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County Council Notes for Wednesday, October 6

by Sylene Argent

Land Acknowledgement statement adopted

County Council adopted a land acknowledgement statement, which will remain open for a year to allow for feedback.

  The statement is, “We begin by acknowledging that the land on which we gather is the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy of First Nations, comprised of the Ojibway, Odawa, and Potawatomie Peoples. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude to those whose territory you reside on, and a way of honouring the Indigenous people who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial.

  “We value the significant historical and contemporary contributions of local and regional First Nations and all the Original Peoples of Turtle Island.”

  Mary Birch, Director of Council and Community Services/Clerk, noted this statement will be read before any official County Council meetings or events.

  She added that in 2009, there was a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which heard stories of survivors of residential schools. Through this, 94 calls to action were issued, one being that governments from all levels provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal people, including that of residential schools.  


 Short update on organics waste program

When receiving the July 6 meeting minutes from the Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority, discussion began on the difficulties of the organics recycling program.

  Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, who is also the Chairperson of this Board, noted the process continues to find the right balance of cost and technology to meet provincial requirements.

  “Essex Windsor Solid Waste Authority reps should be reaching out to the County municipalities and planning on attending Council meetings to answer questions and get the different municipalities up to speed on where we are with the organics,” DiCarlo said.

  He added it has been a struggle to get it resolved before the end of the calendar year. “It will be a challenge, frankly. The Authority has been very sensitive to the fact that we don’t want to rush into a technology that may not be approved later. It is a significant investment that we will have to make.

  “We do have to adopt something at least four out of the seven County municipalities do anyway. And then, we will be looking to the other three to see if they are interested in joining now or waiting it out. But, there is the idea the government may eventually just mandate organics recycling and ban them from waste,” he said.

  Essex Council spoke of the organics waste matter at the July 5 meeting.

  Councillor Kim Verbeek led the discussion. At the time, she said this was an initiative spearheaded by the City of Windsor. Essex County Council reps on the Board, she added, voted to put the brakes on, as they had numerous concerns and requested a peer review. She added the Essex Landfill Committee sent a letter to the EWSWA that it does not want to host organics programs. Windsor has to come before all County Councils to get buy in.

  At that meeting, Verbeek said she is not necessarily opposed to the program. At one point, she added, organics should be taken out of waste. She had concern with the cost of the program and was opposed to hosting in Essex as it is not known the draw its technology will have on water and power. She also noted there were concerns about smell.

  She asked Essex Council, as the landfill host municipality, to send a letter to County Council and EWSWA to put focus on other potential sites for the program. A majority Council vote passed her motion.


 Essex-Windsor EMS Response Experience highlights response times

County Council received the report, “Essex Windsor EMS 2020-2021 Response Experience and Service Delivery Impacts.”

  EMS Chief Bruce Krauter explained combining data and sources of information allows for the EMS service to plan and prepare for informed decision-making, and implement processes that result in service delivery changes, alterations, or enhancements.

  “As we know, over the past two-years now, COVID-19, and the associated impacts, have been considered and understood,” Krauter said.

  Back in 2020, he said he reported an improvement in off-load delays and in resource utilization, and response times. In early 2020, he said everything was locked down. The call volume was low, and so was hospital utilization.

  In 2021, lockdowns ceased and communities began to open up. “We must be cognizant that since [early] 2020, the healthcare system was shutdown as well, and now we are still addressing the collateral damage of COVID, such as healthcare backlogs, decreased capacity within the hospitals, rates of infection that fluctuate from day-to-day or week-to-week, and other anomalies or pressures not experienced in the early waves,” Krauter said.

  Krauter said it is projected the overall call volume for Code 1-4 will increase 1.89 percent in 2021 as compared to 2020. Conversely, he added, in 2020 call volume decreased 5.44 percent as compared to 2019. The five-year annual average increase of call volume, Code 1-4, is projected to be 2.6 percent.

  “This is consistent with the guidance and recommendations of the ‘Ten Year Master Plan,’” Krauter explained.

  The five-year annual average increase of call volume for Code 1-4 is: Amherstburg 3.18 percent, Essex 2.25 percent, Kingsville 4.8 percent, Lakeshore 2.4 percent, LaSalle 3.5 percent, Leamington 1.6 percent, Tecumseh 0.43 percent, Windsor 2.87 percent.

  In regards to response times, “This year, it is not favourable,” Krauter said. “Due to COVID in both 2020 and 2021, the targets have been very difficult to meet, and for various reasons,” he said.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a sudden cardiac arrest patient’s side in six-minutes 55 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 50 percent.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a CTAS 1 patient’s side in eight minutes 75 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 68 percent.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a CTAS 2 patient’s side in 10 minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 83 percent.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a CTAS 3 patient’s side in 12 minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 88 percent.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a CTAS 4 patient’s side in 14 minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 86 percent.

  EWEMS has a target to be at a CTAS 5 patient’s side in 14 minutes 90 percent of the time. In 2021, it met 86 percent.

