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 talks to resume Tuesday – KitchenerToday.com
The region and Unifor Local 4304 will resume bargaining talks on Tuesday morning, to try and end a strike by Grand River Transit workers.
That announcement was made Monday morning by the region.
The region’s CAO says they are pleased talks are resuming.
“That’s the only way that this is going to get resolved. The parties get together face-to-face at the bargaining table … try to understand what the outstanding issues are and try to find ways, if we can, to resolve them … get the strike done and get transit up and running again.” Mike Murray told Kitchener Today with Brian Bourke on 570 NEWS.
“I’m convinced the two teams, face-to-face, they’ll find ways to work this out.” he added.
The over 700 drivers, mechanics, vehicle service attendants and dispatchers have been on strike since last Tuesday morning.
“Just like on the first day of this strike, we remain committed to bargaining the best possible collective agreement on behalf of Unifor Local 4304 members,” Tim Jewell, Unifor Local 4304 President said in a release. “Transit workers deserve a safe and respectful work environment.”
The two sides have not met since Wednesday.
Surrey councillors slam move to issue warnings to ride-hailing drivers – CityNews Vancouver
SURREY (NEWS 1130) – This is wrong and a waste of city resources: that’s the message from two Surrey city councillors after bylaw officers requested Uber rides through the app, then issued drivers warning tickets.
Councillor Linda Annis says she has “very, very significant concerns” about the reports.
“Using their time as paid staff members in Surrey to call ride-hailing companies and get drivers to come to Surrey only to issue them a warning,” she said. “Clearly this is not a good utilization of city resources.”
On Sunday, an Uber driver told NEWS 1130 he received a request through the app to pick someone up at the Safeway on King George Highway after having dropped someone off in the area. When he arrived, he said a woman waved him over and asked if he was from Uber. When he confirmed he was, he said two uniformed city officials showed up and handed him a slip of paper with a possible fine of $500 on it.
Two Surrey opposition councillors tell me they have significant concerns about senior city management directing bylaw officers to issue warning tickets to ridehailing drivers. Both plan to bring this up at council, calling it “wrong” & a waste of city resources. More @NEWS1130
— Martin MacMahon (@martinmacmahon) January 27, 2020
Annis doesn’t want companies or drivers to steer clear of her city, and says Surrey needs ride-hailing.
“We’re short on transportation, we don’t have enough buses, we don’t have enough taxis. Ride-hailing services are a very welcomed addition to Surrey,” she explained. “Surrey has more than 550,000 people — most of the people in Surrey want ride-hailing service. We all would welcome them and I do hope that they hear that message from us loud and clear.”
When she heard about bylaw officers reportedly baiting drivers, Annis says she was shocked. When she checked in with staff about the reports, she says she was told three officers had been directed to do so.
“In my mind this is clearly wrong and should not be happening,” she added, saying bylaw officers have more important tasks to conduct.
Councillor Jack Hundial echoes Annis’ concerns, and says he’s spoken to a driver who was handed a warning.
“As far as I know, only warnings have been issued so far,” he told NEWS 1130.
Driver I spoke to says drivers have been getting warnings starting this morning. Drivers have been asked to show their drivers licence and are handed the warning and told next time they could be slapped with a $500 fine. @NEWS1130 We have reached out to the city to confirm pic.twitter.com/nFvLaEhIfa
— Tarnjit Parmar (@Tarnjitkparmar) January 27, 2020
Currently, the City of Surrey doesn’t have a licensing system in place for ride-hailing. Uber and Lyft are currently only licensed by the City of Vancouver.
“What we’re doing is we’re trying to build out the first modern city of the 21st century here, and one of our core values in the city is innovation and looking forward to technologies to help propel our community forward,” Hundial said of Surrey. “And transportation and ride-share certainly is one of them.”
He adds this appears to be just another roadblock the city “doesn’t need.”
On whether he’s afraid what’s happening could have a chilling effect on drivers and companies, Hundial worries it could, but notes it’s not reflective of what the people want.
“It’s really not what our overall population has been asking,” he said. “My colleagues have received over 1,600 emails and communications from residents in Surrey that we want to have these options available for us. Even from a public safety perspective, it makes sense to have it. We don’t want to have impaired drivers on the road.”
NEWS 1130 has reached out to the mayor’s office for comment.
-With files from Lisa Steacy and Tarnjit Parmar
GRT strike continues into its second week – CTV News
Waterloo Region and the Grand River Transit union have agreed to resume their contract talks on Tuesday.
The talks will mark one week since the strike began as the result of a tentative agreement being voted down by union members.
Workers continued picketing over the weekend after rejecting the contract offer from the region on Jan. 19. They began striking two days later.
The region and the union representing transit workers have been in contact since talks broke down, and there are hopes that talks will resume early this week.
“Our lead negotiator and theirs has been talking over the last several days, including probably over the weekend to try and figure out a time to get back together face-to-face at the bargaining table so we can get talks started again and hopefully get things resolved,” said Mike Murray, Chief Administrative Officer at Region of Waterloo, over the weekend.
On Sunday, Unifor Local 4304 president Tim Jewell said the union is ready and willing to get back to the table.
According to Jewell, the top concerns are workplace safety and discipline for employees.
Although the union acknowledges the strike is an inconvenience to transit users, Jewell says it will be standing firm until a fair agreement is made.
Even though the buses remain parked, the region’s auto-renew service for monthly transit passes is not.
Riders are being reminded they can turn that service off if they wish to opt out.
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