By Brittany Murphy

On behalf of your incoming Board of Directors, we wanted to provide an update on the results of our Annual General Meeting on May 15 and outline an idea of what to expect in the coming months.

OAEM 2019-2020 Board of Directors

A major topic discussed at the AGM was the progress of our profession in the Province of Ontario and the importance of working together to reach our shared goals.  A fantastic piece on this was written by our introductory remarks speaker, Alain Normand, and can be found here  We then heard from the President of the new International Association of Emergency Managers – Ontario Region.  We are excited for our collaborative efforts with IAEM, and other partners in Ontario, in the future to continue to strengthen and enhance the field in the province and continue being leaders in Emergency Management.

The elections for the Board of Directors concluded the AGM, and we would like to share the results with you.  We saw the re-election of Jason Reid and Katie Subbotina, the election of Brittany Murphy and Christina Baker, who have been serving on the board on an interim basis, as well as the election of Patricia Martel, Jason Swaye, and Lori Latendresse, some incredibly passionate members who have served as mentors or who have been active participants at OAEM events.  We extend our thanks to those who concluded serving the board with this AGM and we appreciate the work you have done for the association and the profession in the field of Ontario.

We are pleased to announce that, for the first time in OAEM history, we have an all-female executive team.

  • Katie Subbotina, President
  • Nicole Pinto, Vice President
  • Lori Latendresse, Treasurer
  • Christina Baker, Secretary

In addition to the executive, the Board of Directors is majority female, with a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds represented on the board. We have the following individuals taking on the leadership roles for the association:

  • Patricia Martel, Community Director
  • Brittany Murphy, Communications Director
  • Jason Reid, Professional Development Director
  • Mike O’Brien, DEMCON Director
  • Paul Hassanally, Projects Director
  • Jason Swaye, Membership Director

The board of directors has professionals with education ranging from certificates to doctorates, representatives from the public and the private sector with NGO exposure, with an assortment of cultural and experiential backgrounds.  OAEM is proud to be the home for Ontario Emergency Management Community and we are proud our board of directors is representative of that diversity.  With this change in executive, we’d like to take the time to extendthanks to Mike O’Brien for his years of service as the President of the association and all that he has accomplished in the role.  

Finally, we would like to reassure you that the work at OAEM continues as usual and we have the following events to look forward to:

  • An updated Board of Directors page with information about the directors
  • Further building of community, with continued efforts to engage partners outside of the GTA in the north and east of Ontario
  • CSA Z1600 – Emergency Management and Business Continuity Standard Course in Ottawa on June 13 and 14
  • G290 Basic Public Information Officer FEMA Certified Program in Toronto on June 18 and 19
  • DEMCON at the International Centre in Mississauga on October 9 and 10
  • Reinstatement of newsletter communications

As the field of emergency management is changing, we are proud that our board is changing with it and representative of emergency management professionals in the province of Ontario, and we look forward to serving you and working with you.  If you have ideas for training, experience opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact us so we can discuss what is possible!

By Alain Normand

Emergency Management is making history in Ontario. As I look back over the last two decades or so, I see that we have gone from being emergency planners to emergency management professionals. I see this progression as comparable to starting with a Ford Model T in the late 1990s and moving to a mid-size car today. We are not yet at the luxury or sports car stage. I would love to see us in a DeLorean like the one in the movie Back to the Future, but there is still a lot to do to get there.

So how does this happen? We explored it a bit together at the OAEM AGM on May 15. We looked back and examined what steps we took in our goal to become a profession. 

  • We created associations to gain strength in numbers and have a voice at various committees where the work our members do is being discussed. 
  • We planned for the succession by creating university and college programs.
  • We encouraged research and development mostly through academic institutions. 
  • We pushed for legislation and we developed standards. 
  • We lobbied for tools such as the Alert Ready system. 
  • We held conferences, seminars, and workshops to help us gain insight into new ways of doing our work. 
  • We stood back after each emergency and disaster and examined how we responded, then shared our findings with our peers. 

We did a lot of things right.  I ask, however, if that is sufficient to consider ourselves members of a profession?

