The Government of NS takes steps to legislate liability for telephone companies

Following a post-tropical storm that left thousands without phone service, the Nova Scotia government is taking steps to legislate liability for telecommunications companies.

« Really, nothing has changed since [post-tropical storm] Doiran so far, » John Lohr, provincial minister responsible for the office of emergency management, told reporters at Province House on Thursday.

« We’re not happy with that, so we want to send a signal that we’re not happy with that, that things have to change and that’s how we’re going to hold these companies to account. »

Legislation filed by Lohr would require telecommunications companies operating in the province to develop annual emergency response plans that must be approved by the minister.

These plans should outline reasonable steps the companies would take to ensure continued service during a storm or fast food.

The bill would also give the minister the power to require the presence of representatives of businesses and essential service providers at an emergency planning and response table, and that providers share records related to their response. to emergency situations.

Although telecommunications companies are federally regulated, Lohr said the province has jurisdiction over emergency management. The bill is presented as such, he said.

In Fiona’s wake, Lohr and Premier Tim Houston criticized the decision by most telecommunications companies not to have a presence at the provincial coordination center before the storm landed and during its immediate aftermath.

« It was one of our big disappointments, » Lohr said.

The presence of company representatives can help coordinate areas needing a response as soon as possible to help restore service and avoid any potential delays, the minister said.

“At that time, being in the room is essential,” he said.

« It’s about being able to react instantly to a crisis. »

Failure to comply with legislation and regulations would result in a company being fined up to $250,000 per day.

Lohr said he hopes the fines won’t be necessary as the companies work with the province to improve response plans.


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