Phones across the province were buzzing with emergency alert tests

Published On May 7, 2018 | By Tina Nalova Ikome-Likambi | News


Chelsea Mendes

At exactly 1:55 p.m., devices across the province were buzzing.

Test alerts were sent out today to cellphones, tablets and other LTE mobile devices owned by residents across Ontario and Quebec.

Other provinces will follow by sending their test alerts on Wednesday.

The Alert Ready system allows alerting authorities from federal, provincial and territorial governments to issue a wide range of public safety messages.

However, broadcasters and wireless service providers are only required to distribute emergency alerts for situations that pose an immediate threat-to-life.

Spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services for Ontario, Brent Ross said that the frequency of alerts depends on the frequency of emergency situations.

“People will be told as part of the alert what the emergency is and what measures they may wish to take to protect themselves, their families and their property,” said Ross.

Ross said that government officials have developed a specific list of the types of alerts that are considered a threat-to-life and should be distributed immediately on television, radio and wireless devices.

“These “Broadcast Immediately” emergency alerts have the highest level of severity, urgency and certainty,” said Ross.

“Issuing alerts outside of this list for example heavy rainfall or blizzard warnings is at the discretion of each of the broadcasters. Wireless service providers will only receive and relay messages that are issued for threat-to-life situations.”

Unlike other wireless emergency alerts, Canada’s system alerts will come with a specific vibration cadence, alert tone and banner to notify users of an emergency.

If your device was turned off  you probably did not receive the message. Also if you were on the phone during the time of the alert, phone users had their conversations interrupted by a sound similar to a call waiting tone.

Phone users will not be billed for the alert and they will not be charged for data usage since the message is not a SMS.

Some cell phone providers sent text messages to subscribers last week alerting them about the tests, which are mandatory and may require users to acknowledge the messages before they can resume normal use of their devices.

These alerts are being conducted to spread awareness during Emergency Preparedness Week 2018 (May 6-12).



To learn more about the alerts visit Alert Ready.

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