On October 20, 2009, in Ottawa, the United States and Canada held the first meeting of the Consultative Group established under the United States-Canada Agreement on Emergency Management Cooperation. Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Arif Alikhan and State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson led the U.S. delegation; the Canadian delegation was chaired by Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Assistant Deputy Minister Blair James and Public Safety Assistant Deputy Minister Lynda Clairmont.
The Consultative Group has confirmed its terms of reference and established four working groups, on federal-to-federal assistance, joint training and exercises, cybersecurity, and critical infrastructure. The new Agreement was signed on December 12, 2008, and entered into force on July 7, 2009. The agreement provides the framework for the United States and Canada to cooperate in planning for and responding to natural and man-made incidents, emergencies, and disasters.
This first meeting of the Consultative Group and the formation of working groups is a positive step in U.S.-Canada efforts to improve emergency management cooperation and coordination. It is also another visible sign of the continuing and vibrant tradition of collaboration, communication, and partnership between the United States and Canada.