental themes and components of these standards in order to establish a baseline of assumptions with respect to how an emergency management program should operate.
Although there are slight variations between the different standards, they generally contain the same themes. First, emergency management programs should be risk-based, that is, the program must identify the risk of emergencies (including the hazards and the vulnerabilities) that will form the basis by which the program is developed. The program then develops mitigation strategies to prevent or limit the consequences of an emergency (this is commonly referred as a risk mitigation strategy) and prepares for the residual risk (i.e., the risk that cannot be mitigated). Preparedness can include planning, developing partnerships for mutual aid or assistance, developing procedures, training etc. Once an event occurs, the program responds by taking immediate action to manage the effects of an incident and implements recovery strategies to return the entity to an acceptable state.
An emergency management program is, in essence, a balance between risk management (risk assessment, mitigation and preparedness) and crisis management (response and recovery). In this context, the review team developed the following conceptual framework to illustrate the relationship between these elements and an effective emergency management program:
5.1 Effectiveness of emergency management during the 2011-12 Manitoba floods
All the key informants in this review reported that there were very few structural and non-structural mitigations measures in First Nation communities to limit the impacts of floods. Although other Canadian communities typically are designed to withstand a 100-year flood eventFootnote 22, there is limited evidence to suggest that the design of First Nation communities takes into consideration any level of flooding. This is supported by the fact that between 2006-07 and 2011-12, EMAP invested roughly $182,000 in mitigation in Manitoba, compared with $100,000,000 for preparedness, response and recovery.Footnote 23
Of course, there are exceptions to this situation, most notability, the ring dyke built around Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation in 1966 in response to the 1958 Manitoba Royal Commission on Flood Cost-Benefit.Footnote 24 Furthermore, the AANDC Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program reported that it supported four flood mitigation projects in Manitoba between 2006-07 and 2011-12 that totalled roughly $9.7 million. The focus of these projects was shoreline stabilization, home relocation and flood proofing in two First Nation communities. However, infrastructure investments related to mitigation are not currently coded per se and therefore, it is difficult to accurately determine if there were other expenditures. As such, these are the only examples of mitigation project in First Nation communities that the review found.
Although some program officials argued that community design is outside the scope of EMAP's terms and conditions, there are examples where an emergency management initiative can use recovery expenditures to influence community design. One such case is with the Public Safety Canada Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement, which does not support costs of repairing or replacing structures if they are in a location that, prior to their construction, was recognized or zoned as a flood risk area by the municipal or provincial authorities. Furthermore, structures in place prior to a flood risk area designation are only eligible for assistance if they are not subsequently rebuilt within the designated flood risk area or adequate flood-proofing measures (placing structures behind levees, constructing them on stilts/columns or mounds) are taken to protect against the effects of a 100-year flood.Footnote 25
EMAP is simply not designed to influence long-term solutions to flooding in ways similar to the example above. Currently, the program funds communities to rebuild structures to pre-disaster conditions in accordance with what is eligible under the Public Safety Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement. It does not, however, put conditions on the funding to prevent First Nations from rebuilding in the exact same flood risk area under the exact same flood protection despite repeated flood occurrences and relative certainty that flooding will recur. In fact interviewees reported that decisions related to rebuilding is entirely within the purview of the First Nation and that, if flood hazards are not considered at the community-level when rebuilding, AANDC could be left paying for response and recovery costs for the same homes multiple times (as opposed to addressing the root causes).
Despite this issue with EMAP's terms and conditions, the Manitoba regional office was able to leverage the flood response moneys in 2011-12 to create clay dykes in 13 communities that, if left in place, would protect the communities up to the water level experienced in 2011-12 on a permanent basis. Typically, EMAP will not support the construction of permanent structures such as clay dykes, however, it was determined that temporary sandbag dykes were not technically feasible given the volume and duration of the 2011-12 flood.
Recommendation #1: EMAP should develop better linkages with other programs within AANDC to ensure an effective system for supporting long-term solutions for emergency management and community resilience.
As part of the Department's preparedness, the AANDC Manitoba regional office developed an Emergency Management Plan in 2010 that is in line with the AANDC National Guidelines for Developing Regional Emergency Management Plans (2009). However, as discussed under Section 5.2, the plan was not fully implemented during the 2011-12 flooding, suggesting that the act of developing the plan did not adequately prepare the regional office for dealing with a large scale emergency. This could have potentially been avoided by effectively exercising the plan, but stakeholders reported that it was not tested prior to the flooding because Manitoba experiences flooding so frequently. Previous flood related emergencies were much smaller and simply did not prepare the office for the magnitude of flooding in 2011-12. In fact, the average annual expenditure on emergencies between 2006-07 and 2010-11 was roughly $5,000,000. Compared to this, the expenditures in 2011-12 were roughly 15 times this average annual expenditure.Footnote 26
Stakeholders reported that all 63 Manitoba First Nations had an emergency management plan in place prior to the flooding. Three example plans were made available for review and based on this limited sample, it is evident that the plans clarify the roles and responsibilities of Chief and Council as well as various community members (such as the coordinators of transportation, public works, education, etc) during emergencies. The plans clearly state that "the Chief and Council is the local authority responsible for the formation and implementation of emergency plans and arrangements for First Nations. According to the plans, the Chief must take what ever action he/she considers necessary to implement the emergency plan, (and) to protect the property, health safety and welfare of the community."Footnote 27 The plans also provide information on preparedness such as a hazards analysis and information on chemical hazards, flood preparation (for example, how to build sandbag dykes) and tornado preparation.
The regional office did not have copies of all the First Nation plans. Stakeholders also reported an overall lack of exercising or testing First Nation plans, as well as a lack of dedicated Emergency Management coordinators and unclear emergency management governance structures within First Nation communities. Stakeholders felt that this contributed to confusion as to how decisions were to be made in communities and created challenges for coordinating responses.
Recommendation #2: EIMD should develop guidelines for First Nation Emergency Management Plans that include protocols for how a First Nation can access assistance when their internal resources are overwhelmed. Once the guidelines are in place, the AANDC Manitoba regional office should work with First Nations to update their plans and maintain copies of the plans that will form the basis of future coordination work.
Finding #1: As of March 31, 2012, AANDC provided $84.5 million in support to 27 First Nation communities to respond to the flooding, but the effectiveness of the response is not known due to limited performance information.
During the winter of 2011, the Manitoba Water Stewardship Branch released several flood forecasts that raised concern about the potential for spring flooding throughout the province. In response to these forecasts, AANDC provided funding to the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters to help First Nations refresh community emergency management plans and attend a Disaster Management conference. The conference was held by the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization and included an extra day exclusively for First Nations to prepare for the forecasted flooding. Forty-nine First Nations attended the conference, which allowed communities to share information amongst each other and allowed the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters updated their contact list for community emergency management co-ordinators. With respect to updating the First Nation Emergency Management Plans, the regional office reported that 20 First Nations worked with the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters to refresh their plans, but that only seven provided the updated plans to the Association.
Once it became clear how specific communities were going to be affected, AANDC began providing First Nations, and in some cases, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters on behalf of First Nations, with an "accountable advance" of funding for flood fighting activities. Twenty-seven First Nation communities received support from AANDC for flood fighting. For most communities this consisted of clearing drainage ditches, steaming culverts to eliminate ice blockages and building dykes to prevent over-land flow of water. Ultimately, 12 communities required evacuations and as of April 17, 2012, EMAP reported that 2445 people had not returned to their communities. The intent of AANDC support was to assist First Nations in reducing or eliminating the impacts of the flood on their health and safety and on the infrastructure of their communities.
EMAP clearly succeeded at protecting the immediate health and safety of First Nation communities.
With respect to protecting community infrastructure and long-term health and safety issues (such as the development of mould in houses that were flooded), success is much more difficult to assess. As noted above, EMAP support 27 First Nations to undertake activities required to prevent the floods from inundating their communities. The work plans under the funding agreements with First Nations typically included information on the number of sandbags required, the number of culverts that need to steamed, etc. They also provide a work break down that includes the number of people and hours of work required, as well as the rental or purchase of any equipment. The First Nations were responsible for spending the advance of eligible expenditures under the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization Disaster Financial Assistance Program and submitting the invoices and timesheets to that program, at which point, AANDC recovers the full amount of the accountable advanceFootnote 28. Where a First Nations was implementing a larger project, such as the construction of a permanent dyke, they were required to report to AANDC on progress against their work plan in the form of percentage complete for each task. The work plans did not reflect the First Nations' emergency management plans, nor did they require the First Nations to report on the effectiveness of their activities (i.e., the extent to which their activities reduced or eliminated the impacts of the flood on the health and safety as well as infrastructure of the community). This, coupled with a lack of participation by First Nations in this review, severely limited the review team's ability to assess the performance of AANDC's response.
