Starting April 1, the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission is mandating 10-digit dialling across Canada, particularly for residents in the 807 area code of Northern Ontario.
Residents in the 807 area code are used to dialling seven digits for local calls but will now have to edit contact information to include all 10 digits—the area code plus the seven-digit number. Residents will still be able to place local calls with seven digits until May 31, but they will be prompted by a network message stating that calls with only seven digits will not be completed after this date.
The CRTC is making this change to accommodate the launch of Canada’s new mental health and suicide prevention hotline in November 2023. It will adopt the easy-to-remember number 9-8-8. The hotline aims to reduce barriers and increase access to mental health resources across the country, especially in rural communities. Mandating 10-digit dialling will ensure that 9-8-8 is launched effectively for all service providers in Canada at the end of November.
The 807 area code in Northern Ontario includes the communities of Thunder Bay, Kenora, Red Lake, Deer Lake, Geraldton, and much of the northwest. Not only will residents of Northern Ontario be impacted by this change, but residents in the 709 area code in Newfoundland and Labrador and the 867 area code in Yellowknife will also be affected. These are the only regions in Canada where seven-digit dialling has been standard practice for local calls; 10-digit dialling was mandated in the rest of Canada decades ago.
Tbaytel, the primary telecommunications provider for the city of Thunder Bay, introduced 10-digit dialling for its customers at the end of March, several days earlier than other service providers in the area. Tbaytel and other providers have so far only made these changes for mobile phone customers, but the mandate will soon extend to landlines and business telephones. By fall 2023, all residents within the 807 area code—both mobile and landline customers—will need to adopt 10-digit dialling and ensure that contact information is updated accordingly.
Long-distance calls will not be affected, and the standard “1” dialled prior to the 10-digit number will remain the same. 9-1-1 calls will also be unaffected. Tbaytel recommends Northern Ontario residents update their contact information before the May 31 deadline. Be sure to update information on speed dial lists, personal stationary, cheques, security systems, and insurance policies, as well as on all phones, pagers, fax machines, and automated equipment.