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Updated: Emergency alerts issued warning about 911 system failure in the Maritimes

January 31, 2023
The Canadian Press

By Michael MacDonald

The 911 systems across the Maritimes were offline for up to two hours Tuesday morning, prompting officials to issue emergency alerts.

By early afternoon, it remained unclear what caused the outages.

Bell Aliant, which serves all of Atlantic Canada, confirmed that 911 service for people using landlines was knocked out, but it said the service remained available to those using wireless devices.

“We are investigating the root cause and apologize for the inconvenience,” Bell Aliant said in an emailed statement.


Officials in Nova Scotia later confirmed the province’s Emergency Management Office was notified by Bell Aliant that the service had been disrupted across Nova Scotia at 7 a.m. local time.

The provincial agency issued an emergency alert just after 8 a.m. advising that the system was having issues. A follow-up alert at 8:42 a.m. confirmed service had been restored, but provincial officials later issued a statement saying full restoration happened shortly after 9 a.m.

John Lohr, Nova Scotia’s minister responsible for the Emergency Management Office, issued a statement saying the disruption was “extremely concerning.”

“We are working diligently with Bell to understand what happened and what led to the disruption to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again,” he said, adding that the provincial co-ordination centre at the Emergency Management Office would remain activated for the rest of the day.

“This ensures key partners are in attendance at the centre to monitor service and work through any issues.”

New Brunswick’s Organization of Emergency Measures confirmed similar problems around 8 a.m., and the organization issued a statement at 9:28 a.m. saying the system was back in operation.

In P.E.I., the Island’s Public Safety Department issued a statement just before 9 a.m., saying the system had been restored.

At one point, the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office distributed an Alert Ready message saying that if anyone was having problems dialing 911 they should instead call one of four regular telephone numbers listed in the alert.

“People are encouraged to write down these numbers or save them on their phone to ensure quick access in case of a future disruption,” Lohr said.

The Alert Ready system delivers intrusive alarms and emergency messages to radios, televisions and most smartphones.

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