Torontonians Are Waiting Too Long For 911 Calls & Over 400 Calls Waited More Than 4 Minutes

The report revealed that the longest wait time was between 10 to 11 minutes.

Toronto police car. Right: An officer at an emergency call centre.
Toronto Associate Editor

Toronto police car. Right: An officer at an emergency call centre.

If you're dialling 911 to seek help from any of Toronto's emergency services like paramedics, police or firefighters, the city's Auditor General found that you might be waiting longer than you should to speak with someone on the phone.

On Tuesday, June 14, Toronto's auditor general published its findings on wait times for 911 calls between 2018 and 2021, and the study revealed that the emergency call centre only had 10 days where they met industry service standards last year (which is when they answer almost all calls within 15 seconds).

There were over 400 calls where Torontonians were on the line for more than four minutes in 2021, with 13,260 calls waiting over one minute to talk to an operator. According to the report, the longest wait time over these three years was between 10 to 11 minutes long.

So, why are people waiting so long for 911 calls?

Per the audit, one of the issues comes down to a lack of staff, as there were only three days between 2018 and 2021 where everyone showed up to work.

"It takes about 1.5 years to recruit, hire, and train a 9-1-1 [Public Safety Answering Point] operator," the report read, adding that PSAP operations should have more staff in place to be available during peak call times.

The Auditor General has 26 recommendations in the report that they will bring forward to the Toronto Police Services Board meeting on June 22, as TPS is responsible for the 911 emergency call centre.

Longer wait times are also impacting Ontario's emergency rooms, as Health Quality Ontario revealed patients waited an average of almost two hours across the province in April.

This article's cover image was used for illustrative purposes only.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor