News

1. Search continues for missing boy

Three-year-old Dylan was last seen early Wednesday afternnoon at his grandparents’ house in Truro. Photo: Town of Truro/Facebook
Three-year-old Dylan was last seen early Wednesday afternnoon at his grandparents’ house in Truro. Photo: Town of Truro/Facebook

Searchers in Truro are still looking for a three-year-old boy who went missing Wednesday afternoon. Dylan, who is described as having brown hair, rosy cheeks and a green left eye and blue right eye, was visiting his grandmother when he disappeared. CBC reports that Dylan’s grandfather, Norman Brown, says the boy’s grandmother “just turned her back for a minute and he was gone.”

Dylan was last seen near Queen and Elizabeth streets in Truro.  He was wearing camouflage plants, rubber boots and a winter coat with badges, including U.S. flags.

Volunteers from the community joined the search and helicopters were heard flying over the town this morning. Searchers were seen along railroad tracks in the area and in the Salmon River.

Anyone with information is asked to call 902-895-5351.

2. Daily COVID-19 update: hospitals may soon resume services that were put on hold in anticipation of huge coronavirus caseload that hasn’t materialized

The Halifax Examiner is providing all COVID-19 coverage for free.

Premier Stephen McNeil (l) and Chief Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang at the COVID-19 briefing, Wednesday, May 6, 2020. Photo: Communications Nova Scotia.

Jennifer Henderson reports there are seven new cases of COVID-19 in the province, all at Northwood. There are no new deaths. There are 998 positive cases across Nova Scotia, but two-thirds of those have recovered. Most of the active cases, 211 out of 296, are at Northwood’s Halifax site. Several of the staff tested positive just in the last couple of days. Dr. Robert Strang says an “intense review” will be done of each of those cases.

Part of that review is a deep dive into our infection control and cleaning protocols to make sure everything necessary continues to be done.

Premier Stephen McNeil says when the COVID-19 crisis is over, the province will look at what can be done to improve conditions at Northwood. However, McNeil declined to accept responsibility for the deaths at Northwood because of chronic underfunding and resisted calls for a public inquiry.

Strang was also asked when medical services at clinics and hospitals would start up again. He says he’s in “active discussions” with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the deputy minister of Health.

Clearly everybody knows that this is an important and urgent action that needs to happen. So in terms of timelines nothing exact but we are moving very quickly on this.

Read the full story here.

3. There are still 152 active cases of COVID-19 among Northwood residents

The Northwood nursing home on Gottingen Street in Halifax. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner / Tim Bousquet

Northwood is creating more private rooms to prevent the death toll climbing higher. That’s what Jennifer Henderson learned from a news briefing Wednesday afternoon with Northwood CEO Janet Simm. Seventy recovered patients have been moved from Northwood to a hotel in Dartmouth to help make more space.

The first cases were reported around April 7 and Northwood kept roommates together, even when one tested positive and the other was negative. Josie Ryan, executive director at Northwood, says given the two-week incubation period of the virus, the roommate who tested negative was already likely exposed. There were also no empty beds to allow for self-isolating.

Ryan said “it’s mainly in Northwood Centre, with approximately 80%” of the 226 total positive cases that have emerged. Northwood Centre has 297 beds for elderly patients who need nursing care, while Northwood Manor is for those residents who need help with daily living. Another wing houses tenants who are independent and free to leave.

Read the full story here.

4. Researcher: nursing home COVID deaths reveal “fault lines” in care for elderly

Janice Keefe, director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging and a gerontology professor at Mount Saint Vincent University. Photo submitted.

Yvette d’Entremont talks with Janice Keefe, director of the Nova Scotia Centre on Aging and a gerontology professor at Mount Saint Vincent University, who says she hopes there’s an opportunity to fix the “fault lines” in long-term care that COVID-19 has exposed.

Keefe tells d’Entremont the pandemic lies on the shoulders of the country’s most vulnerable people.

We spent so much time planning for acute care and not planning and not recognizing what could happen in long-term care that it’s just a tragedy. I’ve been working in this field for 20 years, and I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that this would have happened. It’s heartbreaking.

Canada has the highest proportion of COVID-19 deaths in long-term settings, according to a report published by International Long Term Care Policy Network on May 3.

As of May 2, there were 3,566 linked to COVID-19 in Canada and 62% of those deaths were of those in care homes. In Nova Scotia, 85.4% of the COVID-19 related deaths were in long-term care homes, primarily Northwood. There were two at Harbourstone Enhanced Care in Sydney.

