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Emergency Management in the NWT

For the latest, most accurate emergency information, check the GNWT Public Safety Page

For general information about emergency management in the NWT, see information below.



Emergency management in the NWT is everyone’s responsibility - individuals, local authorities (community governments), Indigenous governments, non-government organizations and the private sector, Government of the Northwest Territories and other emergency management partners.

The Northwest Territories Emergency Plan establishes a coordination and planning framework for emergencies that may affect all or part of the NWT.

The NWT Emergency Plan outlines how emergency management partners (all levels of government, critical infrastructure providers, non-government organizations, the private sector, and Indigenous governments) work together to respond to widespread, large scale and complex emergencies, ultimately helping to ensure the safety and security of residents and visitors.

The NWT Emergency Plan, developed under the authority of the Emergency Management Act, describes the emergency management framework in the NWT, and the roles and responsibilities of departments and partners during emergencies. It includes:

  • a description of the NWT emergency management system,
  • a framework for relationships with other departments, governments, and non-government agencies in preparing for and responding to emergencies, and
  • procedures for the coordination of responses to territorial emergencies and in supporting Local Authorities during emergencies where their capacity has been exceeded and assistance has been requested.

Comprehensive Emergency Management

The Plan outlines the Comprehensive Emergency Management (CEM) structure adopted by the GNWT.  CEM guides the NWT to establish emergency management programs that are based on risk analysis and cover all four pillars of emergency management, and to develop a response system based on an incident command system that is supported by training and exercising.

Emergency management in the Northwest Territories considers four pillars:

  • Prevention/Mitigation - actions taken to eliminate a hazard or to reduce the probability and the effect, should the disaster occur
  • Preparedness - arrangements to ensure that if an emergency occurs the services and resources including human resources needed to cope can be efficiently mobilized.
  • Response - actions taken to save lives and property during an emergency.
  • Recovery - actions taken to return a community to normal or near-normal conditions.

Incident Command System

Guided by CEM, the Plan adopts the Incident Command System (ICS), which is an incident management tool designed as a standardized and coordinated approach to manage emergencies. The Plan provides an understanding of ICS roles and responsibilities important for all those involved in response activities, to ensure inter-operability and that all first responders are working with common understanding of the command system.

Emergency Response Priorities

The Plan identifies eight emergency response priorities that guide all decision making throughout any response. These priorities are in line with global best practice:

  1. Provide for the safety and health of all responders

  2. Save lives

  3. Reduce suffering

  4. Protect public health

  5. Protect critical infrastructure

  6. Protect property

  7. Protect the environment

  8. Reduce economic and social losses

Response Structure

The Plan articulates escalation of emergency management responsibilities starting with individuals and families and outlines the procedures for the coordination of responses to emergencies.

2024 Updates to the NWT Emergency Plan

The 2024 updates to the NWT Emergency Plan include changes to the document format, the location of where information can be found in the document, and text has been added to provide clarity and more fully articulate roles and responsibilities.

The updated Plan also:

  • Revises language to better reflect the purpose of the Plan, which is to establish a coordination and planning framework for emergencies and outline how emergency management partners work together;
  • Clarifies roles and responsibilities for Local Authorities as lead for emergency management and response coordination as well as how Indigenous governments, non-government organizations, and the GNWT can support;
  • Clarifies GNWT department and agency specific roles and responsibilities in supporting community governments when their capacity has been exceeded;
  • The Evacuation and Hosting Guidelines annex was revised to clearly state what response and hosting costs community governments can seek GNWT reimbursement for in the event the Disaster Assistance Policy is applied to a disaster event. This is in response to requests from community governments for greater clarity and more information; and
  • The Emergency Communications Protocol annex was revised to better articulate the GNWT’s approach to emergency related communications and outlines the tactics that will be used to communicate emergency related information to the public. 

Important Emergency Management Resources