Mr. Speaker, this government has heard that the people of the Northwest Territories want 9-1-1 and we have listened to them. In his budget address, the Minister of Finance announced that this government plans to implement a territorial-9-1-1 program. Today, I wish to take this opportunity to expand on this important announcement.
In 2015, Government of the Northwest Territories departments, key partners, and community governments worked together to identify viable options for a territory-wide 9-1-1 system. Experts were hired to examine our current environment and provide recommendations. Those recommendations are now being used as a road-map for 9-1-1 in the Northwest Territories.
Recommendations contained in the implementation study confirm the Northwest Territories is positioned to move forward with basic 9-1-1, and an arrangement with an existing emergency dispatch centre located within the Northwest Territories is the most viable option.
Mr. Speaker, consistent with the recommendations, the Government of the Northwest Territories will proceed with basic 9-1-1, which is much more viable for territory-wide implementation than the enhanced version. While enhanced 9-1-1 would offer improved location identification for callers, next generation 9-1-1 will soon bypass it, which is what the Territory will prepare for in the coming years.
During our work in 2015, the Yellowknife Fire Division was identified as the only option for a 9-1-1 call centre. Although this likely remains the case today, the Government of the Northwest Territories will reach out once again to other communities to validate this key planning assumption.
Mr. Speaker, another key element of the new Northwest Territories 9-1-1 Program involves establishing new territorial legislation to help manage and govern the system. Most jurisdictions in Canada that operate 9-1-1 do so on a cost-recovery basis. This means monthly fees to fund the on-going operations of 9-1-1 after implementation will appear on the phone bills of our residents.
Similar to other jurisdictions, legislation will be used to establish the fee, which will be confirmed as further consultation progresses. Much like other jurisdictions, the program will be operated on a cost recovery basis and also provide for future enhancements as required.
We estimate it will take approximately one and a half years to implement basic
9-1-1 and our goal is to implement the system in all communities as quickly as possible. While our road-map does not recommend a phased-in approach, careful consideration will be given to that possibility if it makes sense.
In the coming weeks, the Government of the Northwest Territories will also endeavour to increase awareness of the current emergency contact numbers, which will remain important until 9-1-1 is fully implemented.
Mr. Speaker, I look forward to making a presentation to the Standing Committee on Government Operations to discuss the draft implementation plan in the coming weeks. I also wish to commend community governments and first responders for working hard to keep our residents safe. Theirs is an important job that needs to be encouraged and supported, and 9-1-1 will provide a crucial tool to support those efforts.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.