In addition to providing financial support, the Emergency Management Coordinator was responsible for assisting First Nations with identifying required technical physical resources. This involved connecting First Nations, on an as-needed-basis, with the provincial government, the Manitoba Association of Native Firefighters, engineering or construction firms, heavy equipment, contractors, etc. Although this coordination function was a significant part of the Emergency Management Coordinator's role, some stakeholders reported that the Emergency Management Coordinator was effective at this role but that the 2011-12 flood was such a large emergency it was difficult to respond to all issues in a timely way.
Finding #2: Recovery is still ongoing, but stakeholders have concerns about the effectiveness of the current program mechanism.
According to the AANDC funding agreements, First Nations and the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters must submit a claim to the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization Disaster Financial Assistance Program. Funding agreements are very specific that AANDC funding is an accountable advance that can only be spent on eligible expenditures under the Provincial Program and that, once the province provides a payment for eligible costs, the full amount of the accountable advance will be recovered from the First Nation or the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters.
Stakeholders reported concern with the ability of the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization Disaster Financial Assistance Program to assist with recovery in First Nation communities. First, the program relies on community inspections that take time to complete. In many cases, First Nations will not begin re-construction until the program provides funding and this delay can lead to excessive damage (for example, not removing flooded drywall immediately can lead to large mould related issues) that leads to an increase in recovery costs.
The second issue identified was that the Provincial Program only allows recipients to re-build to a pre-existing state, that is to say that recipients are not allowed to improve the affected structures. In many cases, the structures on reserve prior to a flood were inadequate and therefore, re-building to the pre-existing state does not reduce vulnerability or mitigate risk.
The third issue raised was that the Provincial Program is designed to assist with recovery; the program is designed in a way that the victim carries a share of the burden. Two specific examples of this are that not all damage is eligible (First Nations reported that, for example, when a house is damaged, the drywall is eligible but the vapor barrier is not) and when a cost is eligible, the program pays the average price for the average quality of that product (i.e., it does not pay the replacement cost of the item). Although these examples may seem trivial, in some First Nation communities with very little financial capacity, it can mean the difference between re-building and not re-building.
5.2 Effectiveness and efficiency of the emergency management governance structure in Manitoba
Finding #3: The AANDC Manitoba Region Emergency Management Plan has established a governance and coordination structure; however, it was not implemented during the flooding.
AANDC Governance Structure
Within the AANDC Manitoba regional office, the Emergency Management Coordinator is responsible for gathering information and directing Manitoba regional operations for AANDC and the Funding Services Officer is responsible for acting as the primary point of contact for the First Nations. The Coordinator reports to the Director of Infrastructure and Housing, who is responsible for authorizing emergency expenditures. The Associate Regional Director General is responsible for maintaining contact with counterparts in the provincial government and escalating requests for assistance from other federal departments to AANDC HQ. Overall operations within the region and coordinating activities with other federal departments are the responsibilities of the Regional Director General. The Regional Director General reports to the Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Regional Operations, who provides executive support at AANDC HQ when the involvement of other government departments is required.Footnote 29
The Director of Infrastructure and Housing and Regional Director General are responsible for "authorizing expenditures within their authority and escalating requests for funding assistance requiring additional authority."Footnote 30 However, the Regional Plan is not designed to scale to the different sizes and severities of emergencies
The Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan also establishes a number of incident management system sections that report to the Emergency Management Coordinator. These include the following functions:
- An operations section responsible for: maintaining awareness of community-level activities, concerns, priorities and needs; preparing situation reports; and maintaining contact with operation centres in First Nations and other organizations.
- A planning section responsible for: documenting work plans; anticipating issues and working with stakeholders to develop plans; and maintaining contact with planning centres in First Nations and other organizations.
- A logistics section responsible for: indentifying resources that the regional office may provide in support of First Nations, scheduling and basic needs for staff working within the regional office; and maintaining contact with logistics centres in First Nations and other organizations.
- A communications section that is responsible for developing key messages in response to media and public inquiries.
