Government of Canada Helps Protect Canadians With Earthquake Early Warning System
March 28, 2022 Horseshoe Bay, British Columbia Natural Resources Canada
Across Canada, natural disasters like floods, landslides, wildfires, and earthquakes are affecting the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Canadians.
Today, Patrick Weiler, Member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country, on behalf of the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources; along with Jennifer Rice, British Columbia Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness; and Mark Collins, President and CEO for BC Ferries, announced that Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) has installed the first of hundreds of sensors for the national Early Earthquake Warning (EEW) system. This announcement at the BC Ferries’ terminal at Horseshoe Bay is part of a suite of initiatives being brought forward by the Government of Canada to strengthen the safety, security and resilience of Canada’s emergency readiness infrastructure.
Building on NRCan’s long history as the authoritative source for earthquake information for Canada, NRCan’s EEW system will provide notification of earthquakes through a network of sensors and alerting systems for at-risk areas around the country. The EEW system provides seconds to tens of seconds of notice before strong shaking starts, warnings that can help reduce injuries, deaths and property losses. It will be used to generate alerts for critical infrastructure, industry and the public, helping to protect people, communities, infrastructure, and the environment during an event where every second counts. When the full system is online in 2024, more than 10 million people in Canada living in the most earthquake-prone regions of the country will receive Earthquake Early Warning alerts, providing a few precious seconds to take action: usually to drop, cover and hold on.
Alerts from the EEW system could also be used by infrastructure safety systems to take action automatically, such as:
- Triggering trains to slow down
- Stopping traffic from driving onto bridges or into tunnels
- Diverting incoming air traffic
- Allowing surgeons to stop surgery
- Closing gas valves
- Opening fire hall and ambulance bay doors
The EEW system is part of a number of investments across multiple departments that represent the federal government’s commitment to meeting shared priorities under the Emergency Management Strategy for Canada (EMS). This strategy was developed in partnership with provincial and territorial governments and in consultation with diverse stakeholders and Indigenous organizations. In Budget 2019, the Government of Canada committed to invest $151 million over five years, with $9.2 million ongoing to support the federal implementation of the Emergency Management Strategy.
The Government of Canada along with provinces, territories, and Indigenous partners will continue to engage and work together to strengthen mitigation, preparedness and response efforts to natural disasters such as earthquakes and ensure the safety of everyone who lives in at-risk regions of Canada.
“When it comes to earthquakes, every second counts. The Earthquake Early Warning system demonstrates Canada’s commitment to responsibly managing the safety of Canadians and protecting critical infrastructure.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson
Minister of Natural Resources
“Being situated in the most earthquake-prone area of Canada, coastal British Columbians know that earthquake preparedness will save lives, protect key infrastructure systems, and reduce property damage. The installation of an earthquake sensor here in Horseshoe Bay will provide a critical early warning site for coastal British Columbia. Our government will continue to invest in emergency preparedness initiatives like the Earthquake Early Warning system to better protect Canadians and communities across the country from natural hazards.”
Member of Parliament for West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country
“This initiative is all about helping Canadians take the actions to stay safe and secure during earthquakes. Our government will continue collaborating with partners to prepare for natural hazards across the country and minimize the effects on the environment.”
The Honourable Steven Guilbeault
Minister of Environment and Climate Change
“When disaster strikes, it is critical that Canadians have the information they need to protect themselves and their loved ones. Today’s announcement represents another important step forward in our work to enhance Canada’s public alerting system, and our commitment to keeping people, families, and communities safe during emergencies.”
The Honourable Bill Blair
President of the Queen’s Privy Council for Canada and Minister of Emergency Preparedness
“The potential for a major earthquake to hit in this region of the country is very real and makes this an ideal location for the first sensor in the national Earthquake Early Warning network. By putting this early warning system in place, we’ll greatly improve our preparedness and response to earthquakes in the future.”
British Columbia Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness
“Earthquake preparedness is an important part of our emergency response planning, given the critical role BC Ferries would play to connect communities along coastal British Columbia following a major earthquake. Being selected as the first early warning site for the national system echoes our commitment to safety, and we look forward to expanding the system at other strategic terminal locations along coastal British Columbia.”
Mark Collins, President and CEO
There are approximately 5,000 earthquakes across Canada each year. Earthquakes can damage infrastructure, destroy buildings, cause power outages, displace communities, and even lead to fatalities.
Earthquakes in Canada are most common along the Pacific Coast of British Columbia and in the Yukon Territory, with approximately 20 percent also occurring along the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River valleys.
Starting in 2024, Canadians living in seismically active areas will be able to receive an emergency notification or alert that an earthquake has occurred and that they should take immediate steps to protect themselves and minimize damage to property.
The Canadian National Public Alerting System (NPAS) is a federal, provincial, and territorial system that provides emergency management organizations throughout Canada with the capability to warn the public about imminent or unfolding hazards.
Natural Resources Canada
Office of the Minister of Natural Resources
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