Province Wide Levy on Wireless Services

UBCM is looking to obtain further input from local governments on the introduction of a uniform province wide Call Answer Levy (CAL) on wireless services to support and improve 911 services in British Columbia. UBCM is requesting that local governments review the previously issued 911 services report andprovide us with comments and suggestions.

In addition to the report, a Member Release was sent out to all local governments on October 30th. We are using this opportunity to check in with UBCM members to ensure there is support for moving in this direction and would appreciate your views on this issue.

The report highlights the fact that the current 911 system in the Province was developed on a regional basis to meet local needs.  The 911 emergency system is paid for by either a levy on landlines or by local property taxes.  The report examines three key issues:

  1. 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. 
  2. How 911 systems operate in other jurisdictions when a CAL is in place and their legislative framework (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia).
  3. What factors would need to be considered if a CAL was introduced for all wireless devices that 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. 

A number of service gaps and technological changes in the delivery of 911 services are identified in the paper.  These changes will require new revenue sources to meet public demand (i.e. video, pictures, text etc.).  An increasing number of calls for 911 emergency services 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.

UBCM would request that you provide any comments on the paper and your views on this issue by November 29, 2013.

Please forward your comments to Ken Vance at the UBCM Offices in Richmond at 604-270-8226.

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