- A liaison officer that would represent the regional office at other Emergency Coordination Centres to ensure an accurate and consistent exchange of information between agencies involved in a given emergency and to identify any concerns or opportunities for cooperation.
According to the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan, these functions are to be implemented on an as required basis relative to the regional office level of response. A level one emergency is limited in geographic area, requiring no support to the First Nation. A level two emergency involves multiple communities with few or limited requests for operational assistance. This level of emergency involves a partial implementation of the incident command system depending on the scope, complexity or duration of the event. A level three emergency involves multiple communities requesting assistance. The flooding during 2011-12 clearly met the conditions of a level three emergency, which is the highest level of emergency identified in the plan. According to the plan, a response to a level three emergency involves full implementation of the incident command system due to the scope, complexity or duration of the emergency.Footnote 31
During the floods of 2011-12, there is no evidence that the regional office formally activated any of the incident management system, which meant that the Emergency Management Coordinator was largely responsible for fulfilling all the AANDC emergency management responsibilitiesFootnote 32 during the event (i.e., operations, planning, logistics, finance and administration and liaison).
Although regional staff reported that the response was a team effort and that everyone helped out where they could, the support was ad hoc and did not allow for the distribution of responsibilities away from the Emergency Management Coordinator as per the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan. A few examples of such support are:
- In some cases funding services officers received information on the situation in communities. In cases where this happened, the information was shared with the Emergency Management Coordinator, but the funding services officers were not responsible for monitoring communities as stated in the AANDC Manitoba Region Emergency Management Plan.
- Additional resources were allocated to support the Emergency Management Coordinator to help provide HQ with required information to access supplemental funding. However, the Emergency Management Coordinator was the only person with a complete understanding of the situation and the required information and therefore, the assistance was limited to facilitating the process.
- The regional office invested a significant amount of effort to minimize disruptions in programs and services being delivered to First Nation communities. For example, the Education Program invested a significant amount of effort to help ensure evacuated children had the opportunity to attend alternative schools. The importance of this work cannot be understated, but it did not help fulfill AANDC's responsibilities for emergency management (rather it fulfilled AANDC's education responsibilities).
The fact that the incident management system was not activated exposed AANDC to significant level of risk. The emergency management system essentially depended on one person, which is unreasonable given the breadth of issues that arose during this emergency; the number of communities involved; and the 24-hour per day nature of the emergency. The result was that the Emergency Management Coordinator was on stand-by for 24 hours per day for months and essentially spent his time trying to address each crisis as they came up. The regional office does not compensate the Emergency Management Coordinator for acting as duty officer.Footnote 33 Moreover, although the regional office has identified a back-up Emergency Management Coordinator, this position was not drawn upon during the flooding.
Interview respondents from every stakeholder group identified this capacity issue as the key issue that needs to be resolved in the near future in order for the system to start functioning properly.
In an attempt to help minimize this risk, EMAP sent additional support (referred to as surge capacity) from HQ and other regions to Manitoba. These personnel served as liaison officers in the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre, where they acted as a conduit between provincial officials and the AANDC Emergency Management Coordinator. They also helped prepare briefing materials for EMAP HQ on the situation. However, there were limitations in their support because they were not familiar with the provincial geography, agencies involved, and how the regional office functions.
Recommendation #3: EIMD and the AANDC Manitoba regional office should explore how to scale emergency management roles and responsibilities based on the size and magnitude of emergency events, including when and how HQ should become involved in decision making during a response.
Recommendation #4: The AANDC Manitoba regional office should develop the capacity to implement the full incident management system during future emergencies as stated in the AANDC Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan.
AANDC Coordination Structure
With respect to coordination, the regional office participated in a weekly conference call with the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization and other provincial representatives. This was lead by the Regional Director General and included representatives from the different areas in the regional office (e.g., Emergency Management and Infrastructure, Governance and Community Development, Programs and Partnerships, etc.). This call was essential for the Department to coordinate with the province on the various issues resulting from the flood.
From an operational perspective, the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan establishes a coordination structure where the regional office is responsible for receiving requests for assistance from First Nations, assessing their requirements and coordinating the activities of other agencies involved with supporting First Nations. The Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization receives requests from the regional office.