Keefe says having a stable workforce is important for appropriate care in long-term care homes.

I’m working with a group in Alberta and there are 25% of their staff, their frontline workers, actually working at more than one facility…and there’s another 10 to 15% that are working at other places like hospitals or Tim Hortons.

Why is that? It’s because they can’t get a decent wage or they can’t get sufficient hours. They’re women. Out West, 57% don’t speak English as a first language. So, you’ve got a cascading effect of a workforce that’s badly in need of support.

Read the full story here. 

5. Where’s Randy?

Tim Bousquet goes looking for Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey, who’s been missing from the daily briefings and, really, any discussion around COVID-19 in general.

As Bousquet points out, Delorey has not made a public statement since March 18 when he joined Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang in the daily briefing on COVID-19.

In a communications email, Bousquet was told “Minister Delorey is unavailable.”

Clearly.

Thirty-five residents at Northwood have died from COVID-19 and Delorey hasn’t made a public statement about those deaths. On April 19, Delorey signed a ministerial directive that redeployed Nova Scotia Health Authority staff to Northwood.

Read the full story here. 

6. Goose removed from Dartmouth park after ‘exhibiting aggressive behaviour’

Nine geese returned to Sullivan’s Pond on Monday, April 20. Eight remain. Photo: Zane Woodford

Everything is ducky again after an aggressive goose was removed from the park at Sullivan’s Pond in Dartmouth. Zane Woodford reports one of the park’s famous geese is no longer there. The municipality confirmed on Wednesday the goose was removed.

Woodford reports nine geese were returned to the park on April 20 after spending the winter at Hope for Wildlife in Seaforth. Now, only eight remain.

Last fall, an elderly woman was attacked by one of the geese in the park. Over the winter, staff were working with the goose on its poor behaviour. It’s not clear if last year’s bad goose is the goose that misbehaved again this year. Says HRM spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray:

It’s believed it is likely the same goose given the aggressive behaviour displayed since returning to the pond and the description by witnesses of the incident, however staff are unable to fully confirm that it is the same goose from that incident.

Read the full story here.

7. A look at Halifax’s foot-dragging around opening up streets to cyclists and pedestrians during COVID-19

A “pandemic extended sidewalk” in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2020. Photo: Flickr user angela n.
A “pandemic extended sidewalk” in Washington, D.C. on April 9, 2020. Photo: Flickr user angela n.

Zane Woodford talks to restaurant owners, advocacy groups, and councillors about the HRM’s slow response in opening up streets to more pedestrians and cyclists so they can still do business downtown while practicing social distancing.

Woodford talks to Kourosh Rad, a former city planner, who took over the ownership of the Garden Food Bar and Lounge off Clyde Street on Feb. 1. Rad says more cars downtown doesn’t always mean more business for them.

When people are discouraged from walking down the street to see their neighbour and their local coffee shop, what are they going to do? They’re going to sit at home and they’re going to order it from a third-party delivery company … Or they get in their car and go to the McDonald’s drive-thru and purchase their food and beverages there.

Kelsey Lane, sustainable transportation coordinator with the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax, says Halifax just needs to look to other cities to see how it’s done.

If we look to China, we see the cycling and walking numbers have remained high as the social distancing measures have been lifted, and so this really gives us a snapshot and tells us how we need to prepare our transportation systems for this next phase.

Obviously, given the current situation, there is a need to make sure people are able to maintain social distancing given the current circumstances and the current volumes of people using active transportation, but also looking ahead, that need is going to increase.

Councillor Shawn Cleary says he’s working on the change, but it’s been a hard sell.

Not everyone has a car, and in fact environmentally and economically, we don’t want everyone to have a car. We want to give people a choice to be able to get around safely — both physically from traffic and now this extra layer of being protected from the virus.

We do this for construction sites all the time. It’s not unusual, you walk around Halifax, to see a construction site that’s pushing out into the sidewalk, pushing out into the road.

Read the full story here. 


Views

All hail the queen bees

Queen bees are imported from Hawaii, California, and sometimes Italy and Chile to help the production of low-bush blueberries in Nova Scotia.

