RCMP delegation presents yearly report to MODG council: Council hears of continued hospital staffing shortages

·4 min read

GUYSBOROUGH – A delegation from the RCMP spoke to the Municipality of the District of Guysborough (MODG) council at its regular monthly meeting on July 20.

Cpl. Mike Wilson, who is based in the Canso detachment of the Guysborough District, which includes the detachments in Guysborough and Sherbrooke as well as Canso, presented a report showing the district is fully staffed; there were 1,774 police occurrences during the past fiscal year including criminal and traffic offences; and the focus on traffic safety this past year, has brought the number of summary offence tickets up to 303, with a similar number of traffic warnings given.

Const. Nathan Sparks, who is stationed in the Guysborough detachment, told council that the RCMP would institute the use of body-worn cameras in Nova Scotia this year. He expected they would be rolled out in this area in the fall.

Council was given the opportunity to ask the delegation questions. MODG Warden Pitts asked if the traffic data information could be compiled to reflect the point of origin of the driver: local, from nearby districts or tourists from within or outside of the province.

Councillor Mary Desmond asked if it was deliberate that all RCMP members in the Guysborough District were male. Cpl. Wilson assured her it wasn’t and that the district had requested female members, explaining that staffing placement includes consideration of members preferred areas and jobs.

Const. Sparks added, “It does present a challenge,” and pointed out that in an instance of a “sensitive investigation, possibly of a sexual nature, if a victim prefers a female officer, we bring in female officers from neighbouring detachments to accommodate the request.”

The delegation also said they had 70 Mental Health Act calls from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022. Pitts asked if the RCMP thought that COVID had driven those calls up, to which Cpl. Wilson responded, “Definitely.”

Const. Sparks also noted that police outreach to schools had decreased in the years leading up to the pandemic and since. This decrease can be linked to the lack of staff to run the health centre at Chedabucto Education Centre/Guysborough Academy, which frequently liaised with the RCMP and provided more opportunities for presentations.

In other business, council made note of the upcoming Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB) hearing in Guysborough on Aug. 25 to determine the number of councillors in the MODG. Upon the recommendation of a consultant’s report, the MODG has applied to keep the number of councillors at eight.

Deputy Warden Janet Peitzsche gave a report on the latest Emergency Management Office committee meeting, noting that the issue of cell service for home support workers, which had been brought to council this past winter, had yet to be resolved. Bell Aliant has been asked to attend a council meeting regarding this issue but, after council adjourned, Pitts said no meeting date had yet been confirmed.

Peitzsche also reported on the latest Canso Area Stakeholder Working Group meeting and said they’re dealing with the same issues as when the group was formed just more than two years ago. “It’s very disheartening. The same issues, the same thing; no physicians, no nurses…but, you know, we keep, hopefully, everybody safe until we get it straightened out – which is nowhere in the foreseeable future.”

Councillor Paul Long gave a similarly concerning report when asked for the latest news from the Guysborough Area Stakeholder Working Group. There hasn’t been a meeting of the group since the last council meeting in June but Long gave an update noting that a doctor from Scotland has arrived, but a doctor who came earlier this spring, Dr. Wumi, will not be staying and is set to leave next month.

Long said the closure of the emergency department at Guysborough Memorial Hospital on July 19 was due to a shortage of nurses. He went on to say that talking with people at the hospital, “The big concern again is COVID. It’s a huge concern that nurses are going down. They’re almost considering that the hospital may have to close just because of lack of staff. The current COVID situation is quite rampant right now.”

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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