Emergency telecommunications: how we prepare, respond and work with partners during a crisis or disaster

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Preparing for an emergency

The world is continuously facing different types of hazards, from extreme weather events, to tsunamis, earthquakes, vast pandemics, and other geological and human made related hazards. The impact is even worse for those living in remote and isolated areas with no access to basic information and communication facilities.

Canadians need access to telecommunication networks to access 911 services, but also to obtain information about an evolving emergency and response measures that are being put in place.

Emergency telecommunications play a critical role in disaster risk reduction and management. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are key to monitor the environment, analyze the information to deliver early warnings and alerts, and in the immediate aftermath of disasters by ensuring timely flow of vital information.

During a crisis or disaster

We act as a liaison with:

  • the telecommunications industry to support federal, provincial and territorial industry planning; and,
  • federal, provincial and territorial emergency management officials and organizations to support telecommunications industry.

How we respond and work with partners

In the event of an emergency or disaster


  • take an all-hazards approach to emergency management
  • work closely with federal, provincial and territorial emergency management organizations and the telecommunications industry across Canada

Together, with our partners we also develop:

  • best practices in emergency planning and foster important links within the telecommunications community.
  • national programs, establish mutual aid agreements and plans, and provide coordination assistance for emergency telecommunications in response to a crisis or disaster

Laws that impact our work

Through the Department of Industry Act, the Radiocommunication Act, the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) is the federal department responsible for:

  • spectrum management in Canada and,
  • for fostering a robust and reliable telecommunications system to safeguard, enrich and strengthen the social and economic fabric of Canada

The Emergency Management Act gives emergency management responsibilities to each government minister. Ministers are to identify the risks that are within or related to their area of responsibility including those related to critical infrastructure and do the following:

  • prepare emergency management plans in respect of those risks
  • maintain, test and implement those plans and
  • conduct exercises and training in relation to those plans

These and other Acts of Parliament can be found on the Department of Justice website.

Under Public Safety Canada's Federal Emergency Response Plan, ISED is responsible for Emergency Support Function #2 – Telecommunications.

Our support role encompasses:

  • Coordination with the telecommunications industry
  • Restoration and expansion of telecommunications infrastructure and services
  • Safeguarding and restoration of national telecommunications-related cyber and information technology resources
  • Coordination of federal actions to provide the required temporary emergency telecommunications and restoration of the affected telecommunications infrastructure.