National Public Alerting in Canada - Backgrounder

Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) governments in Canada have been working toward a National Public Alerting System (NPAS) for many years. In 2007, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) issued a public notice that it would remove regulatory barriers to alert services and take a voluntary approach toward distribution of public alerts.

In June 2009, the CRTC approved an application made by Pelmorex Communications Inc., which included a commitment to broadcast emergency alerts at no cost to subscribers, and established a one year limit for launching the National Alert Aggregation and Dissemination (NAAD) System. FPT governments worked with Pelmorex and private sector broadcasters to address the actions required to make the system operational and on June 9, 2010, the NAAD System was officially launched.

The NAAD System is one part of a larger NPAS, and it is based on the Common Alerting Protocol, an international standard for exchanging public warning and emergency messages between alerting technologies.

Since the NAAD System became available in 2010, Environment Canada and all 13 provinces/territories have completed user agreements to issue or accept emergency alerts via their Emergency Management Organizations through the NAAD System. The NAAD System is capable of delivering emergency alerts to broadcast distributors that can rapidly warn the public of imminent or unfolding dangers, such as tornadoes, wildfires or hazardous chemical spills. It makes available critical alerts from authorized government originators to be aired immediately.

This is an important safety system for Canadians. Governments continue to encourage broadcasters, cable and satellite companies to deliver relevant emergency alerts to their subscribers. As the system expands to include the participation of cell phone companies, social media web sites and other internet and multimedia distributors, even more Canadians will be alerted to emergencies that could affect their safety.

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