1. Paid sick leave
“With the province’s pandemic paid sick leave program expiring this week, a new report says Nova Scotian workers deserve legislated, permanent paid sick leave that’s employer-provided,” reports Yvette d’Entremont:
Titled ‘No Nova Scotian Should Have to Work Sick: The Urgent Need for Universal and Permanent Paid Sick Leave Legislation,’ the report was released today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS).
The authors are calling for legislation that would provide workers 10 paid sick days per year funded by employers. This would give workers time to access “preventative health services,” to recover from common illnesses like colds and flus, and to care for sick family members. The minimum number of paid sick days jumps from 10 to 14 in the event of a pandemic.
“Advocates argue that in order to improve public health, reduce gender inequality, and improve working conditions for the most precarious and marginalized, workers should have access to a minimum of seven, but ideally 10, paid sick days,” states the report.
Authored by a team of Acadia University researchers using data from official government statistics and from a study conducted at the university, the report found that before the pandemic, only 46% of Nova Scotia workers had access to paid sick leave provided by their employers.
The authors say lack of access to paid sick leave has been “a serious and longstanding problem” for Canadian workers, adding that the impact of COVID-19 has intensified calls for paid sick leave from labour unions and organizations like the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour, medical and public health professionals, and municipal governments.
“As we begin to emerge from the pandemic, there is an important opportunity to build on temporary policy gains in order to secure permanent rights for workers,” the report notes.
2. Election campaign
“NDP leader Gary Burrill is promising an NDP government would do more to tackle climate change than the Liberals have done to date or have committed to do in the future,” reports Jennifer Henderson:
The Liberals have proposed legislation that would set a target of reducing GHG emissions to 53% below 2005 levels. If the NDP were to use the same reference year as the Liberals, Burrill claimed his party would reduce GHG emissions to 58% below 2005 levels. That five percentage point difference is “significant” and would result in taking an additional 240,000 cars off the road compared with the Liberal target, he said.
The Liberals were the first government in the country to commit to making Nova Scotia a “net-zero” emissions province by 2050.
The NDP would also close down coal-fired electricity plants by 2030 (as Liberal leader Iain Rankin promised back in February) and replace coal and oil with renewable sources such as wind and hydro. Ditto for the PCs.
Meanwhile, Liberal leader Iain Rankin made a range of promises on the health care front:
“Today I’m announcing our health care platform: $131.6 million for additional programs and initiatives that add even more value to the programs my government has started and undertaken since February,” said Liberal leader Iain Rankin.
This amount is on top of $400 million in new spending for health care announced in the provincial budget last spring. That budget included record amounts for mental health (now at about 7% of the total health budget), long-term care, and home care.
Henderson details Rankin’s promises in the article.
3. Political parties and the Otter Lake dump
“The Liberals say they wouldn’t approve proposed changes to the city dump, while the other parties are vowing to implement new environmental assessment processes and consult the community,” reports Zane Woodford:
Last week, Halifax regional council voted to apply to the provincial government to deactivate the Front End Processor (FEP) and Waste Stabilization Facility (WSF) at its Otter Lake landfill. As the Halifax Examiner reported earlier this month, it’s a controversial change that the municipality has been trying to make for years.
On Tuesday, the Examiner asked each provincial party whether it would intervene in the process or allow an assessment to unfold in the Department of Environment and Climate Change, and whether it would allow any changes to the process at Otter Lake.
After we published our report on the council vote, the CBC followed up with a reaction piece, interviewing local residents. And then there was this exchange on Twitter between reader John Bignell and HRM councillor Pam Lovelace:
“Certainly some misinformation /misleading details in that @CBCNS article,” wrote Lovelace. “HRM has not made any changes.”
Lovelace’s claim is simply false. You can argue that the changes at the dump aren’t meaningful or that they’re warranted, but you can’t argue that the changes aren’t changes. If there were no changes, council wouldn’t need to vote.
Lovelace likes to call things she disagrees with “misinformation,” and it’s becoming a trope, akin to Donald Trump calling bad press “fake news.”
4. Halifax cop appeals Police Review Board ruling
“A Halifax Regional Police officer wants a judge to review a decision that found he breached the code of conduct for cops when he arrested a Black man for being in a park after dark,” reports Zane Woodford:
Constables Kenneth O’Brien and Brent Woodworth arrested Adam LeRue and his partner Kerry Morris at Sir Sandford Fleming Park in Halifax in February 2018. The couple said they stopped in the park, better known as the Dingle, to make a phone call on the way home from picking up a pizza.
O’Brien pulled up behind their vehicle, told LeRue he was in the park illegally and asked for identification. LeRue questioned why he should provide identification and asked to speak with a supervisor. O’Brien then said he would write him a ticket for being in the park after 10pm, and the situation spiralled from there. LeRue and Morris were both arrested, with Morris eventually allowed to drive their vehicle home, and LeRue spending the night in jail facing a criminal charge of obstruction.
LeRue and Morris complained about the interaction, and eventually escalated the case to the Nova Scotia Police Review Board, which heard their appeal over a series of scattered dates between July and December 2020.
