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BC emergency readiness improved following audits: officials

The provincial government has improved its planning in the years since an internal audit found several weaknesses in its emergency preparedness, government officials said.

“Government requested the audit,” said Cameron Lewis, a senior adviser with Emergency Management B.C., an office created in 2007. “It gave some indications of what to focus on for the past couple years.”

The Tyee reported that the “Report on the Cross Government Review of Business Continuity Management” found nine of 19 ministries rated “low” for the maturity of their plans to continue after an earthquake or other major disaster.

Overall, even offices considered “mission critical” to recovering from a disaster had a low level of readiness, the report said. The authors blamed "minimal corporate commitment" and a "lack of dedicated resources" in some ministries.

“Across the board, across ministries, there's a pretty dramatic improvement in all those measures since 2007,” said Lewis, referring to some of the specific areas the auditors examined. “The preparedness definitely has increased within ministries . . . We have a robust structure in place.”

A second audit, "Report on Emergency Management Preparedness and Response," looked at the Provincial Emergency Program and found "overall maturity of provincial emergency management through PEP is classified at the upper end of the medium range" but identified several concerns.

“When these types of internal audits are done they are done with a notion of making improvements,” said Steve Bachop, the director of management services and programs for PEP. “Based on that very good feedback we've made some good changes.”

PEP has engaged with all levels of government to promote emergency readiness and has updated response plans for responding to earthquakes, tsunamis and interface fires, he said. “Some local governments and local authorities are probably further ahead than others.”

“I think the province has taken some pretty good positive steps toward addressing these issues,” he said. “You could always use more resources and we're certainly effective with the resources we have.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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