A bad hair cut, a parking spot deemed too small, and neighbours who vacuum too late at night – these were among the worst reasons to call 911 during 2019.
Others, according to B.C.’s E-Comm call centre, included not being allowed to use the washroom at a gas station, complaining that a coin laundry machine didn’t have enough water, and to enquire why traffic was so bad.
Every year, there’s no shortage of examples of calls E-Comm staff have handled that aren’t based on a genuine life-or-death situation in need of emergency care.
Operator Chelsea Brent says an alarming trend has emerged in 2019, where people call 911 to seek general information, knowing full well their situation is not an emergency.
“Sometimes, it feels like people may have forgotten that the reason to call 911 is to get help in a life-or-death situation. I take a lot of 911 calls where ‘I know this isn’t an emergency’ are the first words out of the caller’s mouth. But when I’m answering calls that aren’t an emergency, it means I’m not available for someone else who really does need critical help.”
E-Comm communications manager Jasmine Bradley says although such calls may be absurd, all call takers must treat every call as an emergency unless they can establish there isn’t one, and this takes time away from helping those in genuine need.
Here’s the full list of E-Comm’s top 10 reasons not to call 911 in 2019:
- To complain a hotel parking spot was too small
- To complain a hair salon didn’t style their hair properly
- To complain their neighbour was vacuuming late at night
- Because they were upset a coin laundry machine didn’t have enough water
- To enquire why traffic was so bad
- To request police bring a shovel to dig their car out of the snow in front of their house
- Because police are being ‘too loud’ responding to an emergency and requesting they should come back in the morning
- To get information about water restrictions
- To report a broken ATM machine
- Because a gas station wouldn’t let them use the washroom
E-Comm is responsible for 99 per cent of British Columbia’s 911 call volume and handled more than 1.6 million 911 calls in 2019.
GRT workers reject tentative agreement; striking Tuesday – KitchenerToday.com
If you’re a transit user in Waterloo Region, you’re going to have to find another way around on Tuesday.
Grand River Transit workers have rejected the tentative contract agreement on the table during a ratification vote.
According to a Tweet from their union office, a strike has been called beginning Tuesday morning.
The tentative contact between Unifor Local 4304 — representing about 700 Grand River Transit/MobilityPLUS operators, dispatchers, fleet mechanics and service attendants — and the Region of Waterloo was reached just before the midnight deadline last Monday.
The Region of Waterloo says in a Tweet they are “disappointed with UNIFOR 4304’s failure to ratify the agreement” and that they “remain available to discuss next steps.”
“The membership has made a very strong statement today that GRT must do better at the bargaining table,” said Local 4304 Local President Tim Jewell.
The Unifor release states they “will work quickly to set up bargaining dates with the employer to work through the remaining issues.”
They say details of the tentative contract will not be released.
On Monday, the region’s CAO Mike Murray told 570 NEWS in the event of a GRT strike, they will make exceptions for mobility buses to help transport those with certain medical needs.
ION is expected to run as normal.
— Unifor Local 4304 (@UniforLocal4304) January 20, 2020
Region is disappointed with UNIFOR 4304’s failure to ratify @GRT_ROW tentative agreement – We remain available to discuss next steps.
— Region of Waterloo (@RegionWaterloo) January 20, 2020
GRT workers vote to strike on Tuesday – CTV News
Workers for Grand River Transit have rejected the latest contract offer from the Region of Waterloo.
They have also called for a strike starting Tuesday morning.
The union says buses will continue to run until the end of normal service on Monday.
Members of Unifor Local 4304 voted on the tentative collective agreement Sunday night.
“The membership has made a very strong statement today that GRT must do better at the bargaining table,” said Local 4304 President Tim Jewell in a press release.
The union says they’ll work quickly to set up a bargaining date with the region to work through the remaining issues.
A strike was originally set for midnight last Tuesday but half an hour before the deadline a tentative agreement was reached.
That meant approximately 700 GRT and MobiltyPlus employees would not walk off the job.
The union represents drivers, mechanics, vehicle service attendants and dispatchers.
They say details of the tentative agreements will not be released.
The Region of Waterloo sent out a statement Sunday night saying they’re disappointed with the vote and are ready for future discussions.
LRT trains will not be affected by any strike action.
Canadian airlines feel the pressure of flight-shaming and the 'Greta effect' – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News
Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, January 19, 2020 3:45PM EST
MONTREAL – Swedish may not be the lingua franca of the aviation world, but ask any airline executive about the term “flygskam” and they’ll likely know exactly what it means.
Flygskam – Swedish for “flight shame” – is a growing environmental movement that highlights the flight sector’s carbon footprint, putting pressure on Canadian carriers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while managing the cost of passenger guilt.
