News

1. Health care system check-up

Photo: Raul Infante Gaete/Pexels

It’s almost one year since Tim Houston was elected as premier on a promise to fix health care. So how does the system look today? Jennifer Henderson did a lot of work on this health care system check-up that looks at numbers behind emergency department capacity, waits for long-term care, ambulance wait times, and surgery backlogs. Here’s a look at hospital bed capacity:

The weekly online report cited above shows that as of last Thursday, August 11, hospitals across the province were, on average, at 98.5 % capacity. The Western region ⁠— which includes Valley Regional and South Shore Regional hospitals ⁠— were overflowing with patients.

Beds at the Digby General Hospital were at 125% capacity, and Yarmouth Regional Hospital reported 120% ⁠— this may or may not be partly because the emergency department at the hospital in Middleton has been closed overnight since last fall and emergency beds at the Annapolis Community Health Centre are closed indefinitely.

Hospitals in New Glasgow and Truro were at 100% of their capacity, the QEII Health Sciences Centre was at 93% last week, and Cape Breton Regional Hospital was at 105%.

Hospitals where emergency departments are frequently closed due to a lack of staff (like Twin Oaks in Musquodoboit Harbour and Hants Community Hospital in Windsor) help bring down the provincial average.

Henderson also learned that only one out of three people contacted by Nova Scotia Health signed up for online visits with a doctor or nurse practitioner, even though there are more than 100,000 Nova Scotians on the province’s “Need A Family Practice” registry. Some of the reasons for turning down access to virtual care include no access to the internet or a computer, or lack of technological know-how.

Click here to read Henderson’s complete article. 

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2. Queen’s Marque, contractor battle in court

Those stairs at Queen’s Marque in July 2022. Photo: Zane Woodford

The Queen’s Marque on the Halifax waterfront is just about complete. There’s a restored pedestrian passage, those stairs into the harbour, and the new hotel and restaurants are open.

But as Zane Woodford reports, “in the court system, Queen’s Marque is anything but a done deal, with the developer, a contractor, and a number of subcontractors fighting over metal panelling, glass and millions in unpaid bills.”

Woodford writes:

Gamma Windows & Wall is suing Queen’s Marque, claiming it’s refused to pay up; Queen’s Marque is suing Gamma, claiming it missed all its deadlines on the project; and another company, Guildfords, is suing Gamma, claiming Gamma didn’t pay for its subcontracted work. None of the claims by any company has been tested in court.

The dispute with Montreal-based Gamma has been going on since 2020, when Queen’s Marque first alleged breaches of contract and negligence on Gamma’s part, leading to project delays, along with “overpayment, additional costs, additional fees paid to the Construction Manager, claims made by other trades, losses from delay, additional site management costs, additional financing costs, [and] loss of opportunity.”

Armour Construction Ltd., Scott McCrea’s development company, hired Gamma in 2018 on a $19.1-million contract for curtain walls and metal panelling to be installed by September 2019. The relationship between the two companies was strained throughout, heading to mediation processes on multiple occasions, and then to the courts.

At the end of 2021, Gamma believed its work to be substantially complete, but Bird Construction Group, leading the construction, provided a list of deficiencies. Queen’s Marque alleged that the metal panelling for the “Rise Again” building was not on site, but Gamma said it was. In February 2022, Gamma terminated its contract because Queen’s Marque wouldn’t certify its substantial performance and it wouldn’t pay the final instalments owed.

Woodford gets into all the details in the article, which is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here. 

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3. Short Snappers from the doggiest days of summer…

Premier Tim Houston at the COVID briefing, Feb. 23, 2022. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

“On August 10, barely two weeks after announcing he had appointed two of his personally chosen, personal friends of many years to head up two new Crown corporations — at up to $18,000 a month for their part-time troubles — Premier Tim Houston reluctantly accepted the resignation of one of his buddies,” writes Stephen Kimber. 

Economic Development Minister Susan Corkum-Greek told CBC News Hickey’s decision was based on reevaluating his own business dealings and “a particular acquisition that he is finalizing right now… He ultimately realized that he did not have the time to give to the work that’s needed.”

Hickey’s abrupt resignation should give Tim Houston a second chance to make a better first impression.

Why not actually invite applicants for what the premier himself claims is a vitally important role instead of simply handpicking another friend?

Surely, there must be qualified candidates Tim Houston doesn’t count as his personal friends?

Kimber also looked at the latest numbers on the Yarmouth ferry and what’s next after the closure of People’s Park.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here. 

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4. Environmental groups ask Ottawa to order environmental assessment of Goldboro LNG Plant

The “site office” for Pieridae Energy’s Goldboro site. Photo: Halifax Examiner

This item was written by Jennifer Henderson.

A coalition of environmental groups from across the country has written Stephen Guilbeault, the federal Minister of Environment and Climate Change, demanding he order a federal impact assessment for Pieridae Energy’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility project, Goldboro LNG, in Nova Scotia. The project appeared to be dead a year ago when the Calgary-based company could not secure government financing. But it has been resurrected now that Russia has invaded the Ukraine and cut off supplies of natural gas to Germany.

The coalition says any construction of a LNG plant should trigger an assessment under regulations contained in the federal Impact Assessment Act. In this case, the proponent and the government intend to rely on a federal assessment done 15 years ago on a previous project at the same site proposed by Keltic Petrochemical (that project did not proceed).

In a news release from EcoJustice Canada, the coalition notes:

The Keltic proposal was for a plastic pellet manufacturing and LNG regasification and importation facility, while the Goldboro proposal is based on LNG liquefaction and exportation with no manufacturing component. This means that there are novel aspects to the Goldboro LNG project, such as carbon-intensive refrigerants and fugitive methane emissions, that were never federally assessed. Several approval conditions attached to the Keltic project would be impossible for the Goldboro LNG proposal to meet due to the unique nature of each project.

The letter was sent by Ecojustice on behalf of Ecology Action Centre, Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition, New Brunswick Anti-Shale Gas Alliance, Sierra Club Canada Foundation, Council of Canadians, Environnement Vert Plus, Citizens’ Oil & Gas Council, and Greenpeace Canada. These groups oppose the Goldbor LNG project because of the huge amount of carbon emissions it would produce. The group claims those emissions would make it nearly impossible for Nova Scotia — and Canada — to live up to legislated commitments to slow the pace of climate change.

“UN Secretary-General António Guterres couldn’t have been clearer when he said that ‘investing in new fossil fuels [sic] infrastructure is moral and economic madness.’ Building a new LNG export terminal is exactly that,” noted Patrick Bonin, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace Canada, in the news release. “As communities across the globe are wracked by ever more deadly and destructive heat waves, floods and forest fires, Canada should be deploying renewables and energy savings measures and helping others to do the same.”

The letter was written on the eve of a visit to Canada by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to discuss potential LNG deals on both the east and west coasts of Canada. The bulk of the LNG from the Goldboro facility would be exported to Germany.

“From the start, Pieridae has acted as if Goldboro LNG is great for the province and people of Nova Scotia. In reality, the emissions from this project would devastate Nova Scotia’s climate commitments, not to mention passing the buck on accountability for downstream emissions,” said Ken Summers, spokesperson for NS Fracking Resource and Action Coalition. “It is ludicrous to use the current energy instability caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine to justify locking both Canada and the world into further decades of reliance on fossil fuels that will only deepen the climate crisis.”

The news release also includes this quote from EcoJustice lawyer James Gunvaldsen Klaassen:

The reliance on the Keltic approval both imposes useless and inapplicable conditions on the Goldboro LNG Project and creates a serious risk of the Project proceeding without appropriate and necessary conditions for LNG export facilities. The Glasgow Climate Pact recently reaffirmed that the world needs to keep global warming to 1.5°C, and organizations like the International Energy Agency have told us that new fossil fuel projects have no place in a net-zero by 2050 future. The federal government’s failure to fully consider Goldboro LNG’s GHG emissions is inexcusable when considering the climate crisis and Canada and Nova Scotia’s emissions reduction targets.

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5. Residents block clearcut machinery at Eisner Cove

Residents at Eisners Cove. Photo: Lil MacPherson

On Sunday night a group of residents set up tents between the logging equipment and the forest slated for clearcutting at the site of the proposed development in Eisner Cove in Dartmouth. In July, Zane Woodford reported that Clayton Developments applied to “enable early tree removal and earthworks” at two of its special planning areas in Dartmouth, including the Eisner Cove lands.

The group Protect Eisners Cove sent out a press release this morning:

Citizens have strongly opposed the development of this greenspace in the Southdale area of Dartmouth from the start. They are demanding the cancellation of a project that has been advanced without community consultation or a full environmental impact assessment. Under the current government’s Housing Task Force arrangement, five unelected officials are making decisions behind closed doors, giving $millions to developers. Fast tracked approvals mean insufficient oversight. Statements to media from Clayton Developments suggest that, in spite of receiving almost $22 million to create affordable housing, the development will instead offer ‘attainable housing units’ renting at 80% of market rates.

Citizens have been denied effective input on a project that will destroy one of the last remaining undisturbed wetlands in HRM. The climate and biodiversity emergencies demand immediate action to slash emissions and protect nature. The provincial government is going in the opposite direction. Now citizens are getting in the way.

The Examiner has learned the police have arrived on the site. We’ll share an update as soon as we know more.

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6. Plaque honouring Viola Desmond unveiled at former Roseland Theatre

Bobby Taylor from Parks Canada looks at his work after installing a commemorative plaque honouring Viola Desmond on the side of the former Roseland Theatre where Desmond was arrested in Nov. 1946. Photo: Matthew Byard.

Matthew Byard was in New Glasgow on Friday where a plaque honouring Viola Desmond was unveiled at the former Roseland Theatre where she was arrested in 1946 for sitting in the whites-only section. Byard writes:

Rev. Dr. Peter J. Paris was one of the speakers at the unveiling cerermony. Paris was 13 years old and living in New Glasgow when Desmond was arrested.

“I clearly remember hearing my parents and others discussing the incident and lamenting the injustice inflicted on such a young fine businesswoman,” Paris told a crowd gathered on Viola’s Way, the pedestrian-only street adjacent to the building renamed in Desmond’s honour.

Current and former members of New Glasgow’s Black community were in attendance at the unveiling ceremony, which coincides with the New Glasgow Black Homecoming Gala that takes place until Sunday.

Rev. Paris provided some interesting context of life in New Glasgow at the time of Desmond’s arrest, including his own family’s experience with the former Roseland Theatre. Byard continues:

To Paris, now in his late 80s, blatant and overt racial segregation and discrimination in New Glasgow is not just an abstract concept; it’s something he remembers he and his family experienced during his lifetime.

Paris said when he was young he remembers his parents were turned away from an outdoor street dance in downtown New Glasgow.

“And it was just a travesty in my point of view that we watched our mother and father getting dressed and they were so excited, and friends coming to join them and they were coming downtown, only to be turned away. All the Black people were turned away.”

He said he remembers one of his sisters being refused service from a local hairdresser. He said some hairdressers would provide service for Black customers but only after hours.

Paris said he and his family would often attend Saturday matinees at Academy Theatre not far from the Roseland Theatre where Desmond was arrested.

Though the Academy Theatre was also segregated for the most part, it was desegregated in the afternoons when he and his family would attend.

“But we just never felt comfortable at the Roseland Theatre. They were just not welcoming of Blacks, so we never came here.”

Click here to read Byard’s story.

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Views

Women don’t need a coach for midlife and menopause

Photo: Dan Burton/ Unsplash

My colleagues know I love to hear about “coaches” — the people who decide to offer their services as coaches on just about anything. And it seems that these days a lot of people are putting “coach” in front of a random word and selling something.

Last week Philip Moscovitch sent me a link to a website for a “midlife coach.” This coach, who is in midlife herself, calls midlife our Power Years™ (yes, she trademarked that term). She includes on her website a Midlife Manifesto, which really looks like a list of affirmations you could write on your bathroom mirror to say to yourself every morning. There’s also a 12-week coaching program where you can “ignite midlife” and “cultivate your vitality,” whatever that means.

Moscovitch sent me that link just days after I got an ad for a period coach on Facebook. Yes, periods. I mentioned this on Twitter and some followers and I had a rather hilarious conversation about period coaching that went like this:

Me: I got an ad on Facebook to be a certified Period Coach and I’m not talking punctuation.

Michelle McCann: I mean, I’ve often thought, with the right coaching i could have gone pro as a menstruator.

Me: I am keeping my menstruator amateur status to go to the Period Olympics.

Sarah White: The Period Olympics are a political mess this year, I’d stay out of it if I were you. No one wants to be caught in the middle.

Me: A bloody mess, I hear.

Michelle McCann: And you can make more money playing pro in europe.

Me: I should get over there. I don’t have much longer.

Michelle: lol … same! but then we get to retire and be pundits!

Me: Period Coaches’ Corner.

Now, this period coach also offers a period coaching school where you can become a certified period coach yourself. A reminder: the coaching industry is not regulated, so anyone can call themselves a coach and, as you can see, they do. And they can start a school and offer certificates they download from Word templates, buy at the dollar store, or whatever. Don’t be fooled.

Worse still, this period coach says she’s “uniquely qualified” to help you build your own period coaching business “from your first dollar into millions of dollars,” which is quite a gushing promise.

I joked to the Examiner team that someone should combine midlife coaches and period coaches to be a menopause coach. And after Googling that term, sure enough I learned there are menopause coaches, including an executive menopause coach that can help businesswomen be “smart, sassy, and stronger” (always with the alliteration.) That coach offers The Menopause Resilience Club™ (again with the trademark.)

Once again, over on Twitter I suggested we menopausal and perimenopausal women start a team and hire a menopause coach. We could call ourselves the Hot Flashes, or the Hot Flushes, which is the more current term.

And then Yvette d’Entremont sent me a link to a vagina coach. (There really is a coach for everything!) The vagina coach teaches pelvic health to “owners of vaginas,” which I actually think is pretty important. But she also offers workshops called “Kegels and Cocktails.” Never did I think you could drink a Singapore Sling while working your pelvic floor muscles, but here we are.

And as you’d expect, these websites are filled with pink and fluffy graphics of women fighting with swords while wearing tutus, lots of inspirational quotes, and bullshit language that talks down to women, like we can’t handle straight facts about our lives, menopause, or even our own vaginas.

(And because I am too curious for my own good, I also Googled prostate coach, penis coach, and erection coach. And while the prostate coach I found looks like a legit urologist, the penis coach and erection coach nets results I won’t share here. God help my Facebook ads now.)

Anyway, all of this period/menopause/vagina coaching research got me thinking about the lack of actual support for women who have periods or are going through menopause. Are these coaches all we get?

I have certainly asked my family doctor about this and was told, “well, if you don’t have symptoms, you don’t need to do anything.” Still, I had questions which I didn’t get answered, because family docs are quite busy and can’t answer everything in the short appointments they offer.

I follow Dr. Jennifer Gunter on Twitter and Facebook. Gunter, an OB/GYN from Winnipeg who practices in the US and most famously takes down Gwyneth Paltrow and all the crap she sells on Goop. Gunter wrote a couple of books, including the The Vagina Bible, which I have, and Menopause Manifesto, which I’ve yet to get.

On social media, Gunter is quite the straight talker (she often makes hilarious typos, so you know it’s not a social media manager behind her account) and she shares information about women’s health, including everything from exercise to menopausal hormone therapy (MHT), which is the most current term for hormonal replacement therapy (HRT), which she says is out of date because we’re not replacing anything (“Your ovaries are supposed to stop producing estrogen.”)

Gunter also debunks a lot of products sold to women, including cleansers, detoxes, stupid weight loss teas, and “bioidentical hormones,” which are sold as a “natural” form of hormones, but they’re not natural and really are a marketing scam.

While Gunter is a great online resource, I’d like to see more local on-the-ground resources for women, too. I see 811 has a page on menopause, but what else is there locally? Are there any suggestions from our menopausal readers?

Maybe a centre for women who are in midlife to get health support and more. Like a sexual health centre, which I know already don’t get enough funding.

Tempa Hull said this on my menopause Twitter: “What we need is mandatory GP training and education, school education, menopause specialists (instead of lumping it all into gynecology), and treatment advice and availability based on current, updated evidence. UK is miles ahead of us.”

I highly doubt a coach could offer that.

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Noticed

On Sunday I stopped at the Tim Horton’s in Stewiacke for a tea for my drive home when I noticed a sign on a nearby shed that asked customers to be kind to the staff who were working “tirelessly” to serve them. As my turn to order came up, I asked the women behind the counter how people were treating her and her colleagues. She told me some were nice while others were, well, not so much. The store was short by three staff that day and the place was hopping.

I swear we could have a beat in which we report on how terrible customers are to workers in all kinds of sectors. We’re seeing it far too often and I’ve written about it here, here, and here.

I suspect we’ll be seeing labour shortages for awhile — and more of these kind of signs asking people to be nice — so maybe we customers can get our shit together, learn some patience, and be kinder to the people who are working. I shared this song before, but clearly it needs to be shared again:

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Government

City

Monday

Advisory Committee on Accessibility in HRM (Monday, 4pm, online) — agenda

Tuesday

Public Information Meeting – Case 24361 (Tuesday, 6pm, online) — regarding a single-family dwelling at 97 Dartmouth Road, Bedford.

Province

No meetings this week.


On campus

Dalhousie

PhD Defence, Psychology and Neuroscience (Monday, 1pm, online) — Laura Elizabeth McMillan will defend “Poisons, Pathogens, and Parasitoids: The Immunophysiological Network of Manduca Sexta Explored Through Trade-offs, Microbiome Interactions and Exploitation by the Wasp Cotesia Congregata”


In the harbour

Halifax
07:45: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Bar Harbor, on a seven-day cruise from Boston to Montreal
08:30: Vivienne Sheri D, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
11:00: Vivienne Sheri D sails for Portland
15:00: One Hangzhou Bay, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
17:00: MSC Rita, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for Baltimore
17:45: Zaandam sails for Sydney

Cape Breton
12:00: Borealis, cruise ship with up to 1,685 passengers, arrives at Sydney Marine Terminals from St. John’s, on a 15-day roundtrip cruise out of Liverpool, England
18:30: Borealis sails for Halifax


Footnotes

After reading this Morning File, Tim Bousquet may never go on vacation again.


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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Weird caveats: I spent a year employed as a “leadership coach” in a university accredited program where it was my job to teach brilliant, and often introverted, tech nerds to feel confident in social environments. This was challenging because most people don’t feel confident in those environments, and also social environments are often the total opposite of where tech nerds are most comfortable. I’m also a wizard, which is really weird, and also intersects with the online coaching ecosystem in some ways. All of this is to say: the coaching industry is really dangerous and also people go to it for really important things, so it’s critical that they find that information when they go looking for it. I’m 100% onboard with critique of shady behaviour and manipulative people use bad marketing to promote useless products and experiences.

    I understand the point of the story and I’m sure as heck not here to wade into what is or isn’t appropriate businesses for women or their bodies (because it’s none of my business), but I’d like to speak up for the people who are at a point in their lives where a coach for a private personal experience like that looks like a good use of their time and money. Those people exist and sustain this market, and they’re on the other end of any derision we collectively place on the coaching industry. It’s actually really hard for a person to come up through our world with a good and healthy understanding of our bodies and a bunch of other personal development stuff–especially in this “fake it til you make it” world.

    A lot of the folks who go looking for coaches for personal things are looking for the skills we’ve traditionally learned through healthy relationships. It’s definitely important that the coaching industry not be full of schemers and crooks, and it’s also important that the coaching industry exist right now. Unfortunately there is an evident market for these services as a result of how our world currently works.

  2. Another qualified and mostly useful menopause advice source is Jenn Salib Huber RD ND – Menopause Nutritionist, who has a podcast, a newsletter and an Instagram account: @menopause.nutrionist