The Northwest Territories’ long-promised 911 service will be functional starting in November, says the territory’s minister of municipal and community affairs.
“The days of residents and visitors to the Northwest Territories not knowing how to contact community emergency services will finally come to an end,” said Alfred Moses in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.
The territory has been planning and laying the groundwork for the emergency dispatch service for months. Once operational the service will be available in every community in the N.W.T.
It would be similar to 911 systems in other jurisdictions, but with service available in all of the N.W.T.’s 11 official languages through interpreters contracted by the territory.
There have been problems in the past with 911 calls in the N.W.T. People have called the number to report emergencies, only to discover the service doesn’t exist.
“There have been several emergency situations over the years and across the territory where having 911 service would have improved response times, and in some cases even saved lives,” Moses acknowledged in the Legislature.
He said emergency officials will work with municipalities this month to answer questions, and ensure that emergency referral information is correct.
Regulations are also being drafted to allow fees to be collected by telecommunications companies.
N.W.T. residents can expect to see a monthly fee on their phone bills once the service starts. It’s expected to be $1.70 though that could change.
Moses says an advertising campaign will also be launched after the service is in place, to ensure people know it’s available.
N.W.T. is the second territory to implement the service. Yukon has had territory-wide 911 since 2016.
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