Citing concerns for flood victims, Ontario, Quebec opt out of alert-system test

The country's two biggest provinces won't take part in what was supposed to be a nationwide testing of Canada's Alert Ready system on Wednesday.

Public Safety Canada says it received notifications last week from Ontario and Quebec that the provinces are opting out of the testing because neither wants to send unnecessary alert tones to residents dealing with historic flooding.

The alerts sound when emergency officials send signals to cellphones, TV consoles and radio stations.

System operators are mandated to conduct nationwide testing of the service twice annually, blasting out distinctive electronic tones on LTE-enabled wireless devices that have their speakers turned on, as well as through television and radio.

Provinces and territories that are part of the system can opt out of the testing if they think it can be too disruptive during a real emergency.

The system has been in wide use for about a year, alerting Canadians about potential dangers, including natural disasters, biological and terrorist threats and civil emergencies.