Jennifer Forsythe, Manager and acting Director, Emergency Management and Business Continuity,  (ESDC) Employment and Social Development Canada   



BIO - Jennifer has been managing Employment and Social Development Canada’s (ESDC) Departmental Emergency Management and Business Continuity for more than four years. Jennifer is certified BCLE-2000 Business Continuity and is a current member of DRI Canada.
Jennifer is responsible for managing the development and implementation of Emergency Management and Business Continuity program within ESDC. This includes:

  • Managing the review, development and implementation of the Departmental Strategic Emergency Management Plan and operational directives on Business Continuity Management and Building Emergency and Evacuation Preparation.
  • Leading the development and provision of service delivery support, training, information technology and delivery tools.
  • Leading department-wide emergency preparedness and providing function guidance and direction on emergency and management response, business continuity and recovery activities.
  • Managing the development and implementation of the automated Business Impact Analysis and Business Continuity Planning process across ESDC.
  • Managing project teams and working groups on building emergency and evacuation preparation, development of horizontal business continuity plans and departmental tabletop exercises.
  • Lead and manage development of testing and exercise tools for use by branches and regions.
  • Leading the development and conduct of EM exercises from walkthrough exercises concerning emergency procedures to full tabletop exercises including the participation of senior management aimed at testing horizontal business continuity plans across departmental critical services
  • Managing and coordinating ESDC’s response and activities to emergency events. This includes the 2017 emergency events Asylums Seekers, BC Wildfires and Flooding.

Presentation  Title - Debrief of ESDC’s Senior Management Horizontal Chaos Tabletop Exercise

Synopsis - Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), including the Labour Program and Service Canada, delivers a range of programs and services that affect Canadians throughout their lives. ESDC designs and delivers some of the Government’s most well-known programs and services. These include Old Age Security (OAS), the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), Passport Services and much more.  Service Canada serves clients online, over the telephone and in-person via 590 points of service, including 320 in-person centres, 238 scheduled outreach locations and 32 passport offices.
Also, as per the Federal Emergency Response Plan, ESDC has primary Emergency Support Function (ESF) for Human and Social Services and a supporting role in ESF’s for Logistics Operations Management and Communications. 
From November 21-22nd 2016, a tabletop exercise, designed and coordinated by ESDC’S Emergency Management and Business Continuity Division (EMBC), was conducted with over 100 participants including extensive participation of Senior Management to test Horizontal BCP’s developed for EI, CPP and OAS. 
The tabletop exercise was designed to test whether the new horizontal BCP’s had the capacity to deliver services, and to satisfy ESDC’s ESFs, during a major systems disruption exceeding 30 days. 
Key ESDC Branches and all Regions were engaged through a complex series of scenarios and injects. The first day was structured to engage at the Director General, Director and subject matter experts while the second day’s group expanded participants to include, and focus on, senior management.

Key Points that an Attendee will take away from Jennifer's presentation:

  • Make sure agreements between stakeholders/partners are clear and consistent
  • System outages can affect much larger areas/populations than localized natural disasters.
  • Cascading events are much harder to manage than isolated events.
  • Developing Horizontal BCPs and comprehensive tabletop exercises requires time and subject matter experts.
  • A central tool to manage all emergency management activities is essential for a larger department/company such as ESDC.
  • Senior Management engagement.

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