Threats and risks to Canadians and Canada are becoming increasingly complex due to the diversity of natural hazards affecting our country and the growth of transnational threats arising from the consequences of terrorism, globalized disease outbreaks, climate change, critical infrastructure interdependencies and cyber attacks.
Effective EM results from a coordinated approach and a more uniform structure across federal government institutions. A SEMP establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure for protecting Canadians and Canada from threats and hazards in their areas of responsibility and sets out how the institution will assist the coordinated federal emergency response.
The development and employment of a SEMP is an important complement to such existing plans, because it promotes an integrated and coordinated approach to emergency management planning within federal institutions and across the federal government. Supporting templates and tools can contribute to effective emergency management planning and are provided with this Guide. The Emergency Management Planning Guide uses a step-by-step approach and provides instructions that are supplemented by the Blueprint and the Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) template provided in Annexes A and B, respectively.
The Emergency Management Planning Unit, Public Safety Canada, is responsible for producing, revising and updating this Guide.
The purpose of this Guide is to assist federal officials, managers and coordinators responsible for emergency management (EM) planning. The SEMP is the overarching plan that provides a comprehensive and coordinated approach to EM activities.
Given this variety of EM planning documents, the distinctions between them are summarized in the following table. A SEMP establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure for protecting Canadians and Canada from threats and hazards in their areas of responsibility, and sets out how the institution will assist the coordinated federal emergency response. Operational plans may be based on all four pillars of EM planning, or focus on the specific activities of a single pillar.
The National Strategy and Action Plan for Critical Infrastructure establishes a public-private sector approach to managing risks, responding effectively to disruptions, and recovering swiftly when incidents occur. Emergency management (EM) refers to the management of emergencies concerning all hazards, including all activities and risk management measures related to prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery.
The Emergency Management Continuum is depicted in a wheel diagram where all four risk-based functions of emergency management are interconnected and interdependent in a system from prevention and mitigation to preparedness, response, and recovery. The SEMP should ideally be reviewed on a cyclical basis as part of a federal government institution's planning cycle, as presented in Figure 2 below.
This figure represents the optimal planning cycle federal institutions should consider for undertaking their emergency management planning activities.
This section of the Guide outlines a recommended approach for developing a tailored SEMP and is supported by a blueprint and a SEMP template provided in Annexes A and B, respectively.
This step involves starting the formal planning process in recognition of the responsibility to prepare a SEMP.
Consider having members of the EM planning team designated by your institution's senior management. One of the most crucial steps in the EM planning process is to identify appropriate members for the EM planning team. Consider including a member of your institution's corporate planning area on the EM planning team in order to help align the EM planning cycle with the institution's overall business planning cycle.
Federal government institutions should consider identifying the range of experience and skill sets required in the EM planning team.
The composition of the EM planning team will vary depending on institutional requirements; however, it is important that clear terms of reference (TOR) for the team be established and that individual assignments be clearly defined. After the EM planning team has clear authority and direction, the next step is to review any relevant existing legislation and policies.


As noted in Section Two, the EM planning process should be carried out as part of an institution's overall strategic and business planning processes—this will support their alignment.
As a next step, federal government institutions should consider developing a comprehensive understanding of the planning context. Additional supporting planning tools and templates as well as an EM glossary are provided in Annexes C and D, respectively. The Planning Context is represented in a target diagram that consists of three circles representing the factors federal institutions should consider in order to understand the context in which it operates and how it could potentially be affected. Understanding the internal context is essential to confirm that the risk assessment approach meets the needs of the institution and of its internal stakeholders. Once all documentation is identified, consider conducting a gap analysis to determine whether the institution is currently meeting its obligations as identified in Step 1. An inventory of critical assets and services will assist the planning team in identifying the associated threats, hazards, vulnerabilities and risks unique to their institution. When conducting a criticality assessment, it is important to be objective when prioritizing the importance of institutional assets, as not all assets are critical to an institution's operations.
Adopting the current Treasury Board Policy related to material and asset management and coding criteria will help structure an effective approach. A comprehensive but non-exhaustive list of hazards and threats relevant to the Canadian context can be found in Annex C, Appendix 3. A vulnerability assessment looks at an inadequacy or gap in the design, implementation or operation of an asset that could enable a threat or hazard to cause injury or disruption. Risk assessment is central to any risk management process as well as the EM planning cycle. The all-hazards risk assessment (AHRA) process should be open and transparent while respecting the federal institution's context.
Once the institution's context is clearly understood (refer to the environmental scan in Step 2-1), the next step is to find and recognize hazards, threats and possibly trends and drivers, and to describe them in risk statements.
Qualitative analysis is conducted where non-tangible aspects of risk are to be considered, or where there is a lack of adequate information and the numerical data or resources necessary for a statistically significant quantitative approach.
The risk-rating matrix allows for decisions to be made about which risks need treatment and the priority for treatment implementation. This step will contribute to the concept that sound EM decision-making can be based on an understanding and evaluation of hazards, vulnerabilities and related risks. This step focuses on developing an informed EM approach for your institution based on the four pillars of EM. It is important that the planning team confirm the strategic priorities of the institution and of senior management so that they can be reflected in the SEMP.
The planning team should aim to clearly identify the planning constraints and institutional limitations that will influence the SEMP building blocks and the subsequent development of the SEMP. This is why Public Safety Canada has developed this Emergency Management Planning Guide, which is intended to assist all federal government institutions in developing their all-hazards Strategic Emergency Management Plans (SEMPs). Many federal government institutions already have specific planning documents or processes to deal with aspects of emergency management that relate to their particular mandates; many also have a long track record of preparing and refining BCPs. An All-Hazards Risk Assessment Framework and associated tools are also under development and will be included in a subsequent version of the Guide. As a matter of process, the Emergency Management Planning Guide will be reviewed annually or as the situation dictates, and amendments will be made at that time. The Guide includes a Blueprint (see Annex A), a Strategic Emergency Management Plan (SEMP) template (see Annex B), and supporting step-by-step instructions, tools and tips to develop and maintain a comprehensive SEMP—an overarching plan that establishes a federal government institution's objectives, approach and structure, which generally sets out how the institution will assist with coordinated federal emergency management, including response.


