Emergency Social Services

Emergency Social Services (ESS) provide short-term assistance to British Columbians who are forced to leave their homes because of fire, floods, earthquakes or other emergencies. This assistance includes food, lodging, clothing, emotional support and family reunification. It may also include specialized services such as emotional support services, first aid, child-minding, pet care and transportation services.


When is ESS Provided?

ESS is designed to provide services to individuals affected by large, complex disasters or emergencies, but services may also be provided during smaller emergencies, for example a single house fire or emergencies affecting one to two families in a community. ESS provides temporary relief to individuals and families to help them begin to plan the next steps towards recovery after a disaster.

How is ESS Provided?

ESS teams usually provide assistance at Reception Centres where evacuees are received, registered, and referred elsewhere depending on their immediate personal needs. A Reception Centre may be located in a local community centre, recreation centre, church, or school. 

ESS teams also provide outreach services to those unable to leave their homes, mass care (lodging and feeding of evacuees during a major disaster), and on-site services to response workers.

Group Lodging

A Group Lodging Facility provides emergency dormitory style accommodations, usually in community centres, school gymnasiums, arenas and churches, but separate from Reception Centres. Cots are set up with a specific format to accommodate as many people as possible. 

Group Lodging Facilities are often a last resort for taking care of people but may be necessary depending upon the size of the event. Commercial facilities such as hotels, halls and motels are generally used first.