News

1. The Climate Emergency

We’ve taken the first two parts of Linda Pannozzo’s four-part “The Climate Emergency” series out from behind the paywall.

Here’s “Part 1: Why it’s time to ditch the language of economic growth.”

And here’s Part 2: Why growth, even if it is green, is not enough.”

2. New traffic act delayed

Rules under the new traffic act will protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency crews. Photo: Halifax Examiner

It looks like the new the new Traffic Safety Act won’t come into effect for another year,  reports CBC’s Jean Laroche. The act will replace the Motor Vehicle Act. It took the province 86 years to rewrite that one.

The new act will include “vulnerable road users” such as pedestrians, cyclists, and emergency crews. Under the new act, fines will double and licences will automatically be suspended for up to six months after a conviction for those drivers who kill or injure a vulnerable road user.

The bill was introduced in the fall 2018 sitting of the legislature and given royal assent. Transportation minister Lloyd Hines says it could take another year to draft the new rules because they are more complex and include new vehicles like scooters and Segways.

Getting the legislation through the House was probably the easiest part of the hill we had to climb.

A lot of the material is lodged in regulation, so now we’re doing that tedius [sic] work to go through the regulations and to set the regulations in place. That involves a lot of consultation. It involves a lot of work, internally to get it done.

Hines also says the new law will be enacted in stages.

3. Order filed against Alton injunction

Mi’kmaw water protectors at the Alton Gas site. Photo is a still from film “There’s Something In The Water,” courtesy Ellen Page

Michael MacDonald, the lawyer representing three Mi’kmaw women who are challenging a proposed permanent court injunction against Alton Natural Gas Storage Project, filed a cease and desist order against the company on Monday, reports Maureen Googoo with Ku’Ku’Kwes News.

MacDonald says he wants work to stop at the site while the issue is before the courts.

Until these proceedings are done, Alton Gas shouldn’t be doing anything yet. They’re continuing to do work and that needs to be stopped.

Darlene Gilbert (Thunderbird Swooping Down Woman), Madonna Bernard (Kukuwes Wowkis) and Paula Isaac (Kiju Muin) are members of a grandmothers group opposing the project, which will have natural gas stored in underground salt caverns. The group is concerned about brine from the caverns getting into the Shubenacadie River. The grandmother group occupied a bale house near the site and Alton was awarded a temporary injunction to remove those people occupying the house. Gilbert, Bernard, and Isaac were still occupying the house when they were arrested in April for violating the temporary injunction. The company’s request for a permanent injunction is still before the courts.

MacDonald has submitted a constitutional challenge to that injunction, saying the project is taking place on unceded Mi’kmaw territory.

4. Cornwallis task force wrap up public sessions

Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Cornwallis task force had its final public meeting last night. Julie-Simone Rutgers with The Star Halifax reports that more than 50 people showed up for the meeting at the Mi’kmaw Friendship Centre where every talked in conversation circles about how Mi’kmaq history should be commemorated in the city.

The first public sessions were held in June, while another public meeting took place on Monday night. Task force co-chair Dr. Monica MacDonald says the sessions have been about more than the future of the since-removed statue.

We’re trying to look at the much bigger picture, so that’s why we really want people to think about the larger picture of commemoration.

MacDonald tells Rutgers some of the suggestions on the future of the statue included putting it in a museum, destroying it, or keeping it in storage.

Feedback from the sessions will be included in a report that will go to council in 2020.

5. Hippie costume pulled from Walmart stores

This costume was pulled from Walmart’s Canadian stores after a complaint from a student at St. FX in Antigonish. Photo: Walmart.com

A student at St. FX recently saw a “hippie dude” costume at the Walmart that came with an Afro wig and dashiki. Allanique Hunter, who’s from the Bahamas, tells Katy Parsons with CBC she then went to the Walmart in Antigonish, which was selling the costume, too.

It really hit me at this time that this was not OK.

Hunter says the dashiki and the wig is cultural appropriation that makes “a mockery not only of our culture, but of the injustices we face day to day.”

Black people actually look like this and we are discriminated against because of this.

Hunter says she contacted the B.L.A.C.C. Student Society and they contacted Kelsey Jones, the university’s African descent student affairs co-ordinator. She then contacted the local Walmart, which took the costume off its shelves and contacted other stores across Canada.

In an email to CBC, Walmart spokesperson says the company values diversity and inclusion.

We have pulled these costumes from our stores and on Walmart.ca. We sincerely apologize for the offence this has caused our customers

It appears the costume is still for sale on Walmart’s U.S. website.


Views

1. Another look at who’s paying less than a living wage

On the weekend, a Facebook memory from 2013 came up on my feed. I heard an ad on the radio advertising a job for a receptionist at that station. Besides answering phones and greeting visitors, the job required the receptionist also do some writing, editing, graphic design, and sales. They pay wasn’t mentioned, but that’s a few jobs in one, so I can’t imagine the company was compensating the receptionist for those additional responsibilities and skills. I’ve been tracking wages and jobs for a while, at least casually. When I was looking for work back in 2003/2004, I mentioned to someone the low wages employers here were offering. They said, “That’s good money for Nova Scotia.” We’ve been trained to expect and accept less than we’re worth.

I started tracking postings more seriously over two years ago when I was laid off and looking for work. And when I started tweeting about it, followers started sending me postings for jobs that paid terribly. I still have friends, acquaintances, and social media followers send me postings. I did a roundup here in Morning File back in August.

A few friends sent me more postings this past week so I thought I’d do another roundup. It seems not much has changed for many job hunters and workers in the province: low pay to do several jobs in one. I actually think the salaries are getting worse.

Oh, and if you don’t know already, NSBI uses the province’s low cost of labour as a selling point to bring in companies to do business here. Check this out:

Competitive labour costs: Salaries in Nova Scotia tend to be lower than in other provinces and US states—a real competitive advantage for companies located here.

I always say a competitive salary just means the employer can pay you as terribly as their competitor pays.

A living wage in Halifax is $19.17/hr. The minimum wage is $11.55.

Here’s some of what I found:

Marketing coordinator

Pay: $27,000 to $28,000, ft
Benefits: 10 paid vacation days; no other benefits listed
Education required: Degree in marketing
Responsibilities: Social media management, marketing, adverting, creation of print materials like brochures, posters, and menus, act as a company spokesperson, event organizing

I don’t know why marketing and PR jobs pay terribly, but this pay and list of requirements is pretty consistent with other jobs I’ve seen. I wonder if the PR and business schools pumping out the graduates tell them how little the field pays? This job, however, requires the candidate be fluent in Mandarin and English. You’d think that requirement would come with more money, but no. I’d probably spend those 10 paid vacation days looking for a new gig.

Meat wrapper
Pay: Not listed, ft
Benefits: None listed
Education required: Not listed
Responsibilities: Meat wrapping; must be friendly, reliable, and willing and able to work in cooler temperatures

I follow this employer on Facebook, so I notice they are often looking for new staff to fill various positions. They pay is never listed, but one requirement that stands out is that candidates must have their own “dependable transportation.” The work hours are varied over the week and weekend, but it seems they require employees to have vehicles. But if they pay considerably less than a living wage, owning and maintaining a car just to get to your job can be tough for many workers. I asked Erica Butler about bus routes in this area and there are two routes, #61 and #68, which service the area, but the service is less frequent on weekends and non-busy times, which is when this candidate would have to work. Butler tells me the area’s business association and It’s More Than Buses have been advocating for a better route to serve the area. I don’t know if it would make any difference to this employer, though. But the lack of appropriate transit and the requirement to have a car is just another barrier facing job hunters in the city.

Ramp agent
Pay: $13/hr, pt and ft
Benefits: None listed
Education: None listed. Training will be provided
Responsibilities: Drive and operate ramp-serving vehicles, tow planes to gates for boarding, loading and unloading passenger luggage

I would have guessed that towing planes around and getting them ready for takeoff would pay more. Premiums are paid depending on the shifts worked: “Afternoon – $0.50 for each hour worked between 18:00 and 23:00. Midnight – $1.00 for each hour worked between 23:00 and 6:00.)”

And like other jobs, this one requires the candidate to work various hours. While they don’t ask that the person they hire have a car, I can’t see how you’d get to your job at the airport otherwise, unless you travel with a dependable colleague.

Here’s the same job with another company. It pays 55 cents more an hour and seems to have more benefits, including an employee assistance program.

Program group leader
Pay: $16.32/hr, pt
Benefits: None listed
Education: None listed
Responsibilities:

I briefly worked this job and let me tell you it was exhausting. The staff here, most of whom are women, do not get paid enough. My kid was also in this program and from what I remember from the postings, the pay was significantly less back then (minimum wage or close to it). The pay of these staff members is funded by what parents pay each month, which I also remember being a good deal. Not all parents would agree, I’m sure. I think the staff turnover is high in this program.

It’s only part time, too, but if you’re working the shifts before and after school, you have a long break in between. I don’t know how you’d fit a second job in there. This job, like many in childcare, are worked by women who don’t make enough.

Social media accounts manager
Pay: $32,000 to $40,000/annually, pt working toward ft
Benefits: None listed
Education required: No degree/diploma requirement listed, but asking for extensive social media knowledge
Responsibilities: Creating social media strategies for clients, analyzing/monitoring social media, creating/editing blog posts and newsletters

I am always suspicious of employers that post job listings that include language like this: “If you are a rock star that bleeds social media marketing, can write and edit copy like no other then we are looking for you!”

There are also five exclamation points in this listing. No one is that excited to hire someone. When I first read this post I thought the employer must be a micromanager.

And then there’s this:

“The role will initially be a part-time position with the goal of moving to full-time. Although general work hours are 9 am to 6 pm, Monday to Friday, client requests, monitoring and action may occur outside those times from time to time, as this role is a 24/7 responsibility. Anything can happen at any time online!”

This is what our smartphones have done to us: Keep us connected to our jobs around the clock for no additional pay.

Chiropractic assistant
Pay: $29,000, ft
Benefits: None listed
Education: None listed
Responsibilities: Patient care include intake and examinations, receptionist duties, some marketing

There are many jobs like this one that don’t list specific post-secondary education requirements, but clearly require them for the job. This job requires a knowledge of human anatomy and chiropractor care, as well as receptionist duties and even some marketing, all of which you’re going to need some post-secondary training, at least a diploma, to do. Depending on how busy the clinic is, this sounds like a lot of work for one person.

Events technician
Pay: $13.31/hr, pt and ft
Education: None listed
Benefits: None listed
Responsibilities: Set up and tear down of events; working with some clients

Ah, a chance to work in The Glory Hole, as Tim calls it.

While the job calls for setting up and tearing down of events, there are a lot of responsibilities here that require the skills of someone who has more knowledge than setting up tables and chairs. The employee needs to be comfortable with heights and will work on aerial platforms and climbing ladders. Really, you need some basic handyman skills for this. You also need some customer service skills.

A few things that stand out here: “These are hourly positions, and schedules are set according to event activity. ET’s can generally expect anywhere from 25-40 hours per week on average.”

And “Must be able to work flexible shifts, including days, evenings, nights and weekends, along with extended workdays as per event and client demand.”

So, there’s no real guarantee on how much the candidate will make each pay period. How can anyone work a second job, if they only get part-time hours, and how would you plan for childcare and other life responsibilities?

I love this line: “This is a challenging and rewarding opportunity to assist in the delivery and help raise the standard of excellence in locally hosted and internationally reputed events!”

Please stop with the exclamation points. No one is excited about this.

Oh, the CEO here makes $168, 691 a year.

Support staff-mental health
Pay: $12.90/hr, casual
Benefits:
Education required: Grade 12 and enrolment or completion of diploma/degree
Responsibilities: Client support, meal prep, cleaning, laundry, general supervision, documentation and record keeping

This is a casual job, so like some of the others there’s really no way to plan your pay, hours, or life, even. This is an important job and should simply pay more. I can’t help but think about how working to help those with mental illness for such little pay and no security will affect the mental health of whomever gets hired.

And then there’s this line: “There is room for growth within our organization for those dedicated to what we do.”

I would hope the candidates applying for this job are dedicated to the work, but for this pay, this is exploitation of someone’s passion for a cause.

Custodian
Pay: $11.78/hr, ft
Benefits: Medical benefits after probationary period
Education: None listed
Responsibilities: Cleaning and maintenance, snow removal, security, event set up

There are several cleaning/custodial jobs listed and the pay varies depending on the organization. This one is just 23 cents above minimum wage. Most others are around the same pay.

This one pays $1,300 a month, yet the hours aren’t defined other than the shifts start at 8 a.m. and the candidate doesn’t have to work weekends or holidays. The posting mentions the job location is in Upper Tantallon and only the express transit serves that area.

And this custodial job pays much better ($16.30/hr, although it’s still not a living wage and only part time.

Santa Claus actors
Pay: $17 to $23/hr, seasonal
Benefits: None. Maybe you’ll meet some elves
Education: None listed. Previous Santa acting experience is a benefit
Responsibilities: Play Santa

I only posted this because I was curious what the Santas in the malls made each season. At least they can make more than a living wage. It probably depends on this, though: “Real beard is an extreme advantage.” And, of course, this is a seasonal gig.

I guess I’m out.

The issue of living wage certainly isn’t confined to the workforce in Nova Scotia. This tweet popped up on my Twitter feed the other day when I was searching job postings. This is definitely an attitude that’s prevalent in Nova Scotia, though.

When I look at these job listings, I think about more than the job. I think of what the low pay and precarious hours means for that employee’s life. What does the stress do to their health and their relationships at home? They can’t save for retirement when they aren’t even living paycheque to paycheque. What do they do when they’re sick or their children are sick and they can’t take a day off? Who are the people working these jobs? Women, seniors, new graduates with student loan debt looking for work experience?

This province doesn’t like working people very much.


Noticed

Yesterday was the first-ever Nova Scotia Period Poverty Summit, which was organized by co-chairs Suzanne Lively and Erin Casey. Lively runs Friendly Divas and has given away about 700 donated Diva Cups in the last two years. Casey is the founder of Dignity Period has given at least 100,000 pads and tampons through that campaign. Lively and Casey were both on CTV on Monday talking about the issue and the summit.

Here are some stats from the Period Poverty Summit website.

  • One-third of Canadian women under the age of 25 say they’ve struggled to afford menstrual products. * There are about 3 million girls and women between the ages of 10 and 24 in Canada — this means about 1 million of them are affected by period poverty.
  • 1 in 7 girls misses school because she doesn’t have period products. **
  • About 1 in 6 households in Nova Scotia is food insecure. Nova Scotia is the province with the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada. *** At least 41,000 individuals received food support from a food bank in Nova Scotia in 2017. When people with periods can’t afford food, it’s likely they can’t afford other necessities.

 * Plan International Canada, 2018   ** Always Confidence and Puberty Study, 2018   *** Feed Nova Scotia

Robert Devet at Nova Scotia Advocate was there live tweeting the event and I especially like the quote: “Without menstruation none of us would be here.”

That’s right! Photo: Robert Devet/Nova Scotia Advocate

I’m glad we’re talking about this because it’s not just about menstrual products, it’s about reducing the stigma about periods. Lets keep talking about periods, I say.

On a related note, I bought a copy of The Vagina Bible by Dr. Jen Gunter. If you don’t follow her on Twitter or at her website, you really should.


Government

City

Wednesday

Public Workshop – Peninsula South Complete Streets (Wednesday, 1:30pm, Room 303, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — This project will apply a “complete streets” approach to improving conditions for all people travelling to and through the south end of the Halifax peninsula, with a focus on improving comfort, safety and convenience for people walking, cycling and taking transit. More info here.

Public Information Meeting – Case 21584 (Wednesday, 7pm, Stairs Memorial United Church, 44 Hester St., Dartmouth) — Application by Ekistics Plan and Design, on behalf of the property owner, to enter into a development agreement for an 11 storey multi-residential building on lands at 18 and 22 Rosedale Ave, and Floral Ave, Dartmouth. More info here.

Thursday

No public meetings Thursday or Friday.

Province

Wednesday

Legislature sits (Wednesday, 9am, Province House)

Thursday

Legislature sits (Thursday, 1pm, Province House)


On campus

Dalhousie

Wednesday

Noon Hour Saxophone Recital (Wednesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Chris Mitchell.

Problematic publishing: The predatory, the deceptive, and the just plain bad (Wednesday, 1pm, Room 3018, Rowe Management Building) — someone’s going to explain

The academic community is increasingly aware of the problem of “predatory publishing” – few published authors have been spared SPAM emails from unscrupulous publishers soliciting contributions to their low-quality journals. Checklists and guidelines for ensuring the legitimacy of a journal abound; and while these provide valuable advice, they may also give a false sense of security. Between unassailable integrity and outright villainy is a grey zone of journals with poor or inconsistent quality control, difficult to distinguish from those more rigorous. Sometimes deceptive, sometimes simply bad, they pose a serious threat to the integrity of scholarly communications. ​

Why “Frankenfoods” Need Feminism (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Angela Lee will talk.

Food production and consumption practices have significant environmental, social, and ethical consequences. As the world population grows, and appetites for animal products increase, new and emerging food innovations like lab-grown meat and genetically engineered animals are increasingly presented as “win-win” solutions to complicated problems like environmental degradation and global hunger. However, there has also been profound resistance to these kinds of developments.

A feminist perspective offers a different way of thinking about new food innovations and their relationship with the law, in an effort to better evaluate whether or not they can contribute to the building of a more sustainable and just food system for all.​

Thursday

Valerie Miller. Photo contributed.

Building Networks with Cuba for Sustainable Fishing and Marine Conservation (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building) — a talk by Valerie Miller from Cuban Oceans Program, Environmental Defence Fund, Austin, Texas.

Cuba is home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in Caribbean and with almost 25% of its coastal waters under protection, is a leader in marine conservation. For almost 20 years, Environmental Defense Fund has collaborated with Cuban partners to jointly advance ocean science, management and conservation and create a bridge between our two countries. The environmental challenges that the U.S. and Cuba must face together are serious, including overfishing, degradation to coral reef ecosystems and the impacts of climate change. Our partnerships create opportunities for managers, scientists, and fishers to exchange experiences and learn from each other, bringing the U.S., Cuba and other neighboring nations together around our shared resources. Together we are building networks that advance cooperation around the shared goals of marine conservation, sustainability and science-based management. While showcasing Cuba’s magnificent marine life, I will review our recent initiatives and the resulting advances in science and conservation, how Cuba is leading the way as an environmental advocate across the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean and future opportunities for continued collaboration.

The Cuban Revolution at 60 International Conference (Thursday and Friday, 7pm, McInnes Room, Dalhousie Student Union Building) — a three-day symposium featuring forty internationally renowned Cuba scholars, policy-makers and policy analysts. From the listing:

The three-day symposium will be highlighted by addresses by two of the key players in the historic 2014 re-opening of relations between Cuba and the United States. Josefina Vidal, now Cuba’s ambassador to Canada and then Cuba’s chief negotiator with the Americans, and Jeffrey DeLaurentis, the first US ambassador to Cuba following the renewal of relations, will each offer personal reflections on what happened then, and what isn’t happening now.

Attendees will also learn the results of the very latest research into a controversial and mysterious ailment reported by some US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba. Dr. Alon Friedman, a ground-breaking neuroscientist at the Dalhousie University Brain Repair Centre who recently led a multidisciplinary study into the so-called “Havana Syndrome” for Global Affairs Canada, will present his findings at the conference.

Leading Cuba specialists from Cuba, the UK, Latin America, Europe, the United States and Canada will also participate in a series of panels to assess the successes and challenges of the Cuban economy, Cuba-US relations and Cuba’s international relations. Other panels will focus on climate change and ecological challenges facing the island, as well as social change, including issues of race, gender (in)equity, health and sexual diversity.​

All sessions free and open to the public. Saturday’s session is in the auditorium named after a bank, Marion McCain Building. More info and registration here.


In the harbour

06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:00: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 9 from Saint-Pierre
06:30: CSL Tacoma, bulker, arrives at National Gypsum from Nassau, Bahamas
13:00: BW Raven, oil tanker, sails from anchorage for sea


Footnotes

Last Thursday as I was reading Phil Moscovitch’s Morning File, Point, Click, Evict, I was thinking about how I was going to get my damage deposit back from my former landlord. I was a good tenant, paid my rent on time every month, and left the place spotless when I moved out. The superintendent said I’d get the deposit back, but she really doesn’t have much power in this situation. I’ve not heard a word on the deposit’s status from the landlord himself.

I won’t know much more until after I file with the tenancy board, which I am doing this week. In the meantime, I did a Google search on the former landlord and found this letter to the editor in The Coast from two years ago from another former tenant of his who spent $167 trying to get her damage deposit back.

Other tenants are in far worse situations than I am, as Moscovitch pointed out. When I woke up this morning, I saw this post on my Facebook feed from a Halifax man who’s been stuck in his apartment for two days now because his landlord ripped up the pavement in the parking lot (the tenant is in a wheelchair). I reached out to learn more, but couldn’t confirm by the time this was published.

Tenants are getting evicted and can’t find affordable apartments elsewhere. How many other tenants are out there who really need the money and never got their deposits back either? Maybe they didn’t have the $31.15 it costs to file the Form J, Application to Director that I’m sending off this week. Spending $167 to fight to get a deposit back is impossible for many. Still, I should get the money back and if not, I should be given a reason why I won’t.

Suzanne Rent

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent

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  1. I’ve been living in Halifax for just over 30 yrs. I arrived here with my then young family and a transferd job with the post office. My 4 adult children have all left the city and province. I’ve followed the employment standards and wages here for 3 decades and i have some advice for people who are trying to make a go of it here in Nova Scotia; resort to a life of crime. Steal from the rich. This choice has a far higher percentage of success than work does.

  2. My how the world has changed! To the point where you can claim your genetically-provided hairstyle as a cultural asset not to be used by anyone else. I have a close family member by marriage who is as Caucasian as they come. He also has frizzy hair and in the sixties and early seventies his hair was much like that shown in the picture of the costume. We all had long hair back then and that’s how his grew. My own sin was owning a garment like the one in the picture. I loved it. Is it okay that I wore it in the seventies because I happen, although Caucasian, to have been born on the African continent and to this day have not renounced my citizenship in the country of my birth?

  3. I’d like to see NS adopt the NB approach to damage deposits, where they’re held in escrow by the Province and the landlord has to apply within X number of days of the termination of tenancy to receive a payout. It’s better for tenants (no chasing your landlord, going to the tenancy board, etc.) and better for good landlords (no risk of being taken to the board by a disgruntled tenant; everything is done through a well-established, simple, efficient system). The only person such a system is really bad for is the bad landlords.

    1. Technically landlords in NS also have to apply within I think two weeks of the end of the lease to dock damage deposits, but no landlord I’ve ever had followed that rule because there is no way to enforce it that doesn’t involve the tenant going through the almost year long process of getting the tenancy board to do something about it. Meanwhile the landlord just has to do… nothing at all if they want to keep a damage deposit illegally. They just keep it.

      Tenancy rules in this province are completely in favour of bad landlords, but you would never hear that from any landlords, who in my experience all believe they are victims.

  4. I actually knew a white guy, older brother of a friend, who dressed like that back in the early 70s, except his Afro was blond. He wore that kind of shirt too.

    Telegraph-Journal had a story today about Walmart online having a First Nations Halloween costume for women, a fake buckskin affair, and what’s more, it was being sold as if it were a valuable history lesson for white people. There were none in the actual Walmart stores the reporter visited. Walmart media people didn’t call the reporter back, but after he made enquiries it disappeared from their online sales offerings. It never ceases to surprise me how tone-deaf these companies continue to be to objections about this kind of thing.

  5. What kind of “friendly” do you need to be for the task of meatpacking? The meat is skittish if you are unfriendly? I would think that requiring “friendliness” for a job would also mean a higher rate of pay to cover the energy required.

    1. I’ve known a few people who have worked on meatpacking floors, and it sounds like a workplace full of the worst kind of aggressive people. Maybe “friendliness” in this context means “don’t be someone who threatens to gut your co-worker because you feel like they looked at you funny”.