January 12, 2024 – In a bid to curb the rising misuse of 911 calls, Mayor Patrick Brown’s motion at the Region of Peel Council to explore fines for negligent calls has been approved.

Peel Regional Police revealed staggering statistics, stating that out of the approximately 1,800 daily 911 calls, over 40%, around 720, are deemed inappropriate or non-legitimate. Since 2022, there has been a whopping 27% increase in 911 calls, marking the highest surge in call volumes to date.

With over 100,000 911 calls in the past two months alone, more than 50% were hang-ups or non-emergent, putting an unnecessary burden on the emergency services. Mayor Brown emphasized the increasing wait times for emergency services, underlining the urgency of addressing the issue.

During the council meeting on January 11th, Mayor Brown voiced his concerns, stating, “We can’t continue to have our 911 overloaded. And it is right now. We are overloaded.” He highlighted instances of people calling for inappropriate reasons, such as pizza orders or TV malfunctions, leading to real emergencies being put on hold. Brown recalled: “I’ve seen instances where there have been frightening emergencies, where the individual is on hold waiting for the 911 operator to finish with someone who is calling for an inappropriate purpose.”

Mayor Brown moved a motion asking to investigate the possibility of fines for negligent 911 calls, drawing parallels with fines issued by municipal fire departments for false fire alarms. He stressed the need to act against the growth in misuse calls to prevent worsening situations and longer wait times during emergencies.

The motion successfully passed, paving the way for staff to explore potential fines or penalties for those misusing the 911 system. Mayor Brown urged swift action, stating, “If you misuse 911, you are putting at a disservice our ability to respond to legitimate emergencies.”

In an interview after the motion was approved, Mayor Brown suggested fines similar to those imposed by fire departments, with increasing penalties for repeat offenders. He expressed hope that monetary consequences would deter people from abusing the critical emergency service. “If you hit someone in the pocketbook, it changes behaviour.” Mayor Brown emphasized that any fines collected should go back to supporting the operation of 911.