Emergency Support Service Program

Emergency Support Services (ESS) is designed to provide short-term basic support to British Columbians impacted by disasters ranging from a single house fire to larger events, such as wildfires. These supports enable those impacted to re-establish themselves as quickly as possible after an emergency or disaster.

Emergency Support Services is a Provincial Program delivered by Local Authorities and First Nations’ Governments that meets the basic needs of British Columbians impacted by disasters by providing short-term support in a compassionate manner. The program is financed by Emergency Management BC (EMBC) and administered by Local Authorities and First Nations’ Governments.


We are working to improve the provincial Emergency Support Services (ESS) program through a project aimed at digitizing and modernizing ESS delivery.


Based on need and circumstances of the emergency, ESS may be offered to an evacuee for a short period of time, normally up to 72 hours. Services may be available for an extended period depending on the emergency and the circumstances of an evacuation order. 

Primary services provided by ESS are:

  • Temporary lodging (these are determined on a case-by-case basis)
  • Food
  • Clothing and incidentals (such as toiletries)

Specialized services that may be coordinated on a case-by-case basis:

  • Emotional support
  • First aid and other health services
  • Pet care
  • Transportation

A reception centre is a safe place where people can go to receive in-person services that vary depending on the type of emergency. They are often located in community centres, recreation centres, churches or schools.


In many cases homeowners or tenant insurance held by the evacuees will provide greater support than what is available through this program. If you are evacuated please consult with your insurance provider to determine what may be available to you.

There are specific condition requirements to be eligible for these supports. For example, if you are self-sufficient (such as having appropriate insurance or the means to support yourself for those first 72 hours), you would not be eligible for ESS. 

For specific details on ESS eligibility see the  Evacuee Living Assistance Policy (PDF).