Emergency Support Services (ESS)

British Columbians forced from their homes by fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies may receive emergency support services for up to 72 hours. Services may include food, lodging, clothing, emotional support, information about the crisis, and family reunification. There may also be special services like first aid, child minding, pet care and transportation.

Under the Emergency Program Actmunicipalities and regional districts are responsible for responding to emergencies in their areas, including coordinating emergency support services.

They often depend on volunteers to plan and coordinate these services, including: 

  • Identifying locations for reception centres and group lodging;
  • Finding other volunteers;
  • Working with local businesses, service organizations and government agencies;
  • Housing and feeding people forced from their homes; and
  • Supporting other emergency responders

Each year about 5,000 British Columbians volunteer as ESS workers.

Emergency Support Services Digital Pilot

Emergency Management British Columbia (EMBC) is working to improve the ESS program through a project aimed at digitizing and modernizing ESS delivery. This project will streamline processes so evacuated individuals can access services more easily and efficiently.

This pilot will include evacuee registration with a self-serve registration option. The goal of the pilot is to reduce wait times for evacuees and reduce processing time for volunteers. To ensure continuity of service, current ESS systems and forms will be maintained as a backup should the new system encounter difficulties.

The first phase of the digital ESS System will be piloted in the following communities staring April 2019:

  • Kamloops
  • The Regional District Central Okanagan
  • Tk’emlups te Secwepemc
  • Prince George

If you are evacuated or displaced from your home and require support from one of the above communities please register online. Once registered, proceed to the nearest open pilot community reception centre to receive supports. If you are unable to register online you may register in person at the reception centre also. Locations of open reception centres can be found at the Emergency Info British Columbia website.

If you require support outside the above communities please contact your local government to receive ESS.

ESS Online Registration

Being Personally Prepared - Insurance

In many cases evacuees' homeowners or tenant insurance will provide greater support than what is available through public aid (like private accommodations). If you are evacuated please consult with your insurance provider to determine which supports may be available to you.