911 is years overdue, but good to see movement at last: NDP
NDP Municipal Affairs Critic George Murphy (MHA, St. John’s East) and MHA Christopher Mitchelmore (The Straits-White Bay North) are happy to see the government finally moving on implementing province-wide 911. Basic 911 is expected to be in place by the end of 2014.
“We’ve been asking for it for years, going back to the days of Jack Harris,” Murphy said today. “We’ve presented petitions, asked questions, made it an issue in elections, lobbied ministers – it’s a huge issue for the province and for the NDP. It’s great to finally see some action being taken.
Murphy points out, though, that it is equally important to ensure everyone has access to 911, no matter where in the province they are. There are particular challenges for cell phone users in many parts of the province.
“If 911 is going to be active by 2014, we need to see a government initiative to ensure there is full cell coverage by 2014,” Murphy said. “Otherwise 911 will still not be there for many people when they need it most.”
Mitchelmore often hears from residents of, and visitors to, his district about the inconsistent access to cellular networks. “We are reminded of the urgency on a regular basis,” he said. “Just last week in my district, there was another car-moose accident that could have been tragic.”
“It’s a building block. We still need to see a strategic initiative by government to get 100 per cent cell phone coverage in the province,” Murphy said. “Consumers have already been paying for cell phone infrastructure through their cell phone bills, but we haven’t seen the strategic investment where it is needed most. There’s a separate 911 charge that could be going towards this important physical infrastructure.”
And while NG-911 is the ultimate goal, said Murphy, “Government must keep in mind that municipalities will need extra funding to ensure every household has a unique civic address that will work on the 911 system. Unincorporated areas will need attention from government. How will they regulate that particular 911 program in those particular areas?”