It’s party time!
November is subscription drive month, so we’re having a party to celebrate.
Drop into Bearly’s (1269 Barrington Street) on Sunday, December 1 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Subscribers get to party with us for free. If you want to subscribe, you can do so here, or at the door.
This will be my first Examiner subscription party. I’ll be working the door with Iris the Amazing and we’ll have Examiner merch, including t-shirts, hoodies, and other swag to sell.
See you on Sunday!
1. Central Nova MP Sean Fraser: Don’t change Boat Harbour Act
Jennifer Henderson reports that it looks like the replacement for Boat Harbour won’t go ahead in anything less than two years. Central Nova MP Sean Fraser says it will take at least that long for Paper Excellence Canada, which owns Northern Pulp, to file the paperwork needed to meet the regulations to build the pipeline that will carry effluent.
Under Section 82 of the newly-minted Impact Assessment Act, Fraser said several federal departments have responsibilities related to the new effluent treatment plant even if the province approves the project with conditions. In the event the province rejects the facility outright, the federal process would stop because there would be nothing left to regulate.
There is also another separate “stream” or level of federal oversight which is currently alive in Ottawa. Under the Impact Assessment Act which replaced the former Canadian Environmental Assessment Act last August, there are new criteria which could trigger a full review with timelines stretching upwards of two years. Those changes include a project’s impact on “the health and wellbeing of aboriginal people” as well as the “cumulative impact” on climate change.
Fraser says if it were up to him, he’d honour the January 31, 2020 date to close Boat Harbour.
2. Health Authority hits re-set button
Jennifer Henderson looks at the recent changes at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, including news that senior managers in four zones, North, South, Eastern, and Western, will look after the responsibility and money for hospitals and health programs. At a public meeting of the Nova Scotia Health Authority Board of Directors in Dartmouth yesterday, acting health authority CEO Janet Davidson says the changes were made from feedback of doctors and the public.
What it does is give zones the budget and the accountability to make some local decisions about issues and concerns and deal with them directly. We’ve heard there is undue process and bureaucracy. For example, if there is a chip in the tile of the floor in the front lobby of a hospital, fix it. You no longer need to make a request of corporate office to do it.
Henderson says the board wasn’t impressed with a staff report that showed very little change in wait times for patients showing up at ERs or for offload times from ambulances at five major hospitals. The Department of Health issued a directive in June that included a target of 90 per cent of ambulances to transfer their patients and leave the hospital within 30 minutes.
3. Talking about the legacy of Gerald Regan
The chapters were excised from Kimber’s book after the not guilty verdict from Regan’s 1999 trial. You should read both of the chapters.
After Regan’s death was announced, the condolences poured in online, including those sent out by Stephen McNeil, Elizabeth May, and Justin Trudeau. Elsewhere, I saw many glowing posts about Regan’s leadership, his accomplishments, and more. I also saw the backlash to those comments, all of which dealt with Regan’s history of sexual assault against dozens of women. Some women shared that they had stories of their own.
Like others, I was thinking of the women who came forward over the years, who testified at court, who may have read those condolences yesterday. I wondered how they are feeling, what they were thinking, and how they were mourning in other ways.
This is a man who was credibly accused by literally dozens of women. There’s a portrait painted of a serial predator, and here’s our present-day premier, nearing the end of 2019 using his podium to celebrate that man. What does that say to every single survivor of sexual violence and every perpetrator of sexual violence?
Gunn also talked with sexual assault educator Julie Lalonde who said it’s “fruitful” but “uncomfortable” talking about a legacy like Regan’s. The reverence of him, she says, can be damaging to survivors.
It sends a message that you’re never really going to get justice and nobody really cares about what happened to you because, ultimately, the fact that he was a politician or the fact that he was good at his sport or the fact that he was a musician, those things will outweigh the damage that these people did to women.
Lalonde often talks about her own experiences with a stalker and tells Gunn she couldn’t talk about her abuser until after he died. And then people turned against her because we’re not supposed to speak ill of the dead.
I say telling people not to speak ill of the dead is another way to silence women.
And then late yesterday afternoon, this news came out:
Elizabeth McMillan with CBC reports that former Halifax labour lawyer Eric Durnford sexually harassed several woman over eight years. He also kept porn stored on his computer, despite warnings from his law firm.
Four women resigned because of his harassment. After an investigation by the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society, Durnford was told to retire. He consented to a reprimand on Nov. 21.
