Mutual Assistance

Ontario Mutual Assistance Program (OnMAG) is a single point of contact for utilities to request & offer mutual assistance resources when damaging events occur within a member’s service territory. It is subscription based and member led.

Overview

When extreme weather or other damaging events occur within a utility’s service territory, they may call upon the aid of other utilities to assist in the restoration. Lineworkers, arborists and other field staff travel to assist restoration efforts, with deployments ranging from neighbouring service territories to multi-utility international efforts. These efforts are sometimes coordinated in regional mutual assistance groups, allowing a utility’s request for mutual aid to efficiently reach broad audiences.

Mutual assistance agreements reinforce the engagements between various utilities, where their respective lineworkers aid each other to restore power to energy customers across North America in times of severe weather.

The Canadian Mutual Assistance Group (CanMAG)

In 2013, Toronto was hit with a severe ice storm, causing nearly 600,000 outages in the area. There was more than 30 millimetres of ice accumulation on the trees and falling tree limbs tore down over 500 wires. Lineworkers from across Ontario and Michigan came to the aid of Toronto Hydro and Hydro One. However, the restoration process was fraught with the complexity of coordinating a multitude of crews from different utilities to the areas that needed assistance. Prior to 2013, there was not a national mutual assistance framework in place.

In 2014, Electricity Canada members came together to create the Canadian Mutual Assistance Group (CanMAG), a committee committed to improving mutual assistance activities and practices across the country. The CanMAG created the National Mutual Assistance Agreement, which provides a basis for utilities to request and offer mutual assistance in times of need.

The Ontario Mutual Assistance Group (OnMAG)

In 2020, Toronto Hydro and Hydro One partnered with Electricity Canada to launch the Ontario Mutual Assistance Group (OnMAG). Originally pitched as a one-year pilot program, OnMAG explored a more formal method of coordinating mutual assistance among the province’s 60+ utilities.

The now permanent program is administered through Electricity Canada and directed by a steering committee composed of OnMAG member utilities. The program is led by a coordinator, who responds to mutual assistance requests and facilitates bringing together program participants to fulfil the requests where possible including providing lineworkers, arborists, field staff and spare equipment.

Important dates

Since the OnMAG’S launch in December 2020, OnMAG has had about four activations:

Activations to date and approximate number of customers impacted

December 2021 – 110000 customers

April 2022 – 90000 customers

May 2022 – 350000 customers

June 2022 – 25962 customers

Additional Resources

Did You Know?

Mutual assistance is not confined to domestic deployments; Canadian utilities are often asked and respond to requests for resources south of the border, in the United States and the Caribbean. In 2020, Electricity Canada members sent more than 200 personnel across the border to assist with storms in the United States.

Related Resources