Premier Doug Ford announces modernization project for public safety radio network during visit in Alliston

Premier Doug Ford announces modernization project for public safety radio network during visit in Alliston
Simcoe.com

The provincial government is moving ahead with a massive modernization project for the Public Radio Safety Network (PRSN) used by police, firefighters, paramedics and other first responders.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement while visiting the Nottawasaga OPP detachment in Alliston Oct. 11.
 
He was joined by Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson, who is the Minister of Economic Development Job Creation, and Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.
 
“For you to get to the right place, to talk with each other, you need the right equipment,” Ford said to a large crowd of first responders who were invited to the announcement. “You need modern reliable equipment, and sadly, Ontario’s public safety radio network is outdated. It's falling apart. It's crumbling. These critical systems are no longer compatible with the systems used by first responders across North America.”
 
Minister Tibollo said this project will be the largest modernization of the network in a generation.
 
“Ontario operates the largest geographic public safety radio network in North America, it is a vast 750,000-square-kilometre communications network that more than 38,000 front line workers rely on."
 
Tibollo said the system is the “arterial lifeblood” of the emergency service and is “seriously out of date.”
 
“You would have better chance of walking into a Best Buy today to purchase a tube television than we’ve had replacing those radios,” he said.
 
He said the current system experiences outages every single day and failed to perform adequately for first responders during the tornado that recently hit the Ottawa area.
 
“The PSRN was last upgraded 20 years ago,” he said. “Pause for a second and think where communication technology was a generation ago compared to where we are today. Speak with first responders and they will tell you one of the biggest frustrations during a disaster is overcoming poor communication over an obsolete radio system.”
 
The province will soon begin accepting bids from contractors to start replacing the infrastructure, like telecommunications towers, antennae and other equipment.
 
The new system will be fully digital and encrypted, and the minister said it will be fully operational by 2023.
 
While the minister did not say how much it will cost to update the system, Ford said it will be "substantial" and that the costs will be released at a later time.
 
The premier was also asked questions about the legalization of marijuana, which comes into effect next week on Oct. 17.
 
He blamed the federal government for "dumping it" in their lap and called the move "premature," but said the province is "doing its best" to get ready.
 
"Our No. 1 issue and concern is we got to make sure our kids our safe, our communities are safe, and it's really up to the municipalities," he said. "We've really asked them if you don't want it, it's not going to be in your community."
 
He also commented on the U.S. lifting its ban on Canadians who work in the cannabis industry, calling it "common sense" and a "good decision."