Newfoundland and Labrador is forging ahead with plans for provincewide 911 service by the end of the year, but the fees can add up depending on the number of phones on your bill.
The government announced Thursday that calls will be received at two locations: one in St. John's, the other in Corner Brook. The St. John's centre will be expanded to accept calls from throughout the Avalon Peninsula, while the Corner Brook centre will take calls from everywhere else in the province, as long as there is at least a cellphone signal.
"Arrangements for 911 call-taking centres have been concluded, and agreements will be signed in the coming weeks," Municipal and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dan Crummell told a news conference at Confederation Building in St. John's.
'"You will be charged on a monthly basis for every landline or cellphone in the province. So it will be an added cost to you phone bill."' - Minister Dan Crummell
As previously announced, there will be a new monthly fee of less than a dollar to help fund the expanded 911 service. But a spokesperson for Crummell confirmed that fee will be applied to every single cellphone and landline number in the province.
Crummell said that's on par with other jurisdictions across Canada.
"You will be charged on a monthly basis for every landline or cellphone in the province," he said. "That's how it's going to work. So it will be an added cost to you phone bill."
Currently, about 40 per cent of the province has 911 coverage. The RNC in Corner Brook answers calls for the Corner Brook-Bay of Islands area, while the RNC in Labrador City answers calls for Labrador West.
The RCMP in St. John's answers calls from cellphones throughout the province, while the City of St. John's, through the St. John's Regional Fire Department, answers calls for the northeast Avalon.
Calls won't go to police
By January, however, the government promises 100 per cent coverage, with the RCMP and RNC no longer fielding 911 calls. Instead, the City of St. John's will expand its service to the remainder of the Avalon Peninsula, while a new 911 centre in Corner Brook will answer calls from everywhere else in the province.
Crummell said that should create between eight to 12 new jobs in Corner Brook. He also said operators with the RNC and RCMP will likely move into other positions rather than lose their jobs.
The 911 service operates as a call centre, not a dispatch service. Operators take the initial call, but then transfer it to the closest or most appropriate emergency responder.