Member Feedback Sought on Funding of 911 Services

UBCM is hosting a workshop at the UBCM Convention on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 to obtain member feedback and input into the future funding of 911 services. New revenue sources will be needed to meet future technological upgrades to the 911 system (i.e., video, pictures, & text capability) and to expand the coverage of 911 services in the Province.

UBCM has released a report on “911 Services in British Columbia: Background Review in Relation to a Province-Wide Call Answer Levy” to provide a framework for undertaking this important discussion.

Local government in British Columbia has taken on the responsibility of providing 911 services and it is delivered on a regional basis. The report looks at how the 12 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) responsible for delivering the 911 system on a regional basis manage the 1.5 to 1.6 million calls it receives annually, the cost of the system, and some of the challenges it faces, such as gaps in coverage and abandoned calls.

Currently 911 services are paid for by either a call answer levy (CAL) on landline telephones or through local property taxes. The report examines the operation of 911 systems in other jurisdictions when a CAL is in place and their legislative framework (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia).

An increasing number of calls to 911 are coming from cell phone users, a trend which is expected to grow in the future as consumers expand their use of wireless services. Cell phone and other wireless users presently do not directly contribute, like users of landlines, to the provision of 911 services in British Columbia. The paper looks at what factors would need to be considered if a CAL was introduced for all devices which connect to 911 services in British Columbia, such as the type of legislation required, the scope of services that the 911 funding could be used for, and how the funds would be managed.

UBCM has had several resolutions calling for the provincial government to introduce legislation/regulations to allow a levy to be placed on cell and wireless users. In response to a request from the Province, UBCM agreed to establish a working group made up of provincial, local government and industry representatives and to work in partnership with it to develop an action plan for the Minister of Justice to consider.

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