The City of Toronto recognizes the important role that community sector organizations play in emergency management.

From conducting business continuity planning to supporting the City’s efforts to respond to and recover from events, community sector organizations are key partners in ensuring the readiness and resiliency of Toronto. Community sector organizations play an active role in providing response and recovery services, especially for some of the more vulnerable members of our community such as newcomers, seniors and individuals with disabilities – so it is especially important for these organizations to have systems and strategies in place to continue delivering their important services during an emergency. Community sector organizations also play an important role in increasing the personal preparedness of their employees and volunteers, such as encouraging people to have an emergency plan for their families and to maintain an emergency kit.

Get Emergency Ready Guides

Toronto’s Office of Emergency has developed a series of Get Emergency Ready guides to support Torontonians to take steps to be prepared for emergencies. You can use these guides to help prepare your organization for an emergency, as well as to promote personal preparedness for your employees and volunteers.

Partners in Preparedness Newsletter for Private Sector Organizations

Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management launched the quarterly Partners in Preparedness newsletter for community sector partners in 2019.

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July 2019 Edition – Print Version

New Preparedness Resources

The City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management recently launched its Partners in Preparedness website with tools, resources and information to support organizations in preparing their employees, volunteers, services and facilities for emergencies.

In addition to sending out the Partners in Preparedness newsletters to people that have signed-up, the Office of Emergency Management also posts each issue on the website.

The website also includes links to the Office of Emergency Management’s new emergency preparedness videos. This video series aims to support Torontonians to take steps to be prepared for emergencies. There are five videos in total, covering the following topics:

You can continue to check out the Partners in Preparedness website for the links to the latest resources and information.

Getting Ready for Emergencies in St. James Town

St. James Town is the largest high-rise community in Canada and one of the most densely populated neighbourhoods in Toronto. It is bound by Sherbourne Street to the west, Bloor Street East to the north, Parliament Street to the east and Wellesley Street East to the south.

St. James Town is a high turnover community, where newcomers to Canada make up a large portion of the population. St. James Town is a multicultural, multiethnic, multilinguistic neighbourhood.

The St. James Town Service Providers’ Network has more than 30 agencies that support collaborative partnerships, community engagement and an integrated service coordination approach in this neighbourhood. The Service Providers’ Network collaborates and coordinates with community members and stakeholders inside and outside the network to address the needs of residents and promote an inclusive and vibrant community. Under the umbrella of the Service Providers’ Network, there are seven subcommittees that provide a number of innovative programs and initiatives to support this neighbourhood such as:

  • the James Town Community Corner (The Corner), a physical space that fosters community engagement and improves community well-being by supporting residents and organizations to come together to access services and information
  • Health Access St. James Town (HASJT), a community-based model of service coordination and collaboration where intake workers connect residents to health and social service agencies through a single intake process

The Corner and HASJT play an important role in supporting community members on a day-to-day basis. They also play an important role in supporting the community during emergencies.

For example, in January of this year, the high-rise apartment at 260 Wellesley Street East experienced a sudden power outage that left residents with no water, heat, or electricity for five days. The City of Toronto collaborated with a number of partners to respond to the residents’ basic needs and allow them to safely remain in the building. The Corner and HASJT took on a local leadership role that included supporting regular check-ins for some of the more vulnerable building residents and enhancing information sharing and communications.

Based on this recent experience, the St. James Town Service Providers’ Network is thinking of ways that it can help make the community more ready and resilient. It has developed a local crisis response protocol to coordinate the Network’s response and recovery activities. It has also developed the Know Your Neighbour(hood) booklet, a preparedness resource for community members that highlights steps they can take to be emergency ready. The St. James Town Service Providers’ Network will be hosting a community event this fall to launch the protocol and Know Your Neighbour(hood) booklet.

For more information about any of these initiatives, contact Nivedita Balachandran, Manager of Partnerships and Stakeholder Engagement at The Corner at or Diana Mavunduse, Community Development Coordinator at Dixon Hall Neighbourhood Services at

Alarmed for Life

Each year Toronto Fire Services runs Alarmed for Life, an information campaign to help community members understand what they can do to protect their families and homes from fire and carbon monoxide. The annual door-to-door campaign is directed at residents who live in single family homes, semi-detached houses and townhouses.

In Toronto, residential fires are usually started by cooking or smoking. The campaign highlights how people can stay safe:

  • prevention – taking steps to stop fires from starting in the home
  • detection – making sure to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • escape – having a home escape plan in the event of a fire

The campaign began in late June and runs until early September. This year, Toronto Fire Services crews are focusing their visits on large-scale townhouse complexes within the Toronto Community Housing portfolio. They are delivering a fire safety kit directly to residents’ doorsteps. At the same time, residents can speak with firefighters about any concerns or questions.

