Ontario Investing $765 Million to Build New Public Safety Radio Network
Massive modernization will help thousands of emergency responders save lives
KENORA — Today, the Ontario government announced a key step forward in its commitment to support the work of frontline and emergency responders across the province. The government has selected Bell Mobility to rebuild core components of the aging Public Safety Radio Network (PSRN). The $765 million agreement to reconstruct core infrastructure, replace outdated equipment and maintain the new radio network will help keep communities safe.
"In a crisis, every second counts. Replacing our aging emergency radio network is not only vital to public safety, it's long overdue," said Premier Doug Ford. "Working with our chosen vendors, we're confident this investment will give our first responders on the frontlines access to a reliable, cutting-edge network, so they can do their jobs and keep our families and communities safe."
Under this project, Bell Mobility will:
- Build the Land Mobile Radio Network — the network's core infrastructure — as well as support antennas, servers and data centre equipment, which together will provide essential public safety radio coverage across the province;
- Provide first responders, as well as their dispatchers, with state-of-the-art radio equipment and consoles that enable quick and effective responses in emergency situations; and
- Provide network and radio equipment maintenance services for a period of 15 years.
Premier Ford and Minister Rickford made the announcement at the Emergency Management Services base in Kenora. The government recognizes the importance of Northern Ontario's contribution to the province as a whole. Investing in the North is investing in Ontario's future.
"Ontario's frontline and first responders rely on one of North America's largest and most complex public safety radio networks to protect people in the face of emergencies," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "By rehabilitating and advancing the province's radio network, we can improve connectivity and prevent daily service outages that obstruct frontline and emergency responders and put public safety at risk."
This modernization project will ensure Ontario's more than 38,000 frontline and emergency responders — including OPP officers, paramedics and hospital staff, forest fire services, provincial highway maintenance staff, as well as parks, enforcement and correctional officers — can count on the communications infrastructure, network and equipment they need when responding to emergencies.
"The Public Safety Radio Network is an essential piece of our northern community infrastructure that supports emergency and law enforcement services," said Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. "The modernization of the radio network is especially important in the North, where communications and first responders must cut through some of North America's most rugged terrain to reach some of our most isolated communities."
Transition to the new network will begin in 2021 and is targeted to be fully operational by June 2023.
"Bell looks forward to providing the Government of Ontario with the next generation of public safety communications technology," said Gary Semplonius, Bell Senior Vice President. "Together, we will equip first responders and other frontline personnel with the advanced communications tools they need to perform their critical role in protecting the safety of Ontarians."
"We're proud to be working with Bell Mobility to build and maintain for 15 years a new mission-critical radio network for the province of Ontario," said George Krausz, President, Motorola Solutions Canada. "The new Motorola Solutions ASTRO 25® radio network will provide interoperable communications for the province's government ministries for day-to-day operations and when they need to coordinate a fast, multi-agency response to help keep communities safe."
"Investing in essential communication infrastructure will empower emergency responders to better keep Ontario families safe when and where their help is urgently needed," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "By replacing the aging Public Safety Radio Network with advanced technology, we are providing paramedics, police officers and forest fire services with the essential tools they need to protect and save lives."
"This network is critical to the important work our ministry staff do across the province and particularly in the North," added John Yakabuski, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. "From our wildland firefighters to conservation officers, these brave professionals do much of their work in remote areas far beyond the reach of mobile towers. This important investment will allow them to rely on this network in their work to protect our natural resources and keep communities safe."