Canada's Emergency Alert System Fails First Quebec Test

Helen Aguilar
May 11, 2018

The test is also a great opportunity for families to have a conversation about what their plan would be in the event of an emergency, said Sampson.

To learn more about test alerts and to find out if a cellphone is capable of receiving emergency alerts, Canadians can visit Alert Ready.

Remaining provinces and Northwest and Yukon territories will test Wednesday.

"A space incorrectly included in the coding prevented the Alert Ready System from sending the Quebec test message to compatible wireless devices earlier this morning", it read, adding the misconfiguration was quickly corrected.

"The alerts are actually coming from the emergency management in the region and then it goes to Pelmorex", Valladao said.

"Imagine sitting down at the table (Wednesday) night, if the test goes well, and saying to your high school students in your family or your young university students in your family and say, 'Hey, did your phone fire off?"

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Depending on the settings, users with compatible devices - such as smartphones and tablets connected to an LTE network - were supposed to hear a tone similar to an ambulance alarm or feel a vibration for eight seconds starting at 9:55 a.m. ET in Quebec.

The tests follow an order from Canada's communications regulator, the CRTC, demanding that wireless providers provide an updated system to warn Canadians of threats like tornadoes, floods, wildfires or terror attacks. Similar to the system that caused panic in Hawaii at the beginning of the year when a message about an impending missile strike was mistakenly sent to cell phones.

The alert messages are distributed by cell broadcast technology and can not be tracked.

The Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services says the test will take place in Ontario at 1:55pm Eastern time.

It's unclear whether officials will conduct another test in Ontario and Quebec.

Saskatchewan 1:55 p.m.

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