The Alarmed for Life Home fire safety kit is available in 12 languages and can be downloaded from the City’s website.

Downtown Yonge’s Community Engagement Team

The Downtown Yonge Business Improvement Area (BIA) represents businesses in one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, in an area bound on the south by Richmond Street, on the north by Grosvenor and Alexander Streets, on the west by Bay Street, and on the east by parts of Victoria, Bond and Church Streets.

The Downtown Yonge area is rich with commerce, culture, and tourism opportunities, as well as higher learning institutions and places for people to live. It is also a neighbourhood facing common urban challenges such as high numbers of residents experiencing mental health and addiction problems, chronic homelessness and poverty.

These social issues can impact individuals working in businesses in the area, as they typically have no training or support to help de-escalate the types of situations that someone high on drugs or intoxicated and grappling with mental illness could create.

The Downtown Yonge BIA has been working with a wide range of partners over past few years to put plans and strategies in place to help address these types of events. Some of these initiatives have included:

  • the Walkabout, an outreach program where uniformed officers and elders from First Nation communities canvass the neighbourhood to offer support to chronically street-involved individuals
  • the Drop-in Resource Booklet, a pamphlet and map that businesses can use to refer vulnerable individuals to local drop-in centres in the area
  • the Reporting Crime Infographic, which helps educate business owners and community members on how and when to report crimes
  • training and awareness seminars on personal safety, mental health recognition and response topics for community members and frontline staff working with the public or providing customer service

More recently, the Downtown Yonge BIA has developed the Community Engagement Team (CET) in partnership with Margaret’s. Launched in August 2018 as a pilot project through the BIA Innovation Fund, the CET is a dedicated two-person outreach team that operates from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. This team is trained in de-escalation and mental health approaches and can be used as a first response resource when businesses owners are dealing with a person in distress that does not warrant a call to 9-1-1. In addition to their on-street engagements, the team has responded to 280 calls since it was created, many from smaller, street-front independent businesses that don’t have access to security teams like the larger shopping centres.

For more information about the CET pilot, contact the Downtown Yonge BIA at or 416.597.0255.


Summer is now in full swing, with temperatures regularly climbing above 30°C. While it may seem like nothing but blue skies and sunshine, summer heat brings a host of unique risks that organizations should prepare for.

Are your staff or volunteers heat aware? Working in high temperatures can be dangerous and put individuals at risk of heat stroke or more serious consequences. When outdoors or in hot spaces, consider more frequent breaks, a reduced work pace, scheduling work for cooler parts of the day, and being prepared with water, sunscreen and hats. Training employees and volunteers on risks is important. Employers can learn more about working in extreme temperatures and their responsibilities on the Ministry of Labour website.

On hot days, it is also important to help those most vulnerable to heat stresses. Check on elderly friends, relatives and neighbours, especially those without air conditioning and/or taking medications that make them more susceptible to heat. People who are marginally housed or experiencing homelessness are also at increased risk. If you see someone in need of assistance, you can call 311 for street outreach assistance. As always, in an emergency call 911.

You can learn more about heat preparedness and ways to beat the heat at

Toronto’s First Resilience Strategy

Cities—similar to any individual or organization—are faced with two types of challenges: shocks and stresses. Shocks are sudden events that are immediate threats to wellbeing like natural disasters or loss of essential services. Stresses are chronic problems like economic inequality and housing shortages. To be resilient, we need to prepare to weather shocks and overcome stresses.

This year, the City of Toronto released Toronto’s first ever Resilience Strategy. The strategy is designed to help our city become a more equitable, liveable, prosperous and resilient place where every Torontonian can thrive. Actions in the Resilience Strategy are organized into three focus areas:

  • people & neighbourhoods
  • infrastructure
  • leading a resilient city

Each focus area contains a series of goals and specific actions, which are the most critical projects Toronto must undertake to achieve resilience. Specific priority actions are things like retrofitting apartment towers, making investments to combat flooding, and providing support and tools to residents to make their homes and communities more resilient.

You can learn more about resilience, the City of Toronto’s new Resilience Strategy, and what you can do to help your community thrive at

How We Identify Risk

The Province’s Office of the Fire Marshal and Emergency Management has released two updated Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment (HIRA) products:

  • Hazard Identification Report 2019 – provides an overview of hazards that have the potential to impact Ontario
  • Methodology Guidelines 2019 – provides a recommended method for conducting a HIRA

Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management will adopt the new guidelines to its existing HIRA process. The HIRA is designed to help the City of Toronto and its partners to identify, understand, and evaluate the key hazards that have the potential to negatively impact residents, services and critical infrastructure.

