“Nova Scotia has new regulations for coastal aquaculture, but don’t expect that to put an end to the controversy around open net pen fish farms anytime soon,” reports Erica Butler.
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“The city is looking at earmarking another $1.6 million to build a new all-weather sports turf in Cole Harbour,” reports Stephanie Taylor:
Area-councillor Lorelei Nicoll said the more than million-and-a-half extra municipal staff say is needed to construct an artificial field at the former Gordon Bell Annex site is more of a contingency, bumping up the estimated cost of the project to $3.9 million.
As I’ve said before, it’s not so much the cost of turf that worries me, but rather the risk to children:
And, yes, the complaints about artificial turf are coming from the very best elite players. Still, in Nova Scotia, and especially in Halifax, nearly all fields used for children’s soccer have been converted to artificial turf.
In my discussion with my American friends, they were astounded to learn that the use of artificial turf was so widespread in Nova Scotia. To a person, they and their children abhor it. The play is considered too fast, the field conditions dangerous. And that attitude seems to have been adopted by the bureaucrats in the places they live, resulting in very few artificial turf fields being constructed. (I don’t pretend that my friends are a representative sample of all of the United States, but still.)
I raise this issue not because I’m an expert on injuries related to the various types of turf, but rather because I don’t think anyone has even considered it. So far as I can determine, no one has bothered to investigate the potential health effects on the children using the fields. If real grass is safer, we should know. And if artificial turf presents a significantly higher risk of injury to children, we should stop using it.
I raised those worries in June; since then, there have been suggestions that there’s a link between artificial turf and cancer, but there’s no hard data to back up that concern. Again, my concern isn’t cancer, but rather run-of-the-mill injuries and their long-term effects.
3. The .1 % and the student exodus
“Former St. Francis Xavier University president Sean Riley’s final contract allowed him to collect more than $1.2 million for administrative leave he was not able to take in years leading up to 2011,” reports Sandy Smith.
Halifax CAO Richard Butts is getting paid $343,000 this year, reports Pam Berman.
Better beat up on some unions so we can afford to pay these guys, eh?
Anyone who apologizes for big money paid to university presidents should look at the drivel they put out as serious writing, like this piece published in the Chronicle Herald, supposedly written by “Allister Surette, recteur, Université Sainte-Anne, and chairman, Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, and Don Bureaux, president, Nova Scotia Community College,” but undoubtedly actually written by a PR professional.
The piece is full the truisms and feel-good nonsense that passes for deep business thought:
As educators, we know the value of experiential learning to both students and employers. It gives students the chance to start building their professional network, applying their classroom knowledge to real-world situations. In turn, employers gain fresh ideas and perspectives that contribute to new solutions, opportunities and markets — not to mention providing them with a close look at potential employees.
We are committed as post-secondary institutions to work together to realize the coalition’s goal of “offering the most co-ops and experiential learning programs per student in Canada.”
And, in the end, when we support student success by increasing such practical learning opportunities, we all win.
Universities are so committed to co-op placements that they’re getting a piece of the action. Here’s how Dalhousie explains it:
CO‑OP PROGRAM FEES
Co-operative Education is not a job placement program, it is a formalized educational strategy that offers exceptional learning opportunities that must be planned, developed, coordinated, tracked, monitored and graded. The true cost of delivering this program is approximately $1200 per work term, even when students find their own employment. To offset a portion of these costs there are two co-op fees.
Co-op Orientation Course Fee
Students must pay a one-time fee of $300 for the mandatory Co-op Orientation Course; an admission requirement for the co-op program.
Co-op Program Fee
A program fee of $500 is assessed for each four-month work term. This fee is added to your student account two weeks after the start of your current job competition. Because this is a program fee, not a placement fee, it is assessed if you find your own job and it is non-refundable if do not find a job. If you are not doing a scheduled work term notify the Co-op Office before the start of the job competition to avoid the charge.
That’s 800 bucks before a student even starts a co-op placement. Companies pay “competitive wages.”
I couldn’t find any definition of “competitive wages” through the Dal program, so I hunted around Saint Mary’s program. At Saint Mary’s, ” there is a $500 registration fee for each work term,” but hey, “students are typically paid by the hour with average wages falling between $12 and $15 per hour.” Figure take-home pay of maybe $4,000 and change for a three-month program. That will barely cover rent and commuting. Maybe they can hit up the campus food bank.
It’s true that this year the province has a “2015 Strategic Cooperative Education Incentive” for employers, which mandates a wage of at least $15 hour. But don’t worry, employers! You won’t have to actually pay that:
To be eligible for the incentive, Employers must pay a minimum of $15.00 per hour plus 4% vacation pay. The Student Employment Program will reimburse $7.50 per hour (50% of the required minimum hourly wage of $15.00 per hour) to a maximum of 40 hours per week.
The United Way and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives tell us that a living wage in Halifax is $20.10 per hour, and here we have companies paying university-trained employees three-quarters that, with half that meager salary reimbursed by the government.
And, no, “they’re just students” doesn’t cut it. Co-op students too have to pay rent, buy groceries, and otherwise live in the world, and besides that, they’re doing real work that brings real benefit to employers. They should be adequately compensated. Moreover, once temporary co-op students go out on the job market, the wages they find at permanent jobs aren’t much, if any, higher.
Surette and Bureaux’s ghost writer worries about a “drift of this talent” — i.e., young people — “to other provinces.” Damn right graduates are getting the hell out of Nova Scotia — employers here pay shit wages.
Meanwhile, the .1% are raking it in. If we’ve got the money to pay university presidents millions of dollars for not working, surely we have the money to pay young people a decent wage to actually work.
For shits and giggles, I did a quick word count of the Ivany Report; here’s what I (didn’t) find:
Low pay: 0
Low wage: 1 (in a paragraph about temporary foreign workers)
Living wage: 0
There’s nothing worth linking to today. If that’s your thing, you can easily find people insisting that we kill a bunch of people halfway around the world. There’s always a good reason to kill people.
No public meetings.
The city has issued a tender offer seeking a head hunting firm to hire a deputy chief administrative officer.
Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)
This date in history
On November 17, 1755, Lt. Colonel George Scott took 700 troops and attacked 20 houses in Memramcook for the sin of their residents being French.
Thesis defence, Engineering (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Allison L. Mackie will defend her thesis, “High Rate Clarification For Treatment Of Mine Water.”
Oil industry safety (11:30am, Room 8007, Life Sciences Centre) — Hisham Saadawi, from Ringstone Petroleum Consultants, will speak on “Is the Oil Industry Paying Enough Attention to Process Safety?”
Ocean biology (11:45am, Room 3655, Life Sciences Centre) — Mike Dowd will speak on “Statistical Data Assimilation for Ocean Biology.”
Thesis defence, Neuroscience (1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Karyn Jourdeuil will defend her thesis, “Deciphering the Induction and Patterning of the Conjunctival Papillae in the Chicken, Gallus Gallus.” Bring your own chicken.
In the harbour
See you this afternoon, Mariette.