PSAC calls for accessible emergency services in the North 

Text to 9-1-1 is the most direct and effective method for contacting emergency services. Yet the service isn’t offered in the Northwest Territories, Yukon, and Nunavut, despite being available in some capacity in every province. Without this service, deaf, deafened, hard of hearing, and speech-impaired (DHHSI) residents across the North are at a heightened risk during emergencies because emergency calls require them to speak to someone. 

PSAC has launched a new campaign aiming to improve the accessibility of emergency services for the DHHSI communities across the northern territories because emergency services should always be inclusive and accessible. 

Send a letter

"Access to emergency services can mean the difference between life and death,” said Sharon DeSousa, PSAC National President. “It is critical that these services be inclusive and accessible to everyone living in the North." 

Text to 9-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and allows 9-1-1 call centres to converse with DHHSI individuals during an emergency using text messaging, ensuring immediate access to help when it’s needed most. 

The situation in Nunavut is particularly dire, where residents are forced to navigate four different phone numbers to reach bylaw, fire, ambulance, or police services. Implementing a centralized 9-1-1 system and text to 9-1-1 service is a critical step towards improving public safety in Nunavut. 

"Safety concerns and barriers faced by DHHSI communities in the North have been magnified by the pandemic and recent climate-related disasters," added Josée-Anne Spirito, PSAC North Regional Executive Vice-President. “Urgent action is needed to ensure the safety and well-being of all northern residents.” 

Delegates at the 2024 PSAC National Triennial Convention kicked off the campaign by sending hundreds of postcards to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and territorial governments to pressure them to properly support, fund, and implement text to 9-1-1 emergency services in all three northern territories. 

Take action 

  • Send a letter to the premiers of the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon, as well as the Federal Minister of Northern Affairs and the Prime Minister of Canada asking them to ensure that emergency services are inclusive and accessible to everyone. 
  • Share this campaign on social media and encourage others to join the cause. Every voice counts. 
June 25, 2024