Learn with TRCA

Did you know that high school students can earn an Emergency Management & Preparedness certificate from the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA)?

Designed in partnership with local municipalities, TRCA has developed a full-day course that provides students with an overview of the basics of emergency management, such as the role of an emergency operations centre and the principles behind the Incident Management System. The course also emphasizes personal emergency preparedness, including how to develop a household plan. TRCA offers the course at the Claremont Nature Centre in Goodwood, Ontario.

For more information, visit TRCA’s Specialist High Skills Major Certificates webpage.

April 2019 Edition – Print Version

The City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management wants to thank everyone for your support of our new Partners in Preparedness newsletter for community-based organizations.

This quarterly newsletter will help you — our community-based partners, including non-profit organizations and faith-based groups — prepare for emergencies and harness opportunities to work together to serve the people of Toronto. Since sharing the first issue in March, we continue to have groups sign up for our distribution list.

Please help us promote this resource by sharing this issue of Partners in Preparedness within your networks. Organizations can sign-up to receive the newsletter.

You can contact the Office of Emergency Management to receive an accessible version of this newsletter by email at

Emergency Preparedness Week 2019

Emergency Preparedness Week is an annual event encouraging Canadians to be prepared to protect themselves and their families during emergencies. This year, Emergency Preparedness Week runs from May 5 – 11.

While governments at all levels are working hard to keep Canada safe, everyone has a role to play in being prepared for an emergency; and being prepared means having the knowledge and equipment necessary to better cope during an emergency.

Emergency Preparedness Week encourages all Canadians to take three simple steps: know the risks, make a plan and prepare an emergency kit.

Emergency Preparedness Week is also a great opportunity for companies and organizations to ensure they are ready for an emergency. Your organization can use this event as an opportunity to kick start your emergency management program.

If you already have a program, you can work with your employees and volunteers to find ways to improve your organization’s emergency readiness. For example, you can take some time during Emergency Preparedness Week to review your plan to make sure it’s up-to-date, provide training to help staff get familiar with your organization’s emergency procedures or hold a drill to give everyone a chance to practice using the response procedures.

Here are some materials that you can use to promote Emergency Preparedness Week in your organization:

Alert Ready

Alert Ready is Canada’s emergency alerting system designed to warn the public about dangerous events. Alert Ready delivers important alerts to Canadians through television, radio and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices.

On May 8, Alert Ready will be tested in all provinces and territories. This test gives all Alert Ready partners information and feedback to improve the system. To learn more about this test, visit the Alert Ready website.

Stop the Bleed

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is Canada’s home for Stop the Bleed, a training program that provides people with the tools and knowledge to stop life-threatening bleeding.

Massive bleeding can result from a workplace injury, road collision or violent incident. A person can bleed to death in four to five minutes, so it is important to provide quick and appropriate support. Bystanders are often the first responders during an emergency — and the help given by an immediate responder can make the difference between life and death, even before professional first responders arrive on scene.

Stop the Bleed is an initiative of the American College of Surgeons, started in 2015 in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. It aims to encourage bystanders to become trained, equipped and empowered to help in a bleeding emergency before professional help arrives.

In 2017, Sunnybrook became the first hospital in Canada to offer the training. So far, Sunnybrook has trained 1500 people, including the general public, high school students and people that work in major public venues and landmarks. Interest in the program continues to grow, especially after recent mass casualty events in Toronto.

Sunnybrook offers the course onsite at its Bayview campus on the fourth Tuesday of almost every month. Sunnybrook also offers private courses for companies, organizations and high school students. All courses are taught by regulated health care professionals. For more information on how to get trained, visit Sunnybrook’s Stop the Bleed website.

Mark your calendar.

May 2019 is the first ever Stop the Bleed Month; May 23 will mark the second annual Stop the Bleed Day.

Take this opportunity to spread the word about this important initiative with your employees and volunteers.

The Importance of Powerline Safety

As extreme weather increases in frequency, it’s more important than ever to ensure Torontonians are prepared to handle the resulting dangers of severe storms. With Powerline Safety Week taking place May 13-17, Toronto Hydro, in partnership with the City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management, Toronto Police Service and the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), are educating the public about the dangers posed by downed powerlines, poles and trees.

Between April and September in 2018, five major storms swept through Toronto and the GTA causing downed trees and powerlines and leaving a combined total of 175,000 customers without power. As a result, approximately 1,215 downed wires and 354 downed poles were reported last year.

