Liberal MLA challenges how money from 911 fee is spent

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet is upset by a government funding change that went unnoticed when it was passed two years ago.

Rick Doucet doesn't think fee should be used to pay salaries of EMO employees

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet is upset by a government funding change that went unnoticed when it was passed two years ago.

Every month, New Brunswickers pay a 911 fee on their phone bills, but it turns out the money is paying for more than just the 911 emergency phone service.

In 2012, the Alward government changed the province's 911 law, which governs the monthly levy set up to pay for the service.

Liberal MLA Rick Doucet wants the money government collects from its 911 fee to be spent on the emergency telephone service (CBC)
The change allows the fee — less than a dollar a month to also help pay the salaries of employees at the Emergency Measures Organization.

Cabinet minister Bruce Fitch says the new staff were added after complaints about the response to the 2010 flooding in Charlotte County.

"That was a grave situation and in response to that situation, we broadened the definition," said Fitch.

Doucet says even if the funding diversion is legal, which he's still not convinced of, he believes there's a broader problem.

He says the 911 fee was set up to pay for 911, not to fund basic government services that should be covered by the regular budget.

He says New Brunswickers who see the "911 fee" on their phone bills are being misled.

"It was a 911 fee before, but maybe it should be 911-slash-EMO," said Doucet.

The government issued a press release in May 2012 with a vague reference to broadening the definition of 911 services, but there's no such clarification on phone bills, which say nothing about the money going elsewhere.

    

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