MLAs have received an update on the pending 9-1-1 emergency service in the NWT.
Municipal and Community Affairs or MACA Minister Caroline Cochrane told a committee of MLAs that a 9-1-1 emergency phone number is still on track to be up and running in the NWT by the summer of 2019.
She admits however there is still a lot of work to be done.
Cochrane says residents, particularly out in the communities, are going to have to learn and get used to using street names and house numbers.
She says for example, citizens are not going to be able to call 9-1-1 and tell the dispatcher that emergency services are needed at John’s place behind the blue house.
Cochrane says the 9-1-1 dispatchers will have to learn the geography of all 33 NWT communities as well.
Hay River MLA R.J. Simpson noted that there are still long stretches of highway in the NWT where there is no cell phone service.
Cochrane agrees but says that is a challenge as well because the government can’t tell a private business. in this case Bell – the parent company of Northwestel, where to put its cell towers.
Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly says there is still work that could be done before 9-1-1 is operational.
He is stunned that Northwestel apparently claims it can’t change its outgoing message when someone now calls 9-1-1.
The message simply says there is no 9-1-1 service but does not give the caller the emergency number they should call.