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There’s a test of the national emergency alert system in most of Canada Wednesday

Don’t panic — without checking, anyway — if your phone’s emergency alert goes off tomorrow.

Canada’s National Public Alerting System (NPAS) is running tests on television, radio and compatible wireless devices across most of the country Wednesday as part of Emergency Preparedness Week.

The system, called Alert Ready, delivers alerts about critical events such as tornadoes, flooding, fires and Amber alerts. The tests will happen in most provinces and territories tomorrow except for Ontario, where the test is scheduled for May 15.

“The Alert Ready system is a critical service that helps keep Canadians safe,” Martin Belanger, director of public alerting at Pelmorex, said in a news release.

“Testing provides an opportunity to raise awareness about the Alert Ready system and to validate that it works as intended in case of an actual emergency.”

The sound will simulate the tone of an emergency alert, the news release notes, and radio and television broadcasters may use an audio version of the test alert message through a text-to-speech (TTS) software.

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Minister of Emergency Preparedness Harjit Sajjan announced that during this exercise, Public Safety Canada will test its own public alerting capability in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nunavut and Yukon.

Canadians in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island will receive a test message from their province or territory.

Tool complements existing alert system

In a news release, Public Safety Canada said regular testing and evaluation of the NPAS is necessary to ensure that, “when an emergency or disaster falling under federal responsibility occurs, the Government of Canada is prepared to deliver urgent and lifesaving warnings to the public.”

The NPAS is a collaborative initiative between federal, provincial and territorial governments. According to Public Safety Canada’s website, it complements existing public alerting systems and tools in a number of jurisdictions.

The CRTC notes that cellphone service providers and broadcasters send out two test alerts per year to make sure the system is working properly — one in May and another typically in November.

Local testing times for May 8:

  • Alberta: 11:55 a.m. MT
  • British Columbia: 10:55 a.m. PT
  • Manitoba: 1:55 p.m. CT
  • New Brunswick: 2:55 p.m. AT
  • Northwest Territories: 9:55 a.m. MT
  • Nova Scotia: 1:55 p.m. AT
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: 3:25 p.m. NT
  • Nunavut: 1:55 p.m. ET
  • Ontario: 12:55 p.m. on May 15
  • Prince Edward Island: 12:55 p.m. AT
  • Quebec: 1:55 p.m. ET
  • Saskatchewan: 11:55 a.m. CT
  • Yukon: 10:55 a.m. YT

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