Province Defends Cutting Phone Funding In Garson

Tuesday, January 03, 2006 at 13:31



An official with Northern Municipal Services says the department isn’t to blame for the death of an elder in Garson Lake last month.


That community’s mayor feels the provincial government is responsible for Johnny Janvier’s passing, because government funding was suspended for a mobile phone previously used for emergencies.


The community doesn’t have regular phone service, and mayor Donald Laprise feels Janvier would still be alive today if a phone had been available to call 9-1-1 in Fort McMurray.


Laprise says the elder would have been airlifted out of Garson Lake within half an hour.


Instead, Janvier died a few hours later while being driven by locals to nearby La Loche.


Northern Municipal Services spokesman Randy Braaten says the government extends its condolences to Janvier’s family, but can’t be held responsible for the community’s decision not to take advantage of cell phone service.


Braaten says the presence of a cell phone tower in Fort McMurray that covered Garson Lake no longer made it necessary for the province to go out of its way to pay for an emergency phone.


However, Braaten says the province still offered to pay for any emergency calls under the new arrangement.