SUDBURY - Nickel Belt MPP France Gélinas has introduced a bill to ensure that Ontarians across the province have access to 911 emergency service.
Gélinas held a Queen’s Park press conference with Harriet Clunie, daughter of Kathryn Missen, who died because 911 emergency services were unavailable in her area. Gélinas’ bill is also supported by the Ontario Professional Fire Fighters Association. Executive vice-president Mark Train joined the press conference.
“In many parts of the province when you call 911 you are met with a not-in-service message," said Gélinas. "In rural areas, your call is bounced around to different call takers across Ontario before you speak to a dispatcher anywhere near you. This can have fatal consequences.”
Clunie said that Gélinas’ bill is needed to save lives.
“In my mother’s case, she never got as far as a dispatcher,” said Clunie. “My mother called 911 for help, but it never came.
“I urge the government to pass this bill into law to address the serious weaknesses in Ontario’s 911 system — to ensure that what happened to my mom, Kathryn, never happens again. This bill is the next logical step after the Coroner's inquest which we pushed so hard for. This bill ensures that action will be taken on the Coroner’s recommendations to prevent further tragedies."
A Coroner’s Inquest into the deaths of Kathryn Missen and Sudbury boating accident victims Matthew Robert Humeniuk, Michael Isaac Kritz, and Stephanie Joelle Bertrand found that 911 emergency service failed them.
The coroner’s jury, which met in Sudbury and Ottawa, made 27 recommendations to improve 911 service in Ontario.
“It is important for the provincial government to implement the coroner's recommendations, to improve our system, and to help people regain confidence in this critical service,” Gélinas said.
Train said that Ontario fire fighters agree that emergency 911 service needs to be improved.
"This bill supports a better system through elements of technology, training, supervision, processes and support,” he said.
“Technology is already in place and tested that supports real-time data sharing and simultaneous communication between emergency agency dispatch centre.
"The expansion of this, coupled with appropriate tiered response agreements, will provide the people of Ontario with the best emergency response possible with no unnecessary time delays in the dispatch of emergency services.”