An investigation started in 2018 after complaints from one lawyer who worked with Durnford said he sexually harassed her over the course of five years. Reports McMillan:
The barristers’ society reprimand says Durnford touched the woman inappropriately, invaded her space and made “inappropriate and unwelcome and sexually suggestive comments.” He also gave her gifts and commented on how she looked. The behaviour caused “significant discomfort and emotional stress” to his colleague, whom he continued to work with until 2018.
During that investigation, two lawyers and three legal assistants came forward with more allegations.
And then there’s this: Durnford was a panellist at an Employment Law Alliance talk on Workplace Indecencies and Indiscretions where and he and other speakers talked about best practices on how colleges and universities can deal with sexual harassment, workplace romances, and off-duty conduct. This panel was in 2015 when he was sexually harassing his female colleagues.
4. Where are the tough questions for HRP?
Halifax Regional Police have a list of questions they want people to answer, but there are concerns about the some of the questions being asked. Last month, the Halifax Regional Police and Public Safety Canada released a report, Developing a Common Data Standard for Measuring Attitudes toward the Police in Canada. The report included a list of 12 questions police forces in Canada can ask, including if citizens “generally support how the police usually act.” Another questions asks respondents if they agree or disagree with the following statement: “The police make decisions based on facts.”
You can read the questions here.
Shaina Luck at CBC talked with Michael Boudreau, a professor of criminology at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, and Robert Wright, a social worker and advocate in Halifax, who have concerns about the questions. Says Boudreau:
Given how broad some of these questions are, the results may come back as very favourable for the police, saying we have tremendous confidence in the police. And the police may then use that to say, ‘Well indeed, the public has confidence in us, so we don’t need to change.
Wright says there needs to be more “courageous” questions that include how police serve groups like Black Canadians, LGBTQ, and women.
These are the very specific questions and areas of police practice that we know we’re looking to hear about, so why not ask the question? Why hide behind generic, sanitized questions?
This morning, the HRP released a clarification in response to the CBC story, saying the survey is still under consideration and community input is welcome before the questions are finalized. The statement is here.
5. Halifax Water speeds up lead pipe replacement program
Halifax Water is looking at a new lead pipe removal program, following the Tainted Water investigation by Star reporters, including Robert Cribb and Zane Woodford at The Star Halifax.
Cribb and Woodford report today that after their team’s investigation, calls to Halifax Water about concerns over lead pipes increased from two to 100 a day. Traffic to its website increased by 200 per cent.
Halifax Water is going to its board today to ask for more money. If the plan is approved, $10.5 million will go into program to for a full replacement of lead service lines on homeowners’ properties. Halifax Water was already providing a 25 per cent rebate to homeowners who replaced service lines on their property, but The Star reports uptake was slow because of the expense to replace the lines.
Wendy Krkosek, a water quality manager with Halifax Water, writes in a report that all of the 2,000 public and 3,500 private lead service lines will be replaced by 2039, 24 years ahead of schedule. The cost for replacement is $38.5 million.
Customer response to recent media attention to lead in drinking water as a public health issue shows the public’s concern over this issue and the need for utility action to remove barriers to private uptake of (lead service line renewal).
1. On the job hunt in Halifax
I have several people who send me job postings with terrible pay and often terrible workloads, which I share in roundups in Morning File, including here and here. One of my sources, I’ll call her Tracy, is looking for work, but may soon head to Toronto because she’s not finding work in her field in Halifax. She has family and friends there. We talked last night about her job search over the last four months since her last contract ended.
Tracy has a degree in public relations. She’s worked a number of contracts since then, including in marketing and promotions. She’s worked other gigs in retail, on election campaigns, and as a bartender, sometimes in between marketing and PR jobs, but also to supplement her income on full-time marketing or PR contracts. She’s filled in on maternity leaves. She only had health benefits at one of the term jobs.
She’s now getting Employment Insurance benefits, which will run out in the spring. and keeps track of all the jobs she’s applied to through a spreadsheet. She’s applied for at least 50 jobs and had several interviews, including two in the last couple of weeks, calling five of those jobs for legit employers, while two seemed to be “sketchy.” The employers, she says, say they have dozens of applicants, if not hundreds. In her mid-30s, Tracy is an older millennial.
I’m getting interviews, which is a good sign. But I’m starting to get worried now that I won’t find something. I have five years of experience. It’s not like I’m fresh out of school.
