NDP MPP introduces bill to improve 911 access in Ontario

The New Democrat MPP for Nickel Belt has introduced a bill to make changes to the 911 system in Ontario.

France Gelinas says changes need to be made to the 911 system to help people ‘regain confidence'

France Gélinas is the MPP for Nickel Belt and the NDP's critic for health and francophone affairs. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

The New Democrat MPP for Nickel Belt has introduced a bill to make changes to the 911 system in Ontario.

France Gelinas put forward the bill at Queens Park on Wednesday.

"In many parts of the province when you call 911, you are met with a not-in-service message," she said.

"In rural areas, your call is bounced around to different call takers across Ontario before you speak to a dispatcher anywhere near you. This can have fatal consequences."

Last fall, a coroner's inquest put forward 27 recommendations to improve 911 service across Ontario. The inquest was held to look into the deaths of three people who died in a boating accident in Sudbury in 2013 and the death of an eastern Ontario woman.

In the Sudbury case, a boat struck an island in Lake Wanapitei in 2013. Of the four people on board, only one was able to call 911 for help but the calls kept getting disconnected.

Matthew Humeniuk, Michael Kritz and Stephanie Bertrand died as a result.

In 2014, Kathryn Missen of Casselman suffered a severe asthma attack and phoned 911 but was found dead two days later.

Harriet Clunie, the daughter of Missen, said the bill is needed to save lives.

"My mother called 911 for help but it never came," she said.

"I urge the government to pass this bill into law to address the serious weakness in Ontario's 911 system to ensure that what happened to my mom, Kathryn, never happens again."

Gelinas says her bill also has the support of the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association.

"This bill supports a better system through elements of technology, training, supervision, processes and support," executive director Mark Train said.

"Technology is already in place and tested that supports real-time data sharing and simultaneous communication between emergency agency dispatch centres. The expansion of this, coupled with appropriate tiered response agreements, will provide the people of Ontario with the best emergency response possible with no unnecessary time delays in the dispatch of emergency services."


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