Vulnerability, Canadian Disaster Law, and The Beast

  • Jocelyn Stacey Assistant Professor, Allard School of Law, University of British Columbia, Vancouver.


This article argues that Canadian law plays a central role in creating and ameliorating conditions of disaster vulnerability. Using the circumstances surrounding the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire for context, the article identifies and assesses the shared, structural features of Canada’s emergency management laws and their application to “natural” disasters. This article argues that these laws lag behind foundational social science research on disasters. It argues that Canadian emergency management laws fail to incorporate a multi-faceted vulnerability perspective, which leaves communities unnecessarily susceptible to disaster harm. This article offers some preliminary suggestions on how Canadian disaster law can begin to integrate a vulnerability perspective to rectify existing gaps and flaws at all stages of the disaster cycle.