Wednesday, April 30, 2008

"Off-Load Delays" Directly Effect Pelham

Have you heard about “Offload Delays” in our Regional Ambulance service? I have been deeply concerned about it and I am pleased that we are now taking action.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) refers to an “Offload” as the time taken in an emergency department to transfer a patient from an ambulance stretcher to the care of the hospital. Generally, this interval takes 20-minutes in Niagara.

As you can guess, an “Offload Delay” describes a transfer that takes longer than the standard 20-minutes and any ambulance team stuck in offload delay is unavailable to respond to emergency calls!

While ambulance offload delays are common across Ontario, they are also a symptom of serious health care and community support systems problems. For example, when a community lacks general physicians and, therefore, access to comprehensive and effective primary care, people tend to visit emergency departments at hospitals. This overcrowds ERs and causes delays in triage and treatment.

Offload delays also occur when a community lacks adequate supportive housing, rehabilitation beds, and specialized at-home treatment programs. In these cases, patients who may be well-enough to leave a hospital cannot because they are too ill to be on their own. They require an “alternative level of care” (ALC) that is just not available.

In Niagara, we experience both types of challenges and, over the last two years, the frequency and duration offload delays at our hospitals have significantly increased.

At first, because of Niagara’s dynamic dispatch system, our EMS staff adapted well to these challenges. If an ambulance was stuck in an emergency department, the other ambulances in the system would move from their stations to other positions in the Region; in this way, when one, two, or three ambulances were delayed, EMS could still provide adequate coverage.

But, when seven (as happened 42 times thus far in 2008!) or eight (8) (25 times!) ambulances of the Region’s 22 vehicles get stuck on offload delay, the system starts to breakdown. The breakdown especially puts communities without hospitals – like Pelham, Thorold, and Fort Erie – at considerable risk.

In fact, Pelham’s EMS response times increased 33% from 10:27 in 2007 to 14:05 in 2008! It is now among the worst in the Region.

While the Province, the Niagara Health System, and Niagara EMS continue to work on solutions, I believe we cannot wait any longer.

That’s why I moved the motion in the Region’s finance committee to provide temporary (six-month) funding for two additional ambulances during peak times. I was also part of the Niagara Week team that met with Health Minister George Smitherman last week to persuade the Province to act.

Offload delays is a complex problem. By taking action now we can provide better EMS service while a solution is developed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Does Pelham Compare?

During the last two of my blogs, I have written about age characteristics of our Town. Well this, my final examination of the 2006 Census data for Pelham, considers home ownership, mobility, education, and other characteristics for your interest and information.

If all you had was the Pelham Census data, you may not appreciate the differences between Pelham and the rest of the Region. The best way to determine statistically significant differences is not only to compare the data between Pelham and all of Niagara, but, to actually remove Pelham from the Region’s data.

So, that is what I have done. And, the comparison between Pelham and the “rest of the Region” has yielded some interesting results – some significant, some not.

For example, the number of single-detached houses as a percentage of total occupied private dwellings is an interesting comparison. Across the rest of Niagara that number is 68%. Maybe it’s no surprise to you that in Pelham that statistic is 16% higher at 84%.

And, when you compare the number of owned vs. rented dwellings, there is also a significant difference. For Pelham, 90% of our dwellings are owned and 10% are rented. Across the rest of Niagara, 75% of dwellings are owned while 25% are rented.

Compared to the rest of Niagara, once we find our home in Pelham, we tend to stay put. For example, 71% of you and your neighbours lived at the same address five (5) years ago, while 92% lived at the same address one-year ago. Compare this to the rest of the Region at 64% for five years and 88% for one-year ago.

Another interesting comparison is with the number that said they possessed either a College certificate or diploma (or equivalent) or had a University certificate diploma or degree. Across the rest of Niagara, 36% of the adult population had these levels of education; in Pelham it was 10% higher at 46%.

Finally, Statistics Canada also tracks location of employment. Ten (10) percent of Pelham’s “labour force” works at home; compare this with six (6) percent in the rest of Niagara. Yet, at the same time, more than 71% of those working do so in a different municipality! Across the Region, that number is only 35% -- a whopping 36% less than in Pelham.

Perhaps you suspected some of this information about our Town. Or, perhaps some of it was unexpected. Regardless, I hope you know that I will continue to consider these demographic realities as I serve as your Mayor.

