Mobile Emergency Alerts Coming to Canada on April 6

Canadians across the country will soon be able to easily receive emergency alerts when an incident arises.

Wireless public alerting (WPA) will be turned on for all LTE-enabled mobile devices in Canada beginning on April 6. The service is being rolled out by Alert Ready, Canada’s national public alerting system. With the new system, wireless providers will now be able to distribute emergency alerts that they receive from authorities to any wireless device connected to an LTE network. As long as a phone is turned on, when a device receives an emergency alert it will vibrate and emit a sound, even if it is in silent mode.

A test for this new system will happen during the week of May 6 to 12.

“Canadians expect to receive information on emergencies through the same tools they use every day, from all levels of government working together,” said Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. “The expansion of Canada’s alerting system to include wireless emergency alerts will ensure Canadians have the critical info they need at their fingertips.”

Alert Ready has been distributing emergency reports to Canadians over TV and radios since 2015, and the addition of wireless devices means the service can reach many more citizens. Close to 31 million Canadians subscribe to a wireless service, and 99 per cent of the country has access to an LTE network.

“Wireless technology has transformed the way Canadians live, work and play, and wireless devices have become integral parts of our day-to-day lives,” said Robert Ghiz, president and CEO of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. “Governments now have a powerful new tool to reach citizens and assist them with critical information in the event of an emergency.”

The system is free and does not require any kind of sign-up or opt-in. A vast majority of phones will be able to receive alerts, and by April 2019, all wireless devices for sale in Canada will have to be WPA-compatible.

As the technology and cellular system within Canada become more advanced with the advent of 5G upgrades, the alert system will be able to become more targeted. People within a very specific region may be alerted, or those approaching a specific area.

The Alert Ready system was developed in partnership with Pelmorex, the broadcasting industry, and federal, provincial and territorial officials. Pelmorex operates multi-platform TV, web and mobile services in weather-related categories, such as The Weather Network and Clima.