The Planning Cycle - Emergency Planning

Description:
This purpose of this planning element is to have in place an approved process that can be activated during an emergency situation. Most often, the emergency will require resources that have not been planned for in the fiscal plan.

Purpose:
While emergency planning is not a specific phase in the planning cycle, it needs to be acknowledged by decision-makers as a potential risk. Unforeseen costs related to emergency situations do occur and this element is here to remind you to establish and approve an approach for dealing with these situations.

Emergencies, in this sense, cover a broad range of unplanned and unbudgeted expenditures which the Band Council and staff have no option but to make. This would include community fire, forest fire, flood, emergency renovations, health epidemic, and other uncontrollable events.

As emergency expenditures by definition cannot be predicted, they will vary from year to year making it difficult, if not impossible, to incorporate them into the fiscal planning cycle. The most important thing is to be aware that they can happen and know how to handle them when they arise. At a minimum, a Band Council Resolution (BCR) must be passed giving Chief and Council the authority to declare a "State of Emergency." Reimbursement for emergency expenditures can be sought from DIAND only if this BCR is passed. DIAND also recommends that all First Nations develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan which would be approved by Chief and Council. If you are interested in pursuing this option, you can contact the Emergency Preparedness Coordinator at your regional office of DIAND.

Considerations:
There are several potential approaches to dealing with the fiscal impact of emergency expenditures (see Risk Management Techniques). The delegation of signing authority should include provisions for the Band Manager to make emergency expenditures within certain guidelines which are subject to pre-approved limits.

For example, a good fiscal planning process will help clarify mandatory and discretionary expenditures, and cash flow requirements. Trying to schedule discretionary expenditures later in the year can help provide a cushion for dealing with emergencies.

Some First Nations set a portion of funding aside for emergency use. The problem with establishing an emergency fund is that it inevitably generates "emergencies" or situations which folks might want to categorize as emergencies simply to access the fund. An alternative approach is to build in some flexibility within the fiscal plan so that once the emergency has been covered, Chief and Council can go back to the original fiscal plan and reallocate budgets utilizing the built-in flexibility.

An important consideration to avoid unnecessary emergency expenditures is to ensure that infrastructure, including housing, is insured. Insurance is generally an excellent investment and one which, unlike emergencies, can be accommodated in your fiscal plan from the beginning.

It's important to remember that, whatever direction is chosen, follow-up is needed once expenditures have been made on emergencies. Depending on the degree of impact, the established priorities may have to be reassessed.

Many of the funding agreements with Canada, make provision for supplementary funding requests in the event of emergencies. Many provinces also have emergency funding available for events like community evacuation due to fire or flood. Where possible, First Nations should try and seek approval at the time of the emergency, when it is known that another government is, or may be, responsible for reimbursement of those expenditures. Complete and accurate records are also an asset for proper reimbursement. In any event, once the emergency situation has passed it is a good idea to pursue any available channels for external funding to cover these expenditures.

Process:

  1. Develop and approve a Band Council Resolution related to emergency measures (see Sample Emergency Measures BCR).

  2. Contact the DIAND Regional Office for assistance in developing your own community's Emergency Preparedness Plan (DIAND regional offices will have samples).

Timing:
Emergencies can happen at any time during the fiscal year-and no matter the level of fiscal restraint, these emergencies must be responded to. It is best to be prepared and pass the BCR as soon as possible ensuring some compensation will be possible through DIAND.