Changes to support Nova Scotians in an emergency

The province is introducing legislation to require local telecommunications companies to be more responsible and provide reliable service and better communication to Nova Scotians in the event of an emergency.

Today, October 13, the government introduced amendments to the Emergency Management Act and the Emergency 911 Act that will require local telecommunications companies to prepare before a storm, take all possible precautions to provide continuous telephone service during a weather or other emergency event, and to provide communication updates and transparency to customers.

“We need our telecommunications companies to step up and do better. We will no longer accept the status quo. We need to see significant improvements before the next storm or there will be significant penalties,” said John Lohr, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Minister responsible for the Office of Emergency Management. “Telecommunications are essential during and after any weather event and Nova Scotians need to be able to call 911 and communicate with loved ones in the event of an emergency.

Changes include:

  • require telecommunications providers and other essential service providers to take reasonable steps to ensure continuity of service
  • requiring providers of telecommunications and other essential services to develop an annual emergency response plan that must be approved by the minister
  • provide the Minister with the authority to require the physical presence of telecommunications service providers and other essential service providers at an established emergency planning and response table, and to require the service provider essentials shares records related to its response to the emergency event
  • grant the customer a discount equal to the financial benefit acquired by the telecommunications provider and other essential service providers from the customer while the customer was not receiving the service.

Failure to comply with legislation and/or regulations could result in daily fines of up to $250,000 if convicted.

Fast facts:

  • many residents were unable to access telephone services to communicate with others or to access 911 emergency services in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona
  • even though many Nova Scotians were disconnected from telephone/internet/emergency services, they continued to be billed for these services by telecommunications companies
  • emergency responders and electrical repair line personnel were unable to communicate with each other or with coordination centers, leading to questions about what was being done to resolve issues in the aftermath of the disaster
  • the province sent a letter to the federal minister responsible for telecommunications companies in Canada, asking him to ensure that telecommunications companies cooperate more with the Emergency Management Office and are transparent with Nova Scotians



Back to top button