News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

November 18, 2016

Province Concerned about Reliability of Emergency Mobile Communications System

Manitoba’s new government is concerned about the condition of the province’s emergency mobile communications system, which is in a state of disrepair and has been in need of a decision regarding replacement since 2012, Premier Brian Pallister said today.

“Manitobans trust that in an emergency they will be able to access the help they need on an urgent basis,” said Pallister.  “Unfortunately, the system relied upon by public safety and public service agencies – the police, fire, paramedics, and conservation officers who respond to calls for help – is 26 years old and has reached the end of its service life.”

The premier noted that replacement parts for the system have not been manufactured since 2003 and the previous administration was warned as early as 2008 that equipment would no longer be built or supported as of the end of 2014.

“Notifications were made in October 2012 that a decision needed to be made by the end of that calendar year if future service risks to the system were to be mitigated,” said the premier.  “The end of the year came and went, and still no decision was made by the previous government.  As a direct result of that failure to act, Manitobans now face a system at risk of being rendered obsolete and a bill worth hundreds of millions of dollars if serious risks to public safety are to be avoided.”

The premier cited the increased time to repair each incident between 2012 and 2016 – more than 1,000 hours to date in 2016, up from 700 hours in 2012 – threatens the ability of agencies and front-line workers to interoperate when responding to emergencies.

Without radio communications, agencies responding to floods would not have the ability to interoperate, an ambulance en route from a call would not be able to co-ordinate with its dispatch to be rerouted to another emergency, the premier said.  He noted one example from October 2012, where radio communications were congested during the response to a wildfire, preventing communications within and between public safety agencies.

“The health and safety of Manitobans is threatened by these critical failures of our public safety communications system.  The fact that replacement parts have had to be purchased from other jurisdictions and even sourced on eBay earlier this year are of serious concern,” concluded the premier.  “Our government wants Manitobans to know that we take these concerns seriously and we are actively considering our options and our path forward to ensure that all Manitobans have confidence in their ability to reach out, ask for help and have their call answered.”

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