A highway patrol mobile command unit at the Enterprise Covid-19 checkpoint in March 2020. Photo: Ron Corey
The Northwest Territories government says residents can expect better service from Protect NWT and 8-1-1 starting this week.
According to a Friday news release, new technology will ensure calls aren’t dropped while callers are on hold, improve the way incoming calls are prioritized, and bolster data management.
Businesses will now be able to connect with an operator who can give them business-specific information.
The territory said additional staff have been hired for 8-1-1 and Protect NWT since the establishment of its Covid-19 secretariat.
“These investments in technology and capacity are a good step towards delivering better pandemic services as we continue to rise to the challenge of Covid-19,” Premier Caroline Cochrane, who is in charge of the territory’s Covid-19 response, was quoted as saying.
Issues with 8-1-1 have been raised in the NWT legislature. Katrina Nokleby, MLA for Great Slave, said she and many of her constituents have had difficulty reaching anyone when calling the Covid-19 hotline.
The territorial government said Protect NWT and 8-1-1 have received between 1,000 and 1,500 calls per week since August, resulting in dropped calls and “less seamless experiences” for callers.
Protect NWT is the first point of contact for anyone looking for information about public health orders, enforcement, travel restrictions, and isolation.
Meanwhile, 8-1-1 provides general information about Covid-19 – including whether callers should get tested and contact information for services. Callers can also file complaints about people not following public health orders.
Call centre services are available every day between 8am and 8pm. The Protect NWT enforcement line has staff on call around the clock.