Looking at what defines a profession here are some of the main elements that are typically referred to:

  • Body of knowledge
  • Standard of practice
  • Research and development
  • Specialized education
  • Acquired skills
  • Service to society
  • Protection of the public
  • Rewards from service rather than money
  • Internal organization of members

I can proudly confirm that we have all of these to various degrees. It goes on however:

  • Code of conduct
  • Accreditation, licensing and examination

When you look at engineers, if one of the certified members does something contrary to the practice, that member can be stripped of the certification. The same goes for nurses, doctors, or lawyers. We need a code of conduct that will lead to having a group of people watching out for compliance to it. We need a board having the authority to discipline a member or even remove an accreditation. Only then can we truly say that we protect the public as a profession. Currently, protection of the public is a general statement endorsed by most professionals in emergency management, but it is not embedded in any regulation.

Accreditation exists but it is not widely recognized; it is not a requirement for holding a position. You would never hire a medical professional without an accreditation so why would we hire an emergency manager if that person were not accredited; especially if our mission is the protection of the public. That is an area where we have a lot of work to do.

We are also missing:

  • Representation
  • Identity

When people ask us what we do, we have to go into a long explanation to ensure people understand. Police officers, firefighters, or paramedics don’t have to explain what they do. Their title is sufficient. When will we come to a point when an emergency manager will only need to state his or her title for people to nod and appreciate who we are? In the National Occupational Classification, emergency managers are not even considered as a class in itself. We are grouped under senior government official, other managers in public administration, or administrative officers. Neither of these classifications fully fits our profession. 

We need to market ourselves, sit at the table with other key agencies such as police chiefs, fire chiefs, public health officials, politicians, NGOs, insurance experts, and scientist so they can all understand who we are, what we do, and where we fit. We often speak of the tri-service but a car with three wheels doesn’t work well. Emergency Managers are the fourth wheel in a balanced vehicle aiming for the safety of citizens. It is time we pump air into that tire and bring it to the same pressure as the other three wheels.

There are things we do well and OAEM has been there to provide training, networking, mentoring and promotion within the profession. IAEM has a certification system, the CEM. The new executive of IAEM has identified advocacy and representation as their key role. CRHNet brings in a strong research and development focus as well as a good link between the academics and practitioners. All of this needs to go on.

We are at a turning point in the history of our profession in Canada. This is not a time for competition. Now the various organizations need to work together jointly on those missing pieces to turn our mid-sized car into a luxury car. 

In the meantime, I will continue to push for the DeLorean.

A pause to look back, look sideways, and look forward


The Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM) Student Awards were created to showcase the upcoming talent we have within our growing emergency management community. The criteria sought after for the OAEM Student Awards are as follows: high academic excellence, volunteerism, a high level of enthusiasm and interest in emergency management field and contributions to the emergency management community.

About the Awards:

Brian Hook Memorial Award: 

This award is named after Major Brian Hook, who was a past president of OAEM. He attended Royal Roads University and The Royal Military College, and served with the Royal Canadian Dragoons from 1971 to 1999. Following his retirement from the army in 1999, Major Brian Hook spent 3 years with the Emergency Management Office in York Region before retiring again in 2002. He very much believed in helping students and giving back to your community, which is why we have the Brian Hook Memorial Award today.

The Brian Hook Memorial Award, which honours the memory of Major Brian Hook (CD), is granted to a student who has made significant contributions to the field of Emergency Management while maintaining a high level of academic excellence ($1,500). 

A Normand Academic Award:

The award is named after Alain Normand, an author, lecturer, teacher expert in Emergency Management, and a past OAEM President. He directed relief efforts in emergencies such as the Saguenay floods, the Quebec Ice Storm, the Haiti repatriation, and the Calgary floods amongst others. He has been the Emergency Manager for the City of Brampton, since 1999. Apart from being the past-President of OAEM, he sits on many national, provincial and local committees. Alain Normand is the recipient of the 2010 Canadian Award for Emergency Management from the Canadian Centre for Emergency Preparedness. He teaches emergency management and business continuity at York University and Sheridan College. Alain is also the author of a series of novels on emergency management published by Authorhouse and available at Alain was involved in the coordination of the City of Brampton emergency response to the December 2013 Ice Storm; and, Fort McMurray relief operations as a Red Cross volunteer, where he was an Emergency Response Team Leader coordinating logistical aspects of national response from the Red Cross Mississauga Headquarters.

The A. Normand Academic Award is granted to a student who has showcased an exemplary academic paper relating to emergency management and/or business continuity ($1,000).

President’s Award: 

As an association, the OAEM Board of Directors wanted to highlighted professionals who have gone back to school to either upgrade their level of academic learning or change professions, as professionals bring with them skills and experiences that can be of great assistance within the emergency management field. Furthermore, as a volunteer association, we wanted to highlight the contributions that these professionals have made to emergency management.

