Emergency calls and public safety
Keeping you connected in crisis
Mobile phones are an important part of everyday life — but in cases of an emergency, they can be a lifeline. The following resources provide helpful information on ways that mobile phones can be used to protect Canadians.
Wireless Public Alerting (WPA)
Wireless Public Alerting delivers critical and potentially lifesaving alerts to Canadians through their mobile devices. Learn more about Alert Ready and how emergency alerts can affect you here.
Text with 9-1-1 (T9-1-1)
T9-1-1 is available to you if you are part of the Deaf, deafened, Hard-of-Hearing or speech-impaired community in Canada. During an emergency, T9-1-1 provides 9-1-1 call centres with the ability to converse with you using text messaging.
Members of the community are encouraged to visit textwith911.ca to learn more about T9-1-1, including information about how to register with their service provider.
Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1)
Since 2010, the wireless industry and the public safety community have been providing further location identification information for Enhanced 9-1-1 (E9-1-1) service for cell phone users.
Previously, a 9-1-1 call taker would have received the cellular phone number and the location of the nearest cell site or cell tower when a call was placed to 9-1-1 from a cell phone. Now, in addition to the phone number, the call taker will receive more precise information based on the longitude and latitude coordinates of where the handset is located. This new technology provides the approximate location of the mobile handset but does not provide an exact “pinpoint location”.
E9-1-1 service is available in most parts of the country where wireline E9-1-1 service exists. Wireless service providers have deployed the technology across their coverage areas, however, there remain several public safety answering points (PSAPs), or 9-1-1 call centres, that are unable to accept the new location information and complete end-to-end testing with the wireless carriers. The wireless industry and the public safety community are working together to make sure E9-1-1 service is available in all areas of the country where wireline E9-1-1 service exists. Cell phone users should be prepared to provide a 9-1-1 call taker with their exact location as best they can.
You may have already received, or will receive, information about the enhancements to 9-1-1 from your wireless service provider. Customers are encouraged to contact their wireless service provider with any questions about E9-1-1 service in their area.
Most cell phones on the market today are equipped with GPS functionality. GPS functionality can be turned off by cell phone users. However, the 9-1-1 call may override GPS functionality that has been turned off on a cell phone. In addition, some wireless service providers may employ non-GPS technology known as triangulation or may be using a combination of GPS and triangulation, to provide the enhanced location information. Even though the 9-1-1 call taker may now receive handset location, it is important for cell phone user to remember they should always try to assist the 9-1-1 call taker by providing their exact location as best they can.
Most cell phones on the market today are designed to automatically allow the provision of handset location technology for calls to 9-1-1. Customers should contact their wireless service provider if they have any questions about their handset and/or the location identification technology used by their provider.
No. Most cell phones on the market today are designed to automatically allow the provision of handset location technology for calls to 9-1-1. Customers should contact their wireless service provider if they have any questions about their handset and/or the location identification technology used by their provider.
Yes. The location identification information will be provided to the 9-1-1 call taker whether you are using prepaid or postpaid service.
Possibly. In some cases, a call to 9-1-1 from a deactivated cell phone will reach a 9-1-1 operator. However, because that phone is not associated with any particular wireless service provider, the 9-1-1 operator will not be supplied with a dialable phone number. In the event of a call disruption, the call taker would not be able to call back. The operator may receive information about the cell site or cell tower that is transmitting the call, but they will not be provided with longitude and latitude coordinates.
Using your mobile phone in an emergency
Your mobile phone can be a lifeline in a crisis. Learn more about using your device in an emergency here.