Policy 60 – University of Waterloo Emergency Response

The policies found on the website of the Secretariat are compulsory rules for the University community. The authoritative copies of the policies are held by the Secretariat and bear the seal of the University. The online version accessible through the website of the Secretariat is available for information purposes only. In case of discrepancy between the online version and the authoritative copy held by the Secretariat , the authoritative copy shall prevail. Please contact the Secretariat for assistance if necessary.


1 December 1994


2 November 2015


28 February 2020. Amended, official titles only.





Responsible/Originating Department:

Office of Vice-President, Administration and Finance

Executive Contact:

Vice-President, Administration and Finance

Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures:
Policy 11 – University Risk Management
Policy 34 – Health, Safety and Environment
Risk Management Reporting Guidelines
Weather/Emergency Closing Guidelines
University of Waterloo Emergency Response Plan
Emergency Procedures published by the Safety Office 

 1. Introduction

The University of Waterloo is vulnerable to a number of natural and human-caused hazards that can affect University students, employees, visitors and assets. This policy and the Emergency Response Plan provide a framework for responding to those hazards which constitute Emergencies.

2. Scope 

This policy and the Emergency Response Plan apply to all students, employees, and visitors on University Property or at University Events. Per the Emergency Response Plan, the extent to which the University will be responsible for coordinating the response to different Emergencies will vary according to how much control the University (versus a third party) exercises over a University Property or University Event.

3. Legal Framework

In addition to the above mentioned “Related Policies, Guidelines and Procedures”, the policy will be construed in accordance with applicable law, in particular:

  • Occupational Health and Safety Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. O.1.

If any of these legal provisions are modified, abrogated, superseded, or added to, the policy will be interpreted in accordance with the new legal framework.

 4. Purpose

This policy and the Emergency Response Plan exist to ensure that the University is prepared to respond to Emergencies in a timely, effective, efficient and coordinated manner, internally and in conjunction with external agencies where necessary.

5. Principles

The University has adopted the following guiding principles for Emergency response:

  • the University will follow the Incident Management System developed by the Province of Ontario to allow for a coordinated response with other jurisdictions and Emergency response agencies;
  • the priorities for Emergency response are (in order of importance):

    • Protection of life
    • Stabilization of the incident;
    • Protection of the environment;
    • Protection of University assets; and
    • Restoration of critical services, education and research programs; and
  • Emergency Response Plan will be flexible and scalable to permit application in any Emergency regardless of size, type or complexity.

6. Roles and Responsibilities

6.1. The University will:
6.1.1. Develop, implement and maintain the Emergency Response Plan consistent with the principles outlined in Section 5.
6.1.2. Provide the resources and infrastructure necessary to carry out Emergency response under the Emergency Response Plan.
6.1.3. Identify and provide training to those University employees with designated responsibilities under the Emergency Response Plan.
6.1.4. Organize and carry out drills to test the Emergency Response Plan, as provided for in the Emergency Response Plan.
6.1.5. Review this policy and the Emergency Response Plan and update, as required.

6.2. All employees and students will:
6.2.1. Take training required in order to fulfil their responsibilities under the Emergency Response Plan.
6.2.2. Participate in Emergency response drills organized by the University.

6.3. All employees, students and visitors will:
6.3.1. Report Emergencies immediately at 911 or to Police Services at 519.888.4911 or Ext.22222.
6.3.2. Promptly follow the directions of those responsible for Emergency response during an Emergency.

                                   Appendix A


In this policy, the following terms shall have the following meanings:

“Emergency” has the meaning given to such term in the Emergency Response Plan.

Emergency Response Plan” means the plan developed by the University to serve as the overarching structure in managing Emergencies that affect University operations. The Emergency Response Plan includes subordinate plans attached to or incorporated by reference therein, including the University of Waterloo Pandemic Plan, the University of Waterloo Emergency Communication Plan, and other organizational unit specific plans.

“Incident Management System” means a standardized approach to Emergency management encompassing personnel, facilities, equipment, procedures, and communications operating within a common organizational structure. The Incident Management System 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.

“University Events” means activities or events on or off University Property, which are organized by the University and under the control of University employees.

“University Property” means all real property that is owned or leased by the University and under the University’s operational control.