Volume 3, Number 2

October 2023

Welcome to Volume 3, Edition 2 of CJEM

Welcome to the Canadian Journal of Emergency Management’s Fall 2023 edition.  This edition contains three peer reviewed academic articles and two “bridging the gap” articles.

I would first like to thank the numerous contributors to CJEM, including authors, as well as CJEM’s volunteer staff for their hard work and dedication on this edition. Through their efforts these individuals have made an important contribution to the field of disaster and emergency management.  We at CJEM are confident that these contributions will be put to good use by practitioners as well as researchers for the benefit of all Canadians.

I would also like to thank our readers and subscribers.  Whether you are an emergency management practitioner, a researcher, curious about emergency management in the Canadian context, or some combination of these, we hope the articles contained in this edition further your understanding of emergency management.

Finally, I would also like to take the opportunity to recognize some recent changes to CJEM’s staffing and workflow.  CJEM has recently entered into a new partnership with York University.  This partnership will see several exciting changes at CJEM including our transition to the Open Journal System, as well as onboarding a full-time editor in chief, Dr. Eric Kennedy.  I believe that these changes are an extremely positive for CJEM and will certainly enhance the journal’s ability to inform researchers and practitioners on matters of importance concerning Emergency Management in Canada.

In conclusion, please enjoy CJEM’s newest edition!

Alexander Fremis

Editor in Chief

Canadian Journal of Emergency Management

Fire's Fallout
Photo credit: Duncan Rawlinson/flickr

Federalism, Disaster Planning Standards and Canadian Charter Rights

Keith Fredin

Canada has a problem with emergency management (EM) standards. Canadians utilize a federalist government structure that pushes responsibility for EM planning from the federal government to provinces and territories, who then pass responsibility to municipalities (or regional counties) – who typically have less resources to engage in effective EM than higher levels of government (Raikes & McBean, 2016). In this structure, there are no set standards for levels of risk and disaster protection across the nation. The overall effect of this is the lack of protective measures and planning in place to provide the people living, working or visiting Canada to be as safe as they could be.

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Photo credit: Prachatai/flickr

A Voice for Ontario Teachers in Disaster and Emergency Planning: A Case study of Teachers’ Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic

S. Cowan, J. Paterson

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic revealed a stark disconnect within the Ontario education system between the decision-makers at the system level (the Ministry of Education and school boards) and classroom teachers tasked with implementing these decisions. Interviews for this study provided primary and secondary school teachers in central and southern Ontario an opportunity to share their experience teaching during an extended public health disaster. The teachers focused the conversation on their frustration at the top-down decision-making from the school board and Ministry of Education and expressed that their needs as teachers were not adequately considered in the planning and response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They explained a range of impacts resulting from the lack of inclusion in the decision-making, including the erosion of their ability to carry out classroom planning, the deterioration of the quality of education delivered, and the harm to their well-being. The findings of this research recommend that one way to address this gap in the Ontario education system and mitigate the damaging effects, such as those experienced during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, is for meaningful consultation between classroom teachers and system-level decision-makers. The sentiments expressed by the participants in this study are a call for emergency practitioners within the Ontario education system to do better when it comes to including the voices and needs of teachers in preparedness and response efforts during extended public health emergencies. 

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Climate Change, Ecosystem Loss and Flood Risk: Taking Stock using Burlington Case

Megan J. Sipos, Nirupama Agrawal

Extreme weather events, climate change, and biodiversity loss are connected by both cause and solution. The impacts of climate change are already apparent as the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events are increasing, undermining progress made across the globe toward sustainable development. These impacts are magnified by unsustainable and unplanned development, leading to lost biodiversity and ecosystem services, further reducing the ability of communities to respond and recover. As warming increases, the frequency and intensity of these hazards will also increase while at the same time making it more difficult to adapt to and mitigate disasters—the aftermath of hazards. Nature-based solutions provide opportunities to mitigate and adapt to climate change impacts, reduce the risk of disasters, enhance biodiversity, and build sustainable and resilient communities. They are cost-effective approaches that conserve, restore and enhance the natural environment. Using the 2014 flood event in the City of Burlington (Ontario, Canada), this study takes stock of flood risk in the region and how nature-based solutions provide significant co-benefits toward reducing disaster risks.

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Looking At the Consequences Eight Layers Down: Institutionalizing Readiness in Disaster Response Organizations

J. S.  Bowen

Is your organization ready to survive and exploit the opportunities that arise in every crisis? Disasters are increasing in scale, scope, and complexity and the structures currently in place are not designed to handle the now-common ‘disaster within a disaster’. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that our current systems need revision and updating. Black Swan events—the exceedingly rare and highly disruptive events that can trigger existential crises for organizations and societies (Taleb, 2010)—once seen as generational events are now commonplace, interrelated, and compounding components of daily life (Kayyem, 2022; Marcus et al., 2019; Roux-Dufort, 2007). Despite this reality, the reactive design of many humanitarian and disaster response organizations leaves them vulnerable during major events thus at risk of being unable to fulfil their mandates. The mantras “it cannot happen here” and “it will not happen again” are naïve and dangerous. 

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Photo credit: ClevrCat/flickr

Roles of Schools and Educators in Supporting Resilience in Young Children after Disasters

Leanne J. Atkinson, Teresa Anne Fowler

The increasing frequency and severity of natural and human-induced disasters have had detrimental effects on global populations, resulting in heightened human suffering and disruptions to social structures. This paper explores the multifaceted impact of disasters, encompassing both natural hazards and unnatural disasters, on children and the role of schools and educators in mitigating these effects. While the immediate concern during crises is children’s safety, there are ways to protect and support resilience in young children.

Schools hold significant importance as centres for education, socialization, and economic development, and their role in disaster response and recovery is crucial. Schools provide a sense of normalcy and continuity for communities affected by disasters. However, many schools lack the necessary preparedness, and physical structure in some cases, to effectively respond to these events, and educators often find themselves as first responders without adequate training.

The paper underscores the need for comprehensive disaster skills training for educators and school staff, ensuring they are equipped to address children’s psychological, emotional, and educational needs before, during and after disasters. Additionally, schools can serve as a ‘place attachment’ for children which aids in disaster preparedness, processing traumatic experiences, and fostering resilience and recovery. 

This Bridging the Gap paper highlights the urgent need for proactive measures in education including disaster-focused training, robust disaster management plans, and the integration of resilience-building strategies. By prioritizing children’s well-being and leveraging the pivotal role of schools and educators, communities can enhance their capacity to cope with, respond to, and recover from disasters, ultimately promoting greater overall resilience. 

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