Senior dialing up pressure on Bell MTS over failing phone line


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A 90-year-old Winnipeg woman and her neighbours are calling on Bell MTS to fix their broken land line phone connections but it seems no one hears them.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/05/2022 (315 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A 90-year-old Winnipeg woman and her neighbours are calling on Bell MTS to fix their broken land line phone connections but it seems no one hears them.

Sella (who didn’t want her last name used) lives on a block in the Crescentwood neighbourhood where she and neighbours on either side of a shared back alley have had no telephone service since early April. Service was off and on for almost a year before that, the senior said Monday.

The connection is vital: Sella needs it for her Lifeline medical alert device to work if she has an emergency.

“I’m just getting tired of it,” the senior said Monday, borrowing an area resident’s telephone to talk to the Free Press.

“It’s completely off right now. I haven’t had (MTS) TV and lately when the phone works, it has static. But the phone is more important to me because I’m on the Lifeline.”

Sella’s daughter, Debbie, who lives in western Manitoba, said she saw her mother on the weekend and had to stay an extra day due to the residential telephone being out of commission.

“She needs to be connected to Lifeline,” Debbie said. “It’s a safety function. She has had two falls — what if she falls again? If she presses the button and no one comes, what can she do?”

Despite several attempts, no one from Bell MTS could be reached for comment Monday.

Krystal Stokes, a spokeswoman for Victoria Lifeline, a community service of the Victoria General Hospital Foundation, said its system works with land lines but can also be set up without using a phone.

“But if there isn’t sufficient cellular strength in the area, that wouldn’t work either,” she said. “For us, the traditional landline is still the tried and true connection.”

Stokes said when the phone line goes out Lifeline gets a signal, so first they try calling the person. “If we get no answer, we would then connect with the responders on file. And we can send EMS if we can’t get hold of anybody.”

When the phone line is disconnected, a help call cannot be transmitted until the telephone connection is re-established, she said.

Carole Seneshen, who lives a few doors away from Sella, said she hasn’t had problems with her landline but several neighbours have.

“We’re OK, but I have a huge concern about Sella,” Seneshen said. “It’s absolutely an issue her phone has been out. I don’t know why they just don’t fix the wire.”

Another neighbour, Lisa, said she has also complained several times to Bell MTS, to no avail.

Lisa said when the first technician came to check the telephone wire in the back lane, they said there was nothing wrong with it, so it must be the connection to her home. Another technician later said the wire to her home was fine, so it must be the wire in the back alley.

A third technician came April 18, and said not only was the main line in the alley “frayed and dangling, I’m surprised your service works at all,” she said.

Lisa said there is also no point for her or other neighbours in replacing land lines with cellphone service only: they hardly work on the block.

“They came out and found we have no cell service at all here. We are in a dead zone,” she said.

As for Sella, she said it’s good she has “wonderful neighbours” who check on her.

“I must not get angry about it,” she said. “I just stay calm. But, after a year, you have to complain.”

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.


Updated on Tuesday, May 10, 2022 1:08 PM CDT: Lifeline information

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