Although the Regional Plan is clear on this structure, the National Emergency Management Plan is less clear. For example, under the Authorities and Legislative Requirements Section, the plan states that "the provinces and territories are responsible for activities related to emergency management within their respective jurisdictions." The National Plan goes on to identify a coordination structure that includes First Nations contacting provinces directly. It also states in the text that some of the Provincial Emergency Management Organizations have negotiated funding arrangements with AANDC for the provision of response functions to emergencies in First Nations communities, but does not clarify that First Nations in provinces that do not have a funding agreement should be contacting the AANDC regional office. In fact, the National Plan does not clarify the roles and responsibilities of a regional office where there is no funding agreement in anyway.Footnote 34 First Nations and other stakeholders reported confusion around this point.
According to the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization, this confusion resulted in several cases where First Nations contacted them directly. To address this, their standard protocol was to re-direct First Nations to the AANDC regional office. However, the province also reported that, with the volume of work during the flood, it was unreasonable to expect the Emergency Management Coordinator to respond to all requests in a timely way. It also reported that, in a few cases, because the time sensitive nature of emergencies, they were required to respond without input from AANDC. Although this was the exception and not the norm, it does present issues for the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization because it is unclear whether their actions will meet the terms and conditions of AANDC's Emergency Management Assistance Program and therefore, be eligible for reimbursement.
Finding #4: The AANDC emergency management system relies on the experience and judgement of a few key people, with limited procedures, protocols or guidelines.
AANDC processes for supporting flood fighting
According to the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan, First Nations are responsible for escalating requests for assistance to AANDC or the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters if local resources are overwhelmed by an emergency and assistance is required. Due to the unpredictable and urgent nature of emergency responses, there is not a formal application process. However, according to the EMAP terms and conditions, "there must be a declaration of an emergency in accordance with the requirements established in the Emergency Response Guide and this must be communicated to AANDC as soon as possible". There is no evidence that this response guide exists or was used to determine the eligibility of First Nations for EMAP funding. Rather, the Emergency Management Coordinator used the provincial flood forecast and previous emergency management experience to determine whether the First Nation was likely going to be impacted by floods and therefore, eligible for EMAP funding.
In some cases, First Nations contracted engineering expertise to assess the flood risk; the provincial flood forecast was limited to municipalities, which meant that the expected water levels for First Nations communities needed to be interpolated based on their own geography and a neighbouring forecast. Although this approach clearly helped determine whether a response was required, the results were not documented as there was no requirement to do so by the Department.
Once the request for assistance was received and it was determined that a response was required, the Emergency Management Coordinator worked with the First Nation (or in some cases, the Manitoba Association of Nation Fire Fighters on behalf of the First Nation) to develop a work plan. In cases where the Coordinator did not agree with the work plan, the Department did not approve the funding agreement amendment. However, there was no clear process for assessing what was required to respond and how much it should costs. For example, AANDC regional officials reported that the number of required sandbags was calculated by First Nations based on the provincial flood forecast and an assessment of topographic maps to determine the height and length of dykes.
The First Nation Emergency Management Plans contain a general assessment of the probability of flooding, but don't clarify what aspects of the community are at risk (such as through a hazard map that would allow for a detailed assessment of flood protection requirements) or what flood fighting actions would be appropriate. In fact, there is no evidence that the previously developed First Nation Emergency Management Plans were used to determine response requirements and develop the work plans.
Regional officials reported that because floods are dynamic/unpredictable, it is difficult to determine what is required ahead of time and that this is the case in all Manitoba communities. However, the fundamental difference between First Nations and municipalities is that the costs to respond to a flood in municipalities that are paid for using their own revenue (and then a portion of the costs are reimbursed at a later date depending on the overall size and cost of the emergency). This builds in a natural incentive to respond appropriately (i.e., to build what is required but not more), an incentive that is lacking in the First Nations context. As a result, there are some cases where actions that would have saved money and prevented flood damage were not supported by AANDC, as well as cases where First Nations undertook activities that were unnecessary to prevent flood damage.