The President’s Award is granted to a professional who has chosen to enhance their emergency management knowledge and practice, while maintaining a high level of academic excellence ($500).


Brian Hook Memorial Award Winner: Marie-Eve Bastien from York University

Marie-Eve Bastien is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management at York University. Previously, she received her B.A. in International Development from McGill University. During her last semester, she went to study in New Zealand where she had the chance to see the 2011 Christchurch earthquake’s damages. This is where her interest in disaster and emergency management sparked. She then worked as a screening officer at Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, where the security and safety mindset became part of her daily life. Marie-Eve embraced her transition to Toronto in the Fall by becoming involved in her new Emergency Management community. She decided to run for the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) and was subsequently elected as President. Under this function, she has concurrently organized and planned multiple educational events, namely IMS 200 training, BEM training, Crisis Communications workshops, and other social events. She is also volunteering as a Personal Disaster Assistance Responder for the Canadian Red Cross. This summer, Marie-Eve is travelling to Istanbul for an internship at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Hub where she will work for the disaster risk reduction and energy portfolio. Marie-Eve hopes to deepen her understanding of Disaster and Emergency Management through this international experience.

Marie-Eve Bastien

A. Normand Academic Award Winner:Brady Podloski from York University

Brady Podloski is a first year Masters Student in Disaster and Emergency Management at York University. In his first semester, Brady joined the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association (DEMSA) as the Alumni and Faculty Liaison and Logistics Officer (shared responsibility). Additionally, Brady works at York University’s, Office of Emergency Management as an Emergency Management Assistant, where he was the lead researcher for the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment, analyzing the Explosion/Fire and HAZMAT vulnerabilities and their frequencies for the University. Brady is currently working on completing a Major Research Paper (Master’s Thesis), where he is analyzing and clarifying the complexity within the topic of rising sea level displacement. He seeks to produce new and significant research for this topic that may assist managers and policy makers in the future. Brady also works as a Research Assistant for the ARGUS: Radar-based All-Weather Roadway Safety System Project. His role in the project is to assist with the research and analysis of the factors that contribute to vehicle collisions with first responders while outside of their vehicles.

Recently, Brady took part in the University of Geneva’s Volcanic Risk Management program where he was able to learn about various volcanic hazards and then participated in a field study working with volcanic scientists and gaining hands on experience.

Brady Podloski

President’s Award Winner:Stephanie Roy from Algonquin College

Stephanie’s interest in emergency management took root when she began her career in Office Administration with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF) Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES). After completing her first contract with AFFES, Stephanie was able to acquire a permanent position working at the MNRF Cochrane District office. While in Cochrane, Stephanie has completed many training opportunities offered through Emergency Management Ontario and Algonquin College’s Emergency Management program. Stephanie’s passion for emergency management led to her participation on the Cochrane District Emergency Response Team and in the annual river surveillance flights for Northern Ontario communities. Additionally, Stephanie completes annual reviews and revisions to the District’s Emergency Response and Continuity of Operations plans. Also, to further develop her operational experience in Emergency Management, Stephanie completed an acting assignment working in the MNRF’s Emergency Operations Centre (MEOC) in Sault Ste. Marie for the 2018 flood and fire season. Stephanie’s devotion to the field of emergency management continues to grow as she pursues further education in this field and hopes to one day have a permanent career in Emergency Management with the MNRF.

Stephanie Roy

By Kathleen Brough

As a new young professional in the field of Emergency Management, it can be intimidating. The field is so vast, and at the same time, it seems like everyone knows each other and has their niche. Mentorship has been studied at length and is known to be extremely beneficial, especially for young professionals. In recognition of this, OAEM has been running a mentorship program for the past four years, with a growing number of mentor/mentee pairs each year. Through this opportunity, I was matched with a professional in the field who has upwards of a decade of experience in Emergency Management.

            I’m already an involved member of the Emergency Management community. I’m a member of DEMSA (the Disaster and Emergency Management Student Association) at York University, and I’m also the student board member of OAEM. I was paired with someone I had met, someone who I respect for their constant efforts giving back to the program at York and to the community in general. She joked with me that I probably didn’t need a mentor, but that she was there for any questions I might have.

