Co-develop modernized emergency management legislation (replacing the Emergency Program Act) with First Nations.

Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness

Year started


Current year


How far along
is this work?


How complicated
is this work?


Are there


How are we
working together?


In 2023, the Emergency and Disaster Management Act (EDMA) was enacted following extensive consultation and collaboration efforts, representing a significant achievement in emergency management in B.C. The foundation of the EDMA rests upon the United Nations Sendai Framework “all-of-society” concept – a collective commitment to safeguarding communities and mitigating risks. The EDMA recognizes First Nations as true partners in emergency management and seeks ways of coordinating and harmonizing emergency management practices between provincial, local authority and First Nations decision-makers. With the enactment of the statute, attention now shifts towards the development of regulations to support its implementation. The EDMA includes a requirement for a five-year review, which will help assess the legislation’s effectiveness.

The EDMA is the first piece of provincial land-based legislation developed through consultation and co-operation with First Nations since the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act (Declaration Act) came into force. The legislation includes guiding principles that set the tone for emergency management in B.C. The principles recognize that the inherent right of self-government of Indigenous Peoples includes the authority to make laws in relation to emergency management, emphasize the importance of Indigenous advice and stewardship activities in emergency management and promote cultural safety in emergency management, including incorporating relevant actions in emergency management plans, policies and programs. 

The Act formally recognizes treaty areas and First Nations’ traditional territories, incorporating the concept of Indigenous governing bodies, consistent with the Declaration Act. Further, the Act enables co-ordination and joint or consent based decision-making agreements with Indigenous governing bodies. The EDMA is an important step in aligning B.C.’s legislation with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The legislation drafting phase started in 2021 and continued until the legislation came into force on November 8th, 2023.

In December 2023, $18 million of funding was announced to support local authorities (municipalities and regional districts) and First Nations in the implementation of the Indigenous engagement requirements. Recipients can choose one or more eligible activities to address their individual needs. Recipients can also pool funding to achieve shared goals.

How are we working together?

The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) engaged in consultation and co-operation through the development of the EDMA and supporting implementation materials. During the development of the Request for Legislation and the drafting of the EDMA, EMCR met regularly with legal and policy representatives. EMCR worked with the First Nations Leadership Council and the Alliance of BC Modern Treaty Nations to collaboratively write a three-column document, address legislative concepts, discuss technical matters and review consultation drafts.  

In 2022, focused work with First Nations partners began. In December of that year, EMCR circulated a consultation draft of the legislation to First Nations, Treaty Nations, Indigenous partners (including First Nations Leadership Council, Alliance of BC Modern Treaty Nations and Métis Nation B.C.) and Indigenous service providers (including B.C. Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centers, First Nations Health Authority and First Nations Emergency Service Society) and followed up with webinars to hear and address concerns. This process was replicated in April 2023 when another draft was shared. The feedback on the draft legislation was used to further refine the final statute.

Nine engagement workshops were held on future EDMA regulations for local authorities and post-emergency financial assistance. There were 212 participants including 144 different First Nations and Indigenous led organizations attended the post emergency financial assistance sessions. 

In the summer of 2023, EMCR partnered with the BC Association of Emergency Managers to offer six webinars for emergency management partners, including First Nations, on the content of the proposed legislation. In February 2024, EMCR completed three virtual engagement sessions with rights and title holders gather to feedback on future EDMA regulations. 

$18 million of funding was announced in December 2023 to support local authorities (municipalities and regional districts) and First Nations in the implementation of the Indigenous engagement requirements under the Act.

Are there challenges?

EMCR engaged the representatives of Aboriginal rights and title holders throughout the development of EDMA and is currently engaging on future EDMA regulations. First Nations provided feedback to EMCR that an area for improvement in the engagement process is reporting out on what was heard during consultation and co-operation sessions. Reporting should be done in a manner that is transparent and summarizes the ways in which feedback from rights and title holders has informed the legislation and guidance materials. The relationships with First Nations and other Indigenous partners require care and reciprocal feedback to ensure all partners are collectively working respectfully and within their capacity. 

The EDMA regulations that are currently under development will clarify the new requirements for regulated entities, including provincial ministries, local authorities and critical infrastructure operators. Communication and engagement on regulations and implementation methods is crucial in moving forward. Collaboration among First Nations, Treaty Nations, Indigenous partners, stakeholders and impacted parties is vital for navigating complexities and ensuring successful integration of EDMA initiatives. A legislated five-year review of the Act offers an opportunity for future refinement. 

Some local authorities and First Nations have requested clarity and guidance on EDMA implementation, particularly concerning capacity, to ensure effective utilization of funding programs and fulfillment of new obligations. Advice was also provided to ensure clear communication and support mechanisms are in place to support successful EDMA implementation.

Previous years’ progress

2022/2023 progress details

Action 1.10 – Year 1 progress image shows: How far along – implementation, how complicated is the work – some complexity, are there challenges – some challenges, how are we working together – notable engagement.


The Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) has engaged in legislation and regulation co-development with First Nations title and rights holders, the First Nations Leadership Council, the Alliance of BC Modern Treaty Nations and a range of other service organizations. Modernized legislation is expected to be introduced in Fall 2023. Co-development and engagement opportunities will continue to shift to focus on regulations to be made under the new Act over the coming months and beyond. Some draft implementation plans and tools are also in development.

Significant policy shifts that align with the Declaration Act include the following: recognizing First Nations rights and the role of Indigenous governing bodies in relation to emergencies; enabling agreements with Indigenous governing bodies to support collaboration and decision-making; requiring consultation and co-operation with Indigenous governing bodies across the phases of emergency management and prior to taking land-based response actions; embedding cultural safety in all phases of emergency management; and including Indigenous knowledges in risk assessments and plans.


  • Legislation drafted: Draft Emergency Disaster Management Act is complete and is planned to be introduced in Fall 2023.

How are we working together?

Engagement initiated in 2019 laid the groundwork for the new legislation. The COVID-19 pandemic suspended the process, then in 2022, EMCR reset the engagement process and began the co-development process with First Nations. Throughout 2022, EMCR hosted regional sessions with First Nations to inform updated policy intentions and legislative development. Legislation was shared with First Nations in late Fall 2022 and revised based on feedback. Engagement with First Nations will inform development of regulations.

Are there challenges?

The project involves time constraints and engagement timelines are compressed. Timelines have been reset at several points.

Capacity for all 203 First Nations to participate in the co-development process is limited by resources. Some communities are still in recovery from emergency events in their communities. The team is considering ways to minimize engagement fatigue and to enable more partners to participate.