While extreme weather events are becoming more frequent, research shows public awareness about powerline safety has decreased. In a recent survey conducted by Toronto Hydro, only 35% of people correctly identified the minimum safe distance to keep back from a downed wire – which is 10 metres, or the length of a school bus.

It’s critical for the public to know that every downed wire should be treated as a live wire that can electrify the ground. If a downed powerline is encountered, it should be immediately reported to Toronto Hydro at 416-542-8000 and to 9-1-1. To raise awareness and educate people about powerline safety, Toronto Hydro trucks and TTC buses will be wrapped with eye-catching graphics as part of a new campaign called Downed Lines are Deadly. For more information about powerline safety, visit

Workplace Fire Safety

Fire can break out anywhere, including where you work. Each year fires in the workplace cause injury and property loss.

If a fire started in the building where you work, would you know what to do? Do you know your workplace evacuation procedures in the event of an alarm? What can you do to prevent fires in your workplace?

Knowing the answers to these questions and following a few simple fire safety procedures can prevent tragic and wasteful fire loss in your workplace.

Below are tips to help you get prepared in your workplace. These procedures are based on your workplace having a fire alarm system and an approved fire safety plan. You should make it your business to know your organization’s fire safety plan and evacuation procedures.

Employees should know:

  • the location of the two exits closest to their work area
  • the location of the nearest fire alarm pull station and how to use it
  • the phone number for Toronto Fire Services (9-1-1)
  • their responsibilities in a fire as included in your corporate fire safety plan and the fire emergency procedures posted on each floor

Employers are responsible for:

  • preparing and implementing the fire safety plan
  • ensuring employees know and understand the fire safety plan
  • posting fire emergency procedures on each floor
  • conducting regular fire drills with all employees

If your workplace is in a high-rise building, which is defined in the Ontario Building Code as buildings seven storeys or more in height, please visit the Toronto Fire Services’ High-Rise Fire Safety web page for more information.

Would you like to learn about more fire safety? You can have a Toronto Fire Services Public Educator visit your organization in the City of Toronto to share information about fire prevention, detection and escape. Email for more information.

Fire Prevention Tips for a Safer Workplace


  • Only smoke outdoors in designated areas.
  • Use large, non-tip ashtrays. Do not empty contents into wastebaskets.
  • Check for smoldering cigarettes on furniture and in wastebaskets.

Electrical Safety

  • Check and replace any electrical cords that have cracked insulation or broken connectors.
  • Avoid ‘octopus wiring’–plugging many gadgets and appliances to a single extension wire while not minding if the cord can withstand the load needed to pass on the power.
  • When it’s time to unplug, don’t yank cords from the wall. This can damage the appliance, the cord and the outlet.
  • Do not run extension cords across doorways or under rugs.
  • Avoid plugging more than one extension cord into an outlet.
  • Check all of your cords. If a cord is frayed, replace it. Tape won’t protect anyone from a shock. Extension cords – which should only be used temporarily – are prone to cracking and fraying, which can lead to a shock or fire.
  • Do not place objects near, on or inside electrical equipment as this can create a fire hazard and increases the risk of injury.


  • Leave enough space for the circulation of air around heaters and other equipment such as computer terminals and copy machines.
  • Keep all appliances a safe distance from combustible materials.
  • Always turn off or unplug appliances at the end of each day.
  • When using any electrical equipment like appliances, power bars and extension cords, make sure they all have recognized certification marks such as CSA or ULC.

Launch of a New Personal Preparedness Video

The Office of Emergency is excited to announce the release of a new personal preparedness video. This video provides members of the public with tips on being prepared for emergencies, such as making a plan and preparing a kit. Stay tuned as the Office of Emergency Management launches more videos on important preparedness topics over the next few months.

Upcoming Key Dates

Contact Us

By email at

By phone at 416-392-4554

On Twitter at @TorontoOEM

March 2019 Edition – Print Version

The City of Toronto’s Office of Emergency Management launched the Partners in Preparedness newsletter for private sector partners in 2018. We have received great feedback about the newsletter and continue to have groups sign up for our distribution list.

We are now excited to share the first Partners in Preparedness newsletter for community-based organizations. This quarterly newsletter can help our community-based partners, including non-profit organizations and faith-based groups, prepare for emergencies and harness opportunities to work together to serve the people of Toronto. Topics will include updates on Toronto’s emergency management program and tips on emergency preparedness.

We want your help to highlight stories and innovative best practices from our community-based partners. Please share any ideas you have for newsletter articles at

Organizations can sign up for either newsletter.

Safety City

Every year, Toronto Paramedic Services responds to over 2,000 cardiac arrests.