            Every mentor/mentee relationship is special and tailored to that pair. My mentor and I have spoken through email, we have also met up a few times when she invited me to networking events. She sends me emails checking in on me and reminding me that I’m doing exactly what I need to be doing – which as a stressed young professional, is always something I need to hear. Other mentor/mentee groups exchange emails or meet over coffee, it’s a flexible program that is meant to fill the needs of those involved. Both my mentor and I are social and busy people, this similarity works well for us to tailor our experience.

            Having a mentor means having someone you can reach out too. For me, my mentor is a go to when I have questions about a new experience, whether that be interviewing for jobs, going to a networking event or running for a new volunteer position. The mentor pairs were matched based on interests, experience and questions I had and I really feel like my mentor is a fantastic pairing for me. As a student, its easy to get overwhelmed and forget about why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s been so reassuring and helpful to have someone checking in on me and reminding me not only that I can do it, but that I am doing good work.

            My mentor has been a part of the mentorship program for a while, and you can tell she loves giving back. She is warm and welcoming, she is an accomplished professional, and she has a passion for mentorship. In the brief time I have been involved in the mentorship program, I have already learned so much. I have someone to look up to and to take advice from, which shows me a path, but also how I can make my own path.

By Rob Keller

It was a great pleasure to spend two days with some of the best emergency management practitioners in Ontario at the FEMA G290 Basic PIO course on May 1-2, 2019.  I’m very fortunate to train alongside some exceptional professionals.  When it comes to disasters, we’re all in this together and I look forward to continuing to work with my Canadian counterparts to make our respective communities safer and more resilient.

As you heard in my presentations, public information is a vital function in disaster operations that contributes greatly to saving lives and protecting property. The PIO entails the processes and systems that enable effective communications with various target audiences. The G290 training  provided you with the opportunity to learn and practice the tasks of gathering, verifying, coordinating, and disseminating public information at all levels.

Themes weaved throughout the series include the 95/5 concept and an emphasis on whole community strategic communication planning.

The 95/5 concept relates to non-emergency and emergency PIO activities – 95% of most PIOs’ work is in non-emergency times, with only 5% directly related to incident response or recovery. The activities a PIO chooses in non-emergency times (95%) has a significant impact on how successful he or she will be in the 5% spent in emergency response and recovery. This training focuses on both parts of the equation.

“If people don’t know what’s happening and what to do, then they are not going to respond accordingly.

Remember the three items that if you follow, you will be “spot on” when it comes to being transparent.

1.  Here’s what happened.
2.  Here’s what we are doing.
3.  Here’s what we want you to do.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) training program is designed to provide PIOs with the essential knowledge, skills, and abilities to support proper decision-making by delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

An emergency situation brings together individuals belonging to many different organizations, representing different organizational cultures including different usage of language.  For me, the Basic PIO training in Toronto brought me to Canada to meet some new professional counterparts and friends.  I am also looking forward to the Basic PIO training in June.  According to Mr. Jason Reid at OAEM, the class is almost full, so be sure and register soon.

Have a safe journey my friends.

Rob Keller

Our Annual General Meeting is right around the corner. In anticipation of the election on May 15thhere are some of the candidates running for the new board. 

Lori Latendresse, MDEM, CBCA

Lori Latendresse has been working in Public Sector Health & Safety, Emergency Management and Business Continuity for over a decade. She currently works as the emergency planner and business continuity lead for Northumberland County, and is a part time Faculty member in the Emergency Management department at Fleming College.

Lori is passionate about ensuring that small and rural communities like her own, are not left out of the Emergency Management conversation, and that new EM initiatives are developed and delivered in a way that best meets the needs of the diverse communities in Ontario. Lori has been an involved member of OAEM for several years and has been an active mentor in the new professional program offered by OAEM for the past 4 years.  In 2018 Lori also volunteered her time as a moderator for DEMCON.  Lori is interested in becoming a voice on the OAEM board in order to help put the “O” into OAEM.

Patricia Martel, CEM, ABCP, Ph.D Candidate

Patricia Martel is an experienced emergency management practitioner and researcher with a passion for enhancing emergency management through the development and implementation of new research and recommended practices. She is nearing the completion of a PhD (May 2019) focused on enhancing emergency planning for schools and other facilities that host members of vulnerable populations. In addition to the PhD, she has a strong background in the sciences which has included research on natural hazards with a focus on severe weather and is an experienced storm chaser with more than 15 years of experience. Patricia has significant experience in the field of emergency management and has developed best practices in hazard identification and risk assessment, emergency planning for vulnerable groups, risk communication, and hazard monitoring protocols. She served as the Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment Officer for Emergency Management Ontario for +8 years. She was seconded to help with the refresh of the Ministry of Transportation Emergency Management Program in 2015.  Patricia now works as an Emergency Management Program Specialist with the Region of Niagara. She is a Certified Emergency Manager through the International Association of Emergency Managers and an ABCP through DRI International.

