Modernized emergency management legislation

Welcome to the information hub for the repeal and replacement of the Emergency Program Act (EPA). You'll find updates related to the legislative process and how government is working to modernize emergency management in British Columbia. 

This is a crucial first step in implementing the Sendai Framework, emphasizing the importance of disaster risk reduction and strengthening the four phases of emergency management -- mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.

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Last updated: Sept 14, 2021

The road to modernization

An introduction from Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General

"As the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, it is my responsibility to support all British Columbians to be more resilient in the event of a localized emergency or disaster, such as an earthquake, wildfire or flood."

Honourable Mike Farnworth

The journey

The existing Emergency Program Act was introduced in 1993, but has roots in Canada’s War Measures Act from 1914. Much has changed, and new legislation is needed to address modern realities like the COVID-19 pandemic, frequent floods and wildfires and the lasting impact such events have on people and communities.

BC took a significant step towards modernizing the EPA in 2018 by adopting the Sendai Framework, which was developed by the United Nations in 2015 and outlines international best practices for managing emergencies. The new Act will formally align BC with this leading-edge approach, as well as reflect:

In 2019, Emergency Management BC (EMBC) committed to a broad public engagement process over multiple phases to ensure partner feedback was considered in drafting new legislation. Throughout 2019, EMBC held meetings with First Nations, local governments, Crown corporations and agencies, provincial and federal ministries, non-profit groups and other groups with a role to play in emergency management.

Engagement centered on the discussion paper entitled Modernizing BC’s Emergency Management Legislation (PDF, 3.4 MB), which outlined the proposed policy direction for legislation. This included reflecting lessons learned from the unprecedented flood and wildfire seasons in 2017 and 2018 and addressing all four phases of emergency management (mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery). It also set out how we aim to move to disaster risk reduction – preventing disasters where we can and lessening the impacts where we can’t.

The Discussion Paper invited comment and feedback from key partners and any other interested agencies, organizations and individuals. EMBC conducted some 172 meetings, webinars and teleconferences with partners and stakeholders, and received 239 written submissions from the public, other ministries and levels of government, communities, First Nations, businesses and industries, as well as from non-profit and volunteer organizations and emergency management practitioners. Feedback was accepted until January 31, 2020.

Legislative development and consultation work was largely paused in the March to August 2020 period, due to requirements associated with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Feedback on the Discussion Paper informed the What We Heard Report (PDF, 3.58 MB), which was released on August 31, 2020. This report summarizes feedback received from our partners and outlines the legislative path forward.

To account for any additional lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, our partners were invited to respond to the What We Heard Report. Additional recommendations were collected during a final feedback period, which ran from August 31 to September 30, 2020. The additional feedback was generally positive and most of the original proposals in the Discussion Paper will proceed. However, a small number of proposals were not supported and will not proceed or will be modified. These changes are summarized in the What We Heard Summary Brief (PDF, 57 KB)


Where we are now

Summer 2021 was challenging for much of British Columbia. In just three months, we collectively faced record-setting heat waves, one of the most destructive wildfire seasons on record and increasing drought conditions across southern B.C. and the central Interior. These climate-driven events, and the recovery that's still underway, underline the importance of modernizing British Columbia's emergency management legislation. 

To ensure adequate time for the next steps in the legislative development process, government has extended the timeline to introduce a new act to fall 2022 from spring 2022. This decision considers the pause we had to take in July and August during peak wildfire activity and the impact of a lengthy response on communities and emergency managers.

When broad engagement resumes this fall, an update on the overall legislative direction will be provided, followed by phased regulation development and implementation planning with key partners. 

Extended timeline

Dates Activities
February 2021 Reconnect with partners and stakeholders after pause due to COVID-19 response
February to July 2021

Ongoing policy analysis, legislative development, and connecting with partners

Implementation planning with partners

Seeking approvals from government

July to Fall 2021

Broad engagement deferred due to wildfire impacts

Legislative timeline extended to ensure adequate time for the legislative development process

Fall 2021 Broad engagement resumes
UPDATED: Fall 2022 Introduce new legislation

Related emergency management news

It's time to get storm ready

During the fall and winter months, B.C. experiences seasonal hazards such as severe weather, flooding and power outages.

Preparing for storms is an important step toward building resilient communities. To help, Prepared BC has created easy-to-use social media packages with pre-formatted content and graphics. 

Disaster risk reduction: stronger together

Disasters happen. Climate change is increasing the frequency of floods, wildfires and severe weather. Other hazards, ranging from power outages and disease outbreaks to earthquakes and tsunamis, also pose a risk to B.C. But risks can be reduced and resiliency increased through disaster risk reduction. 

Collection Notice: Personal information collected by the Ministry of Citizens’ Services for the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General is under the authority of section 26(c) and 26(e) of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act for the purpose of informing the Emergency Program Act Modernization. If you have any questions about the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information, please contact: Director of Citizen Engagement, PO Box 9409, STN PROV GOVT, Victoria BC, V8W 9V1, 250 208-3591. If you have any questions on the citizen engagement process, please email