  “Why? Well, we have a lot of issues right now in 2021 with call volumes increasing, backlogs within the hospitals, increased off-load delays, and numerous pressures that neither can be predicted or understood at this time,” Krauter explained.

  EWEMS, he added, utilizes its neighbouring services for mutual aid and fire departments.

  “I want to reassure people, when it becomes a life and death situation or life and limb situation, we have an emergency service, whether it is us or fire services, that is going to be there in minutes to respond to it,” Krauter said. “I predict, as we move through COVID, this is going to get very much improved.”

  This is also not just an Essex-Windsor EMS problem, it is an issue across the province, he added.

  Another measurement of response time is the average response time of an EMS resource to a particular subset of requests for service.

  In the Report to County Council, it was highlighted the average response time to Essex County municipalities in 2020 and 2021 year to date in minutes: Amherstburg: 8.1 (2020) 8.3 (2021). Essex: 9.9 (2020) 10.5 (2021). Kingsville: 9.8 (2020) 10.3 (2021). Lakeshore: 9.2 (2020) 10.1(2021). LaSalle: 8.2 (2020) 8.3 (2021). Leamington: 6.7 (2020) 7.4 (2021). Tecumseh: 7.1 (2020) 7.5 (2021). Windsor: 6.5 (2020) 6.6 (2021).

  Ambulance Offload Delays (AOD), Krauter said, have been an issue for well over a decade. Since 2018, EWEMS, Windsor Regional Hospital, Erie Shores Health Care, and Ontario Health have been striving to manage, mitigate, and reduce ambulance offload delays. The frequency of AODs have been reducing year-over-year since 2018. As COVID enveloped the region in 2020, he explained there was a reduction of both the number and the duration of the offload delays.

  Between 2018 and 2019 AOD total hours were reduced per year by 11 percent. In 2020, this reduction continued at 11 percent, but this is mostly attributed to the decrease in call volume and decrease of emergency department visits, because of COVID, it was noted in the Report to Council.

  The Report continues it is projected, that in 2021, AOD hours will increase by 17.9 percent from the low in 2020, due to decreased capacity within the hospitals, increased call volume for low or non-urgent calls, the implementation of a new digital charting platform at all three acute care hospitals, resulting in slower processing times, and the backlog of primary care services.

  Krauter noted an item which was tabled in late 2019 and planned to be implemented in early 2020 was the re-rostering of the paramedic schedule. ORH recommended EWEMS change its plan, and the local ambulance service had every intention of doing it in May of 2020. To make a major deployment plan in the beginning of COVID would have disrupted the service too much.

  EWEMS waited almost a year to put the plan in place.

  “Yes, we moved ambulances from night shift, but we put those ambulance resources on the day shift to cover the demand or the need for the service. What we could not predict – what ORH did not predict in 2018/2019 – is a global pandemic,” Krauter said.

  “What we didn’t predict in May of 2020 is that in May in 2021, we would be coming out of lockdown, everybody would want to explore everything, our call volume would go up, but our healthcare system was still backlogged,” he said.

  Unfortunately, he added, some of the volumes with spikes during the day do fluctuate and create where there are not enough resources to capture the demand. “We are addressing that. We address that each and every day with our off-loads, with our processes, offering overtime to paramedics…unfortunately call volume is very difficult to predict on a minute-by-minute basis,” he said.

  He said things are starting to work and settle down.

  “We understand there has been some social media traffic, talking about where resources are lacking. We haven’t experienced Code Blacks in quite some time,” he claimed, adding it is difficult to track. “The thing is, Code Black just doesn’t happen. We ramp up and we ramp down. I want to make the reassurance that we are watching it. We watch it constantly, so that we are prepared. So, when it does hit, we can look at our partners, our mutual aid, and try to prepare for it before it even happens,” Krauter said.

  EWEMS and hospitals, Krauter said, are having difficulties staffing. He said this too is not a local issue, it is a provincial, national, and international issue. “To be honest, people are tired, and that is the issue with our human health resource staffing levels.”

  Warden Gary McNamara said County Council is supportive and understands the difficulties in dealing with the pandemic and other issues that affect the service.

  “We are very fortunate in Windsor-Essex we have great leadership in dealing with that,” McNamara said.    

  Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he believed EMS is doing everything it can to prevent Code Black instances.  

  During his opening statement at the beginning of the meeting, McNamara commended the Sun Parlour Home staff for all they do. He also thanked staff at EWEMS for the tireless work on the front lines, on top of the measures they are taking to deal with the pandemic.

  “You are seeing the number of calls you are responding to increase to pre-pandemic levels. We would be remiss if we didn’t first salute you for being true heroes in the health crisis.”

  He also congratulated 14 new EMS recruits to the team.

  “We are excited to have you on board, McNamara said. “New staff members bring fresh ideas and approaches that help us improve our services to all our residents in Essex County.”

  Krauter said EWEMS is getting ready to post for another recruitment as well.