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Nova Scotia Guard, New Department Will Improve Emergency Readiness

CANADA, March 28 - A new department will pave the way for the establishment of a new volunteer corps called the Nova Scotia Guard.

Premier Tim Houston introduced legislation today, March 28, that will lead, direct and support a co-ordinated response and manage the immediate and ongoing needs of Nova Scotians when a crisis or disaster occurs.

The Nova Scotia Guard will be a group of volunteers from across the province who will help communities during and after emergencies. The Nova Scotia Guard will include volunteers with specialty skills and members of the public to fill a variety of roles depending on emergency needs. It will harness the many talents of Nova Scotians and their sense of community.

“As we’ve seen time and again, whenever an emergency happens, the first thing Nova Scotians do is step up and help their neighbours – that’s the Bluenoser way,” said Premier Houston. “The Nova Scotia Guard will enable us to call on volunteers who are ready to jump in and help their communities in their moment of need.”

The new Department of Emergency Management will oversee the Nova Scotia Guard. It will also include existing emergency response teams from across government, with expanded responsibilities such as:

  • leading Nova Scotia’s co-ordinated emergency and disaster preparedness, response and recovery initiatives
  • leading the co-ordination of all organizations, internal and external, that respond to emergencies and disasters
  • working closely with communities, as well as Indigenous, federal, municipal and private-sector partners.

“Climate change is causing more frequent and severe wildfires, floods and other emergencies that threaten the safety of Nova Scotians and our communities,” said Premier Houston. “This new Department will allow us to respond to those emergencies more efficiently and in better collaboration with our partners across the province. Today’s bill signifies a new era in preparedness for our province.”

The Department will be led by John Lohr, Minister responsible for the current Emergency Management Office, and Deputy Minister Paul LaFleche, whose expanded roles take effect immediately. It will include all divisions of the Emergency Management Office, as well as Service Nova Scotia’s public safety field communications and business continuity teams.

Nova Scotians can express their interest in volunteering for the Nova Scotia Guard at https://ns.211.ca/early-registration-for-the-ns-volunteer-portal/ or by phoning 211.


Quick Facts:

  • the Department of Emergency Management is expected to be established in the fall
  • the teams from across government connected to these changes will begin working together immediately
  • government will engage municipalities and other interested parties on the legislation over the coming months

Additional Resources:

Bills tabled in the legislature are available at: https://nslegislature.ca/legislative-business/bills-statutes/bills/assembly-64-session-1