She started applying for jobs in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, after she didn’t get a job she interviewed for. She’s applied for at least 10 jobs there, tracking them in that spreadsheet. She says she’s getting more notifications of jobs in that market, although she knows there’s more competition in Toronto. She says employers there at least post salaries, which seem to start around $40,000 or $50,000.
So many employers don’t post the salary, which is a huge pet peeve of mine, and then they ask your salary expectations. I try to say anything above $40,000.
But she says most of those jobs pay less. She says when she worked as a bartender, she made more money in four hours than she would at a full eight-hour shift at her day job. She recently applied for a part-time social media gig, but she knew she’d have to find another job for about 20 hours a week that would offer some flexibility.
How do you think anyone can live on less than $40,000 a year in this city, especially for the workload. People are promoting Halifax as this growing city. I don’t know what part is growing and what they’re paying. It’s hard these days. The cost of living is going up. I don’t know how anyone can afford a one-bedroom apartment.
At one of her jobs, she made $33,500 a year. One day, she had to post a job for warehouse workers. The requirements were a high-school diploma and the ability to lift 50 pounds. The pay was $38,000. She says those workers deserve that, and more, but so do the other staff. She says the employees in the customer service department, most of whom were middle-age women, made $33,500 annually.
You have to pay what people are worth. I believe [employers] pay so little because people are replaceable. But it’s expensive to replace people. You want people to stay. If you treat your employees like shit, your company will be shit. Pay them a living wage.
She keeps in touch with former classmates, many of whom are having the same challenges finding work. Some have gone on to new careers like real estate or are going back to school. One of her former classmates who ended up working and continuing studies in Alberta left a successful career to come back to Halifax to be close to family. Tracy says she can’t find a job “to save her life.”
In Halifax, she says she’s competing with graduates from the Mount, NSCC, as well as former journalists now looking for work as they get laid off from media jobs. She says she feels university may not have prepared her for the jobs that are out there, many of which focus on digital skills. Many PR jobs require candidates have everything from writing and graphic design to marketing skills. She says her program didn’t focus much on graphic design, which seems to be a skill required in many PR jobs.
She’s worked with a career counsellor at Job Junction and taken courses on updating her resume and tapping into the hidden job market. She says her resume with its new format seems to get noticed.
She’s also facing another challenge women her age face when looking for jobs — that employers believe they will soon leave the workforce to have children.
I think that is a huge issue for women. I’ve heard advice like, “Don’t go to an interview wearing an engagement ring.”
She says eventually she’d like a job with a good salary, benefits, and three weeks of vacation. Tracy says her optimism in her job search depends on the day.
I get excited when I do get interviews. Then it hits. And I don’t really want to go to Toronto. My parents are here and I want to be close to them. I’m nervous. I thought it would be a lot easier. I think people need to be more aware of what the job market is like for younger people.
These are the stories behind the job postings and I hear them often. Many of my sources are women. Some are my age, some are younger. Some of them work contract to contract, while some have been unemployed for a bit. Some of them worry how they will pay their rent or mortgage when their latest contract runs out. Many are tired from working two or three jobs, all while looking for their next gig. This is the reality in the job market in Halifax.
2. The Fight for $15
I am glad I’m not the only one talking about terrible wages in this province. Fight for $15 and Fairness got its start in April 2018. It’s a copycat of a similar campaign in Ontario. There are Fight for $15 campaigns in 300 countries around the world, too.
Sakura Saunders is one of the organizers and its treasurer, and sits on the board of directors of the Halifax Workers’ Action Centre, which offers monthly free clinics to non-unionized workers where they can learn about their rights, the labour code, and more.
We try to go to places where we will get a good mix of people who make minimum wage or close to it. It helps the economy when you give poor people money. It makes more sense to put more resources to those at the bottom of the economy.
The campaign works to dispel the myths about an increase in minimum wages, including the fallacy that increasing the minimum wage will lead to massive unemployment. But in the six months after Ontario raised its minimum wage by $2.40/hr, the province also experienced its lowest unemployment rate in 18 years. The campaign has a myth-versus-reality section on its website. Alberta increased its minimum wage from $9.95/hr in 2014 to $15/hr as of October 1, 2018. In B.C., the minimum wage will go up to $15.20/hr by 2021.
We have a lot to talk to naysayers about.
While the fight is for $15/hr, Saunders says they also use the figures from living wage campaigns, such as those from Living Wage Canada, which has calculated a living wage for Halifax as $19.17/hr and $17.30/hr for Antigonish.