You may contact Mayor Dave at

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

More Pelham Stats

You may recall that my last column was about the demographics of Pelham – that is, the study of human population for our Town.

You see, Statistics Canada recently released new information from the 2006 Census. And, since they also provide information for communities from the 2001 and 1996 Census, one can compare the make-up and growth of our population over a ten-year period.

As you may know, Pelham is the fastest growing municipality in the Region. Since our formation in 1970, we have grown from 9,855 to 16,155 in 2006. That’s a 64% increase! The next largest increases are West Lincoln at 60%, Lincoln at 59%, and Grimsby at 58%; the entire Region’s population grew by only 27% during that period.

During the last decade, Pelham’s population grew from 14,345 in 1996, to 15,275 in 2001 (an increase of 6.5%), to 16,155 in 2006 (+5.8%).

But, as you may recall from my last column, the story becomes more interesting when one looks at age groups.

For example, our Town’s population of children (aged 14 and younger) declined in raw numbers over the last decade – from 2,920 in 1996 to 2,745 in 2006. This was a 6% decrease! It’s no surprise, therefore, that the proportion of children also dropped 3% from 20% of our Town in 1996 to 17% in 2006. According to a recent report, the proportion of children across the Region is expected to decline from 16.4% in 2006 to 14.3% in 2031.

What about our seniors – those aged 65 and older? In 1996 there were 1,925 seniors in Pelham; in 2006 Statistics Canada counted 2,680. That’s a 39% increase! Seniors now make up 16.5% of our population, up from 13% in 1996. Across the Region, the proportion of seniors is expected to increase from 17% in 2006 to 27% in 2031!

Statistics Canada provides some very broad categories for comparison over the last decade. For example, Pelham’s population aged zero to 24 grew 3% from 4,820 in 1996 to 4,965 in 2006. Our population aged 25 to 54 essentially flat-lined at a 1.1% growth from 6,095 in 1996 to 6,165 in 2006. So, broadly speaking, where was the majority of our growth concentrated? Those 55 and older grew a phenomenal 46% from 3,400 in 1996 to 5,030 in 2006! (One must be cautious of these broad comparisons; this growth is because of both new residents and the aging of current residents.)

As your Mayor, I continue to consider what these demographic realities mean for our current and future public services.

You may contact Mayor Dave at

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Boom, Bust & Echo in Pelham

Do you remember the book entitled “Boom, Bust & Echo” that was popular in the late 1990s? I was thinking about it lately as Statistics Canada released new data for all communities, including Pelham, from the 2006 Census.

The book, by David K. Foot and Daniel Stoffman, theorized that demographics – the study of human population – explained “about two-thirds of everything.” They wrote that demographics describes “which products will be in demand, where job opportunities will occur, what school enrolments will be, when house values will rise or drop, what kinds of food people will buy and what kinds of cars they will drive.”

Looking at Canadian demographic data, the book groups of the population into “cohorts” and names them. For example, you have likely heard of the most famous and largest of cohorts – the “Baby Boomers” – born from 1947 to 1966.

So I took the Statistics Canada data and compared our population in Pelham with the rest of the Region (excluding Pelham). It reveals some interesting facts.

In terms of population distribution, the data clearly identifies the presence of “Baby Boomers” – those 40 to 59 (in 2006) – in Pelham and in the rest of Niagara. If you are one of them, you make up 33% of Pelham’s population, compared to 30% in the rest of Niagara.

The next group – the Baby Bust – born from 1967 to 1979 would have been 27 to 39 years old in 2006. This group makes up fewer than 12% in Pelham and is 15% of the rest of Niagara.

Do you too find these differences between Pelham and the Region fascinating?

The Echo group – the children of the Baby Boomers – is another huge cohort. If you were between 11 and 26 years old in 2006, you were one of more than 22% in both Pelham and in Niagara.

Yet, the next group of children – from zero to 10 years old in 2006 – form only 10% of the population.

Those of other cohorts include the “Roaring Twenties” (aged from 77 to 86 in 2006 and roughly 5% of the population), the “Depression Babies” (from 67 to 76 in 2006 and 7%), and “World War II Babies” (60 to 66 in 2006 and 8%).

Perhaps you, like me, wonder what this means to the future of our Town and our Region. As Mayor I am thinking about what this demographic reality means in terms of current and future public services.

I plan to write more about Pelham’s demographics in future columns.