Emergency alert test in Quebec goes off — with one hitch

Quebecers were supposed to get an emergency alert test on their phones this morning — but there was a problem.

At 9:55 on Monday morning, radio and TV stations across the province broadcast an emergency alert — accompanied by a shrill-sounding alarm.

It was a test of a new national public alert system that was supposed to also include notices on every mobile phone in the province. But people's phones in Quebec stayed silent.

CTRC spokesperson Patricia Valladao says she was told by Pelmorex, the firm in charge of sending the alerts, suggests there was a slight problem with the computer code.

"What happened this morning, from my understanding...is that a space, like a typed space, was incorrectly included in the coding which prevented the alert system form sending the messages in Quebec," Valladao says.

The test was apparently slightly more successful in Ontario on Monday afternoon — some cellphone usesrs report getting the alerts, while others didn't.

The alerts are set to go off in other provinces at various times on Wednesday.

Vallardo points out that there are indeed tests, and that there is no real emergency. The system would distribute warnings of imminent safety threats such as tornadoes, floods, terror attacks or Amber Alert notifications.

A similar system is already used in the United States and made headlines earlier this year when an emergency official in Hawaii mistakenly sent an alert about a potential incoming ballistic missile.

A report issued last month by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said the false alarm, which went uncorrected for 38 minutes after being transmitted and caused widespread panic across the Pacific islands state, was a result of human error and inadequate safeguards.

-Canadian Press also contributed to this report.