At midnight tonight, a special delivery from Hawaii will arrive at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport: A crate of queen bees, each in its own box about two inches by one inch in size. The bees were brought here to help farmers in Nova Scotia who grow low-bush blueberries. After the queen bees land in Halifax, they will be inspected by officials with the Department of Agriculture and then sent on to two locations, one in Annapolis Valley, another near Truro, where beekeepers from across the province will pick up the queens for their own hives. Imported queen bees from Hawaii, California, and sometimes Chile and Italy, usually arrive in Nova Scotia every May.

But this year’s transportation of the queen bees had to change because of restrictions around COVID-19. Queen bees usually are transported by passenger carriers, mostly Air Canada, because the bees need to be kept warm, safe, and have good airflow around them. Cargo planes aren’t equipped for such deliveries. When most of passenger flights were cut or decreased in frequency because of COVID-19 restrictions, those who work in the beekeeping industry, including the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association, the Canada Honey Council, and the federal and provincial departments of agriculture, had to figure out a new strategy. “We knew back in March there would an issue and we’d have to look at some kind of contingency plan to get these queens here,” says Alex Crouse, the president of the Nova Scotia Beekeepers Association. Crouse also owns and operates Wood N Hive Honey with his wife, Heather.

Crouse says they worked with a queen bee broker in Montreal to find a way to get the bees here. They talked with other airline carriers, who Crouse says were very accommodating and understanding of the situation. Ultimately, UPS signed on and made renovations and modifications to some of its cargo planes to transport the bees and keep them safe in the process.

The bees arriving in Halifax tonight first landed in Canada in Vancouver, where they were inspected by officials with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The bees are checked for disease and other foreign pests. They were then put on a domestic flight to Montreal and then one to Halifax. About 4,000 to 5,000 queen bees are imported to Nova Scotia each year. In 2019, the province got 4,500 queen bees, which made a portion 25,300 hives in production. About 40 to 50 beekeepers will buy these bees through the association for $50 a queen. Crouse says this year’s price is about 10% higher because of the exchange rate and the new logistics to get the queens here.

Nova Scotia does have its own queen bees, but the production of them for low-bush blueberry farms is all a matter of timing. Blueberries are grown in Cumberland, Colchester, Hants, Pictou, and Antigonish counties, and parts of HRM. But spring comes late in these areas and there are few bees here. Blueberry farmers need to get started early, because the crop starts to bloom in late May, so they need bees in early to mid-May. Domestic queen bees aren’t available until late June.

The situation is different for farmers in the Annapolis Valley. Apples, pears, cherries, plums, and peaches all need pollinators, too, but there are lots of bees in the valley to do the work. Grapes are self-pollinating. Western Canada imports more queen bees than we do. Those bees are used to pollinate crops such as canola.

Crouse says there are about 700 registered beekeepers in Nova Scotia, but only about 475 of those are active beekeepers. And then only about 40 of those beekeepers are classified as commercial beekeepers. Most keepers are small scale and have anywhere from one to 49 hives; many of those keepers have two or three hives in their own backyards. While beekeepers produce honey, about two-thirds of the revenue comes from pollination. Crouse himself creates nuclear or “starter” colonies for new beekeepers in Nova Scotia and P.E.I, although he also sells honey products. It’s on the retail end where he and Heather get a chance to educate people about the importance of bees. “The public awareness of pollinators has been growing over the last half dozen years,” Crouse says. “People understand about 35% of what they consume requires pollinators. Our food supply would look very different without them.”

Crouse says it can be calm and peaceful watching the bees crawl around on the hives. “It’s very rewarding, somewhat relaxing and healthy profession, both physically and mentally,” he says. “No one is talking back to us or asking what they need from us. They just need the tools to do what they do best. No two days are same in a bee yard.”

At Wood N Hive, beekeeper Alex Crouse creates nuclear or “starter” hives for new beekeepers. Photo: Wood N Hive.
At Wood N Hive, beekeeper Alex Crouse creates nuclear or “starter” hives for new beekeepers. Photo: Wood N Hive.

After tonight’s shipment of queen bees, there will be another one next Thursday and then more each week for about three weeks. Crouse says so far, the bees here look good coming out of winter. He’d like to see a couple of weeks of warm and sunny weather with lots of heat to get the bees ready. “I think we’re in a good position to meet the needs of the pollination industry this spring,” Crouse says.


Noticed

The other day I drove past these garden plots on Glenforest Drive in Clayton Park. This is in my neighbourhood and I drive past here often wondering what is going to happen with these plots this season. After a bit of research, I learned this garden, which is called Glen Garden, is run by Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANS.) And after an announcement by the province on Friday that says community gardens can open up again, it looks like things will get going, and growing, in these plots soon.

