Ministry of the
Solicitor General

Communication Materials


IMS for Ontario: Introduction and Overview

IMS Communications Working Group, January 2011

IMS Definition

Incident Management System: A standardized approach to emergency management encompassing personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure.

IMS is predicated on the understanding that in any and every incident, there are certain management functions that must be carried out regardless of the number of persons who are available or involved in the emergency response. The key IMS management functions are:

  • Command
  • Operations
  • Planning
  • Logistics
  • Finance/Administration

IMS Vision

Ontario will have a standardized incident management system (IMS) that provides functional interoperability at all levels of emergency management.

Why is IMS Needed?

  • Lessons from past incidents:
  • 1998 Ice Storm
  • 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks
  • 2003 SARS outbreaks (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome)
  • 2003 Blackout in eastern Canada and the USA
  • 2003 Wild Fires in British Columbia
  • 2005 Hurricane Katrina
  • 2009/2010 H1N1 Flu Virus
  • High profile public concern with low tolerance for failure
  • Previously, no province-wide IMS
  • Lack of standardized tools, training, processes, terminology, functions
  • Desire to improve coordinated response efforts between Ontario's diverse emergency management stakeholders

Why Create an Ontario IMS?

  • Developing an IMS for Ontario was found to be the most appropriate basis to:
  • Respect and incorporate Ontario's existing structures
  • Reflect Ontario's unique stakeholder groups, legislation and emergency management practices
  • Maintain consistency with systems practised in contiguous states and provinces
  • Take advantage of the strengths of existing emergency management systems in Ontario

IMS Development and Governance

IMS Steering Committee:

  • 30+ participant organizations
  • Includes Ontario's major emergency response organizations
  • Governs the development and maintenance of the Ontario IMS

IMS Secretariat:

  • Established within Emergency Management Ontario (EMO)
  • Includes IMS Steering Committee Chair
  • Provides project management, coordination, publications, etc.

Functional Working Groups:

  • Support IMS Steering Committee by developing tools/resources

Sector Working Groups:

  • Support sector-specific IMS implementation


  • Association of Local Public Health Agencies (alPHa)
  • Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
  • Association of Municipal Emergency Medical Services of Ontario (AMEMSO)
  • Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario (AMCTO)
  • Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP)
  • Ontario Association of Emergency Managers (OAEM)
  • Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC)
  • Ontario Hospital Association (OHA)
  • Ontario Municipal Administrators Association (OMAA)
  • Ontario Municipal Social Services Association (OMSSA)
  • Ontario Public Works Association (OPWA)

Municipal Governments:

  • City of Greater Sudbury
  • City of Ottawa
  • City of Thunder Bay
  • City of Toronto
  • City of Windsor
  • Regional Municipality of Durham
  • Regional Municipality of Peel
  • The Township of Tarbutt & Tarbutt Additional

Non-Governmental Organizations:

  • St. John Ambulance
  • Canadian Red Cross
  • Salvation Army

Federal Government:

  • Department of National Defence (DND)
  • Joint Task Force (Central) (JTFC)
  • Public Safety Canada (PS)

Provincial Government:

  • Emergency Management Ontario (EMO)
  • Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS)
  • Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC)
  • Ministry of Labour (MOL)
  • Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR)
  • Office of the Fire Marshal (OFM)
  • Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)

Private Sector:

  • Transportation Community Awareness and Emergency Response, Ontario Regional Office (TransCAER)


Ontario IMS principles and concepts are consistent with the Incident Command System (ICS), but adapted to suit Ontario's unique governmental structures and emergency legislation/regulations. ICS is primarily a command and control system for managing standard, on-scene, day-to-day operations. The Ontario IMS is built on the ICS 'operating platform'. The Ontario IMS incorporates the ICS, and the multi-agency coordination system (MACS) into one holistic system called IMS. Ontario's IMS applies to all levels of incident management with an expanded focus on EOC application.

Benefits of IMS for Ontario

  • Built on internationally recommended practices and reflects
  • Ontario's unique needs
  • Facilitates cooperation between all response organizations
  • Scalable to manage all types of incidents
  • Efficient, flexible and standardized
  • Cost-effective
  • Standardized training (free of charge)
  • Supports and incorporates organizations not yet using IMS
  • Built in partnership with all of Ontario's major emergency
  • response organization stakeholder groups

Project Plan

Initial Launch:

• IMS project structure established - Fall 2006

• IMS Doctrine approved - Winter 2008

• IMS Doctrine launched - Spring 2009

IMS Training:

• First Course launched - Spring 2009


• IMS Sector Working Groups Developed - Spring 2010

• IMS implementation - ongoing

Supporting Resources:

• Annex A: EOC Guideline Approved (Interim) - Fall 2010

• IMS Forms Approved (Interim) - Fall 2010

Current Resources

  • IMS Doctrine
  • IMS Training
  • Annex A: EOC Guideline (Interim)
  • IMS Forms (Interim)
  • IMS FAQs
  • IMS PowerPoint Presentation
  • IMS Website:
  • IMS Email Alerts

Training Program Roll-Out

Additional Notes:

  • Online courses available at:
  • IMS-100 and IMS-200 are decentralized Organizations may designate staff to complete the IMS-910 Instructor course and become an IMS facilitator for their organization

Implementing IMS

The IMS Steering Committee has identified 8 key measures to assist organizations in implementing IMS:

Implementing IMS
Raise awareness of IMS in your organization
Formally endorse IMS
Adopting IMS in Policy
Adopt IMS in your emergency plans and policies
Adopting IMS in Procedures
Adopt IMS in your emergency procedures
IMS Training
Support IMS training in your organization
Designate an IMS instructor for your organization
Exercising with IMS
Use IMS in exercises
Responding with IMS
Use IMS in responding to real incidents
Use IMS in for planned events
Develop a plan for sustainable implementation of IMS in your organization
Implementing IMS

Next Steps

Sector-Specific IMS Implementation:

  • Through IMS Sector Working Groups

Training Program Roll-Out:

  • Launching IMS-300 Course

Developing a Resource Typing Catalogue:

  • Consistent asset/resource terminology

Developing Supporting Resources:

  • Exemplars
  • Scenarios

Enhancing IMS Website:

Learn More

Visit to:

  • Learn More about IMS
  • Access IMS resources
  • Register for IMS training opportunities
  • Sign up for IMS Email Alerts

Contact your stakeholder representative:

  • Associations
  • Communities
  • Ministries
  • Non-Governmental Organizations
  • Private Sector

Thank You on behalf of the IMS Steering Committee

January, 2011