11-year-old Omar’s life was saved by a member of the public. He went into cardiac arrest while playing soccer and was successfully resuscitated by someone who performed CPR and used an AED while waiting for the paramedics to arrive. Learn more Omar’s story.

When a cardiac arrest happens, you may be able to save a life by doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) until paramedics arrive. Early use of CPR and an AED can increase the chance of survival for someone experiencing a cardiac arrest by up to 75%.

Toronto Paramedic Services’ Safe City program can help your organization be emergency ready by teaching your staff and volunteers First Aid, CPR, and how to use an AED. Toronto Paramedic Services can also assist with all aspects of placing and maintaining AEDs in your workplace, including training, monitoring and registering the AED with 911.

Find out more about Toronto Paramedic Services’ Safe City program by emailing or calling 416-392-9833.

Supports for Vulnerable People During an Emergency

When emergencies happen, community members can face a range of challenges: disruption to your daily routine, stress and mental health impacts, and being displaced from your home are just a few potential consequences. Emergencies can disproportionately impact more vulnerable members of a community, such as older adults and individuals with mental health and cognitive challenges.

The City of Toronto works with a range of partners to deliver Emergency Social Services. These services include providing temporary accommodation, emergency food and clothing, and helping people reunite with loved ones. Vulnerable community members may face barriers to accessing these services, which can exacerbate the consequences they face.

The City’s Office of Emergency Management is working with community-based health providers to make a plan that responds to the complex needs of vulnerable community members. Gerstein Crisis Centre provides a 24-hour response and has taken on a coordinator role for additional support through a specialized health response plan, linking the City’s Emergency Social Services response with organizations that deliver services related to mental health, addictions, acquired brain injuries, developmental disabilities and vulnerable older adults.

When the City identifies a need for these specialized services during an emergency, it engages Gerstein Crisis Centre, who will respond or send the request for assistance to a network of partners. Gerstein Crisis Centre and these partners can:

  • assess and support community members
  • reconnect people with their regular health providers
  • implement interventions and assist community members with health system navigation
  • identify alternate accommodation arrangements for people with special needs

The City has activated this process with great success over the past few years during a number of small and large-scale emergency responses.

In addition to Gerstein Crisis Centre, the City works with number of health providers to develop and implement the strategy for specialized health services during an emergency, including:

March is Red Cross Month

Every year, the Canadian Red Cross observes Red Cross Month in March and honours the humanitarian efforts of the global Red Cross Movement to prevent and alleviate human suffering.

As one of the most active non-governmental organizations in the country, the Canadian Red Cross is committed to responding to the needs of vulnerable people, including those who have been affected by emergencies. Across Canada, the Red Cross responds to an emergency every three hours.

The City has established a formal agreement with the Canadian Red Cross to ensure it has access to resources for supporting the needs of community members during times of emergency.

The agreement outlines a standardized approach for the Red Cross to support the City in providing Emergency Social Services during large-scale responses, including registration and inquiry, temporary accommodation, and assistance with accessing transportation, food, clothing and other community supports. The agreement also outlines how the City can work with the Red Cross to help Torontonians affected by smaller, more frequent incidents, such as when someone is displaced from their home due to a single-house fire.

In 2018, the Canadian Red Cross worked closely with the City during its response to several events. The largest response was the evacuation of the 650 Parliament Street high-rise due to a fire in August 2018, when the City activated its emergency operations centre for 28 days. The Canadian Red Cross supported the City in providing Emergency Social Services for these community members. Close to 1,400 individuals registered to receive services, with approximately 350 of these people needing emergency overnight accommodation.

The Canadian Red Cross can quickly respond to emergencies thanks to its network of 17,000 highly trained volunteers across the country. To find out more about joining the Red Cross team, visit

Join Toronto’s Heat Relief Network

While we all eagerly await summer, the City of Toronto is already looking at ways to help residents keep cool when temperatures start to climb over the summer months. One of the easiest ways to avoid the health risks associated with summer heat is to find a place to cool down. In previous years, the City has had a Heat Relief Network made up of community centres, libraries and other public buildings where the public can cool off.

This year, the City of Toronto is expanding the Heat Relief Network by partnering with private and non-profit organizations. If your business has an accessible, air-conditioned indoor space that you can make available to the wider community throughout the summer season (May 15 – September 30), consider joining the City’s Heat Relief Network.

Your space will be featured in the City of Toronto’s interactive online map of Heat Relief Network locations and recognized as a neighbourhood resource for people looking to cool down.

As you consider this partnership, the City can work with you to address any questions and concerns. For more information, contact Toronto Public Health’s Sonya Bourgeois at 416-338-7443 or

Contact Us

By email at

By phone at 416-392-4554

On Twitter at @TorontoOEM