Interviewees reported that the work plans were based on past experience. For example, the Department's funding agreement with an example First Nation was amended four times for the construction of sandbag and clay dykes:
Table 2: First Nation Funding and Deliverables as per an Example Work Plan
||The need for 40,000 sandbags is based on estimates of sandbag requirements in the event of a middle decile flood.
||$59,040 (sandbags) $8,380 (culverts)
||Production of 40,000 sandbags and opening 25 culverts that were critical for drainage in April 2011
||The need for 40,000 sandbags is based on estimates of sandbag requirements in the event of a middle decile flood, and also in response to the projected flood risk in July 2011.
||Production of 40,000 sandbags in May and June 2011
||No rationale provided.
||Emergency dyke construction, September 2011 (i.e., clay dyke)
||No rationale provided.
||Emergency dyke construction, October 2011 (i.e., clay dyke)
This example clearly illustrates the above points:
- The work plan does not contain a reference to the provincial flood forecast or any other assessment of the flood hazard (such as the expected water level, or a description of expected inundation). As a result it is unclear why each deliverable is required.
- The costing process to determine the price of each sandbag is also unclear. In this case the price per sandbag increased five-fold between April and July. A rationale for such a drastic change in cost was not documented.
- The work plan does not reference the previously developed First Nation Emergency Management Plan.
AANDC processes for supporting evacuations
According to the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan, the decision to evacuate a community was to be taken through a consensus of opinion involving AANDC, the First Nation, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters and the Province of Manitoba's Manitoba Water Stewardship Branch. However, the Province of Manitoba reported that they could not participate in any decisions related to evacuating First Nations because they have no authority on reserves. Furthermore, according the regional officials, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters is a service provider for AANDC and governed by a funding agreement that does not provide a mandate to make decisions regarding the evacuation of communities. Instead, their role is limited to advising the Emergency Management Coordinator on the conditions of the community and the need to evacuate.
This meant that in practice, the decision to evacuate a community was based on a consensus between AANDC and the First Nation. Based on a sample of three First Nation Emergency Management Plans reviewed, an evacuation order can only be issued once a local state of emergency has been declaredFootnote 35, which according to the plans, is the responsibility Chief and Council. However, the process identified in the Emergency Management Plans contains a template Band Council Resolutions for declaring a state of emergency that make reference to the Manitoba Emergency Measures Act and the powers provided to local authorities under Section 11(1) of the Act.Footnote 36 First Nations are not local authorities under the Act; in fact, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (appointed under the Indian Act) is identified as the local authority with respect to reserves. The First Nation Emergency Management Plans do not make reference to AANDC's roles and responsibilities in this regard and do not reflect AANDC's position that decisions should be consensus-based.
To further add to this issue, AANDC reported that a First Nation declaration of a state of emergency does not give Chief and Council additional powers; rather it indicates that local resources have been overwhelmed and that the First Nation is requesting outside assistance. During the 2011-12 flood, when AANDC received a request, it controlled the funding and therefore, was in a de facto position of approval over the First Nations' requests to evacuate (as opposed to using a consensus based decision-making model). For example, the Funding Agreement Amendments state that "emergency evacuations were directed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (i.e., AANDC) for [a given First Nation]." Despite evidence that AANDC was directing First Nations to evacuate, there were no AANDC guidelines on what conditions would be required to order an evacuation or who within AANDC should be directing First Nations to evacuate.
Once a community had been evacuated, the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters was responsible for hosting the evacuees, retaining timesheets and invoices, and submitting them to the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization Disaster Financial Assistance Program. The funding arrangement with the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters does not include requirements for maintaining evacuee lists or establish a dispute resolution mechanism to resolve disagreements between the association and evacuees. According to the regional officials, the First Nation is responsible for registering evacuees and is responsible for the costs if they are unable to rationalize the list. Although this responsibility was clearly communicated to First Nations, the funding arrangement was between AANDC and the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters and therefore, the evacuee list was not a condition of funding. This has led to cases where the evacuee lists have not been properly maintained.
The decision to return from evacuations was also vague. Given that the initial evacuation was not made in response to specific conditions on the ground, or at least AANDCs rationale for directing a First Nation to evacuate was not documented as such, it remains unclear how decision to return is made. According to the First Nation Emergency Management Plans, before re-entry can occur, the community leadership and emergency response team need to determine that the emergency situation has finished and that it is safe to re-enter the community. This includes ensuring that the air, water land conditions are satisfactory and that the basic services, such as water, heat, etc are in place. Furthermore, prior to the return of the general population, the plans suggest that essential workers, such as police, fire and medical personnel, should be in the community. However, the extent to which these criteria are taken into consideration is unclear because the Emergency Management Plans are not referenced in funding documents.
