Bell has been a partner in social initiatives wherever we operate. We are supportive of government, public safety and other projects that can benefit Canadian society as a whole.
Working to connect Canadians and meet urgent needs
Bell is ready to act quickly to meet the needs of Canadians. This ability has been on full display during the COVID-19 pandemic – as detailed here – but Bell is always ready and able to help Canadians during crises, including extreme weather events, through initiatives that support emergency preparedness and connectivity. We also seek to engage with community stakeholders on network and other business decisions when appropriate.
Responding to outages and emergencies
Bell team members are on the front lines when extreme weather disrupts communications services, ready to work around the clock to keep customers and communities connected and safe.
In January 2020, extreme winter blizzard conditions led to some areas of northeast Newfoundland receiving as much as 90 centimetres of snow over a 24-hour period. Throughout the storm and in its aftermath, our Network, Field and Wireless Operations teams remained ready to manage impacts, and our Corporate Emergency Management team worked closely with provincial, municipal and emergency service providers to address issues. At the same time, Bell Media stations continued providing local news updates to help ensure public safety.
When Hurricane Teddy began making its way toward Nova Scotia in September 2020, the Bell Emergency Management team and personnel from our Field Services, Network, Mobility and Real Estate teams prepared for the worst by, for example, ensuring emergency backup power for our communications infrastructure and other contingencies was in place. Thankfully, when Teddy arrived as a post-tropical storm, there was no repeat of the devastation caused by Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
Bell also provides additional assistance when emergencies strike, often working with the Canadian Red Cross and the Mobile Giving Foundation so that Canadians are able to donate by text message to support relief efforts.
Serving emergency responders
At Bell, we understand that in an emergency, every second counts, and that’s why our network is the first choice for first responders. For more than 20 years, we have successfully deployed some of the largest mission-critical 2-way radio service communication networks in Canada. Providing public safety radio communications for more than 70,000 first responders and other users in Canada, including government and public safety organization employees, we have a unique mandate to serve the public when it matters most. The first Canadian carrier to offer designated Mobile Broadband Service for First Responders on a 4G LTE network, Bell is Canada’s largest provider of public safety land mobile radio (LMR) services, with contracts from Atlantic Canada to Manitoba.
Bell is the largest provider of 9-1-1 emergency services in Canada, offering specialized 24/7 bilingual support and network monitoring to emergency contact centres in Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland.
We offer T9-1-1 or Text with 9-1-1 service and support the Alert Ready system used to inform Canadians across the country of critical emergencies in their areas.
Bell is also leading the way in development of Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG911). NG911 enables delivery of Real-Time Text (RTT), videos, images and other multimedia to assist 911 callers, including those with accessibility needs, and will provide emergency response agencies with national operability, advanced tools and standardized protocols. Following the first successful test of our new Emergency Services IP network (ESInet) in 2019, Bell partnered with the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and multiple technology providers in 2020 to successfully conduct the first NG 911 test call transfer in Canada.GRI 203-2
Helping to bridge the digital divide
WHY IT MATTERS G R I 103
Canadians' lives are increasingly dependent upon digital technology. Canadians need access to the digital ecosystem to learn, work, socialize and access essential services. Access to high-speed, reliable and affordable Internet has become an essential service and a key driver for improving economic and social well-being.
WHAT WE ARE DOING
Bell participates in the Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) Connected Families program to help bridge the digital divide for Canadian families who may struggle to afford access to home Internet. Bell is the largest donor by volume of used computer equipment and peripherals to Ordinateurs pour les écoles du Québec (OPEQ), which manages the delivery of computers to eligible households in the Connected Families program in Québec. We also bring the benefits of advanced communications technology to those with disabilities through our Accessibility program through unique apps, products & partnerships.
Despite the importance of high‑speed Internet for the full participation of Canadians in the digital economy, almost half of Canadian households with an annual income of $30,000 or less do not have access.Footnote 1: ISED Connecting Families website www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/111.nsf/eng/home The Connecting Families program brings together government, private companies and nonprofits to enable more low income Canadian families to have access to the Internet.
