Unless a true event has been experienced, I am not sure that any government agency is truly prepared for a major disaster.

B.C. services not fully ready for disaster: audit

Just one of 19 government ministries is highly prepared, 2009 report says

By Jonathan Fowlie, Canwest News Service March 19, 2010 1:09 AM

Many key B.C. government services are not properly prepared to survive or quickly recover from a major disaster such as an earthquake, an internal audit done for the province has found.

The audit, which was provided to the government in January 2009, found that of 19 government ministries, only one was found to be highly prepared for a widespread disaster. Nine of the ministries were seen by auditors to be moderately prepared, while a further nine demonstrated what auditors called a "low" level of preparedness.

"There is a significant risk to the continuity of key B.C. government services in the event of a major emergency or wide-area event," said the audit.

"There is no government-wide plan to ensure a co-ordinated approach," it said, adding that in some ministries a so-called business continuity plan was considered "contingency planning and therefore not a high priority."

In addition to a broad review, the B.C. audit also took a close look at the province's eight most crucial services, including the Provincial Emergency Program, the B.C. Ambulance Dispatch Centre and branches of government that pay income assistance and oversee children in care.

Across the eight areas, auditors found there to be a "low level of compliance with core policy requirements."

Half of the eight agencies "did not consider wider-scale emergencies" in their recovery planning, the report said.

Five of them had plans that did not adequately ensure the continuation of "mission critical" business.

New Democratic Party critic for public safety Mike Farnworth said the audit raises serious concerns.

"I think there are far too many government departments that are having a low level of compliance. ... We need to be ready."

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