Appendix E: Evaluation of the National Emergency Stockpile System (NESS) – Changes in legislative framework
Under the Canadian Constitution Act, 1867, the federal government has the responsibility to provide for the safety and security of Canadians facing emergency situations. Over the past 30 years, there have been significant changes in the legislative framework linked to public health emergency management generally and the NESS program specifically:
- The Food and Drugs Act (1984) enables the Minister of Health to take temporary measures to deal with a significant risk to health, safety or the environment. For example, under the Act an interim order may be passed to support the approval of new drugs or vaccines when normal regulatory requirements cannot be met.
- The Emergencies Act (1985) was issued to authorize the Government of Canada to take special temporary measures to ensure safety and security during national emergencies. For example, in regard to public welfare emergencies, the Act provides legislative direction related to the distribution and availability of resources, such as essential goods and services, for domestic emergencies, as well as the establishment of emergency hospitals and shelters.
- The Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act (1992) was enacted to ensure public safety in the transportation of dangerous goods in Canada. The Act regulates the movement of hazardous goods by all means of transportation: road, rail, air and ship. It is meant to enhance the safety of the person involved in the transport as well as the general public.
- The main purpose of Quarantine Act (2005) was to help prevent the introduction and dissemination of communicable disease arriving in or departing from Canada. This legislation provides the Government of Canada with the authority and modern tools to respond immediately to unpredictable threats and risks that endanger global public health. It was intended to complement existing provincial and territorial public health legislation and to enable Canada to meet its obligations under the International Health Regulations (2005).
- The enactment of the Emergency Management Act (2007) was an important step forward in the federal government's effort to consolidate emergency management in Canada. The Act establishes roles and responsibilities for all federal Ministers across the full spectrum of emergency management, to ensure that Canada is well prepared to mitigate, prepare for, respond to and recover from natural and human-induced risks to the safety of Canadians.
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