July 30, 2014 5:32 pm

Alberta cellphone levy generates $2M for 911 services

Alberta 911 call centres get boost in funding from cellphone levy

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File

EDMONTON – Since April 1, Albertans have been paying an extra 44 cents a month on their cellphone bills to support 911 services.

“We’re finding now that over 70 per cent of all calls to 911 are coming from cellphones,” said Municipal Affairs Minister Greg Weadick.

“So, it’s critically important that we make sure we balance out the funding, to make sure that these 911 call centres have the funding they need to go forward.”

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So far, about $2 million has been collected.  That money will be directed towards Alberta’s 21 call centres to manage increased call volumes, help fund computer and phone upgrades, pay for staffing and training, and to implement new technology.

“We are looking at seeing things like GPS location, that so when a cellphone contact comes in, even if we lose the caller, we can track onto that GPS location,” explained Weadick.

Most of the funds will be allocated on a per capital basis, but there is also a base amount that goes to each service centre.

“911 is one of the most vital public safety services,” said Weadick, “one that Albertans rely on in some of their most critical times of need. This funding will go a long way to help cover the costs of sustaining our call centres.”

The levy on cellphones was implemented on April 1 as part of the Emergency 911 Act. Previously, only landline users contributed directly to the cost of 911 services.

Edmonton’s call centre is the second busiest in the province, handling about 1,000 911 calls a day.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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