Premier Tim Houston. (Communications N.S. Photo)

From a news release

HALIFAX: Premier Tim Houston is calling on telecommunications companies to be more collaborative with the Emergency Management Office (NSEMO) and transparent with Nova Scotians, and for the federal government to hold them accountable to Atlantic Canadians impacted by hurricane Fiona.

Premier Houston wrote to François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and Minister responsible for telecommunications, calling on the federal government to take action and ensure telecommunications companies provide information about service outages in the hurricane’s aftermath.

More than four days after the storm, many Nova Scotians are still without access to reliable communications, which means they are not able to call 911 in an emergency.

“Nova Scotians have questions about when their service will be restored, how widespread the outages are and what the companies plan to do to ensure this never happens again,” said Premier Houston.

“It is unacceptable that there are Nova Scotians who can’t call 911 or connect with loved ones during this difficult time. There is no question we need our telecommunications companies to step up and be more transparent.”

Given the expected impacts on power and telecommunications, NSEMO contacted key critical infrastructure partners, including telecommunications companies, to request that they send a representative to the Provincial Coordination Centre (PCC). Not one telecommunications company was initially willing to send a representative.

Only after complaints to senior leadership did Bell agree to send a representative in person, who attended the centre for two days before announcing they would work virtually.

Eastlink, Rogers and Telus declined to attend the PCC in person during the initial response.

Other key partners – including Nova Scotia Power, Canadian Red Cross, Halifax Regional Municipality and Cape Breton Regional Municipality – have actively sought opportunities to communicate regularly with Nova Scotians leading up to, during the storm and after the storm.

“Other service providers have come together in an effort to make sure Nova Scotians have the information they need, yet the telecommunications companies are consistently missing from the table,” said Premier Houston.

“We are calling on the federal government, as the regulator, to ensure that telecommunications are accountable for their performance in emergencies and transparent with customers.”

Quick Facts:
— Bell is responsible for 911 infrastructure in Atlantic Canada and for trunked mobile radio infrastructure, used by all first responders in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

Additional Resources:
Premier’s letter to the Government of Canada:

Information on emergency and disaster preparedness: