Manitobans wrongly sent Ontario Amber Alert, province 'exploring' the issue

WATCH: After Manitoba cell phones received an Ontario Amber Alert late Thursday, officials said they are looking into why.

Many Manitoba phones were buzzing with an Amber Alert from Ontario on Thursday night after an 11-year-old girl went missing.

Peel Regional Police said the alert was instrumental in the arrest of 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar after his daughter, Riya Rajkumar, was found dead in a Brampton home.


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The alert was received by some wireless customers in Manitoba around 10:30 p.m. A second notification ending the alert sounded about an hour later.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler’s office released a statement offering his sympathies.

“Our deepest condolences go out to the loved ones of the young girl who was abducted and killed yesterday. We understand from local police that a tip as to the whereabouts of the accused was the direct result of the Amber Alert being issued,” he said.

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But, Manitoba phones weren’t supposed to be included in that alert.

“A number of Manitobans may have received an Amber Alert on their wireless devices intended for Ontario last night,” Schuler said.

“Manitoba did not issue this Amber Alert to Manitobans and is working with partners in the Alert Ready national public alerting system to explore the issue.”

Global News has reached out to the company in charge of the alerting system. A spokesperson for Pelmorex gave the following statement:

“At this time we are unable to determine why alerts outside of the province of Ontario were received by some users. We continue to work with our Alert Ready partners to determine the cause of this.”


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After a barrage of calls to 911 from people complaining about the alert, police in Ontario and here in Winnipeg responded, saying:

“Alert Ready delivers critical and potentially life-saving alerts to Canadians through television, radio, and LTE-connected and compatible wireless devices.”

Police also warned that calling emergency services to complain only ties up operators, “potentially preventing legitimate emergency calls from getting through.”

The alert was a hot topic of discussion on social media.

Transcona City Councillor Shawn Nason questioned if sending these out too often would lead to people ignoring them.

Others took to Twitter, frustrated at having been included in the alert when the emergent situation was in another province.

https://twitter.com/jamesdoroshuk/status/1096269197074620417


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Since it was first launched, the Alert Ready emergency notification system has been plagued with issues.

After the last test in November, Schuler said people need to be making sure their smartphones are up to date.

“It’s important to note that not all Manitobans will receive the test alert on their wireless devices. This may occur for a variety of reasons, including device compatibility, connection to a long-term evolution (LTE) network, cell tower coverage, and individual device software and settings.”


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Rogers released a checklist for customers who did not receive the alert to ensure they receive future alerts.

The checklist included:

  • making sure your device is on the list of compatible devices,
  • installing any updates available for your device,
  • and ensuring your device is connected to the LTE network and not on airplane mode.

If you are still having issues you should contact your service provider.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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