Throughout the year 2019, a variety of Amber Alerts led to a mass amount of unnecessary Ontario 911 calls. Many called the emergency hotline to complain about the late hours that these alerts were being issued, clogging up the hotline as a result. Now, the Mississauga city council has passed a motion calling upon Ford’s government to create strict penalties for those who abuse 911 to make non-emergency phone calls.

Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie explained at the meeting on Wednesday that those abusing 911 are distracting emergency workers from dealing with the more pressing situation.

“You see the ridiculousness of some of the calls that police have to cope with, tying up lines, and we’re unable to process emergency calls,” she said, according to Missisauga.com.

However, Crombie wasn’t the only voicing their opinion about the clogged hotline.

“There's already a crime on the books for intentionally interfering with police operations,” added Michael Bryant, the executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

“It's obstruction of justice, and that would cover somebody who was up to frivolous and vexatious patterns of interference with 911 operation."

If all goes to the plan, the motion will formally be approved at an upcoming general city council meeting. 

However, at the moment, nothing has been confirmed regarding the penalties.

The move comes in direct response to the outburst of complaints emergency responders receive last year in regards to Amber Alerts.

Toronto Police Services were forced to released several statements in 2019, urging people not to call the emergency line to complain about alerts, which some residents claimed were disturbing their sleep.

“Once again, our Communications Centre has been receiving a number of calls from citizens using it as a platform to complain about being awakened by the Amber Alert,” a statement from Toronto Police read back in May.

An Amber Alert petition advocating for those people who call 911 to complain about the emergency notifications to be fined was started back in July.  It currently has over 100,000 signatures

While it is still unclear when or how the government would go about penalizing those who abuse 911, it is not uncommon to give out fines. 

According to Mississauga.com multiple provinces already charge those who call into the hotline without an emergency. 

In fact, both Alberta and Nova Scotia have fines of up to $5,000. 

 

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