Province-wide 911 system doesn't come without challenges

A province-wide 911 system is on track, but the Minister of Municipal Affairs admits there are still some significant obstacles to overcome.

Newfoundland and Labrador's Municipal Affairs Minister says a plan to bring in a province-wide 911 system is on track, but admits there are still some significant obstacles to overcome.

Most people in the province still don't have 911 service — 60 per cent do not have the service if they call from a cell phone.

Instead, they rely on separate numbers for police, ambulances and fire services, which can prove disastrous when you can't instantly recall the correct number. 

The province plans to bring in a province-wide 911 system by the end of next year.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Kent admitted during Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador's convention that system will have one big drawback. 

"Civic addresses in Newfoundland and Labrador are a major challenge and it's one that we're already working on," Kent said.

Some small communities in the province don't have street names, leading to confusion as to where do you dispatch emergency personnel.

Fire chief Vince MacKenzie said the basic 911 service is still 20-year-old technology. 

"When it comes to actual provision of the service itself you are still going to get what you are accustomed to, like in smaller communities. It's not going to increase the speed at which the fire department deploys or firefighters get to the fire station," MacKenzie said. 

According to MacKenzie, the next generation of 911 will use GPS co-ordinates to help locate emergency scenes.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.