WINNIPEG – The province may have a $400 million problem on its hands after it was revealed the emergency mobile communications system is severely out of date and needs to be replaced immediately.
“This is unsettling to me,” Premier Brian Pallister said.
He said the NDP administration was warned about the failing equipment as early as 2008. He says replacement parts have not been manufactured since 2003 and instead, the former government chose to purchase them from other jurisdictions and even sourced parts on eBay earlier this year.
“Notifications were made in October 2012 that a decision needed to be made by the end of that calendar year if future service risks to the system were to be mitigated,” said the premier. “The end of the year came and went, and still no decision was made by the previous government. As a direct result of that failure to act, Manitobans now face a system at risk of being rendered obsolete and a bill worth hundreds of millions of dollars if serious risks to public safety are to be avoided.”
Pallister said there was an increased outage time for incidents between 2012 and 2016. More than 1,000 hours to date in 2016, which up from 700 hours in 2012.
“We have a system that works a lot of the time, unfortunately it increasingly does not work,” Pallister told reporters on Friday referencing the wildfire in Vita, Manitoba in October 2012 where radio communications where congested, preventing communications between various public safety agencies.
Pallister said it will cost $400 million to replace the system which could take three to four years and he mentioned this is high up on his priority list.
In a statement, the NDP accused Pallister of attempting ‘to manufacture a crisis so he could defend cutting services.’
“The previous government began planning and took concrete steps to replace Fleetnet years ago,” Interim NDP Leader Flor Marcelino said.