Government supports launch of emergency alerting capability on smartphones

News release

April 6, 2018
Ottawa, Ontario
Public Safety Canada

Canadians require critical and timely information in emergencies to take necessary precautions to safeguard themselves and their families. Providing an informative and reliable public alerting system in Canada is a responsibility shared by all levels of government and industry partners.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale today applauded the collaborative work of federal, provincial and territorial governments, wireless services providers, and other industry partners to expand the National Public Alerting System to include wireless emergency alerts.  As of today, April 6, Canadians will be able to receive emergency alerts on compatible wireless devices such as smartphones.

The National Public Alerting System (NPAS), publicly branded as Alert Ready, is a collaborative initiative between Federal-Provincial-Territorial governments and industry partners. It provides a standard alerting capability to rapidly warn the public of imminent or unfolding hazards to life. Some examples of the types of alerts that are issued through the Alert Ready system are natural disasters like tornados and earthquakes, or a civil emergency like Amber Alerts. A complete list of alerts that could be issued is available on the Alert Ready website.

Alerting authorities will begin to issue wireless alerts as each government  builds the capacity to do so.Wireless device owners should visit the Alert Ready website to find out if their phone is capable of receiving alerts, and to access more information about the alerting authorities in their regions.


“When an emergency occurs, Canadians need to know right away.  By adding smartphones to our emergency alert system, we will be able to reach more Canadians, faster, in times of crisis. Wireless alerts will also allow us to issue more geographically targeted alerts. The safety of Canadians is our highest priority, and I’m proud that we’ve worked with all partners to make this capability a reality.”

– The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

“Expanding the capacity of the National Public Alerting System to smartphones will help us to better protect Canadians. Climate Change and severe weather are already impacting communities across Canada. By adding emergency alerts on smartphones, Canadians will have more time to make informed decisions to stay safe.”

– The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change

“For many years, the CRTC has been ensuring that the communication system better protects Canadians and allows them to get the help they need during an emergency. The distribution of alert messages on mobile devices is an important evolution of the National Public Alerting System. The alerts that Canadians will receive on their mobile devices, in addition to those already broadcast on television and radio, could save lives”

– Ian Scott, Chair, Canada Radio-television Telecommunications Commission

Quick facts

  • Emergency alerts are typically issued by provincial or territorial emergency management agencies or authorized municipal agencies which are responsible for the “on-the-ground” response through radio, cable television, satellite television, email, text services and – now – wireless devices.

  • Canadians do not need to sign-up or pay to receive emergency alerts on their smartphones.  Alerts will be delivered automatically to compatible wireless devices.

  • Wireless public alerting is geo-targeted and can be very specific to a limited area of coverage, unlike radio and television broadcasting, which often has broad areas of coverage.

  • Wireless emergency alerts begin with a distinct sound and vibration cadence.  The sound and vibration conveys a sense of urgency and reinforces the alert message.

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Scott Bardsley
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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