Disaster Recovery Program Transition
Alberta has a history of disasters, including storms, wildfires, tornados and floods. In June 2013, southern Alberta experienced one of the worst disasters in Canadian history. Such disasters create a strong demand for government financial assistance for people affected.
The Disaster Recovery Regulation1 allows the Minister of Municipal Affairs to provide disaster recovery financial assistance to residents, small businesses, agriculture operations, First Nations, provincial departments and municipal governments for uninsurable losses and damage caused by disasters. The minister may approve a disaster recovery program (DRP) if the disaster has caused widespread damage to property and the cause of the disaster was extraordinary. The department has paid $903 million under various DRPs since 2010.
Between 1995 and 2015, the Alberta government used a contracted service provider to provide evaluation, processing and administrative disaster recovery services. In March 2014, the minister
announced3 that the department would not renew the service provider’s contract. The contract expired in March 2014. The minister then signed a one-year transition contract with the service provider to complete open DRPs and transfer DRP administration to the department.
What we examined
The Department of Municipal Affairs started to transfer the administration of DRPs from the contractor to itself in 2014. We assessed whether the department had adequate systems to transition services previously delivered by its service provider. Transition refers to the department’s decision to end its relationship with the service provider and it directly providing DRP services.
The department transitioned delivery of the disaster recovery program from the contracted service provider to itself. However, the department must further improve its program delivery systems to achieve the desired results. It has started making these improvements. We believe that once the department has completed implementing its transition work plan, Alberta will have in place a more effective and efficient disaster recovery program.
What we found
Changing the service delivery model
In April 2013 the department analyzed whether it should change the program’s service delivery model. It evaluated the existing service delivery model and identified alternatives. The department recommended to the minister that it should continue to use a contracted service delivery model, and that an in-house service delivery model should be further examined.
Why this is important to Albertans
Disasters can happen anytime—it is just a matter of when. The department must have adequate systems and processes to respond expeditiously when disasters happen. It must ensure that those affected receive the financial assistance necessary via the disaster recovery program, efficiently and consistently.
By improving its systems to deliver the program, the department will be better able to:
- respond to Albertans when disasters occur
- manage the program to ensure applications are dealt with efficiently and consistently
- meet federal requirements and maximize the available reimbursement from the Government of Canada