QUEEN’S PARK— NDP MPP France Gélinas (Nickel Belt) is reintroducing a bill to the legislature that will save lives, by ensuring that every Ontarian has access to 911.
The bill has two main goals. The first and most important is to do away with 1-800 numbers in case of emergency, and change to 911 everywhere in Ontario, the technology exists, it is cheap and has been done in most other provinces. Secondly, the bill will give the Ombudsman the responsibility to investigate complaints against the 911 system.
“We have an opportunity to save lives,” said Gélinas. “Most people believe that in case of emergency you can call for help by dialing 911 no matter where you are in Ontario. Unfortunately, every year people find out the hard way that many Northern Ontario communities do not have access to 911. Instead people need to remember a 1-800 number that differs across regions. So people in distress call 911, and hear that the number is not in service. They call the operator who tells them to dial 911. This has had fatal consequences. Not one more person in Ontario should die because they do not have access to 911.”
"The operator did not know what to do when every moment counted,” says Helena Shepherd-Snider who had trouble reaching emergency services while her husband was having a heart attack. “Over the past three years, we have devoted countless hours to this overwhelming problem, which has caused our family undue stress and anxiety. This has got to change. Everyone in Ontario expects, requires and deserves access to 911.”
“By supporting this bill, we can take action to improve our system so that these tragedies are not in vain,” said Gélinas. “This law will also help people regain confidence in this critical service, by having the ombudsman investigate when things don’t work out with our 911 system.”