Yellowknife residents will need to dial 10 digits rather than seven to reach other local numbers from April 1, 2023.
The change has been coming since August last year, when telecoms regulator the CRTC said it was needed to allow the introduction of a nationwide 9-8-8 mental health hotline.
In the Northwest Territories, 988 is already a local exchange code in Yellowknife. Under seven-digit dialling, a resident trying to dial a local number beginning 988 could inadvertently end up calling the hotline instead.
From Saturday this week, calling a seven-digit number in Yellowknife will get you “a recording to remind callers to dial the full 10-digit number,” the City of Yellowknife said in a brief Friday news release on the subject.
Until May 31, a seven-digit call in Yellowknife will still be connected once you listen to the recording. After that, you’ll need to use the full 10 digits or else the call won’t go through.
The city said residents still using 873-2222 to reach emergency services – rather than 9-1-1, which was introduced in the NWT in 2019 and has since co-existed alongside local emergency numbers – will be affected by the change.
You’ll need to start dialling the more cumbersome 867-873-2222 to keep using the local emergency number. “In the event of an emergency, residents are encouraged to dial 9-1-1,” the city stated.
Last year, the CRTC said dialling seven digits was “still the norm” in Yellowknife, though that may depend on who you ask – newer residents who didn’t know dialling seven digits was possible may never have even attempted it.
Most of Canada has used 10-digit dialling for years, if not decades.
Launching later in 2023, 9-8-8 will be free of charge and will direct calls and texts to mental health crisis and suicide prevention services.