WHEREAS Twenty Five Public Safety Answer Points (PSAPs) are operated by municipalities in Alberta for the purpose of receiving 911 calls for the vast majority of Alberta municipalities; and
WHEREAS the Canada Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) – approved Tariff Item #203 provides for a Local Government Authority Call Answer Levy ($0.37 call) on wireline telephones to be collected by a service provider and remitted to the Local Government Authority to assist in funding Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs); and
WHEREAS 911 calls originating from cellular phones and other electronic voice communications account for 60 – 75 per cent (or higher) of all 911 calls; and
WHEREAS the revenues from cellular call answer fees could contribute at least $8.6 million annually to the funding of PSAPs in the Province of Alberta; and
WHEREAS six other provinces have introduced legislation requiring that cellular telephone service providers collect and remit 911 call answer fees to support PSAPs;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties request that the Government of Alberta pass legislation compelling cellular telephone service providers operating in Alberta to collect a monthly cellular 911 call answer fee from its subscribers and remit those revenues to the municipalities operating 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPS).
This issue was addressed in a resolution in 2007 passed at the AAMDC and AUMA Conventions. In 2011 legislation in Alberta has still not been passed compelling cellular service providers to collect a monthly cellular 911 call answer fee from its subscribers and remit those revenues to municipalities operating 911 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs).
This issue was highlighted as an issue of top priority at the Rural Community First Responders Conference held August 26 & 27, 2011 in Stettler.
Alberta PSAPs currently benefit from a fee collected from wireline customers but not from cellular customers. Alberta PSAPs continue to see decreasing wireline/landline revenues as people surrender their wireline/landline in favor of cellular communications.
The AHS model of centralization of ambulance dispatch transition continues to erode the financial viability of PSAPs in Alberta, removing revenue from the PSAPs.
In 2011, 911 calls from cellular phones made up at least 60 -70 per cent of the emergency calls presented in Alberta PSAPs. The number of 911 calls originating from cellular phones is not only large and increasing, but these calls typically require more attention to detail and further follow up than most wireline calls. Cellular calls can disconnect from 911 (unlike most wireline calls), and thus often require callbacks. Neither the call hold feature, nor the exact location information (ANI/ALl) is available in all cases. Extra computer equipment, software and training are also required to capture and interpret the limited information received in the cellular call record.
Unregistered and/or deactivated cell phones are also capable of calling 911, and the call taker may be provided with a call back number that is incorrect or absent. These types of calls often waste valuable manpower as policy dictates that trouble-not-known calls must be attended by police.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) reported that Canada had nearly 24.7 million cellular subscribers at the end of 2010. This number represents huge growth and migration towards cellular services. As a result, Quebec, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Manitoba have taken action and enacted legislation requiring that cellular 911- call answer fees be charged ranging from $0.43 to $0.62 per cellular service.
The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) also reported that each year, Canadians place more than 6 million calls to 911 or emergency numbers from their mobile phones.
In Alberta, TELUS (Mobility), Bell Mobility, Rogers Wireless already charge their users some form of a 911 fee for network purposes, ranging from $0.50 to $0.75 for what they term provision of and/or access charged for enhanced 911 services. These funds are not remitted to the 911 service providers (PSAPs) in the province of Alberta.
The AAMDC has no active resolutions pertaining to this issue.
Municipal Affairs/ Alberta Emergency Management Agency:
A reliable and accessible 911 call system is an important part of the Government of Alberta’s commitment to providing safe, strong and vibrant communities. Led by the Alberta Emergency Management Agency, a cross-ministry group is currently analyzing options to support the ongoing development of 911. This review includes an analysis of approaches to 911 in other jurisdictions and various recommendations from 911 call centre operators.
The AAMDC is pleased with the progress made on this issue. Starting April 1, 2014 the Emergency 911 Act will come into effect and add 44 cents to each cellphone bill. The money from the new levy will help fund 911 centres across the province. With the passing of this legislation, the AAMDC deems this resolution Accepted.