Quebecers will be able to text 911 anywhere across the province by March 2025, promises the Minister of Public Security François Bonnardel, who confirmed Monday the granting of 45.5 million to support the modernization of call centers.

“We want emergency call centers to be able to respond optimally to all Quebecers, regardless of the means of communication used. The feeling of security is priceless, whether we are talking about citizens in a dangerous situation or witnesses of an accident, “insisted Mr. Bonnardel, who held a press conference in Estrie at the end of before -noon.

His firm says the investment will “enable emergency call centers to process new forms of communication, including text messages, images, videos, and other types of data, such as biomedical information.”

Quebec is thus responding to a decision of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). In June 2021, it had decreed “to decommission the components of their 911 network” that are not part of the “next generation (NG)” network by March 4, 2025.

In early January, La Presse reported that the texting to 911 project, also known as “T911”, was initially expected to be ready by the end of 2020. However, the whole thing was postponed indefinitely with the pandemic. Being able to text 911 would notably make it possible to prevent drunk drivers from taking the road or to save the lives of women who are victims of domestic violence.

Provided for in the most recent Girard budget, the sum of 45.5 million will be divided according to need. “Given the significant financial costs and the schedule to be met, several municipalities will need financial assistance in order to be able to meet their obligations,” the government conceded in its budget last week.

In total, more than thirty establishments, either emergency centers or secondary emergency call centers, will share the envelope of 45.5 million over a period of three years. Payments will be made through the Municipal Agency for Financing and Development of 911 Emergency Centers of Quebec (AMFDCU).

These 27 centers represent more than 650 jobs taking emergency calls, which then distribute the interventions to the police, firefighters and paramedics.

The rest of this vast modernization project will be taken care of by the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), which is already well advanced in this area, according to our information. In a statement, the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Andrée Laforest, underlined Monday that technological improvements will thus be made in order to ensure, for example, “better localization of a person in distress who has contacted 911, and the dispatch of help faster “.

The president of the Commission de la sécurité publique of the Union des municipalités du Québec (UMQ), Michel Angers, believes that “the financial assistance announced [Monday] is timely and will allow us to continue to provide emergency services of quality to the population throughout Quebec, while reducing the financial burden on municipalities”.

The UMQ nevertheless specifies that the 911 service is financed by a tax of $5.52 per year on telephone accounts which has “not been indexed since 2016”. The addition of new technologies will therefore inevitably lead to “upward pressure on the costs of managing emergency centers”, it is noted.