Toronto may join growing number of US cities with 911 texting

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh/File

TORONTO — A city council vote this week could set Toronto on the path to becoming the first jurisdiction in Canada where all residents can send text messages to 911 operators instead of calling them.

Coun. Norm Kelly is calling on the city to request that the Toronto Police Services Board consider adopting emergency texting.

READ MORE: 911 texting now available for Calgary’s deaf, hard of hearing and speech impaired

Many parts of Canada, including Toronto and 500 other Ontario communities, offer 911 texting for people with hearing or speech impairments.

Text service for people with special needs also exists in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, most of Quebec, and parts of Alberta and British Columbia.

READ MORE: Technology not yet ready for Next Generation 911

But emergency texting for people without hearing or speech impairment is not available anywhere in Canada.

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In January, the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission started a consultation process to create a regulatory framework for what it calls “next generation 911.” The CRTC said this program could potentially include extending 911 texting to all Canadians.

READ MORE: How should 911 work? CRTC asking for public input on upgrades

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