Support services during an emergency

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

Delivery of ESS and registration

Local emergency programs can support evacuees through the ESS program during an emergency event. This can be done through curbside support or an open reception centre within or close to the community.

Register for services

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

It is the discretion of the local emergency program to determine if online or paper registration is available at the time of the emergency event. Online uses the Evacuee Registration & Assistance (ERA) tool with a self-registration option. Paper includes in-person registration with paper forms. Both options require a trained ESS responder to connect with an evacuee to complete registration and provide emergency supports on a case-by-case basis.

Pre-register for ESS

Pre-registering ahead of time will mean you're already set up in the ERA tool and may be eligible for Interac e-transfer payments, making it easier to access Emergency Support Services during an emergency.

To pre-register follow these steps:

  1. Download the BC Services Card app from the Apple or Google app stores.
  2. Open the BC Services Card app and follow the instructions.
  3. In the app, under "Services" locate "Evacuee Registration Assistance" and follow the login and registration instructions.

Who supports ESS delivery

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

Local emergency programs

  • Responsible for coordinating and delivering ESS
  • Recruit and train responders (both staff and volunteers)


  • Can be staff, volunteers, and/or other contracted groups
  • Deliver ESS by registering evacuees, completing needs assessments, and providing basic emergency supports
  • Provincial resource teams travel to other communities that request assistance.
  • 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


  • Local businesses and suppliers who have arrangements to provide emergency goods and services to evacuees during an emergency event