National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure has the right elements, needs
regional implementation

OTTAWA, May 31 /CNW Telbec/ - The Conference Board of Canada welcomes the federal government's National Strategy For Critical Infrastructure, released on Friday. The key elements of the strategy are consistent with The Conference Board of Canada's research on critical infrastructure protection and resilience in selected Canada-U.S. cross-border regions.

The National Strategy proposes a collaborative approach among federal, provincial, and territorial governments and critical infrastructure owners and operators. The objectives of the strategy are to build partnerships, implement an all-hazards risk-management approach and enhance the timely sharing of information among partners.

"The National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure has the elements needed to make Canada more resilient," said Gilles Rhéaume, Vice-President, Public Policy. "However, the elements of the strategy will have to be applied region-by-region. The Conference Board of Canada's research concludes that regions need their own plans. Regions face distinct threats and vulnerabilities, they have varying mixes of infrastructure, and their existing relationships are different."

The Canadian and U.S. economies are highly integrated and depend on cross-border critical infrastructure, such as roads, telecommunications, energy and rail systems. Owners and operators of critical infrastructure, as well as local and regional emergency management agencies, have traditionally focused on protecting their facilities and jurisdictions. Increasingly, they recognize that they must look beyond their own operations and borders, given the interdependencies among governments, first responders and critical infrastructure owners and operators.

The Conference Board of Canada produced a report for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, published by The Conference Board Inc. in New York, which outlines the essential elements required to create regional cross-border critical infrastructure protection and response plans.

The Conference Board of Canada's research focused on four cross-border regions:

    
    -   Maine and New Brunswick;
    -   New York and Ontario;
    -   Michigan and Ontario; and
    -   Washington and British Columbia.
    

The Conference Board of Canada report highlights the following elements that must be part of a critical infrastructure protection and emergency management action plan:

    
    -   Establish teams of Canadian and U.S. leaders, including those from
        the private sector, public sector and affected agencies;
    -   Engage a broad range of partners on both sides of the border;
    -   Develop and perform regional risk assessments to cross-border
        critical infrastructure;
    -   Conduct assessments of links and dependencies among this
        infrastructure;
    -   Develop priorities and plans for mitigation, preparedness,
        protection, and emergency management, as well as recovery; and
    -   Establish and carry-out cross-border emergency management-exercise
        plans to determine if the planning and preparedness activities are
        sufficient in light of the threats that are faced in a particular
        region; or the threats that can flow to the region due to the
        interdependencies among the critical infrastructure sectors.
    

A regional approach to critical infrastructure protection and resilience can take advantage of relationships in border communities, such as mutual aid agreements among police, fire and medical emergency responders. From these existing relationships, a broader group of stakeholders can become engaged in critical infrastructure protection and emergency management.

A regional approach will take time to design effectively and should be jointly developed among the key stakeholders. Some of the crucial issues to consider are:

    
    -   Border crossing requirements that make crossing more difficult than
        it used to be;
    -   Building and maintaining relationships;
    -   Liability concerns when working across the border to respond to a
        crisis; and
    -   Lack of formal procedures for cross-border information sharing.
    

The Conference Board of Canada's report, Protecting Critical Infrastructure: A Cross Border Action Plan, is available from the website of the Conference Board Inc., www.conferenceboard.org.

SOURCE Conference Board of Canada

For further information: For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, Tel.: (613) 526-3090 ext. 448, E-mail: corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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