In a decision released last month, a three-member panel of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board ruled that Const. Kenneth O’Brien abused his authority under the Police Act. Board chair Jean McKenna and members Simon MacDonald and Stephen Johnson found O’Brien made the arrests “without good or sufficient cause” and acted “in a disorderly manner or in a manner that is reasonably likely to bring discredit on the reputation of the police department,” as the Halifax Examiner reported following the decision. The board found Woodworth did not breach the code of conduct.
On Monday, lawyer James Giacomantonio filed a request for judicial review with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on O’Brien’s behalf, arguing the board’s decision was unreasonable.
Nova Scotia announced two new cases of COVID-19 yesterday. Both cases are in Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone — in the Antigonish-Guysborough area — and both are related to travel.
Last night, Public Health issued the following potential COVID exposure advisories:
Anyone who worked at or visited the following location on the specified date and time should visit covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/ to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access, or if you have other symptoms that concern you.
Moderate risk exposure
Regardless of whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms, those present at the following locations on the named dates and times for at least 15 minutes are required to self-isolate while waiting for their test result. If you get a negative result, you do not need to keep self-isolating, however, you are asked to get retested 6-8 days and 12-14 days after this exposure. If you get a positive result, you will be contacted by Public Health about what to do next.
If fully or partially vaccinated, please follow the instructions noted in this table for moderate risk contacts.
• Townhouse Restaurant (76 College Street, Antigonish) on July 23 between 8:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m.
It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus at this location on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 6.
High risk exposure – flight
Anyone who was on the following flight in the specified rows and seats should visit https://covid-self-assessment.novascotia.ca/en to book a COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they have COVID-19 symptoms. You can also call 811 if you don’t have online access or if you have other symptoms that concern you. All other passengers on this flight should continue to self-isolate as required and monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
If fully or partially vaccinated, please follow the instructions noted in this table for high risk contacts.
• Air Canada 606 travelling on July 23 from Toronto (10:55 a.m.) to Halifax (1:56 p.m.). Passengers in rows 12-16, seats C, D, E and F. It is anticipated that anyone exposed to the virus on this flight on the named date may develop symptoms up to, and including, August 6.
On the vaccination front, as the graph above shows, as of end of day Monday, 75.6% of the entire population has received at least one dose of vaccine, and nearly 60% has received two doses.
Some provinces and US states track vaccinations not by the percentage of the entire population but rather by percentage of those eligible to be vaccinated — that is, those 12 years old and older. In the interest of making a direct comparison on that front, I’ve made a graph showing the vaccination status of those eligible in Nova Scotia; a caveat: the percentages in this graph are not exact, but reflect my best guess at the population of those eligible (it’s pretty close, I’m sure). Here’s that graph:
Vaccination status by age cohort is published by the province, and I re-work that data into the following chart:
The chart shows the percentage of each age cohort that has received one (green) and two (blue) doses of vaccine. The 85% line reflects the percentage of all people eligible to be vaccinated (those who are 12 years old and older) in order to get to 75% of the entire population (including 11-year-olds and younger) vaccinated with two doses, which is considered the threshold that needs to be crossed to get to herd immunity. The population is based on 2019 population estimates; today’s population has grown since then, so the percentages skew slightly high.
All of which is to say Nova Scotia is doing very well on the vaccination front. You can make a vaccination appointment here.
6. Public Accounts
The detailed accounting of provincial government spending is called “Public Accounts” and is typically released at the end of July each year. Here are the release dates from 2010 though 2019:
2010 — July 29
2011 — July 28
2012 — August 2
2013 — July 31
2014 — July 31
2015 — July 30
2016 — August 9
2017 — July 27
2018 — July 26
2019 — July 25
Last year (2020), Public Accounts weren’t released until August 20. No doubt the pandemic was used as an excuse for the delay, but that doesn’t make a lot of sense — pandemic spending didn’t really ramp up until after the budget year closed on March 31, 2020. Maybe Finance staff was busy doing other stuff or figuring out how to work from home.
Because I’m super curious about a couple of specific budget items, and for planning purposes (we have to assign reporters around vacation time), I’m anxious to know when Public Accounts will be released this year, but I fear that Public Accounts will be delayed until after the August 17 election. So I asked the Finance Department: “is there any indication when Public Accounts might come out this year? Typically, they are released at the end of July, although last year was an outlier, and they came out on August 20… Does the election have any bearing on release of Public Accounts? And if so, why?”
Here’s the one-sentence response from spokesperson Gary Andrea:
Hi Tim, the department of Finance and Treasury Board is required to release the Public Accounts for 2020-21 before the legislative deadline of September 30, 2021.
Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm) — live on YouTube
In the harbour
04:00: Tavrichesky Bridge, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for Milford Haven, Wales
05:00: NYK Remus, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Caucedo, Dominican Republic
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
06:30: Baie St.Paul, bulker, arrives at Pier 9 from Grande-Entree, Iles de la Madeleine
05:30: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, sails from Fairview Cove for New York
08:00: IT Intrepid, cable layer, arrives at Pier 9 from sea
08:00: Algoma Verity, bulker, arrives at anchorage from Sydney
14:00: Baie St.Paul sails for sea
16:00: Thunder Bay, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
16:00: Algoma Verity moves to Gold Bond
18:30: NYK Remus sails for sea
I’m taking a few days off.