Focus now on local governments for appropriate operational funding to support emergency system
Vancouver, BC – The union representing E-Comm’s 9-1-1 dispatch operators in British Columbia say a Budget 2023 investment of $150 million in Next Generation 9-1-1 services is a critical step in improving emergency response services.
This funding will support local, remote, and Indigenous communities with planning, preparation, and implementation of technology and infrastructure upgrades for the transition to Next Gen 911 – bringing the emergency response system into the digital age. Next Gen will provide 911 operators with better location information which is critical in an emergency – and will also open integration with text, photo, video, and more.
“Funding is something we have strongly advocated for, and government received the message,” says CUPE 8911 President Donald Grant. “In the end, this means safer, faster, and more informed emergency response services – and that is such a critical part of what we do, and what British Columbians rely on each day. We look forward to details about how quickly this process will unfold.”
Grant applauded the one-time $150 million investment by the province and suggests this now presents an opportunity for local governments to ensure necessary operational funding is in place to ensure 9-1-1 staffing needs are met in each of their communities.
“We want to work with local governments in a collaborative way to ensure stability for our emergency response system. This is critical from a community perspective and for dispatch operators who are the backbone of our system and serve on the front lines,” continued Grant. “An important point that shouldn’t be lost on anyone is the fact that Next Gen won’t be as effective, without appropriate staffing levels to receive, process and act on the new and expanded data available.”
For the past two years, the union has sounded the alarm about dire situation of managing an emergency response system. Staffing levels at E-Comm — a multi-municipality agency that provide 99% of the initial 9-1-1 call answer for the province and answer, triage, dispatch, and update the calls in order of priority for 33 police agencies and 40 fire departments in BC —are well below those required to meet anticipated demand. This forces dispatchers to work well beyond their normal four-day, 12-hour shift schedule, which is simply unsustainable.
About Emergency Communications Professionals of British Columbia:
ECPBC represents more than five hundred 9-1-1 operators, call takers, dispatchers, IT, and support professionals employed by E-Comm Emergency Communications for BC Inc. With worksites in Vancouver, Burnaby, and Saanich, ECPBC’s members provide 99% of the initial 9-1-1 call answer for the province and answer, triage, dispatch, and update the calls in order of priority for 33 police agencies and 40 fire departments in B.C.