Recommendation #5: In consultation with the AANDC regional offices, EIMD should develop clear procedures, protocols or guidelines for conducting risk assessments, and supporting emergency responses (including activities such as flood fighting and evacuations).
Finding #5: The funding structure is inefficient and exposes AANDC and its partners to unnecessary risk.
Once it was determined that a First Nation required assistance to respond to an emergency, AANDC provided the First Nation with an accountable advance to cover future emergency response costs. This was necessary because, unlike municipalities, First Nations do not have access to own source revenue that can be used to finance a response.Footnote 37 First Nations were responsible for using the funding to respond to the flood and for submitting claims to the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program. A condition of the accountable advances was that First Nation expenditures must be eligible for this program.
Once the claim is received by the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program, they conduct a detailed review of the claim to determine eligibility and reimburse the First Nation accordingly. The First Nation is then responsible for reimbursing the accountable advance to AANDC as well as distributing the appropriate amount of the reimbursement to its members who incurred eligible costs. Where the First Nations have appropriately accounted for expenditures, reimbursing AANDC is straightforward as the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program claim will equal the expenditures incurred on the accountable advance.
However, in cases where ineligible expenditures were made (i.e., expenditures not supported by the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program), the First Nation will have go through a re-payment process that could take years. This situation is further complicated because, according to stakeholders, there were legitimate expenditures during the flood that are not eligible for reimbursement under the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program, a fact that AANDC was aware of when it approved work plans. For example, the eligible expenditures under the Provincial Program include "Response cost at the direction of an authorized official incurred for the construction and removal of temporary dykes."Footnote 38 However, interviewees reported that, given the volume of water and the duration of the flood in some communities, temporary dykes were not technically feasible and therefore, clay dykes were required. These clay dykes account for roughly 40 percent of EMAP's expenditures during the flood and it remains unclear as to whether these dykes will be eligible under the Provincial Program.
Where a province has demonstrated that it has exhausted all reasonable legal and practical means to recover costs from individuals or organizations found by the courts to be liable for the costs, the unrecovered eligible losses will be considered for cost-sharing through the Public Safety Canada Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement.Footnote 39 At this point, the province will submit a claim to Public Safety Canada, including the reimbursements it made to First Nations, and over the next few years Public Safety Canada will review the claim and reimburse the province accordingly. There are two fundamental concerns raised by the province with this model. Firstly, Manitoba is carrying the debt for EMAP expenditures until Public Safety completes its audit process and repays the province, which can take up to six years. Secondly, there is a risk that not all of the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program payments to First Nations are eligible under the Public Safety Canada Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement, in which case, Manitoba has no mechanisms to recover all of the costs it paid out to the First Nations.
In general, this funding structure involves several transactions – each adding transactional costs and exposing the system to a number of risks. For more details on the funding process refer to Appendix B. One alternative to this funding structure would be for AANDC to submit the claims to the Manitoba Emergency Measure Organization on behalf of First Nations. This would require the AANDC Minister to submit the claim as a local authority under the Manitoba Emergency Measures Act. Footnote 40 Although it is unclear as to whether the Provincial Act is of general application, if possible, this approach would allow the provincial government to transfer their reimbursement directly to AANDC. This, at minimum, would ensure that the costs covered under the Manitoba Disaster Financial Assistance Program would be recovered in the short term.
Finding #6: Unclear governance and processes resulted in a lack of trust and cooperation.
Since the terrorist-related events of September 2001, increased attention has been given to trust between organizations, the sharing of resources and information, and the impact of these aspects on the capacity to cooperate when managing an emergency.Footnote 41,Footnote 42,Footnote 43.
Emergencies tend to take place in a dynamic environment with multiple external pressures, thus, creating a need for constant adaptation. Comfort notes that "in crisis incidents, which require an intergovernmental response, there is a need for coordinated action among many agencies that allow access to valid information and the ability to engage in information search, exchange, absorption and adaptation. This is the essence of a complex adaptive system that evolves with the expanding situation and responds to demands from the crises environment as well as pressure and support from other organizations."Footnote 44 Lichenstein et al., also note that in complex adaptive systems organizations respond to both external pressures (from the environment…) and internal pressures that are generated as they struggle with interdependency.Footnote 45 This is particularly clear in an event such as the Manitoba floods (2011-12) that not only took place over a few months and within various jurisdictions, but whose intensity in terms of impact varied both in time and space. In this context, emergency responses call for the availability of various organizations and rely, at least in part, on an interdependent response system.
