Ontario to get new emergency alert system

Apr 28, 2007

TORONTO, April 28 /CNW/ - The province of Ontario will create a new
warning system to advise citizens in the event of an emergency. Jay Hope,
Ontario's Commissioner of Emergency Management, outlined plans for the new
alert system today in Toronto at a meeting of RTNDA Canada - The Association
of Electronic Journalists.
The new "Alert Ontario" system would cover various levels of emergencies.
A Red Alert would go out in life-threatening situations...things like floods,
tornados and even a pandemic. Amber Alerts would continue in situations where
a child is endangered. And a third alert level would exist to provide less
immediate updates for general information and education purposes. The levels
of alert were modeled after the warnings and watches issued for severe
weather.
It's anticipated the new system will employ some of the same transmission
methods currently used for Amber Alerts: broadcasters, lottery terminals,
electronic highway signs, text messages and email. The Ontario Association of
Broadcasters currently updates the province-wide contact list for Amber Alerts
in Ontario and will play a similar role with the new enhanced alert system.
Hope reiterated the Emergency Management office's message that people in
Ontario need to be self-reliant for at least 72 hours in the event of a public
emergency... stressing that events like calamitous weather are becoming more
common: "Emergencies are growing more and more - if not here in Ontario - then
all around us," said Hope.
In response to the announcement, RTNDA's president, Bob McLaughlin said,
"Canada's broadcasters are essential to the successful management of any
emergency situation and our members look forward to learning more about this
new alert system."
The technical details of Alert Ontario are still being formulated and an
official announcement is expected this summer.

About RTNDA Canada:
RTNDA Canada is the voice of electronic journalists and news managers in
Canada. The members of RTNDA Canada recognize the responsibility of broadcast
journalists to promote and to protect the freedom to report independently
about matters of public interest and to present a wide range of expressions,
opinions and ideas. The RTNDA Canada Code of Ethics, adopted by the Canadian
Broadcast Standards Council, is used to measure fairness and accuracy in our
profession.

For further information: Nancy Brown Dacko, President - Ontario Association of Broadcasters, C: (647) 588-5626; Dan Hefkey, Chief of Emergency Management Ontario, O: (416) 327-9734; Sherry Denesha, Operations Manager, RTNDA Canada, O: (416) 756-2213


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