“It does seem like a switch has flipped,” says airline expert Seth Kaplan.
“For a while, there was this very incremental recognition of the urgency (of climate change), and then over the past year or so all this has really gotten into the spotlight – aided by Greta Thunberg.”
The Swedish teenage activist, who travelled by racing yacht to a climate summit in New York to avoid flying and its attendant emissions, has focused attention on aviation’s role in global warming, with consequences for travel companies.
The CEO of SAS, one of Scandinavia’s largest carriers, has attributed declining passenger numbers in Sweden to flight shaming. Meanwhile the country’s main train operator, SJ, said it sold 1.5 million more tickets in 2018 than the previous year, thanks to what’s been dubbed the “Greta effect.”
Other European countries are experiencing the same phenomenon. Germany saw a similar decline in domestic flights in 2018, along with a corresponding increase in rail travel.
To combat this trend, airlines are turning to carbon offsets, where they invest in projects such as wind farms and tree planting to compensate for plane-produced carbon dioxide.
Such measures could cost airlines billions, Citigroup Inc. said in a research note last October. The banking conglomerate forecasts that carbon offsetting economy-class flights will cost US$3.8 billion per year within five years.
Carriers could absorb the expense or pass it along to consumers via a higher ticket price, but airlines will struggle in the long run if increased costs deter travellers from flying, Citi said.
If airlines foot the bill themselves, “the cost of carbon offsetting all leisure consumption could be as much as 27 per cent of airlines’ profits by 2025,” wrote analyst Mark Manduca.
Offsetting corporate travel – which Citi defined as business-class seats – will cost another $2.4 billion, reducing airline profits by a further 17 per cent, the report said.
Commercial aviation accounts for about two per cent of global carbon emissions – a far smaller share than that of cars (estimates range between about 15 per cent and 20 per cent) or coal-generated power (30 per cent). “But it emits carbon in a very visible way,” Kaplan said.
“You look up in the sky and you see airplanes flying.”
In Europe, where the European Commission has called for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050, airlines have taken big steps in response.
EasyJet announced in November it would begin to offset emissions immediately, a move that they claim makes them the first major airline to operate net-zero carbon flights.
British Airways followed suit and began offsetting all flights within the United Kingdom as of Jan. 1
New York-based JetBlue unveiled plans to go carbon-neutral on all domestic flights starting in July, the first major U.S. carrier to do so.
Canadian airlines have also made efforts to reduce their carbon footprints, albeit less ambitious ones than their European counterparts.
“Using fuel-efficient aircraft is our best hedge against rising fuel costs and improves our carbon footprint,” WestJet Airlines Ltd. spokeswoman Lauren Stewart said in an email. “We are proud to have one of the youngest and most fuel-efficient fleets in North America.”
Air Canada has committed to carbon-neutral growth starting this year, meaning Canada’s biggest airline plans to cap net emissions, regardless of expansion.
Other efforts by the airline include more fuel-efficient aircraft and biofuel investment, said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick.
However, the proliferation of budget carriers and a robust tourism sector is resulting in more emissions even as aircraft become increasingly fuel efficient.
A recent study by the International Council on Clean Transportation found that airplane emissions are increasing as much as 50 per cent faster than forecast by the United Nations, whose aviation body predicts aircraft fuel consumption will more than double by 2045.
Europe’s keen awareness and aggressive efforts around climate change may justify a little “tagskryt” – “train-boasting” in Swedish – but travellers on a densely populated continent have a built-in advantage.
“There’s no high-speed rail network here like there is in Europe. The cities are not as closely located as they are in Europe or in Japan. And if I have to go to meetings in Montreal or the West Coast of the United States, flying is my only option due to time and cost concerns,” said Brandon Graver, the Washington D.C.-based airline researcher behind the clean transportation council study.
A lack of investment in high-speed rail by governments in North America is also to blame, experts say, with flights between Montreal and Toronto more appealing in the absence of bullet trains.
Even if Canadian airlines were to proclaim carbon neutrality, its effectiveness remains up in the air.
“There’s been a lot of talk lately that, ‘Look, it’s nice to go and plant trees, but it’s not truly a one-for-one offset – that there’s not enough tree-planting in the world you could do to truly offset the impact of emissions,”’ airline expert Kaplan said.
Nor do carbon offsets address the issue of fossil fuel dependence, according to a recent paper by the David Suzuki Foundation and the Pembina Institute.
“It’s not the silver bullet … to reducing their emissions, but it’s one option of many – while others would call them modern-day indulgences where you’re paying for your sins,” Graver said.
“We’re hopeful that industry and governments together can come together and come up with a climate goal, an actual action that is beyond just lip service.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 19, 2020.
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