How Emergency Support Service works

Emergency Support Services (ESS) provides short-term basic support to people impacted by disasters. 

On this page:

When ESS is offered

During an emergency event, ESS may be offered to an evacuee for a short period of time.

There are eligibility requirements for emergency support services. For example, if you’re able to support yourself for the first 72 hours of an emergency, you would not be eligible for ESS. For details on eligibility, see the Evacuee Living Assistance Policy (PDF, 378KB).

Homeowner or tenant insurance may provide greater support than the ESS program. Check with your insurer to determine what may be available to you.

What supports are provided

Supports provided to those eligible are determined by a case-by-case basis. Services may be available for an extended period depending on the emergency and the circumstances of an evacuation.

  • Primary services include temporary lodging, food, clothing, and incidentals (such as toiletries)
  • Specialized services include emotional support, health services (such as first aid), pet care, and transportation

How ESS is delivered

Local emergency programs generally support evacuees within the community where an emergency event has taken place. This can be done through curbside support or an open reception centre within or close to the community.

Evacuees register for ESS by following the instructions provided on their evacuation alert or order. This process can be different for each community.

The local emergency program will decide if online or paper registration is used. Online, self-registration uses the Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool. Paper registration is in-person.

Either option, requires a trained ESS responder to connect with an evacuee to complete registration, needs assessments and provide emergency supports on a case-by-case basis.

Who supports ESS delivery

ESS is a provincial program delivered by local emergency programs that involve many roles.

Local emergency programs


  • Deliver ESS by registering evacuees, completing needs assessments, and providing basic supports
  • Staff, volunteers, and/ or contracted groups
  • Mobile support teams that travel to other communities. Learn how to qualify on the ESS volunteer page
  • Participate in emergency management and ESS training

Support organizations

  • Assist with ESS delivery and provide other resources to evacuees
  • Some support organizations are contracted by the local emergency program to deliver ESS on their behalf
  • Visit emergency support organizations to learn more


  • Local businesses and suppliers who have arrangements that provide emergency goods and services in a disaster