Glen Garden on Glenforest Drive in Clayton Park. Photo: Suzanne Rent

I spoke with Jennifer Watts, CEO of ISANS on Tuesday about the plans for the gardens now that they’re allowed to open again.

The garden on Glenforest is one of four community gardens run by ISANS and newcomers in the community. The program got its start in 2012. The other gardens are the Mosaic Garden on Willett Street, the Killam Garden on Plateau Crescent, and the Multicultural Garden on Ashburn Avenue off Bayers Road. Together, these four gardens have 133 plots. Anyone who wants to have a plot applies for one each year. Watts says about 140 families use the gardens each season and there’s a waiting list with about 30 people.

“It’s been a very popular program,” Watts says. “They have loved the gardens and asked for more space.”

Mosaic Garden on Willett Street. Photo: Suzanne Rent

As for this season, Watts says they are looking at a plan for the gardens, which would have already been open and at least cleaned up already, and the soil would be getting prepped. “We’re not sure what that will look like,” Watts says. “We’ll look at the scenario on how to do that safely.”

Watts says the larger community can help with the gardens by making sure they are protected and safe. And she encourages neighbours to wave at gardeners while they’re out working.

Watts says the focus of the gardens for this season will be food production. For many immigrants, the gardens offer them a chance to grow produce they may not find in local stores. Growing food is the purpose any year, but Watts says the gardens also serve other social purposes for the community and the welcoming of newcomers. Neighbours host picnics here but Watts says the gardens also offer the older members of newcomer families a way to connect with younger people and share their skills. “They are bringing something from home and sharing that knowledge,” Watts says. “It’s about food, growing food, memories, history, and family. The things people treasure.”


Government

No meetings.


In the harbour

06:00: Gotland, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
06:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
07:00: Maersk Maker, offshore supply ship, sails from Pier 9 for the Sable Island field
10:00: Atlantic Sail, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from New York
12:00: IT Intrepid, cable layer, sails from Pier 9 for sea
16:30: RHL Agilitas, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Kingston, Jamaica
16:30: Atlantic Sail sails for Liverpool
22:00: Gotland sails for sea


Footnotes

I had so many bee puns buzzing through my head yesterday.

Suzanne Rent

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

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8 Comments

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  1. just fyi, if others did not know what ISANS stands for (and I live out of country, so that’s my excuse) it’s Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

  2. I love reading the Examiner each day. It makes me feel really in touch with what is going on the ground. There is such a vagueness for me about the Covid 19 in NS and Halifax. No talk about more testing or opening procedures. Obviously the Northwood crisis is shocking and indicates something seriously wrong in the system. That is not to condemn Northwood. my experience with residents there has been impressive and the renovations a few years ago were excellent. But I think all nursing homes should be provincially mandated, no profit, and high standards of employees and training, with good pay and stability of workforce. It is noticeable with home care patients I know that many of the workers are recent immigrants who are good, but it reveals something about the system. Are they temporary, like substitute teachers, underpaid? Etc etc. Among the do better lessons we learn, I hope, is a review and new approach to our responsibility as a society for the frail elderly.

    1. And why would someone in Nova Scotia post this on twitter ” Government-owned care homes have done significantly better than privately owned care homes in keeping their residents safe from COVID-19.”
      The remark appears to have been in relation to Ontario but the deaths at Northwood could leave one to draw the opposite conclusion until one looks at all the public and private care homes in Nova Scotia and be able to understand how different Northwood is from other homes.

  3. Thanks for the bee article. Nice to see some stuff of rural interest. My wife and I are beekeepers and we are the Truro area depot for queen pick up. Pick up is usually a time to chat with fellow beekeepers whom one sees only once a year … this year it will probably be a hand-off in the door yard. Changing gears: Because I can’t figure out to e-mail you privately, I’ll throw this out: would you tackle proportional representation in The Examiner? I don’t think we (the citizenry) or the Liberals should allow it to die.

    1. Hi Philbee — you can contact me (iris at halifaxexaminer dot ca) if you need to get in touch with a writer. And on the Contact Us page, there are two links to reach Tim, and one of them is for encrypted messages.

    2. Good point about proportional representation. I think one of the myriad things we have learned during this health crisis is that partisan politics obstruct effective response. Fortunately all parties seem to have set aside their bickering for the sake of bickering and have pretty well focussed on the Covid response issue. The sooner we can get to a system of proportional representation, the better.