We see ourselves compatible with living wage campaigns. We’re not saying $15/hr is sufficient. We’re saying it’s a start.
The Workers’ Action Centre hosts free clinics once a month at Dalhousie Legal Aid. There, workers can learn about their rights and ask questions. Saunders says many who attend are shocked to learn about particular labour issues here, including that Nova Scotia has the fewest statutory holidays in the country (six) and the longest work week (employers don’t have to pay overtime until after 48 hours each week).
They are definitely upset about it, especially when they find out it’s not normal.
To sign up, Saunders says anyone can call the intake line or leave a message. Workers can also get one-on-one counselling, if needed.
People feel really squeezed here. I think it’s really rewarding to help these people get the most basic of things, even though it’s a modest increase. Every time we have an increase, we’re putting money into the pockets of people who need it the most.
Saunders says anyone can get involved by promoting the free clinics of the Workers’ Action Centre and join the campaign, even if it’s only for a few hours a month. She says they are looking to expand the campaign into communities across the province. That work requires volunteers.
Sometimes you can find the best laughs in the oddest of places. Yesterday when I needed a brain break, I stumbled on Facebook Marketplace ads, and, well, this page is quite entertaining. Check out this ad.
And this is just creepy as hell. Also, they are advertising the doll as a possible Christmas decoration. Have a Merry, Scary Christmas!
No public meetings today or Friday.
Sackville Christmas Tree Lighting (Friday, 6:30pm, Acadia Park, Sackville) — live music, free snacks, and Santa.
No public meetings today or Friday.
From ducats to Libra: New monies in historical perspective (Thursday, 4pm, Great Hall, University Club) — Angela Redish from the University of British Columbia will talk.
Mini Medical School (Thursday, 7pm, Theatre B, Tupper Link Building) — Patrick Fok will present “Hospital-based Disaster Planning”, followed at 8:15 by Constance LeBlanc with “Emergency Department Triage/Flow.”
ESS Grad Showcase: Youth Leading Change (Thursday, 7pm, Ondaatje Theatre, Marion McCain Building)
Wind Ensemble DJ, Projections, and a Wind Ensemble (Thursday, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s United Church, 6036 Coburg Road) — from the listing:
Join the Fountain School of Performing Arts Wind Ensemble for a transcendent night of wind music, breakcore, electronic music, and projections.
Enjoy the dismantlement of classic works for winds by transfemme electronic artist Indigo Poirier (winner of the 2019 Arts New Brunswick Innovator of the Year Award) and the projections of Karyn McCallum.
Relax and watch the slow, beautiful crumbling of the world around you while you listen to the distorted, and crystalline sounds of Bach, Holst, Whitacre, and Shostakovitch. Ear protection will be provided.
Noon Hour Composition Recital (Friday, 11;45pm, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Jerome Blais and Peter Togni.
Institutional Violence and Disability Memorials (Friday, 12:30pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) — Linda Steele from the University of Wollongong, Australia, will talk.
New Strategies for the Synthesis of Carbohydrate and Nucleoside Analogues and a New Family of 18F‑Labelled Amino Acids for Oncological PET Imaging (Friday, 1:30pm, Room 226, Chemistry Building) — Robert A. Britton from Simon Fraser University will talk.
Thesis Defence, Science (Friday, 1:30pm, Milligan Room, Life Sciences Centre) — Peter J. Regan will defend “Structural Evolution of the Twelve Mile Bay Shear Zone, Grenville Province, Ontario, Canada.”
Melancholy and Fading of the Self in the Works of Álvaro Mutis (Thursday, 12:30pm, LI 135, Patrick Power Library) — Andrés Arteaga launches his book.
Pradyumna: Lover, Magician and Scion of the Avatara (Friday,12pm, MM335 ) — Christopher Austin from Dalhousie will talk. More info here.
Preventing the Use of Child Soldiers: Strategies for Long-term Change (Friday, 12pm, Loyola 187) — Catherine Baillie Abidi, Director of Training, Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative will talk. More info here.
In the harbour
07:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Argentia, Newfoundland
09:00: YM Moderation, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Dubai
10:45: Ef Ava sails for Portland
11:00: Hansa Meersburg, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from New York
11:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
18:00: Burin Sea, offshore supply ship, moves from Old Coast Guard Base to Irving Oil
I said it already, but please subscribe. It will be great to meet you at the party on Sunday.