Emergency 911 service has been successfully tested in all Yukon communities, the legislature heard this week. But the service must be approved by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission before it can be launched.
Community Services Minister Brad Cathers provided the information Tuesday in a response to an unrelated question from Liberal Leader Sandy Silver.
“I’d like to begin by providing the member with an update on the fact that yet another area he has attacked government on, 911 – and which we have, through the good work of the department as well as NorthwesTel – has been tested in all Yukon communities,” said Cathers. “Were it not for the fact that we’ve been informed by the CRTC that we need to go through a regulatory process before activating it, we would currently, right now, have 911 in place in all Yukon communities.”
The service would require the person calling to press “1” to call police, “2” to call an ambulance and “3” for the fire department, Cathers said.
This would be an interim measure, as the government continues to work towards having centralized dispatch for the whole territory, Cathers said in an interview Thursday.
It would only work on landlines, because there are additional challenges related to calling 911 from cell phones that have yet to be worked out, he said.
Before turning the service on, NorthwesTel would have to submit a tariff application to the CRTC, according to a letter from the commission.
There would be a 25-day period for public comment followed by a chance for NorthwesTel to reply. Then the commission would evaluate all the information and make a decision. The costs to date of getting the service set up have been minimal, said Cathers. It would be up to the CRTC to determine if a 911 service fee would be added to customers’ bills.
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