December 12, 2008
The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety, today welcomed the renewal of the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States of America on Emergency Management Cooperation.
Minister Cannon and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice signed the Agreement, which reinforces existing collaboration between the two countries in responding to various emergency situations, in Washington, D.C., today.
"Canada and the United States have a long history of working together in emergency situations," said Minister Cannon. "Renewing this agreement increases our capacity to help each other in times of need. We are pleased to deliver on the commitment to enhance emergency management cooperation that our leaders made at the North American Leaders' summits in Montebello and New Orleans."
"I am confident that the renewed agreement will improve cooperation and strengthen the Government of Canada's readiness to respond to all types of emergencies," added Minister Van Loan.
Building on the tradition of cooperation between Canada and the U.S., the agreement, which renews and updates one signed in 1986, establishes the basis on which the two countries may help each other, for example by sending supplies and equipment, emergency personnel and expert support. It also provides for the integration of response and relief efforts during cross-border incidents. It ensures a comprehensive and harmonized approach to emergency management, and establishes a framework for both nations to respond jointly to emerging threats and work together to protect communities.
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Renewal of the Canada-United States Emergency Management Cooperation Agreement
Renewing the Canada-United States Emergency Management Cooperation Agreement will allow the two countries, and first responders on both sides of the border, to react more quickly and effectively to a broad range of emergencies, such as natural disasters and human-induced incidents.
The agreement updates the original, which was signed in 1986. The new agreement establishes a broad framework for the provision of assistance-such as humanitarian supplies, equipment, emergency responders and expert and professional support-and for integrated response and relief efforts during cross-border incidents.
The 1986 agreement, titled in full the Agreement Between the Government of Canada and the Government of the United States on Cooperation in Comprehensive Civil Emergency Planning and Management, was the first to formalize Canada-U.S. cooperation on emergency management. It recognized that major emergencies in Canada and the United States can seriously affect the health, safety and security of citizens in both countries. Preparing for such emergencies is therefore a shared responsibility and requires coordinated action.
The 1986 agreement spelled out "principles of cooperation" to guide emergency management authorities. These principles included facilitating the movement of goods and people across the border during an emergency, providing mutual assistance and undertaking joint efforts to plan and prepare for emergencies.
Since 1986, however, the number of actors and agencies dealing with bilateral emergency management has grown. As a result, roles, responsibilities and policy and operational coordination have changed. Similarly, changes in government structure and new approaches to security and emergency management in both Canada and the U.S. called for a renewed and updated framework for bilateral cooperation.
In 2007, leaders at the North American Leaders' Summit in Montebello confirmed the need for renewing emergency management cooperation between governments. Since then, Public Safety Canada, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State have collaborated to renew the 1986 agreement.
The agreement is part of a number of efforts aimed at reinforcing the two countries' ability to respond to catastrophic events. Other initiatives include developing a protocol for the movement of people and goods across the border during emergencies and the recently completed Canada-U.S. Civil Assistance Plan (CAP). The CAP governs the provision of military assistance to support civil operations in response to floods, forest fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and the effects of human-induced disasters. It was invoked earlier this year when the U.S. asked Canada's air force to help evacuate Americans in the path of Hurricane Gustav.