By the time this reaches the paper it will be old news, but never the less, congratulations to the class of 2012.
Another group of young men and women ready to take on the world. From what I saw and heard at the graduation ceremonies they’ll do just fine. A big thanks to the town employees who did a great job of getting the Rink ready and the Grade Elevens who were in charge of the decorations.
So now to the business of what’s been happening in the town council’s world ! Since my last column most of our major committees have met at least once. Our next council meeting is not till the 8 of May so I haven’t seen or heard all of the committees reports yet. What I do know is as follows.
The Economic Development Committee met, and are at this time pursuing the idea of hiring a Community Development Officer who would oversee various community projects such as the Trade Fair and Outlaw Days and in general, assist with and help develop other ideas and projects. He/she would also be responsible for researching and pursuing grants and monies available to assist with these projects. This idea is still in its infancy and the first step, a job description, is presently being undertaken.
The tourist board met and are going ahead with plans for Canada Day celebrations in Coronach. They will be looking for your support in the coming weeks, please help, where and if you can.
The Emergency Measures Committee also met to go over existing plans to ensure preparedness in the event of any community disasters or emergencies such as the extended power outage we had in 2011.
This was my first EMO meeting and it made me aware of the complexity of ensuring we have covered all the bases. All of the major players in the town have to be well co-ordinated and this includes fire, ambulance, RCMP, school, health centre, town employees and local industries. I have to say most of the above were represented at the meeting and I was impressed with our state of preparedness to date.
One thing we have to do is find a way to ensure people in the community and surrounding area are aware of the arrangements that are in place and dependent on the type of emergency we’re dealing with.
Emergencies come from various diverse situations and include weather, fire and power outages to name but a few. On May 22, a number of our EMO participants are going to attend weather related training in Scobey. Training is being provided by the Glasgow EMO.
As I said previously, I haven’t had a chance to hear all of the committee reports for the last month. This will happen at our regular monthly meeting on Tuesday 8th May. Anything I’ve missed will be included in my next report. The truth is it has been a very busy month and it included a special budget meeting on the first of May. To date we have the preliminary figures in place, but it will require another meeting before we can call it a done deal. One of the main issues is the possibility of changing to a “Base” tax system. Something which seems to have the initial support of the council, but we are still researching all of the finer details and assessing the impact it will have on the town and you the taxpayers.
On the public works front our new (used) Grader showed up last week and we hope to have it busy in the back lanes soon. Hopefully it will quit raining for long enough to allow this to happen.
The Municipal Road water and sewer line replacement project is still moving ahead but at a slower pace than we had hoped due to various engineering issues, but we now have the engineer’s initial proposals and hopefully the council will give their approval to go ahead as proposed on the 8th of May. If this happens, the time line would see the design elements completed in June with tendering in July and the work completed by September 30. This will be later than originally anticipated, but still within the necessary time period.
More help is hopefully on the way as the posting for a new Town Utility Operator has closed and I believe we have a couple of applications to consider in the next week.
I would like, at this point, to clarify the town’s position on the sale of treated water - a somewhat contentious issue amongst some of our RM neighbours. After the RM established, at considerable cost, a network of rural wells for farm spraying purposes, the Town Council decided to discontinue the practice of allowing town treated water to be accessed at the Fire Hall. Mainly to conserve our filter and treatment systems and to ensure a ready supply of water for the town. It was also seen as prudent that while asking our citizens to only water every second day during the summer months that we should not, at the same time, be encouraging others to use as much water as they want any time they want! We will continue to supply treated water to any rural residents who require it for domestic use. For details contact Murray Setrum at the Town Office.
Finally on the health care front. I have to confess to confusion, disappointment and frustration. It appears that our community no longer has a say in the direction our health care will proceed. We are now subject to the wishes of Sun Country whether we agree or not. Centralization at its worst! It is obvious that Sun Country has a plan which does not include input from us.
To date this month there have been two meetings, one locally and one jointly with the Five Hills region to discuss “Primary Health Care”. For those of you who don’t know, “Primary Health Care”, is the vision of those whose only aim is to reduce cost with little regard given to need. It has been in the works for many years now and seems to be getting another major push at this time. Primary Health Care functions on the idea that if we can reduce the number of people seeing their doctors by practicing healthier lifestyles and by utilizing Nurse Practitioners and specialist nurses (diabetic nurse etc.) then we should be able to get by with less doctors. Unfortunately for the Health Regions, only a tiny percentage of the provinces doctors are on side with this concept. After all, doctors make their living seeing patients. They don’t get paid for patients seen by others.
Given this glitch the Health Regions are now working on plan “B”. Plan “B” includes a flurry of meetings which seem to be targeting various different groups each time. This appears to suggest a divide and conquer strategy. The old adage that most people can’t tell the difference between activity and productivity.
Now I could be wrong, and at the second meeting in Assinibioa on April 30, I was able to direct questions to both Sun Country interim CEO Marga Cugnet and the Five Hills CEO Cheryl Craig. I’m not convinced my questions were well received because it was billed as a “Primary Health Care” meeting and I wanted to talk “Essential Health Care” issues but I put them forward anyway and for your information the answers confirmed my worst fears. Coronach officially has no Emergency Services but if you are in dire need you can go to the Health Centre to be assessed and they will be allowed to dial 911 for you if they think it is required! What a terrible waste of caring, highly trained staff! Furthermore, you will not be allowed Emergency Services unless you can recruit not one, not two but, wait for it, three resident Doctors!
When I think back over the last 30 years and recall all the times we had only one doctor in town, I know, they saved lives that would have been lost otherwise. Some were my family, some were yours. It is unfathomable and unforgivable that someone far removed from your community can say this is no good. I know many of you can go back further. The pretense that they are doing this for the Doctors benefit doesn’t hold water. Let the Doctors decide. One Doctor in Coronach, plus a resident Nurse Practitioner and four Doctors and a Nurse Practitioner in Assiniboia could ensure 24/7 coverage for Coronach.
My message to Marga was “Primary Health Care” may be a good concept but “Essential Health Care” is a necessary concept and one that we’re missing in Coronach. At the end of the meeting I asked for a meeting to discuss these issues that don’t seem to have an official forum. Marga said “yes, soon”. Time will tell! At the Health Advisory Board meeting tonight (May 7th) a motion was passed to contact Marga to initiate an Essential Services meeting ASAP. It may be that we will have to step up the pressure and campaign even harder in the coming months so any ideas to that end are more than welcome.