Emergency Social Services (ESS) is a provincial emergency response program, which offers those services required to preserve the well-being of people affected by an emergency or disaster. ESS provides temporary relief to individuals and families so they can begin to plan their next steps to recover after a disaster.
ESS is typically available for up to 72 hours when an evacuation order is in place. ESS ends once the evacuation order has been rescinded. During these first 72 hours, evacuees should immediately plan their next steps by contacting their insurance agents, families and friends, or local non-profit agencies. The ESS Office may authorize an extension of ESS services, in exceptional circumstances, on a case by case basis.
ESS provides primary services such as:
- clothing; and
- family reunification.
ESS may also provide specialized services such as:
- emotional support services;
- first aid;
- child minding;
- pet care; and
- transportation services.
In B.C., local authorities are responsible for planning and operating ESS. ESS teams assist people affected by disaster, usually at designated reception centres, which may be located at the local community centre, recreation centre, church, or school.
ESS teams may also provide services in the following settings:
- outreach services to those unable to leave their homes;
- mass care (lodging and feeding) to evacuees during a major disaster;
- on-site services to response workers and others.
If your community is under an evacuation order, please visit your local authority website for more information about where your ESS reception centre has been established and any community specific information you need to know about what to do when you get there.
Ministry of Justice
Government Communications and Public Engagement