Local Emergency Declaration Removal of 7-day Renewal Process

Res #: 11-24A
Number: 11
Year: 2024
Midterm: No
Expired: No
Responses Received: Yes
Departments: Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety and Policing

WHEREAS municipalities are the first line of defense in an emergency and are responsible under legislation to respond when events threaten the safety of people, property, and the environment.

WHEREAS only council, or a member of in the absence of a quorum, can officially declare a state of local emergency in a municipality and exercise the special powers the legislation confers on council.

WHEREAS under the Emergency Planning Act, Section 22(1) states: “A local emergency declaration expires at the end of seven days from the time the declaration was made unless it is earlier renewed pursuant to subsection (2)”.

WHEREAS under the Emergency Planning Act, Section 23(1) states:

“When, in the opinion of the local authority:

a)  an emergency no longer exists in an area with respect to which a local emergency declaration was made; or

b)  it is in the public interest that a local emergency declaration be terminated in an area with respect to which a local emergency declaration was made;

the local authority shall terminate the local emergency declaration with respect to that area.

BE IT RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to amend the renewal term of a local emergency declaration so it doesn’t need to be renewed at the end of seven days as the local authority determines if an emergency no longer exists.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that SARM lobby the provincial government to amend the local emergency declaration so that it is in effect until the local authority determines that the emergency no longer exists.

Responses From: Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety

April 8, 2024

The emergency powers and authorities provided under The Emergency Planning Act are the most extreme examples of government power and authority. The ability to restrict the movement of people, enter private property without warrant and conscript people requires constant oversight and attention by those responsible for providing that power (the Government of Saskatchewan as well as those exercising it.

The seven-day emergency declaration expiration has been in place since the Act was passed. During and immediately after an emergency, routine administrative matters like cancelling an emergency declaration can be easily overlooked. The seven-day expiration ensures that these powers are not extended indefinitely due to administrative oversight. It also provides an opportunity for those in power to continue to ask themselves whether those powers are warranted.

Given the extensive nature of these emergency powers, the Government of Saskatchewan places the same type of limitation on itself, but with a 14-day expiration rather than seven. It also has an obligation to monitor how, and when, local authorities exercise those powers. With almost 800 municipalities, it would be impossible to monitor their use, and cancellation, in a widespread emergency. Similar seven- and fourteen-day emergency expiration limitations are in place in emergency management legislation across Canada.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency is currently reviewing The Emergency Planning Act and looking at all options, including the emergency powers and how they are exercised. We will be actively engaging with stakeholders over the coming months on this and other emergency management ideas and look forward to discussing these with you and your members.

Hon. Paul Merriman – Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety