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Residents in Moncton seniors' complex finally get phone service back after a week

The phones at Moncton Residence, a seniors complex at 270 John St., have been down since Jan. 10.  (Raechel Huizinga/CBC - image credit)
The phones at Moncton Residence, a seniors complex at 270 John St., have been down since Jan. 10. (Raechel Huizinga/CBC - image credit)

Louise Maillet, running errands with her 91-year-old mother, tried calling her sick father, also 91, to see if he was OK.

She couldn't reach him.

Maillet's parents have lived at Moncton Residence, a seniors' complex with close to 350 rooms, since September 2022.

Landline phones at the complex at 270 John St., which are serviced through Bell Aliant, were reported down on Jan. 10. People who've called have received a busy signal.

"I knew darn well he wasn't on the phone," Maillet said of her father, who is among those in the complex who do not use a cellphones. "So I ended up having to bring Mom back to make sure he was OK. But we were worried."

Maillet, who lives in Grand Barachois, about 40 kilometres north of Moncton, tries to visit her parents once or twice a week.

"I call my mother every day, but I can't go every day. I'm no longer a young spring chicken myself. It's so worrisome."

Maillet said the staff are doing everything they can to resolve the problem and make the situation easier for residents and family, but with COVID-19 and influenza going around, she said, it's heartbreaking to be unable to check in with her parents.

She finally called Bell Aliant herself to find out what the problem is, but today there was still no answer.

"It feels terrible," she said.

"When I was a child, my parents looked after me. My whole life. Made sure everything was OK and I was OK. Took care of me. I feel bad enough not being able to take care of my parents in my own home."

Maillet talked to CBC News about the problem, but not long after a story was published, the phones were working again.

The company's outage map showed no outages for 270 John St. on Wednesday, even before service was restored.

CBC News asked Bell Aliant for comment and got a statement back, apologizing for the inconvenience to residents and their families but not offering a reason for the seven-day disruption.

Despite not having phone service for a week, Bell Aliant's outage map reports no problems for 270 John Street in Moncton.
Despite not having phone service for a week, Bell Aliant's outage map reports no problems for 270 John Street in Moncton.

Despite the lack of phone service for a week at 270 John St. in Moncton, Bell Aliant's outage map reports no problems. (Raechel Huizinga/CBC)

Mona Kelly of Moncton said her 95-year-old mother and 96-year-old father have lived in the complex since last November.

Her mother is also sick, but since she lives 10 minutes away, Kelly said, the situation isn't as bad for her. But Kelly has friends in Shediac whose parents live in the complex, and they have to make the 20-minute drive to make sure everything's is all right.

"It's nerve-racking," she said.

Kelly also said she appreciates the work the staff are doing to make the situation easier for everyone, but thinks it's crazy that Bell Aliant wasn't been able to fix the phones for a week. Like Maillet, she called Bell Aliant herself to find out what the problem is — and was connected with an employee in the Philippines.

"I want better service, for sure, for the phones being fixed. My parents don't have computers or iPads, anything, so you can't get a hold of them no matter what."

Staff setting up FaceTime calls 

Jonathan Krieger, the regional general manager for Omni, the company that owns the Moncton Residence, said he understands why family members are upset.

"I don't blame them for it," he said. "It's difficult, for our seniors especially. That isolates a lot of them."

He confirmed the phones had been down since Jan. 10 but was unable to say when a Bell Aliant technician first visited the property.

This is the screen that appears when you dial the Moncton Residence at 270 John Street.
This is the screen that appears when you dial the Moncton Residence at 270 John Street.

This is the screen that appears when you dial the Moncton Residence. (Raechel Huizinga/CBC)

Krieger said staff have been in contact with Bell Aliant and the Department of Social Development every day since the phones went down.

They've also been emailing the families to keep them updated on the situation and have been arranging FaceTime calls where possible, especially with relatives who aren't local. Staff are also regularly checking on residents, he said.

"We continue to escalate with [Bell Aliant], trying to push to get them out to solve the issue. They are hoping to get it solved today."

The phone line was still down when CBC called at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

He said the complex's internal phone systems are regularly updated, but Bell Aliant had not confirmed with him what is causing the outage. He added he asked Bell Aliant if any other buildings in the area were affected.

"They said they don't know."

In a medical emergency, Krieger confirmed staff could still call 911 through the internal phone system and use their personal cellphones to reach family members.