Patricia has experience working for provincial governments, the private sector and NGOs. While risk assessment is her primary passion, she has experience reviewing emergency management programs and providing recommendations that move them towards a more effective, proactive approach. She is currently the Vice President of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network; which aims to create an environment in which the hazards research, education and emergency management practitioner communities can effectively share knowledge and innovative approaches that reduce disaster vulnerability.

Brittany Murphy, MDEM

Brittany is a recent graduate of the Disaster and Emergency Management Bachelor’s program at York University.  During her time at York University, she worked very hard with her classmates and the faculty, to develop a student association at the undergraduate level (Undergraduates of Disaster and Emergency Management) to get students access to further training and learning opportunities.  She continues to work with students and faculty to foster a community, being a part of the recently created York University Disaster and Emergency Management Alumni Network, attending guest lectures and continuing as an advisor for the undergraduate association.

From graduation, she got her first job in the field with Public Safety Canada in the Ontario Region, participating in responses for many on reserve incidents, flooding, fires, and the influx of asylum seeking individuals into Canada during the summer of 2017.  From Public Safety, she spent 7 months with Canadian Nuclear Laboratories on the Port Hope Area Initiative project as an emergency preparedness co-op student and will soon be starting a position with Environment and Climate Change Canada working on services that can be used by emergency management practitioners.

She has always had a firm grasp of the importance of working together across levels of government, between the private and public sector, and across jurisdictions; this has been observed in her classroom experiences, in her work experiences, and in the events she has attended (Fifth Regional Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction in the Americas, WCDM, DEMCON, etc).  Brittany has been serving on the interim as the Community Director for Ontario Association of Emergency Managers and would be delighted to continue on with the association.  She is dedicated to continuing to develop and foster a collaborative EM community in Ontario and would be delighted to continue serving with OAEM on the board of directors.

Katie Subbotina

My name is Katie Subbotina and it has been my pleasure to serve as an elected member of the OAEM Board of Directors for the past four years. I originally joined the organization as a student looking for a group representing the needs and the future of the Emergency Managers of Ontario. As my career grew my professional needs where changing and I was able to benefit firsthand from the great value that the association provides to its members and the profession. OAEM creates a forum for individuals entering the field to gain understanding of the profession and for existing professionals to further their knowledge, expertise and share their experience with their peers via various professional development and networking events. 

Throughout my tenure with OAEM, I held various positions with Treasurer being the most recent. As an active member of the board I thoroughly enjoyed working on a number of initiatives such as the development of the internal policies and procedures and a Mentorship Program. I have also assisted with hosting social gatherings as well as represented our organization at various community events. I am a passionate member of the Emergency Management field and it would be an honour to continue contributing my time and expertise to the growth and development of the organization.

Christina Baker, MDEM

Christina is an emergency management consultant involved with all phases of a number of strategic fire master planning studies, fire service reviews, community risk assessments and climate adaptation projects including stakeholder engagement, data collection and analysis, emergency response modelling, station location assessments, and the development of recommendations and implementation plans. She has coordinated the creation and implementation of municipal emergency and resilience related projects and has participated in the facilitation of various working groups in the risk assessment field with a variety of stakeholder. Christina has also participated in implementing measures to meet government legislature in the municipal setting, and has proactively built and maintained professional relations with business, government, and NGO stakeholders. She is passionate about emergency management and working closely with communities to towards resilience. 

She holds a Master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management from York University and has had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Directors as Secretary for the Ontario Association of Emergency Managers in the interim. 

Christina would like to further the association’s commitment to serving and advocating for emergency management professionals throughout all of Ontario. 

By Joe Gagliano


There’s no doubt the commercial landscape has changed. Industries and businesses are under tremendous pressure. Shutting down operations for a few weeks or even a few days is simply not an option.

Today, disaster recovery and restoration mean it’s imperative we work quickly and closely with our clients to reduce downtime or avoid it altogether. Insurance contractors need to offer flexible mitigation planning and scheduling to respond to the needs of their clients. 

