Brace yourself, Canada: Another test of the public emergency alert system is coming to a screen or device near you


Canadians across the country, with the exception of those living in Nunavut, can expect their Wednesday to be interrupted by an emergency public alert that will be broadcast on television and radio and sent to compatible mobile devices as part of a national system test.The exact time of the test will vary by province or territory, depending on the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). Alerts are intended to alert Canadians to life-threatening situations.

“The messages will be identified as test alerts and will not force Canadians to take action,” the CRTC said in a statement on Tuesday.

The test of the national public alerting system aims to verify performance and reliability “to ensure that it is functioning as intended in the event of a potentially fatal situation,” the statement said.

The times will be as follows:

  • Alberta: 13 h 55 (MT).

  • British Columbia: 1:55 p.m. (PT).

  • Manitoba: 13 h 55 (CT).

  • New Brunswick: 10:55 a.m. (AT).

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 10:55 a.m. (NT).

  • Northwest Territories: 9:55 a.m. (MT).

  • Nova Scotia: 1:55 p.m. (AT).

  • Ontario: 12:55 pm (ET).

  • Prince Edward Island: 12:55 p.m. (AT).

  • Canada: 13 h 55 (HE).

  • Saskatchewan: 13 h 55 (CT).

  • Yukon: 13 h 55 (MT).

For a wireless device to receive a test alert, it must be:

  • Connected to an LTE wireless network or a newer wireless network (5G).

  • Compatible with Wireless Public Alerts (WPA).

  • Equipped with a recent Canadian version of its operating software.

If a mobile device meets these conditions and does not receive the test, the CRTC encourages Canadians to contact their service provider.

The warning system tests go back to spring 2018 and did not always go well.

The system was supposed to be fully operational nationwide under the orders of regulators by April 6, 2018. But the first test in Quebec did not ring at all, and a similar test in Ontario failed because many wireless subscribers did not receive the test. .

However, according to the commission, since January 2019, hundreds of emergency alert messages have been successfully transmitted by emergency management officials.

Over the summer, OPP investigators used the system to alert residents of Lanark County that an “armed and dangerous” suspect was on the run after a body was found in a motel room.

The alert came three months after a Nova Scotia denturist engaged in a shooting attack in Portapique, Nova Scotia, killing 22 people. The RCMP has come under heavy criticism for not using the system and choosing instead to warn the public through social media.

More recently, some have questioned the fact that the Quebec police have used Twitter instead of the alert system or other techniques to warn the population that an individual armed with a sword was walking in the historic sector of the provincial capital on Halloween night.

The technology is available in Quebec, through the operations center of the Ministry of Public Security, but the Quebec police have chosen not to use it.

A spokesperson for the Quebec police department said the police were not using the alert system because they had quickly brought the situation under control and the technology “is still new in its use by police organizations” .


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