Yukon moves towards territory wide 911

The Yukon government has applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to expand 911 services across the territory.

The Yukon government has applied to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission to expand 911 services across the territory.

The request was filed this week and will likely take four or five months to work its way through the approval process.

The current application is only for an “auto-select” system. When it’s up and running, users in the Yukon communities calling 911 will be directed to press 1 for fire, 2 for ambulance or 3 for police and then be transferred to the appropriate office.

Right now, in emergencies, people in the communities have to know the seven-digit number to call for each of the services.

The auto-select system is just a temporary solution. It will only work from landlines, and won’t reach the community of Old Crow.

The government is committed to having a proper 911 system up and running in two years, Minister of Community Services Brad Cathers said.

President of the Association of Yukon Fire Chiefs, Jim Regimbal, said he is pleased that plans are moving forward.

Regimbal and the association were vocal opponents of the idea of an auto-select 911 when it was first suggested.

He now says he supports the idea because it’s only a stopgap ahead of an eventual fully-functioning system.

“If that was going to be the be-all-end-all for tackling 911 we were definitely pretty loud and boisterous in saying that we don’t support it at all,” he said.

Both Regimbal and Cathers said, based on their conversations with the CRTC, the auto-select model would not likely get approved if someone tried to suggest it could be used instead of a full 911 system.

“Part of the thing that we heard clearly from the CRTC is a strong indication that they also wanted to ensure that this was an interim step. Not something that was done in lieu of a basic 911 system,” Cathers said.

Once the CRTC gives the green light, the auto-select system will be up and going “very quickly,” Cathers said.

The system was tested in March of this year and everything went well, he said.

Phone customers usually cover the cost of 911 services. In Whitehorse that cost is 32 cents a month.

Since the Yukon government is footing the $20,000 bill for this stopgap solution, users shouldn’t see any bill increases yet.

When NorthwesTel applies to the CRTC for the full 911, officials will have to tell the commission how they plan to pay for everything, Cathers said.

“It is not impossible or inconceivable that government could be part of that cost structure but it’s also not likely. Those costs would probably be directly recovered from consumers following CRTC review just as happened with the implementation of 911 in Whitehorse.”

The two-year timeframe for full implementation gives the government time to do consultations in the communities, Cathers said.

“We’ve heard specific concerns from certain municipalities that feel that moving to a dispatch system might actually cause a decline in service in their view without more work being done upfront,” he said.

“The reason for that is the concern about lack of community understanding. If someone in Carmacks were to call up and say the fire or the car accident is just passed Ted’s old place, they are concerned it might cause additional delays.”

Cathers said he thinks it is possible to resolve those issues and move to a dispatch system that the municipalities will be comfortable with.

According to the CRTC, once the documents making up the auto-select application are posted online, there is a 30-day period for the public to provide comments. The Yukon government will then have 10 days to reply to any comments.

Contact Ashley Joannou at ashleyj@yukon-news.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Then Old Crow MLA Darius Elias speak’s in the community centre in Old Crow in 2016. Elias died in Whitehorse on Feb. 17. (Maura Forrest/Yukon News file)
Condolences shared for former Vuntut Gwitchin MLA Darius Elias

Elias is remembered as a proud parent, hockey fan and politican

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

History Hunter: Kwanlin Dün — a book of history, hardship and hope

Dǎ Kwǎndur Ghày Ghàkwadîndur: Our Story in Our Words is published by… Continue reading

(File photo)
RCMP arrest Saskatchewan murder suspect

Yukon RCMP have arrested a man suspected of attempted murder from outside… Continue reading

Most Read