Publications on collaboration within and between organizations identify the key parameters that enable effective partnerships. Trust between organizations is identified as an essential catalyst to facilitating cooperation between organizationsFootnote 46 and that trust cannot exist without transparency. In order to build trust, the organizations need to be open and transparent, which involves the existence of communication mechanisms, and also accountability mechanisms that rely on a governance structure based on shared objectives, a shared vision and values, and shared processes and procedures that are clearly defined. Interviews with various stakeholder groups (both within AANDC and other organizations) indicated that there is currently a lack of shared vision, values and common objectives between the emergency management partners in Manitoba (i.e., there are divergent views about how emergencies should managed in Manitoba First Nation communities).
Marcus et al., note that in emergency management, the coordination of resources, information and expertise is necessary and vital. "(…) emergency responders will clash (if) in the pre-event preparatory period (they) did not come to terms with the critical need to achieve a versatile capacity for connectivity that bigger and coherent picture of distinct, consistent and overlapping roles and responsibilities necessary to (respond)."Footnote 47 Therefore, plans, rules and procedures need to be rational, understood, tested and implemented before an emergency arises.
During the flooding, HQ's role was limited to accessing supplemental funding and keeping apprised of the situation. Although the AANDC National Emergency Management Plan identifies the Department's Operations Committee as having authority to review and provide direction on emergency management issues, the extent to which HQ provided any direction remains unclear. This, coupled with the fact that the Manitoba Regional Office Emergency Management Plan does not indentify HQ as a decision makerFootnote 48, suggests that the emergency management system during the flooding was not intended to bring HQ into decision making. In future emergency management programming, consideration will need to be given to the leadership roles that the managers will need to play.
The model presented on the next page provides an overview of the various concepts discussed in this section and identifies the related links and attributes. The model is then reproduced using the information gathered during this review to better describe the emergency management experience in Manitoba.
Recommendation #6: Once the governance structure and processes have been clarified, EIMD and the AANDC Manitoba regional office should engage with partners to develop an effective emergency management system for Manitoba First Nation communities.
In Emergency Management an Effective Response is the Product of Trust and Cooperation
Description of figure: Emergency Management an Effective Response is the Product of Trust and Cooperation
The conceptual model displays the theoretical relationship between governance, transparency, trust and cooperation and how leadership affects these concepts. It displays four boxes containing governance, transparency, trust and cooperation with arrows connecting these four boxes. It then displays a circle around all four boxes with the text "leadership in building trust" on the line of circle.
Trust - Understanding and Appreciating
- Organisational Culture
- Organisational role and responsibilities
- Organisational area of jurisdiction
Governance - Defining
- Articulate a set of principles supporting an emergency management system
- Common goals, values vision
- Clear rules, processes and procedures
- Organisation's role and responsibilities
Transparency - Sharing
- Enhanced communication
- Exchange of information
- Reciprocal relationship
Co-operation - Applying
- Task-force mindset
- Problem solving
- Resources utilization
- Effective response
Emergency Management Response during the 2011 Manitoba Flooding
Description of figure: Emergency Management Response during the 2011 Manitoba Flooding
This conceptual model presents the exact same diagram as the conceptual model on the previous page, but includes observations from the review about the conditions during the Manitoba floods. For example, the review team observed that during the flood event:
- Organisational culture not appreciated – Silo effect
- Organisational role and responsibilities unclear
- Major breach of trust based on the non-recognition of areas of jurisdictions
- Lack of financial and performance information
These observations are included in the Trust box. The following observations are included in the governance box:
- The AANDC
RO Emergency Plan developed but not tested and not implemented.
- Unclear governance structure within FN's communities and within AANDC
- Lack of coordination structure
- First Nations emergency plan not shared with the AANDC
- Poor Communication System
- Exchange of information limited and key documents not accessible
- Confusing situation as the base of the reciprocal relationship
- Lack of financial and performance information
And, finally, cooperation includes the following observations:
- No Task-force Mindset
- Limited Problem Solving
- Ineffective Resources Utilization
- Ineffective Response
- Department at Risk