FORT FRANCES—At its regular meeting last Thursday, the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board agreed to offset the costs of its four buildings—450 Scott St. and the ambulance bases in Fort Frances, Emo, and Rainy River—from accumulated surplus and reserve for working capital in the amount of $1,347,500.
As such, the DSSAB does not have to go outside to finance any of the building costs for these facilities.
Mildred Beck, acting manager of finance, explained the surplus being used came from a variety of sources, the first being that the DSSAB absorbed $350,000 from the former district welfare board when it was formed in 1998.
Beck also noted the board’s revenue often exceeds the budget figures due to bank interest, rental revenues more than anticipated, and receiving several 100 percent provincially-funded, one-time funds through the years to cover and/or offset budgeted costs.
In addition, the board has received 100 percent funding for administration budgets for newly-introduced programs the DSSAB took on from the province after their budgets had been set.
Still, board member Val Pizey was concerned the surplus might look as though the municipalities have been overcharged.
“[There has] never been any intentional overcharges to the municipalities,” stressed Beck.
“The board decided a long time ago to retain surpluses to offset anticipated building costs,” added board member Gary Gamsby.
Barb Cournoyer, another board member, also noted the DSSAB staff has fought hard for additional provincial funding, and has made sacrifices and cut costs on their own.
“The DSSAB staff should get a pat on the back for the work they’ve done,” she remarked.
Also at Thursday’s meeting, the DSSAB heard an update from Health Services manager Dan McCormick regarding automated external defibrillators (AED).
“The Heart and Stroke Foundation has allocated 25 defibrillators for our area and we’re working on the placement of them,” McCormick noted, adding he’s just finished up the pricing of the AEDs.
He explained they will be installed in municipal buildings and community centres across the district.
“We have a draft agreement ready to go out to the municipalities,” McCormick noted.
The agreements, which can be finalized once the placement of the devices is secured, state the DSSAB retains ownership of the AEDs, but the municipalities are responsible for any maintenance.
“And the maintenance is minimal,” McCormick stressed, saying there’s just a checklist to follow.
In addition to the 25 defibrillators, McCormick said he recently received word the area will receive 16 more devices to be placed in schools, which were applied for in a second wave of applications.
“We contacted the schools and all were interested and enthusiastic,”’ he noted. “We’ll start first by installing the defibrillators in schools in remote areas.”
McCormick said he also got a good price for the AEDs he has ordered, paying about $1,900 instead of $3,000.
Since $100,000 was allocated for the defibrillators, he believes some of the money could be reallocated, perhaps for additional devices.
He would like to see AEDs in all of the surrounding First Nations communities, which he hopes to apply for in a third wave of applications.
The AEDs McCormick has ordered provide both audio and visual prompt.
“That way if it’s noisy, people would still be able to follow through with the visual instructions,” he explained.
Six-eight people who most likely would be nearby where each defibrillator is place will be trained to use the device.
“It’s an immense value to the communities, especially in rural areas,” McCormick said, adding that first aid is included in the training.
“The chance that [the AEDs] will be used are minimal, but they are very good precautionary measures to take,” he remarked.
(Fort Frances Times)