The province is moving to give itself the power to demand pandemic plans from independent businesses.
Under legislation to be introduced today, the government will be able to require pandemic preparedness plans from organizations such as Nova Scotia Power, gas companies, grocery stores and universities.
It stems from a summer report by Auditor General Jacques Lapointe that recommended the province call for plans from outside groups. But yesterday at a public accounts meeting, Emergency Measures Organization management said they had neither the staff nor the expertise to evaluate the plans of companies like NSP.
But NDP MLA Leonard Preyra initially told reporters after the meeting the NDP was looking at enacting a law to require the plans anyway.
“I think anyone who provides an essential service to the public — Nova Scotia Power, the grocery stores, public transit — should provide their emergency preparedness plan,” Preyra said. “As I understand it legislation is imminent that would in fact address that issue.”
He later backtracked and Premier Darrell Dexter had to clarify that the law would allow the government to demand the plans but they haven’t decided whether they would actually call for them.
Dexter agreed with EMO officials that there isn’t currently enough staff to critique pandemic plans of outside agencies. But he said the law is a good move to make sure all stakeholders will be able to continue essential services in times of crisis.
He said many companies already have pandemic plans in place and the government would consult with industry before hammering down the details of who would need to submit what.
“We have talked to many of the private sector companies already,” Dexter said. “We’ve asked them if they have continuity plans. Many of them have said that’s already the case.
“We’re not going to be in the business of making just demands without understanding what burden is going to be associated with that and what usefulness will be associated with those requirements.”