07 Apr 3. Mutual Aid Agreements And Assistance Agreements
In the wake of recent public health emergencies, many efforts have been made in the United States and in collaboration with officials in Canada and Mexico to identify and clarify legal issues related to the implementation of mutual assistance agreements and to improve legal preparedness for public health emergencies. These developments emphasize that the implementation of effective mutual assistance agreements is based on the conduct of government legal analyses, a better understanding of the measures needed to meet constitutional requirements, a better understanding of public health and other relevant laws in Canada and Mexico, continued coordination between cross-border government groups, and cooperation between these groups and federal cross-border projects. States are generally aware of the IR review and the SPP is taking steps to coordinate their efforts with cross-border regional projects. Continued coordination and development of formal mechanisms for state integration will be part of the federal government`s cross-border development process and the resolution of the legal issues we are discussing will be an objective of the process. Given that states conclude that their existing laws allow for the entry into mutual aid agreements or when they adopt new laws to obtain such power, concerted efforts should be made to share and make the most of the lessons learned among themselves. Similarly, strategies to meet the constitutional requirements of the federal state should be pursued jointly. Non-binding agreements can be a convenient way to exchange health information. However, liability, compensation and reimbursement issues related to the distribution of supplies, equipment or personnel (in the event of an undeclared emergency outside the EMAC) can only be dealt with effectively in mutual assistance agreements that create binding obligations for the parties. States may be comfortable concluding binding agreements drawn up taking into account existing judicial interpretations of the compact clause or useful proposals from the Department of Foreign Affairs. Or, like EMAC and PNEMA, states may decide to seek congressional approval for binding agreements.