Cellphone users in Alberta will soon be paying an extra $0.44 per month to fund 911 call centres, after the Emergency 911 Act was passed in the legislature a week ago, soon be become law later this year, possibly by October.
The fee is expected to raise roughly $17 million annually once fully implemented and will help 22 existing call centres in Alberta integrate technology required to locate callers, such as by text message or GPS according to The Calgary Herald:
Greg Weadick, the associate minister of municipal affairs, said the cellphone charge is urgently needed to ensure resources are in place for the emergency call centres.
“As we’ve seen land lines reduced in number, it’s really severely limiting the ability of 911 to answer the increasing number of calls,” he said Tuesday.
Wireless providers will receive 7 cents of the levy to fund administration costs and those who won’t pay can fined $1,000; enforcement of these fines have yet to be determined says Weadick.
The Emergency 911 Act also will fine users $5,000 for a first offence and $10,000 for second offence for those who make ‘frivolous’ or prank emergency calls. Tracy Bertsch, a member of Calgary’s public safety communications board of governors, says “this couldn’t come at a better time,” as the city has experienced 911 call volume increase 15 per cent since 2009; there are roughly 300 accidental or prank calls daily.
Current cellphone users pay a 911 fee to our wireless carries, but this fee will be different, according to the Alberta Government’s FAQ page:
4. Some cellphone users already pay a 911 fee, so why will they have to pay this one?
There is a 911 fee that cellphone companies used to charge on their customers’ phone bills, but it was never a source of funding for Alberta’s call centres.
Cellphone companies use this fee to fund infrastructure and administration costs related to connecting their users to Alberta’s 911 service.
It is charged by individual telecommunications companies, and the Government of Alberta has no authority over this fee, nor do 911 call centres benefit from it.
The new 44 cent per month fee will match an existing levy land line users have been paying for years. Alberta cellphone users–what do you think about this new upcoming 911 fee?