Pond Inlet phone screw-ups a big safety concern: Nunavut MLA

Joe Enook calls on Northwestel to review local telecommunications infrastructure


Joe Enook addresses the legislature Oct. 22. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Joe Enook addresses the legislature Oct. 22. (PHOTO BY PETER VARGA)

Tununiq MLA Joe Enook called on Northwestel Oct. 22 to review and upgrade Pond Inlet telecom infrastructure to fix continuing problems with telephone service in the north Baffin community.

Enook told the legislative assembly that shoddy local and long-distance phone service in Pond Inlet has been a problem for years and could put residents at risk in an emergency.

“These recurring incidents have raised some real concerns about safety and access to emergency services in the community,” Enook told fellow MLAs Oct. 22 during his minister’s statement.

“When the phones aren’t working, people cannot contact health workers in the event of an after-hours emergency. These recurring situations also impact the ability of people to contact the RCMP as well as local authorities.”

Enook said that in a community where nurses are often stretched to their limits, some nurses have had to remain at the health centre overnight to ensure someone is available in an emergency.

Enook pointed to phone problems in Iqaluit last month, when customers reported crossed lines and no dial tone.

The incident made news headlines, he said, and was quickly resolved.

“Smaller communities deserve to receive the same level of services and I am publicly calling on Northwestel to undertake a full review and upgrade of Pond Inlet’s telecommunications infrastructure in terms of how problems can be addressed as quickly as they occur,” Enook told the assembly.

Later in the Oct. 22 session, Tom Sammurtok, the minister of Community and Government Services, said other Nunavut communities have seen similar problems.

“We have been trying to communicate with Northwestel using the CRTC and they have told us that they will be updating their equipment,” Sammurtok said. “However, their plans don’t go far enough and we have been telling them to fix it better.”

In the meantime, Sammurtok advised Pond Inlet residents that should telecommunications fail during an emergency, the RCMP have a phone system that can be used.

Pond Inlet is also one of eight communities in Nunavut served by Bell Mobility.

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