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County Council Notes for Wednesday, October 7

by Sylene Argent

Several Essex County Library branches are now open

Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, who is also the Chairperson of the Essex County Library Board, said the local book-sharing service opened five of its branches across the region, including the facilities in Essex Centre, LaSalle, Tecumseh, Kingsville, and Lakeshore, to date.

  These branches are open, Monday to Saturday, starting at 9 am, with various closing times.   

  The goal, he said, is to continue to open branches within each municipality. Curbside pickup will continue to be active at the Leamington and Amherstburg sites in the interim, and the mail delivery service will continue. The board and branches will continue to follow health and safety protocols.

  Services will expand, once it is safe and healthy for the community and staff members, he said.  

  Santos added the Essex County Library’s virtual services are available to cardholding members 24/7, and he hopes members of the public will connect with the library via social media.

  More information is available at https://www.essexcountylibrary.ca/client/en_US/home


EMS response time standard plan adopted for 2021

County Council received Essex-Windsor Emergency Medical Services’ (EWEMS) report regarding its recommended land ambulance response time standard plan for 2021.

  Bruce Krauter, EWEMS Chief, said response annual time plans are required under the Ambulance Act, and Essex County develops the plan.

  Two areas EMS personnel have to report on, Krauter noted, include the percentage of times sudden cardiac arrest patients received assistance from a person equipped to provide defibrillation within six-minutes from the notification of a call by an ambulance communication service, and the percentage of times an ambulance crew has arrived on scene to provide ambulance services to sudden cardiac arrest patients or other patients categorized as Canadian Triage Acuity Scale (CTAS) 1 within eight-minutes of the time of notice.

  The CTAS scale was developed for use in hospital Emergency Departments to sort and prioritize patients as they enter the facility, the Report to Council notes, with the level 1 being most critical, through to level five, being least critical.

  Through the action plan, Krauter said, Essex-Windsor EMS continues to address the meeting and exceeding of the goals of the response time targets, some of those include off-load diversion protocols, where lower acuity patients were transferred to Erie Shores Healthcare, when the Windsor hospitals were at capacity.

  He added reps from EMS meet regularly with hospital staff members to discuss off-load management, and how to maintain a good flow within the emergency departments.  

  Through the report, he recommended the response times standards for 2021 remain the same as 2020, with a six-minute response for sudden cardiac arrest at 55 percent of the time. The target for CTAS level 1, with an eight-minute mark, to be met 75 percent of the time; CTAS 2, at ten-minutes, to be met 90 percent of the time; CTAS 3, at 12-minutes, to be met 90 percent of the time, and CTAS 4 and 5, at 14-minutes, to be met 90 percent of the time.

  This plan sets achievable standards for EWEMS. County Council authorized administration to adopt and submit the proposed 2021 EWEMS Response Time Plan.

  Upon answering a question from LaSalle’s Mayor Marc Bondy regarding the impact COVID had on response times, Krauter said EWEMS noticed, when looking at the data, around a 35percet decrease in call volumes, compared to the previous year, in April and May. In May, the volume of calls did begin to increase. By June and July, when the region began to move into Stage 3 of the Province’s reopening plan, the call volumes were comparable to what they were pre-COVID.

  Since mid-July and into September, the call volumes levelled and somewhat decreased, because, “We continue to work with the emergency departments and other partners on getting the people to the right resource at the right time,” Krauter said.

  Another report will come to County Council in the near future in regards to call volumes in 2020, Krauter added.

  Essex Deputy Mayor Richard Meloche said he thought there would have been much lower response times, because of the pandemic, so it is, “Extremely pleasing we are doing as well as we are.”

  Meloche said he knows EWEMS is making it to sudden cardiac arrest calls in six-minutes 56 percent of the time, which exceeds the target. When dealing with sudden cardiac arrest situations, he wondered what the timing is the other 44 percent of the time, when those targets are not met. He said this would give everyone an idea of perhaps where there are deficiencies in service.

  Krauter said another report on that will come forward in the near future to answer those questions by municipality, and how local fire departments tie into these calls as well.

  County Warden Gary McNamara touched on the dispatched issue. He believes that if there was a more centralized, regional dispatch for all first responders, some of those times would be improved. Krauter’s personal view is that it would probably be beneficial if the dispatch centre could be under local control a little more.

  The Province, Krauter said, is working on a new dispatch algorithm. Another item coming to fruition are changes to regulations, so that ulterior destinations and treatments can help, he added.

  McNamara also asked about opioid-overdose and mental heath calls. Krauter said there was a spike in opioids in June and July, and then it settled back down. Mental health calls keep going up every month, and it is nearly 12 percent of total call volumes.

  McNamara extended thanks to all first responders over the pandemic.


Reduction of historic multi-res tax system approved in principal  

County Council approved a tax policy recommendation in principal that will reduce the multi-residential tax ratio from 1.9554 to 1.74155 in 2021. This is representing the first year of a four-year reduction plan. It also approved in principal that the reduced multi-residential tax ratio be used in the calculation of draft 2021 budgets.

  Sandra Zwiers, Director of Financial Services Department/Treasurer, explained she spoke about tax policy recommendation for the 2020 taxation period last fall. At that time, recommendations were made to approve minor changes to the tax structure, with a goal of simplifying the tax system. At this time, rates for the multi-residential class was discussed. Direction from County Council at that point, was to take this back to the Regional Treasurers’ Group for discussion.

  She noted the Province has regulated a second multi-residential class, called “New Multi-Residential.” And, it is legislatively taxed at a ratio of a rate between 1 and 1.1. Currently, at the County, the ratio is 1.1 for the new class, but the historical multi-residential tax class has a ratio of 1.9554, essentially double the tax ratio, she said.    

  This is a phased plan to harmonize the two ratios. The goal is to take the historic multi-residential class and move it down over time, to get to 1.1, Zwiers said. In 2021, the historic multi-residential rate will be reduced from 1.9554 to 1.74155.

  Changing a ratio does not reduce the amount of tax collected, it changes who pays it, Zwiers noted. That is why a four-year phased plan was recommended. If the whole reduction was done in one year, there would be a tax shift impact of around $685,000.

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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