Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to improving access to emergency services and enhancing community wellness and safety through the rollout of the 9-1-1 service in all 33 communities.
The three-digit telephone number “9-1-1” is known as the number to call in emergencies throughout North America. The 9-1-1 service gives the public fast and easy access to our communities’ emergency services in situations when someone’s health, safety or property is in jeopardy or when a crime is in progress.
Mr. Speaker, there have been several emergency situations over the years and across the territory where having a 9-1-1 service would have improved response times and, in some cases, even saved lives.
Mr. Speaker, the days of residents and visitors to the Northwest Territories not knowing how to contact community emergency services will finally come to an end. I am pleased to announce that as of November 2019, our residents and visitors will be able to call 9-1-1 from every community in the Northwest Territories.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is working diligently to complete all the tasks needed to get the systems and processes in place to ensure 9-1-1 works for all of our residents on the first day of operation.
This month, 9-1-1 staff will work with each community government to make sure local emergency referral information is correct. They will be able to answer any questions that communities may have about the standard call transfer processes of the 9-1-1 service.
The Emergency Communications Centre will be ready, and the Med-Response program and 9-1-1 management staff will move in. As Members will recall, the Med-Response program provides dedicated clinical staff who respond to calls 24 hours a day to help community health practitioners stabilize critical patients. They will assess patients and dispatch medevac flights quickly when needed. It makes sense to co-locate this service with the 9-1-1 service.
Recruitment will begin this month, as well, for the 9-1-1 Bilingual Emergency Medical Dispatcher positions. These positions are critical for systems operations.
The Northwest Territories 9-1-1 Act was passed and received assent in March. The Act was a significant milestone in the implementation of the 9-1-1 program. Municipal and Community Affairs staff are now working on the regulations necessary for the collection and remittance of the cost recovery fees by telecommunication companies. We anticipate having these regulations completed by the end of June.
Mr. Speaker, over the summer months and into September, the final 9-1-1 system will be installed. Rigorous territorial-wide telecommunications testing will begin with NorthwesTel to ensure systems work as they should from every community. On September 3, 2019, the 9-1-1 dispatchers will begin their intensive training and support of systems testing, which will continue until the “go live” date.
Once 9-1-1 is live, there will be an awareness campaign in the media and direct mail to resident’s homes, as well as signage for every Government of the Northwest Territories and municipal building in the Northwest Territories. Until then, members of the public should call the existing emergency numbers in their communities.
Mr. Speaker, I am happy once again to confirm the NWT 9-1-1 service will be “going live” for every community in the Northwest Territories in November 2019.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.