Canadian Emergency Cellphone Alerts Will Be Mandatory, No Opting Out: CRTC


By now, you may already know Canada is set to launch its wireless emergency alert system on April 6th. Canada’s wireless carriers were given one year to setup the system and many users have been receiving text messages about its impending roll out.

According to the CTV News, the CRTC recently defended its decision to make the system mandatory with no option to opt out.

CRTC spokeswoman Patricia Valladao, told the Canadian Press “People cannot opt out of this,” adding, “There is a high importance that people — want it or not — receive these alerts.”

The CRTC had the final say when it came to deciding whether the system should have an opt out option or not, despite a recent report which said most wireless carriers wanted an option to disable some alerts or entirely altogether.

Patrick Tanguy, an assistant deputy minister with Public Safety Canada, said “When you’re getting those alerts your life is at risk,” adding “So it’s not there’s potentially a danger, there is a danger.”

All levels of government are working on setting up best practices to ensure a smooth rollout, “to make sure those events don’t happen like it happened in Hawaii,” says Tanguy. He admitted the new system “is not 100 per cent bulletproof”.

Alert ready

The wireless alerts from Alert Ready will be handled by the parent company of the Weather Network, Pelmorex Corp., headquartered in Oakville, Ontario. Test alerts will be sent out in early May to ready wireless users to the new system.

According to Paul Temple, senior vice-president of regulatory and strategic affairs at Pelmorex, “People should hopefully be familiar with that sound by the time they get an actual emergency message.” He added with the popularity of smartphones “it’s just another way to reach people quickly when their life is possibly in danger,” instead of just radio and TV.

Last fall Pelmorex acquired a mobile advertising company to boost their monetization efforts within their app, The Weather Network, which harnesses user location for targeted ads.

There are requirements for Canadians to be part of this new wireless alerts system. Users must have an LTE device that supports wireless public alerting (WPA) and also be connected to an LTE cellular network at the time an alert is sent.

For iPhone owners, this means if you have an iPhone 5 or newer, your device will support this new emergency alert system.

For users with older phones using 3G data or only have Wi-Fi connectivity, the free iOS app Alertable can send you alerts, as it is linked to Canada’s Alert Ready system.


  • Aleks Oniszczak

    “People cannot opt out of this” OK mom.

    “So it’s not there’s potentially a danger, there is a danger.” Mom, that makes no sense. ALL danger is potential until it hurts or kills you. In other words, “potential danger” is redundant. You’re saying absolutely nothing.

    Look, what’s the difference between, “I’m going to hold your hand when we cross the street because cars are dangerous” and “I’m going to hold your hand when we cross the street because cars are potentially dangerous” There’s no difference mom. I don’t think I trust your logic mom. Mom, I’m 35 years old – why are you telling me what to do.

  • Tony

    Will I get the alert twice if I have the app?

  • The Politburo strikes again.

  • BeaveVillage

    What happened in Hawaii was ridiculous. For 45 minutes men, women, and children, citizens and tourists alike were fed the end of the world and no one was prepared. It was absolute chaos and insanity. Just imagine, you wake up early in the morning to your phone going off about an incoming Nuclear Missile Strike from North Korea.

    Do I believe it was a mistake? No. It takes a lot to push that big red button that triggered the pandemonium, it was likely an unannounced drill only known about secretly by the top echelons of state and possibly federal government.

  • My 1/2 cents

    System is already buggy AF. Telus says emergency text messages will be rolled out in phases this month. Most people have not received such text messages. And just think about it…in an emergency situation text messages will be rolled out on phases presumably because their system can’t handle bulk text messages? Does that make sense? Additional, just because one might have a compatible device, how can the user check to see if all the settings are correct to receive these alerts?

  • SV650

    a) it is not an SMS-based system.
    b) being regional in nature, it is unlikely to be sent to all subscribers. Think Tsunami not Nuclear Armageddon.

    The Weather Network App already includes these notifications for locations you have included on your watch list. Unfortunately, they do not come to your Follow-Me locations.

  • dkishome

    More distractions for drivers… excellent idea.

  • Babaghan

    CRTC: Committee for Repression and Thought Control

  • Victorious Secret

    “Do I believe it was a mistake? No.”

    You actually think it was an intentional conspiracy? Seriously?

  • Victorious Secret

    What app?

  • BeaveVillage

    No, not a conspiracy or intentional by officials, just a test–by a few select group of people.

    What better way to test your alert system than to not announce it at all? Unfortunately, this carries a lot of consequences in the aftermath, including jobs on the line.

    Who the heck pushes a button by accident when there are MULTIPLE systems in place to prevent an accidental push? 45 minutes. Not 1 minute. Not 5 minutes. Not 25 minutes. 45 minutes.

  • Tony


  • Arter Kirkwood

    Hi Tony, you would get alerted twice if you have the Alertable app. If in the area at the time of the emergency, you would receive the emergency alert message from your wireless provider (splashed as brief message across your screen) and shortly thereafter you would receive an app notification from Alertable. Touching the app notification would open the app and take you to more details for the alert (touching the message from your cellular provider will do nothing, it’s not interactive at this point). Inside the Alertable app, the alert will be labelled **WIRELESS PUBLIC ALERT** to show that this is the alert associated with the wireless emergency alert message you might have just seen splashed across your phone. You don’t need to wait for the app notification to come in, as soon as you see wireless message you can manually go into the app and more information will be immediately there for the alert (app notifications are slightly delayed since they are sent by Apple and Google push notification services and have a little more processing involved, whereas cellular providers can blast your phone immediately from ta local cell tower). Hope that helps.

  • My 1/2 cents

    Technically, you’re correct but to most people the differentiation between the alert system from an SMS is moot. It’s an alert on their device that is displayed in the form of a SMS.