The Ontario Mass Evacuation Plan is a supporting plan to the Provincial Emergency Response Plan (PERP).
This plan supports the agreement between the Governments of Ontario and Canada (through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada) to provide emergency response support to First Nation communities in the province.
An EMO planning team in consultation with non-governmental organizations, provincial and federal partners developed the plan.
This plan is meant to be used to respond to a request for a partial or complete evacuation from one or more communities to one or more host communities. This plan is for Ontario’s far north, encompassing municipalities, unorganized territories2 and First Nation communities.
This is an overarching plan for carrying out mass evacuations and as such, many aspects are general in nature4. Potential threats to the communities and emergency responders are critical in determining the urgency of the evacuation and for planning resource mobilization. Real-time threat assessment should be ongoing and coordinated among partners, particularly ministries with relevant OIC responsibilities and the community(ies) at risk. The availability, duration, type, and location of host community facilities affect planning for the evacuation. Depending on the scale and complexity of the operation, a senior provincial official may be deployed to coordinate the provincial response and to liaise with community and other deployed officials. When planning for the return of evacuees, the number and location of host communities, and the distance to evacuated communities are key planning considerations. Roles and responsibilities may pertain to transportation hubs, host communities, support from ministries or the federal government, or responsibilities of evacuating communities.
Determine the financial and legislative roles and responsibilities for the evacuation and comply with applicable policies, agreements, procedures, etc. Emergency information needs to be coordinated among the affected communities, province, and federal government. Following the judgement of the authorized entity that it is safe for evacuees to return, the order of return and the methods of transportation must be established using an inclusive planning process that involves affected communities, provincial and federal partners, and other partners (i.e. All responders involved in managing the hazard or participating in the evacuation must regularly communicate situational awareness information to those conducting real-time threat assessments and must report a changing situation as soon as feasible.
OIC ministries are responsible for assessing the threat for the types of emergencies they have been assigned.
EMO is responsible for real-time threat assessments for hazards that have not been assigned to an OIC ministry.
The PEOC is responsible for assessing the threat based on the real-time threat assessment and characteristics of the community(ies) or region under threat.
OIC ministries routinely monitor conditions in the province according to their assigned type of emergency. Uncertainty in real-time threat assessment is unavoidable, which is why persons with appropriate knowledge of the threat causing the emergency should be involved in the assessment.


During emergencies, the PEOC links with the local community and the OIC ministry acting as provincial lead to coordinate real-time threat assessment information.
Emergency managers must understand the makeup of the population who are to be evacuated before they can make key decisions about transportation modes, route selections, hosting destinations, and the many other elements of an evacuation. Medevac is used for those individuals receiving home care or residing in a health-care facility in the evacuating community that qualify for medical transfer as per the Ambulance Act (evacuation by emergency medical services (EMS) or Ornge).
The decision to evacuate a community is the responsibility of the First Nation Chief, Head of Council, or appointed person. Establish the PEOC Command, and if it is an area or unified command, consider including additional organizations in the command meetings to better inform and coordinate the response. Determine at the outset of the operations which organization will be responsible for information management and the manner in which information will be shared. Initiating media contacts or directing the appropriate position to do this according to established plans and procedures (e.g. Alerting other emergency responders in the province, including non-governmental organizations, that they may be requested to provide assistance.
Emergency information is primarily the community’s responsibility, but may be supplemented by the province according to the provisions of the Provincial Emergency Information Plan. Information technology in the far north is not universally accessible and may be further compromised by the nature of the emergency.
Transportation planning for the evacuation will be undertaken by a joint planning team as described in Annex 7.
The PEOC should begin contingency planning with partners for longer-term evacuations if it appears likely that evacuees will be displaced from their community for longer than the period discussed below. Communities considering acting as a host community during an evacuation should identify emergency shelter facilities. Planning for hosting evacuees builds on information already available (typically from the manifest). Host communities are responsible for registering evacuees that are entering into their care. The Quick Reference Guide is a condensed version of the Ontario Mass Evacuation Plan Part 1: Far North.
In addition, this plan references the Service Level Evacuation Standards1 developed by the Joint Emergency Management Steering (JEMS) Committee.
Updates to the plan will be undertaken as required based on lessons learned from exercises and incident responses. It is a provincial coordination plan outlining how Ontario would coordinate its response and collaborate with federal and municipal governments, First Nations, non-governmental organizations, and ministry partners.
This plan does not replace a community’s own emergency response plans, which should contain provisions for evacuations if they consider evacuations likely. A detailed action plan that addresses the specific scenario, hazard, and threat will still be required.


Evacuations are most frequently caused by forest fires and flooding (most often from spring break-up along the James Bay coast). If the evacuation is for one or a few communities, planning may be restricted to movements within the same general geographic area. Therefore, planning should include post-hosting needs, such as financial reconciliation, demobilization support, and reports on issues to be resolved before hosting evacuees in the future. These ministries have processes in place for transferring the responsibility for real-time threat assessment to specialists within their ministry when required.
If an authorized entity decides on a partial or complete community evacuation, the community should declare an emergency. In widespread evacuations, emergency information may need to be coordinated amongst all involved partners. The Standards provide guidance on allowable expenditures, hosting arrangements, health services, emergency social services, etc. However, the evacuation of multiple communities due to an area-wide emergency is likely to require out-of-area movements for hosting, particularly when the goal is to keep families and communities together.
In addition, up-to-date contact lists should be maintained by all organizations for use in an emergency.
In this situation, evacuations may need to be prioritized and contingency plans implemented.
Emergency planners should assess proposed facilities based on location, capabilities, capacity, accessibility, and resources, as well as how they would route evacuee traffic.
Municipal departments involved in the development of the host facility plan may be able to provide resources to support the set-up and operation of a host facility.
This plan supports the activities being undertaken related to mass evacuation planning for ministry and community emergency management programs. Details on the set-up and operation of the shelter should be provided in the community’s emergency response plan. Each municipality has the responsibility for managing the record in accordance with the applicable legislation and their municipal policies. It draws linkages to various hazard management plans and procedures developed by ministries. Unorganized territories, fly-in lodges and camps, and mining operations also fall into the plan area.
Emergency responders may require personal protective equipment, as responder safety will be critical.



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