As such, federal institutions are to base EM plans on mandate-specific all-hazards risk assessments, as well as put in place institutional structures to provide governance for EM activities and align them with government-wide EM governance structures. Those elements are as follows: Environmental Scan, Leadership Engagement, All-Hazards Risk Assessment, Training, Exercise, Capability Improvement Process, and Performance Assessment. Inputs should ideally be assembled, reviewed and well understood prior to engaging in each distinct planning activity as they form an important foundation for the work to be completed. The SEMP should be central to the federal government institution's EM activities and provide clear linkages for integrating and coordinating all other intra-departmental and inter-departmental emergency management plans.
The size and composition of the team may vary between federal government institutions; however, the planning team should ideally have the skill and experience necessary to develop the SEMP. These TOR can identify the responsibilities assigned to each team member and the requirements to allow that member to carry out the assigned function. After completing the above steps, the planning team should consider developing a detailed work plan that includes a schedule with realistic timelines, milestones that reflect the institutional planning cycle, and a responsibility assignment matrix with assigned tasks and deadlines.
It entails a process of gathering and analyzing information and typically considers both internal and external factors (see Figure 3: The Planning Context for additional information on the factors to consider). It sets the time, scope and scale and contributes to adopting an approach that is appropriate to the situation of the institution and to the risks affecting the achievement of its objectives. The key to any emergency planning is awareness of the potential situations that could impose risks on the organization and on Canadians and to assess those risks in terms of their impact and potential mitigation measures. If gaps are identified, these should ideally be gathered and presented as part of Step 3 when developing the EM Planning Framework and confirming the institution's strategic EM priorities.
All available threat assessments should ideally be reviewed by analyzing the assessment's evaluation of hostile capability, intentions and activity, the environment influencing hostile and potentially hostile groups, and environmental considerations, including natural, health and safety hazards.
As appropriate, more specific terrorist threat and hazard information can be obtained from ITAC. With respect to known threats and hazards, a vulnerability exists when there is a situation or circumstance that, if left unchanged, may result in loss of life or may affect the confidentiality, integrity or availability of other mission-critical assets. The EM planning governance structure may include representatives of an institution's senior management team, from all functional areas (such as programs) and all corporate areas (including communications, legal services and security). It is also crucial that roles and responsibilities, lines of accountability and decision-making processes be aligned and well understood by all concerned. For example, an institution can be constrained by the availability of training for EM planning team members and by the number of EM positions they have staffed. Planning can be triggered by the EM planning cycle or it can be initiated in preparation for, or in response to, an event that is induced either by nature or by human actions. An all-hazards approach to risk management does not necessarily mean that all hazards will be assessed, evaluated and treated, but rather that all hazards will be considered. EM planning, in particular, aims to strengthen resiliency by promoting an integrated and comprehensive approach that includes the four pillars of EM: prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. In addition, there are other existing EM planning documents and initiatives that apply to a range of federal government institutions, such as the Federal Emergency Response Plan (FERP) and deliverables under the National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure. The aim is to develop a SEMP that integrates and coordinates elements identified in hazard-specific plans and BCPs.



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