Confusion as Bell claims Florence landlines fixed

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Bell Canada says Florence residents have their landline service back but the mayor of Dawn-Euphemia says there are still outages including at the Florence Community Centre.

Up to 45 people have been without landline service since before Christmas in and around the Dawn-Euphemia community.

People reported outages in Florence, Oakdale and on Lambton Line. Some voiced concern that people with Lifeline Medical Alert services need a land line. Many had been given several dates when the issue would be repaired, but it has not yet been resolved.

Darlene Coke, manager of Library Services at Lambton County, said the Florence library service is out. It was supplied with a cell phone and the new number was put on the library’s website. “We have been provided with a few different restoration dates since the outage occurred, “ said Coke.

In an email this morning, Vanessa Damah, Senior Manager of Media Relations for Bell, said “an equipment problem in the Florence community had been causing intermittent landline outages for approximately 45 customers in the area. Please note that the issue has been resolved and full services have been restored. We apologize to our customers for the extended disruption.”

Dawn-Euphemia Mayor Al Broad disputes Bell’s claim. “They do not have it fixed because the community center has no phone service. The problem for us is the community center is monitored for both fire and theft, so we have nothing there monitoring today.”

Broad is not sure how many other residents are still without their landline.

“How many do not have a cell phone? And how many do not have access to the 911 system? We don’t know; they don’t release that information to us. And they should or they should be looking at trying to team up with the municipality to resolve their issue to make sure everybody’s being looked after,” says Broad.

For Shirley Sewell, who has been without service since Dec. 23, the outage is a major concern. Her husband, who had a stroke, can only hold the rotary phone not a cell phone.

Broad launched a complaint with the Canadian Radio Television and Telecommunications Commission about the issue on Thursday. Under the Telecommunications Act, the CRTC must ensure people in both urban and rural areas ” have both reliable and affordable telecommunications services.”

“Clearly, the CRTC are the ones that have the most power and hopefully, if we lodge enough complaints through the CRTC, that they will force Bell Canada’s hand to figure this out and get back to us on a plan,” he says.

This is not the first time Bell Canada has faced criticism for landline outages. In May, the CRTC demanded answers after people near Winnipeg were left without landline service for days on end. Some faced outages of more than a month.