Nunavut signs on to emergency alert system

Officials in Nunavut are hopeful a national alerting system for public safety will help inform residents, despite the lack of cellphone service in many communities.

Official says television, radio notices will help residents despite lack of cell service

Officials in Nunavut hope a national alert system will help warn residents about emergencies, even without cellphone service across the territory.

Ed Zebedee, director of protection services with the Nunavut government, said alerts could notify people about school or road closures.

Ed Zebedee, Nunavut's director of protection services, says his territory faces even greater communication challenges than the Northwest Territories but he's hopeful an alert system could still help inform residents. (CBC)

"We've had those emergencies in Nunavut where we've needed to warn citizens," he said. 

"When it is up and running and we have the robust communication system in the North that we need, it will be a great tool for us to communicate to our citizens."

Alerts are intended to notify residents when there’s a risk of forest fires, blizzards, or even oil spills.

The proposed national warning system would be a standardized alert broadcast on television and radio.

Zebedee said they could communicate through mobile devices and social media, especially as technology improves.

Nunavut signed on to a national system in March. Every province and territory except the Northwest Territories has now signed up to use it.

N.W.T.’s Municipal and Community Affairs Minister, Robert C. McLeod, wants the territory's mobile services upgraded before signing on. But he said the territory does intend to join the rest of the country.

"We want to make sure that our communication capability is as good as it should be and we want to do our due diligence before we take the next step," he said.

Meanwhile, the CRTC is giving the Northwest Territories more time to sign on. The regulator is asking the company responsible for the warnings, Ontario-based Pelmorex. to meet with territorial government officials every six months.