Bridging the digital divide means facilitating Canadians’ access to the valuable resources available on the Internet and giving them access to the tools they need to participate more fully in democracy, be successful and thrive. This public‑private collaboration will enable and encourage the participation of more Canadians in the digital world, including those not fully comfortable with digital technology, so they can benefit from innovation and the opportunities it brings.
Launched in November 2018 as part of the Government of Canada’s Innovation and Skills Plan, the 5-year Connecting Families program is designed to connect eligible Canadian families to the Internet for $10 per month. In addition, by 2022, the initiative will distribute up to 50,000 computers to eligible households. The initiative is funded in part by Internet service providers, including Bell, and is administered through Computers for Success Canada (CFSC-OPEC), a not-for-profit partner of the Government of Canada’s digital inclusion and economic development programs.
In Québec, the CFSC program is managed and operated by OPEQ. Since the start of the Connected Families program, OPEQ has delivered almost 10,000 computers to eligible families in Québec. With its headquarters in the Montréal region, Bell has been a major donor of used computer equipment to OPEQ for over 20 years. Bell also contributes to the OPEQ organization by providing an Executive Director and space for offices and workshops.
To learn more about Bell and OPEQ, see the OPEQ information sheet under Key documents.
Accessibility for everyone
Bell believes the benefits of advanced communications technology should be easily accessible by everyone. An estimated 1 in 5 Canadians lives with a disability, and, through initiatives like our Accessibility Services Centre (ASC), Bell is helping to break down barriers that limit access. The ASC is a specialized call centre dedicated to serving customers with disabilities, including hearing, vision, speech, cognitive, and mobility disabilities.
Our ASC webpages for Bell, Virgin Mobile and Lucky Mobile are important tools we use to promote and deliver solutions for customers with disabilities. These webpages provide information about the range of available accessibility discounts, plans, products and services, and direct customers to ASC call centre representatives for further information.
Available accessible products and services include GPS navigation applications for people who are blind or have low vision, including Blind Square Pomo, supported on Apple iOS 9.1 or later devices, and Nearby Explorer Online, supported on Android 4.1 or later devices. Additionally, the Mobile Accessibility app (available at no charge to Bell customers) integrates with the Android operating system to enable blind and low-vision customers to better navigate their devices.
Bell also actively supports the use of Video Relay Service (VRS) in Canada and is a member of the board of directors of the Canadian Administrator of Video Relay Service. To ensure widespread access to VRS, Bell Mobility, Virgin Mobile, and Lucky Mobile customers using VRS on a mobile network within Canada are not charged for data associated with using VRS.
Further, through a partnership with the Canadian Hearing Services, Bell stores offer complementary sign language interpretation when requested by the customer and where resources permit.
To help bring attention to accessibility issues, Bell sponsors numerous annual events including the White Cane Week Expo in Toronto as well as the AMI Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship. We also work with key organizations representing Canadians with accessibility needs, including the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Neil Squire Society, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, and the Canadian Paralympic Committee. In order to further address issues impacting customers with accessibility needs, we also actively participate in the Wireless Accessibility Committee of the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association.
Engaging with communities on network deployments
Bell engages in meaningful dialogue with municipalities, provincial as well as federal agencies and Indigenous communities to develop new opportunities but also to mitigate local concerns about our network. For example, our Network infrastructure environmental evaluation program is embedded directly into our environmental management and review system in order to minimize the negative impacts of network projects on the environment. This evaluation process is mainly aimed at the project managers responsible for deployment, and it applies to every stage of projects, including planning, design, construction, maintenance, and decommissioning of installations.
To learn more about this, see the Network infrastructure information sheet under Key documents.
See our Key documents section for information about our supplier diversity and our Responsible procurement practices and Wireless health and safety information.