ALLISTON — Ontarios Government for the People is taking immediate action to keep Ontarians safe and protect communities by replacing the provinces crumbling Public Safety Radio Network, which frontline and emergency responders rely on during emergencies.
“This modernization project is long overdue,” said Premier Ford. “Our frontline and emergency responders need to have reliable, modern tools and resources in place to do their jobs and we are going to make sure this life-saving system gets underway.”
Ontarios Public Safety Radio Network
This multi-faceted project will ensure Ontarios more than 38,000 frontline and emergency responders — including OPP police officers, paramedics and hospital staff, fire services, provincial highway maintenance staff, as well as enforcement and correctional officers — can count on the communications infrastructure, network and equipment they need when responding to emergencies.
Ford government says it will upgrade Ontarios public safety radio network
“Ontarios Public Safety Radio Network is one of the largest and most complex in North America and yet one of the last not to comply with the North American standard,” said Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “The daily service outages experienced with the network compromise our frontline and emergency responders ability to react to emergencies and put the safety of the public at risk.”
“The Public Safety Radio Network is essential to helping front-line responders communicate with each other to provide Ontarians with vital emergency services,” said Christine Elliott, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. “By replacing this aging system with state-of-the-art technology, we are providing resources to paramedics, police officers, fire services and others to keep Ontarians safe.”
The new network is expected to be fully operational by 2023, with new service phased in by 2021. Infrastructure, equipment and services required to set up and maintain the new network will be acquired through a multi-vendor procurement process. The new network will also present potential opportunities for generating revenue, which will benefit taxpayers. In the meantime, a risk mitigation strategy has been developed to ensure that public safety is not compromised and that the current network is maintained until the new network is fully operational.
“This network is critical to my ministry staff in the North,” added Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. “Much of their work is done well beyond cell towers — including our brave fire service members who need to stay connected with crews on the ground, as well as our conservation officers while patrolling remote areas. This important investment will provide better service for the people of Ontario and greater security for ministry staff who depend on this network to keep communities safe.”
“The recent tornadoes experienced in Eastern Ontario prove how important it is for us to modernize our Public Safety Radio Network,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “The upgrades will help municipal first responders like paramedics, fire services and police do their important jobs better.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks to reporters in Toronto, on Monday, September 10, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov.
22 central ambulance, five OPP and Ministry of Transportations (MTO) communications centres 350 ambulance bases167 hospitals and 2,200 emergency health vehicles170 boats172 OPP detachments and 4,000 policing vehicles2,700 MTO maintenance vehicles and 161 patrol yards114 bailiff and transport vehicles23 adult and six youth correctional facilities run by the provinceProvincial parksFar North communitiesWhy radio and not cell phones?
TORONTO — The Ontario government plans to rebuild the aging radio network first responders across the province rely on during emergencies, saying upgrades to the system are sorely needed.
Radio communications technology also allows for significantly more coverage and communications across the province of Ontario than is available through cellular services. Our emergency services are able to operate in a large portion of the province where no cellular service is available thanks to the provincial network. No emergency service organization uses cellular services for primary voice communications.
Premier Doug Ford said Thursday that the Public Safety Radio Network is prone to daily outages and must be modernized.
The network covers 750,000 square kilometres across the province, including areas in the north where cellphone service is not available, and helps first responders communicate and co-ordinate during forest fires, police operations and medical emergencies.
"You need modern, reliable equipment," Ford said while speaking to a group of first responders near Alliston, Ont. "Sadly, Ontarios public safety radio network is outdated. Its falling apart."
Radio allows direct communication from individual to individual or from an individual to groups at the push of a single button. This capability is vital in coordinating the types of emergency responses faced by police, ambulance, fire services and other users and is a critical part of their daily operations.
Ford would not say how much the rebuild will cost taxpayers, adding that those details will be released once a competitive bidding process for the project is complete.
Community Safety Minister Michael Tibollo said the radio system is the "lifeblood" of emergency response in the province but was last upgraded 20 years ago.
"Pause for a second and think where communication technology was a generation ago compared with where we are today," he said.
Tibollo said first responders had voiced concerns about the aging system and noted that it experiences frequent failures. The system is so outdated the Ontario government has had to look on Kijiji to find replacement parts, he added.
"The radios that they use today are obsolete," he said. "You would have a better chance of walking into a Best Buy today to purchase a tube television than weve had replacing those radios."
Tibollo said the company that successfully bids for the project will build and service the public radio network for 15 years.
"This is a massive undertaking," Tibollo said. "The telecommunications towers, antenna and technology that provide essential public safety radio coverage across the province will be rebuilt."