Our aim is to get a business back to normal as quickly as possible. To do this we often work directly with a company’s employees in the planning phase. That planning often starts even before disaster strikes. We encourage companies to take precautions beforehand to reduce the impact of any potential disaster. We give them a checklist. 

Pre-disaster planning is paramount to ensuring the quickest, safest and most cost-effective restoration work. No one wants to spend money on pre-planning. I get that. Yet being proactive is better than taking a bigger financial hit from a disaster later.

A lesson learned from the Fort McMurry Fire

The wildfire that started southwest of Fort McMurray, Alta., in May 2016 showed how vitally important pre-planning can be for the restoration industry and the people directly affected. Almost 90,000 people had to evacuate the community, making it the largest wildfire evacuation in Alberta history. Destroyed were 2,400 homes and buildings, and the damage ran into the billions of dollars, the costliest disaster in Canadian history.

Due to a lack of planning, certain response crews left the area almost as quickly as they arrived when they realized they weren’t prepared for the danger of working in that hostile environment. They weren’t prepared to handle the heavy toxic metals released into the environment by the fire. 

Expertise is also the name of the game

We’re realizing that expertise in the restoration industry is everything. Knowledge and experience are often missing in restoration efforts, especially in less populous regions. At Access Restoration Services (ARS), our highly qualified, specialized operations managers can be anywhere in the world within hours. Their expertise is of tremendous benefit in recovery efforts in sparsely-populated communities.

Local communities may not always need emergency vehicles. But they do need direction and leadership. Experience and knowledge in crucial situations can dramatically improve the speed and effectiveness of getting properties back to their original condition and people back on track.

ARS is a proud leader in disaster mitigation and property restoration. The company provides restoration services for water, fire and storm damage. ARS has its head office in Toronto and has six other locations throughout Ontario. It also has offices in Calgary and Fort Lauderdale, and is expanding into British Columbia and the East Coast. 

To learn more about ARS, visit our web site at

Joe Gagliano is president of Access Restoration Services Ltd

By Jude Kelly

The next time you attend an industry or emergency management conference or meeting, take a look around you, then ask yourself: What is the make up of the folks in the room and how diverse is the audience?

In most cases, our industry, as a group, is not that diverse. But if new people are going to consider emergency management as a career, they need to see more people of colour and women working and thriving in the profession.

One visionary Washington, D.C. organization is working hard to change that dynamic. The Black Emergency Managers Association International (BEMA) has members in the U.S., Central & South America, Caribbean, Haiti, Middle East, Pacific Rim, Great Britain, France, and many African nations.  

Globally, BEMA is advancing the EM profession by providing information, networking, educational & professional development opportunities and awareness to African-American, African-descent, Latino, and disenfranchised communities, including emergency managers, elementary, middle and high schools, college & university students, and community leaders.

“We’re not just exclusive to African-Americans,”says BEMA founder and president, Charles Sharp, “We’re totally inclusive–  anyone can be a member of BEMA not just homeland security and emergency management professionals, but members of the community and grass-roots organizations who want to promote the profession and address all phases of disasters.”

Our mission is to get more disadvantaged communities into the profession of emergency management and homeland security, says Sharp, adding that these are the communities that recover the longest when disasters strike.

To help celebrate Emergency Preparedness Week(May 5-11), Sharp will be in Toronto on May 3 to give a presentation at the Provincial Emergency Operations Centre, where he’ll be accompanied by three private-sector members from BEMA International:  Mark Dozier, President of Critical Path Solutions, Marcellus Wade and Ms. Ayanna Moo-Young, President and Vice President, respectively, of Black Fox Group located in the Washington, D.C. area. The group will provide an overview of BEMA including possible plans to start a BEMA Canada chapter.

BEMA was founded in 2010 to meet the needs of disaster-affected communities.  Like the community of New Orleans that was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the communities of Haiti which was shattered from an earthquake in 2010. With two professionals in emergency management and Mr. Sharp, BEMA International was conceived to meet the needs of minority professionals and communities in emergency management. The founders recognized that ethnic groups worldwide are often left out of the long-term planning when it comes to emergencies.

“(Emergencies are) something a lot of people in ethnic communities don’t plan for – and this is a world-wide problem,” Sharp says.  “These communities are in a constant state of emergency 24/7 from sun-up to sun-up for basic needs in housing, water & food, and financial sustainability.  Inclusion is the main reason we were formed: to ensure that the whole community, everyone in the community, is involved.”

The African-American community’s participation in emergency planning and alot of other areas is sometimes practically zero, Sharp explains.“That’s one of our initiatives– to get not only the black community but other community organizations, faith-based organizations, First Nations, Hispanic and Asian communities involved in emergency planning.”

Promoting more inclusion for people of colour and women, does not mean exclusion of everyone else. Everyone benefits when all segments of society contribute to keeping all communities safe, protected and resilient.

Do you have new ideas on how OAEM can better serve the EM community? Are you looking to get involved? OAEM wants you!

The OAEM is calling for candidates for its upcoming annual Board elections (May 15th), a platform for participants to share their unique ideas and skills with the membership. 

OAEM is looking for new Board Members who will serve from 2019-2021. If you would like to submit an application, please send a 250-400 word Statement of Interest and a copy of your Resume to no later than May 8th, 2019.

Please note, you need to be an OAEM Member to apply. If you are not, please sign up here

We look forward to your applications!

AGM 2019 Flyer

By Jean-Guy Rens
(CATA Alliance – ScienceTech Comms)

More than 70% of Canadian manufacturing companies are entirely or partially automated: this is the evidence brought out by the 2017 CATA study[1]. And a growing number of these companies have interconnected their automated devices to their IT systems to extract “big data” and control production in real time often in wireless mode. As a result, IT moves to the heart of the production chain. This phenomenon is called Industry 4.0 or Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

But then an unexpected discovery was made. Automated companies realized that often the critical automation equipment purchased was unsafe. One example among others. A company that had purchased sensors in large numbers discovered that the devices came with a prerecorded password that was available on the Internet. When this company wanted to remedy the problem by programming a safe password, the memory was too limited to accept the change. Many wireless devices, even robot systems, are designed without any cybersecurity protection. 

The result of the general trend toward automation and Industry 4.0 is increased exposure to cybercrime. Each deficient sensor, automation equipment or robotic system opens a door to hackers of all kinds. Even CCTV cameras are used by the criminals of the web to accomplish their misdeeds. Ultimately, the entire Internet network can be affected. We remember that in 2016, a simple denial of service attack had brought down a large part of the network in the United States and Europe. It was only an alert. The next step could be more serious.

That’s not all, cybersecurity damages are not confined to the computer world. With Industry 4.0, it can spread to our physical environment. When the attacked company operates a critical infrastructure – a power grid, a railway, a bank, a hospital, a laboratory and so on – the damage can quickly turn into a disaster by what is called the cascade effect. If the power supply is interrupted in a given territory, it is all aspects of the economic and social life that can be paralyzed: water service, gas stations, etc. 

The 2019 Cybersecurity Initiative

It is to assess the state of readiness of the automated manufacturing industry as well as critical infrastructures in Canada that the CATA Alliance has undertaken a focused study on the cybersecurity measures deployed. It is not so much to count the technical solutions set up as to study the governance of cybersecurity: adoption of a formal cybersecurity program, appointment of a chief of information security officer (CISO), compliance with regulations, scope of the financial means allocated, etc.

CATA’s third cybersecurity initiative – Cybersecurity in a Digitized Environment– Intends to show how industry and infrastructure leaders are adopting a common cybersecurity culture. It intends to document strengths and weaknesses and promote existing government and international organizations dedicated to cybersecurity.

The profile of cybersecurity in the Canadian manufacturing sector and critical infrastructures organizations will be detailed by various means:

  • A survey of Canadian automated corporations and public utilities. The firms contacted in 2017 regarding the Advanced Manufacturing Sectorstudy will be contacted again to discuss cybersecurity. Critical infrastructure organizations will be added. All in all, about 2,500 organizations will be contacted.
  • A series of about 20 one-on-one interviews of cybersecurity specialists (infrastructure and manufacturing executives, academics, consultants, governments).
  • Halfway roundtable. Study partners and corporate managers will be invited to comment raw results before the report is finalized. The proceedings of the roundtable will be integrated in the final report.
  • At the end of the study, two workshops will be organized in Montreal and Toronto in April 2019 aimed at manufacturing and infrastructure leaders.

Cybersecurity is a team effort. CATA Alliance invites emergency management professionals to take 10 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Results of the survey will be available April 2019. If you have any questions, please contact Huguette Guilhaumon 514-656-3254 or

Link to survey:

[1]Advanced Manufacturing Sector: Initiative on the automation of the manufacturing sector in Canada, Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA), Montreal, April 2017.