The Role of the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) in COVID-19

The Manitoba EMO plays an essential role during crises, large-scale emergencies, and disasters of all kinds. In such events EMO coordinates support for those areas of government responding to the hazard. Emergency management does not take over as firefighters during wildfires, flood fighters during high water, or the health system during pandemics, but rather ensures government and its partners are able to coordinate, collaborate, and communicate effectively so the appropriate experts can tackle the crisis. Since day one, EMO has done this for the COVID-19 fight.

Manitoba EMO began establishing contact with departments in January, 2020 after learning of the emergence of COVID-19 in China. On January 22, 2020 Manitoba EMO issued a Situation Notification to government departments, federal entities, and select external partners noting the emergency of COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020 and Manitoba EMO staff pre-activated the Manitoba Emergency Coordination Centre (MECC) on March 13, 2020 in preparation for its formal activation on March 16, 2020 to facilitate coordination of the provincial response in support of Health Incident Command and for intergovernmental collaboration. The MECC has been operating ever since.

EMO has been a critical player across Manitoba’s COVID-19 response, including facilitating the province’s overall response to personal protective equipment procurement and provision, developing the Pandemic Response System, ensuring alternative isolation accommodations were available, and advising and co-ordinating the enforcment of public health orders under the state of emergency. It also facilitates the federal/provincial engagement to military support in First Nations communities.