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Thursday , 17 June 2021

St. Paul approves $1 per capita STARS funding; County council talks AED for Mallaig

The County of St. Paul will contribute $1 per capita to STARS Air Ambulance in 2021.

STARS Air Ambulance provides emergency transportation from rural communities and remote accident scenes to major hospitals in Edmonton when the level of care needed by a patient exceeds the local capabilities.

The County had initially tabled the discussion in order to reach out to neighbouring municipalities for more information on whether and to what extent they fund STARS.

According to County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz, of the 11 neighbouring municipalities one reviews the request on an annual basis, five provide $2 per capita, one gives $1 per capita, and four do not contribute to the service.

“Some just had a kind of arbitrary number that their council had decided on. So it’s kind of all over the map, I would say in our zone,” said Kitz.

The County of St. Paul has been giving STARS $2 per capita since 2016, but was planning to reduce that amount going forward following their preliminary budgeting discussions.

Div. 3 Coun. Cliff Martin made a motion to contribute $1 per capita to STARS Air Ambulance in 2021, for a total of $6,468. The motion carried.

No AED for Mallaig Unity Centre

County of St. Paul Council will not be funding an AED (automatic external defibrillator) for the Mallaig Unity Centre after concerns about the precedent being set by contributing and reaction from other community groups who have already paid for their own devices.

The Mallaig Ag Society made the funding request on behalf of all the community groups who use the Unity Centre over the course of the year.

“The past year being what it is, has been a total loss for many of these groups, we are asking if there is possibility of assistance in the purchase of this safety device. We would like to be prepared in case of emergency: when we are allowed to re- open,” reads a letter submitted to council by Rae Michaud of the Mallaig Ag Society.

Included in the request were quotes from a number of companies ranging from $1,900 to $2,400.

Div. 2 Coun. Kevin Wirsta recommended council deny the request.

“With what we subsidize and give to these communities, I think there is money in their budgets to purchase these on their on their behalf rather than coming to the County and asking for more,” said Wirsta.

He then listed off a number of locations in the County that already have purchased the AED and noted there is a trend towards having them at all public locations.

Div. 6 Coun. Laurent Amyotte said the hall in Mallaig serves all the functions for that community.

“It might even save one of our lives if we happen to be at a meeting there,” said Amyotte.

Wirsta said he believes all halls should have the AED “but I don’t think the County needs to pick up all the costs on that.”

Amyotte suggested the County go half and half on device because none of the groups in Mallaig have been able to fundraise this year.

Div. 5 Coun. Dale Hedrick said he had no issue with the County paying for the AED but that there was already a motion made so “let’s see what happens.”

County of St. Paul Reeve Steve Upham asked what the precedent was for other halls who have the defibrillators already.

According to County administration the only other AED the County has helped pay for was for the St. Paul Municipal Seed Cleaning Plant, which they gave $2,100 for the unit.

Div. 3 Coun. Cliff Martin asked if the County would have to refund the cost of AED’s already purchased by other organizations if they approved the Mallaig request.

“I think we can get by with it at the seed cleaning plant, but I don’t want to see us doing this for every organization and community group,” said Martin.

Wirsta’s motion to deny the request was carried, so there will be no money given to the Mallaig Ag Society for the purchase of an AED.

About Meredith Kerr

Meredith Kerr moved to St. Paul for a career in journalism and morning radio in 2014 expecting to stay for six months to a year. Since then, she has put down roots in the form of a husband, a mortgage, two babies, and a poorly behaved dog. She continues to work as a reporter until such time as she finishes her book and becomes fabulously wealthy from the royalties. Meredith also serves as a member at large on the St. Paul Library Board and volunteers as a Beaver leader for the 1st St. Paul Scout Group.