Canada's Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centres broadcast maritime safety information such as weather and navigational warnings, as well as regulating traffic movement and monitoring distress and safety calls.
Information is transmitted from a network of 214 radio towers and 24 radar installations across the country.
The telecommunications network provides standard coverage in all regions of the country, but the Coast Guard notes that the communication and traffic services centres currently use outdated technology and are limited in their ability to cover or share workload in emergencies or unforeseen events like power failures.
“The safety of Canadians and mariners is the top priority of the Canadian Coast Guard,” said Keith Ashfield, Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
“Improving and integrating communications centres across the country will ensure that important information can be properly broadcast to mariners and emergency calls will be received under all circumstances.”
As part of the upgrade programme Marine Communications and Traffic Services will be modernised and consolidated into twelve centres across the country equipped with the latest technology to be better interconnected. As such, the modernised centres will be able to pick up any calls from other connected facilities.
Some facilities will also increase their areas of responsibility and will receive additional staff and resources accordingly. As a result, the Coast Guard will be able to consolidate services into these better centres and close those with outdated technology.
All of the radio towers and radar facilities will remain where they are to maintain the current level of coverage.
This process is an extension of the Coast Guard's general policy over the last 30 years to integrate services into fewer communication and traffic services centres as new radio and navigation technology has become available.
During the past three decades, the Coast Guard has twice expanded the capacity of these centres using new technology - for example, in the 1990s, the Coast Guard used new technology to go from 44 centres to 22 centres.
The upgraded Marine Communications and Traffic Service Centres will be strategically located across Canada, with three in Newfoundland and Labrador, two in Nova Scotia, two in Quebec, two in Ontario, two in British Columbia, and one in Nunavut.