Public Alerting in Canada – Bridging the Gap
By: Dan McArthur and Cynthia Weeden
Since early 2015, numerous emergency response agencies, governments, academics and others across Canada have supported the need for Wireless Service Providers (WSPs) to start using their systems to carry public alerts. This support was largely in response to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) mandate in 2014 that called for Canadian Radio and TV Broadcasters to implement Public Alerting capabilities, but failed to include the same requirement for WSPs. As a result, the CRTC held a public consultation in 2016 to review the need for WSPs’ participation in the nation-wide system. Nearly one year later, the CRTC ruled that the WSPs needed to participate in the National Public Alerting System no later than April 2018. This mandate is a victory for all First Responders and Emergency Management Agencies across Canada and a huge win for the Canadian public. However, when compared to other countries around the world it quickly becomes apparent that more needs to be done to address these lengthy timelines and include First Responder organizations in governance processes to ensure effective, timely implementation of the tools they use each day.