The Provincial Government today announced that negotiations with the City of St. John’s have reached a stalemate regarding an agreement to operate a call taking centre for the Avalon Peninsula for the new province-wide Basic 911 service.
With the City declining the opportunity to continue as a 911 service provider in the new province-wide Basic 911 service, other options are now being explored.
“After months of negotiations with the City of St. John’s to formalize a contract for the provision of 911 call taking services for the Avalon Peninsula, the city has advised that it is not prepared to enter into an agreement based on the new Crown corporation, NL 911 Bureau Inc., having final responsibility for the service, which is required by the Emergency 911 Act. Effective today, the Provincial Government will immediately move to find an alternate arrangement for the operation of a Public Safety Answering Point for the Avalon Peninsula.” - The Honourable Judy Manning, Minister of Justice and Public Safety and Minister Responsible for Fire and Emergency Services-NL
An agreement has yet to be reached between the Provincial Government and the City of St. John’s as two major issues remain unresolved, the most significant of which is the budget process. There has been a change in the overall responsibility for the delivery of 911 through the establishment of a province-wide Basic 911 service and the establishment of the Emergency 911 Act. While the Provincial Government was willing to provide the City of St. John’s control over the day-to-day operational budget of the 911 service for the Avalon Peninsula, the fundamental need for the Provincial Government to retain overall control and accountability per the new legislation has created an impasse.
The Provincial Government is now exploring having the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) in St. John’s become the Public Safety Answering Point for the Avalon Peninsula. The RNC currently operates a police dispatch service, and already responds to the vast majority of 911 calls in the region. Any service provider must meet National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards for the new province-wide service, ensuring a consistent level of service throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. The City of St. John’s has offered to provide support during a transition period between providers in the future.
“The safety and security of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians is of paramount importance to our government. For that reason, in March, all residents of Newfoundland and Labrador will have access to province-wide Basic 911. Residents will be able to access this service on all landline telephones and on cellular phones where a cellular signal can be accessed. Finding a long-term solution for the provision of 911 on the Avalon Peninsula will have no effect on residents throughout the province, as the City of St. John’s will continue to provide the same level of service it always has for a number of communities throughout the Avalon Peninsula until a new service delivery option is confirmed. All other 911 calls on the rural Avalon Peninsula not currently handled by the city may be forwarded to the Corner Brook call taking centre for an interim period, which will be confirmed in the coming days as well.”
– Minister Manning
Since announcing the province-wide Basic 911 initiative in 2012, the Provincial Government has completed extensive work on preparation and implementation of the new service. Province-wide consultations were conducted; the new Emergency 911 Act was passed in the House of Assembly, and a Crown corporation (NL 911 Bureau Inc.) was established with staff in the final stages of recruitment.
Effective March 1, 2015, the Basic 911 service will be funded through a 75 cent fee on all phone lines throughout the province remitted to the NL 911 Bureau Inc. The cost of operating a 911 call taking centre is covered by this fee and will have no impact on municipalities or the Public Safety Answering Point operators.