Fines for negligent 911 calls could be coming to Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon


Published January 11, 2024 at 4:57 pm

911 misuse fines mississauga brampton caledon

Fines could be coming for people who make negligent 911 calls in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon in an attempt to crack down on what Peel Regional Police say is blatant misuse that’s putting people at risk.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown tabled a motion at Peel Regional Council on Thursday asking staff to investigate whether fines could be introduced as a way of deterring residents from calling 911 in non-emergency situations, tying up police and emergency services resources.

Brown said the region’s 911 call centre is at a “breaking point” as Peel police are dealing with some 1,800 calls to 911 in the region every day. But some 40 per cent of those are negligent calls, including everything from honest mistakes like a misdial or pocket call to people complaining about their coffee orders or playing cricket in a park.

With more than 50,000 calls to 911 that were not for legitimate emergencies in October and November alone, Brown has asked regional staff to explore options and see if fines can be introduced for 911 misuse.

Brown said that if a fine system is brought in it should also include an educational component and could have a warning for first-time offenders. Staff have been directed to report back to council at a later date on “whether fines or other penalties can be issued to callers.”

Peel Regional Police have been educating the public on when to call 911 through a social media campaign and have stressed 911 should only be called in an immediate emergency where you need police on scene within a matter of seconds.

Most other service calls should go through the Peel Regional Police non-emergency by calling 905-453-3311.

Police say 911 misuse has led to people waiting on the line in real emergencies, like a Brampton family who were victims of a home invasion.

Suspects broke into the home in the area of Highway 410 and Williams Parkway on July 1. But after calling 911 the family waited some three minutes and 45 seconds before connecting with dispatchers.

A police spokesperson told it took another four minutes before officers arrived on the scene.

All members of Peel Regional Council voted in favour of the motion except for Mississauga Ward 4 Coun. John Kovac, who suggested introducing a new number similar to 911 for non-emergency calls instead of the longer, 10-digit non-emergency line — a move councillors said had been previously explored.

Police say the 911 numbers are on track for another record year in 2023 (the numbers have not yet been compiled), and the sheer volume of calls has created a “bottleneck” for dispatchers as police say more than 40 per cent of 911 calls are far from being classified as an emergency.

insauga's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising