News

1. COVID-19 update: two more deaths, 17 new cases

Photo: Martin Sanchez/Unsplash

Wednesday was the first day of Phase 1 of Nova Scotia’s reopening plan and the number of COVID-19 cases in the province continues to go down. Seventeen new cases were reported on Wednesday, bringing the total of known active cases to 311. Thirty-eight people are in hospital and 15 of them in ICU. Seventy-two people are recovered.

Sadly, two more people died from COVID-19. Both were men who lived in Nova Scotia Health’s Central Zone. Tim Bousquet has all the details, including numbers, graphs, and more. If you’re looking for specific information, check out this handy section breakdown:

Overview
Vaccination
Everest
Demographics
Testing
Potential exposure advisories

This morning, the Department of Health and Wellness sent out this news release with information about appointments for second doses. Here are the details:

Nova Scotians who received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine between March 11 and 21 and are scheduled to receive their second dose between June 24 and July 3 can now reschedule their appointments for earlier dates.

A notice to reschedule will be sent by email to the account provided at the time of booking. Anyone who did not provide an email must call the toll-free line at 1-833-797-7772 to reschedule or to request an email address be added.

When rescheduling the second dose, people will select a new date and time at any clinic across the province that has an available appointment.

Notices will continue to be sent over the following weeks as vaccine supply is received.

Climb every mountain (but not you)

At Wednesday’s briefing, Premier Rankin and Dr. Strang sent out congratulations to Kevin Walsh, a dentist from Falmouth, NS who reached the summit of Mount Everest on May 23. That news didn’t go over so well with other Nova Scotians, most of whom have been following the public health rules, staying at home, staying in their community, and so on.

Bousquet asked Strang about all this at the briefing. Here’s that exchange:

Bousquet: I want to ask you about this fellow who climbed Mount Everest and your congratulation of him. This was international non-essential travel during a pandemic. And I’m wondering what kind of message that sends to the rest of Nova Scotians who are avoiding travel to see their grandmothers and such? And should we now just all assume that we can do international travel so long as we think it’s safe?

Strang: I don’t know any of the details about when he might have left the country. Probably preparing to go for Everest, you have to be there for quite a period of time. So I don’t know any of the details of when he might have left the country.

Turns out, all those details about Walsh’s trip were reported by Cassidy Chisholm at CBC on May 31. In that report, Walsh says he left for his trip at the end of March. Here’s what Walsh said about his decision to go:

We could have postponed to next year, but there was so much planning that had gone into it — the training, the timing, the time off work, arranging for people to fill in — that it just seemed like the right thing to do.

The right thing to do

I guess the definition of community included Nepal all along.

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2. The Tideline, episode 31: Jonathan Torrens

Jonathan Torrens. Photo: Contributed

In the latest episode of The Tideline, Tara Thorne chats with Jonathan Torrens, who pops in from Truro to talk about his t-shirt campaign in support of entertainment workers, his new homegrown series Vollies, and offers up some of his past experiences as a working performer in Canada and Hollywood. It’s a gentle, kind, funny trip. Listen to the episode here.

Remember, it’s now FREE to listen to The Tideline. Click here to read all about how to sign onto our new platform. Tell all your friends. It’s good listening for a reopening.

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3. Address no longer needed to get income assistance

Eric Jonsson is with the Navigator Street Outreach Program. Photo: Suzanne Rent

In news that should have happened long ago, people who are homeless but don’t want to live in a shelter can now apply for income assistance. Jean Laroche with CBC reports on the change in policy from the Department of Community Services that takes effect on July 1.

Social worker Eric Jonsson, who is with the Navigator Street Outreach Program, told CBC the news is a relief for people living on the streets.

They’re in this kinda catch-22 situation where they want to get an apartment but you need income to get an apartment.

A lot of people, the only income they qualify for is income assistance, and the rule was always to get income assistance you need an address first.

Meghan Hansford, a housing support program manager at Adsum House, says the previous policy made it difficult for women to leave abusive situations.

Financial security is a major reason why women will stay with abusive partners and stay in abusive relationships because there is no way for them to support themselves if they’re not working at the moment, if they’re providing child care.

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4. Regulating racism out of medicine

Douglas Ruck. Photo: University of King’s College

Michael Gorman at CBC writes about an independent commission that will “review operations to improve cultural competence and safety, equity, diversity and inclusion” at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

Gorman interviewed Dr. Gus Grant, the registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, who said the college needed “independent and expert eyes.”

It shouldn’t be an exercise in self-examination, it should be an exercise in expert, independent, external examination.

The commission will be led by Douglas Ruck, a Halifax lawyer and former provincial ombudsman. Its other members include five Black professionals, including a doctor and social workers. Gorman writes that Ruck is doing similar work for the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society. Ruck says:

What we’ve come to realize is what we’ve always known: the few in fact are not the issue. It’s not the individual, it’s the systems themselves, the structural, the institutional racism. Therein lies the real problem.

The recommendations from the commission’s report will be made public.

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5. Jerks on planes

Airplane taking off on runway, still from Transportation Safety Board video

Seems like this pandemic hasn’t made some people any kinder. That includes passengers on airplanes. According to this story in Halifax Today/Canadian Press, Air Canada has noticed an increase in the number of unruly passengers on its flights since the beginning of the pandemic. And Air Line Pilots Association Canada president Timothy Perry says the same thing, adding staff are trained to handle those situations.

In the US, where there’s been more air travel recently, a few airlines, including Southwest, suspended service of alcoholic drinks to cut down on bad behaviour from passengers. Elva Ramirez in Forbes, who covers spirits, hospitality and the growing zero proof space (that’s quite the gig), reports that Southwest planned on bringing the booze back to its flight services at the end of June, but extended the ban into July. American Airlines did the same, first banning alcohol on flights back in March 2020. That airline lifted the ban this May, but reinstated it again after an incident on a Southwest flight.

But as Ramirez writes, passengers are bringing their own booze on the plane:

The FAA has published details of multiple altercations involving passengers who bring their own stash of alcohol on-board, and proceed to drink despite requests not to.

Two passengers on a Jan. 4 JetBlue flight were disruptive and allegedly drank from their own personal alcohol, leading into altercations with attendants. They were escorted off the plane by police and fined $31,750 and $16,750. A passenger on a Jan. 14 SkyWest flight from Arizona to Texas also reportedly drank “multiple 50 ml bottles of his own alcohol”, and became so belligerent that two off-duty law enforcement officers had to wrestle him into his seat; this passenger was later fined $14,500. In Feb., another JetBlue flight was disrupted when a flight attendant told a passenger they could not drink from their own mini bottles of alcohol. The disturbance escalated, and the passenger was fined $18,500.

Since the start of 2021, the FAA has received approximately 2,500 reports of unruly behavior by passengers, many of which are linked to refusing to comply with drinking and federal mask-wearing rules.

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Views

Being a Black woman entrepreneur in Canada

Photo: Christina@ wocintechchat.com/Unsplash

Last week, I found this study called Rise Up: A Study of 700 Black Women Entrepreneurs, that looks at experiences of Black female entrepreneurs. I often write about women in business and workplaces, so this report caught my attention and I wanted to share some of its findings here. The report was published by the Black Business and Professional Association (BBPA), Casa Foundation for International Development, and de Sedulous Women Leaders, with researchers from the Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub (WEKH). (You can read the entire report here). This was the largest study of its kind undertaken in Canada.

There’s some fascinating and eye-opening data here. I can’t say I was surprised, really, but I think it’s important to see these experiences in numbers. This study reminded me of the piece I wrote for a Morning File back in March in which I talked about how women don’t choose low-paying jobs, our work just isn’t valued by society. That article included a bit from the Canadian Women’s Foundation that said, “racialized women working full-time, full-year earn an average of 33% less than non-racialized men, earning 67 cents to the dollar.”

This report includes some numbers from Statistics Canada, breaking down the numbers into those for Black women, Black men, women in the rest of the population, and men in the rest of the population, including this one showing education levels:

And this chart, which shows that between 2001 and 2016 Black women in Canada have had the lowest rates of employment.

And then there’s this chart, which was shared on Twitter, and led me to look for the complete report.  Black women in these four cities made less than anyone in the other three categories.

Seven hundred Black entrepreneurs were included in this research and of those only 3.5% of them have businesses located in Nova Scotia.

And 2.4% of those Black women had their businesses in Halifax.

These women were asked about the obstacles they faced in starting and running their own businesses and most of them said access to financing was the biggest barrier:

In fact, the study found most of these women funded their businesses with personal financing:

The COVID-19 pandemic hit businesses hard, especially those run by Black women. This report collected data on what Black women entrepreneurs experienced during the last year or so:

There’s a really good section in the study on why these women have their own businesses. Their motivations included family and community, personal experiences and passion, flexibility and freedom. Here are three of their stories:

I walked in to a salon a few weeks after I came to Canada to get my hair done and I was told that they could not cater to my hair type. It didn’t take long for me to find out that there were no salons that catered to my hair type. I had to figure out a way to get my hair done myself. Over time I realized that this was a struggle for most Black women and girls in my community. I identified a need and decided to provide a solution.

______

I never thought I would be a business owner; however, once my business began to grow, I saw the opportunities to pursue my dream to work full time addressing systemic racism within our society, and to be self-employed. I have practiced law for over ten years, and in every position that I have occupied I have been the only Black lawyer or among two or three Black employees. I have dealt with various forms of anti-Black racism within the workplace, which had an impact on my mental health and well-being. While these experiences have been difficult, they have also given me the ability to approach my consulting work with a deep understanding of how to address racism and other forms of discrimination within organizations.

______

My inspiration is definitely my children, I have traded so much time in the past for money to make ends meet for them, and I had gotten to a point where it was no longer possible, especially with the pandemic. I am thankful to be able to stay at home and watch them grow and also work close [to] them and build my empire, not for myself, but for them and their future generations.

The study also includes lists of actions — societal, organizational, and individual — to help support Black women entrepreneurs:

Societal:

  • Challenge anti-Black racism and break down stereotypes that associate entrepreneurship and innovation with masculinity, whiteness, and tech
  •  Showcase and celebrate the successes of Black women entrepreneurs and highlight role models within the Black community
  • Challenge media bias and stereotypes of entrepreneurship and Black women
  • Meaningfully include more voices of Black women entrepreneurs
  • Collect disaggregated data on the experiences of Black women entrepreneurs
  • Promote policies that support Black women entrepreneurs, including targeted investments, procurement, and micro grants, as well as childcare
  • Provide access to technology and ensure affordability, skills development, and tools
  • Ensure that government programming and funding opportunities are allocated equitably using an intersectional approach

Organizational:

  • Focus on the tone at the top: explicit communication is needed regarding the business case for diversity (especially in incubators, venture capital firms, and financial institutions)
  • Collect disaggregated data on the barriers Black women entrepreneurs experience when accessing funding, programming, resources and other supports
  • Prioritize benchmarking and target setting
  • Challenge stereotypes of leadership
  • Develop programs related to networking, skill building, thematic workshops, and other topics specifically geared toward Black women entrepreneurs
  • Provide sustained financing opportunities for Black women entrepreneurs through a long-term fund managed by the Black community
  • Ensure that leadership positions in both the public sector and private sector are diversified and that Black women have a seat at the decision-making table
  • Provide childcare support for entrepreneurs
  • Provide inclusive procurement opportunities and strengthen the value chain to ensure that Black women entrepreneurs have opportunities to sell products to the public and private sector
  • Build the pipeline of Black women entrepreneurs by fostering partnership opportunities, government relations, and outreach support

Individual:

  • Promote entrepreneurship as a career option for Black women
  • Challenge microaggressions related to stereotypes and biases around traditional definitions of entrepreneurship and innovation
  • Share best practices with other prospective Black women entrepreneurs to promote knowledge sharing
  • Find a mentor, be a mentor
  • Build networks and use your sphere of influence
  • Provide gender- and race-specific SME training and development support services
  • Share stories of success as well as failures, and provide Black women the opportunity to learn from mistakes and improve

I reached out to the Black Business and Professional Association for more comments on the report, but I didn’t hear back in time to include that in this Morning File. But here’s a link to some businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs, including Black women, in Nova Scotia. 

Again, the entire report is here for the reading.

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Noticed

Working from home and lovin’ life

Me working from home and writing Morning File.

As a freelancer, I’ve worked from home for the past few years now, so working from home during the pandemic was no big deal for me. But it was a big deal to plenty of other people who moved their offices to their homes, all while teaching their kids and keeping their households running. I’ve always said more people should be able to work from home. There’s no early-morning rush to get ready, you can work in your pajamas, it cuts down on long commutes, there are fewer cars on the road, and gives workers more flexibility. Plus, you can avoid all that office gossip and nonsense, if you happen to dislike that stuff and find it a distraction (I do).

And it turns out, a lot of workers who’ve been working from home the past year or so don’t want to go back to the office. A Leger poll conducted with the Association of Canadian Studies found that “82% of Canadians and 85% of Americans who worked/are still working from home during the pandemic say their experience was/has been positive.”

Here are some other findings:

  • 40% of Canadians and 33% of Americans would prefer working a mix of a few days a week at their workplace and a few days a week at home.
  • Only 20% of Canadians and 19% of Americans want to stop working from home and go back to their workplace entirely.
  • About half of Canadians (50%) and Americans (47%) who want to return to their workplace would not be comfortable returning to work if some of their colleagues are not vaccinated.
  • 35% of Canadians and 39% of Americans who worked/are still working from home during the pandemic agree that if their superiors ordered them to return to the office, they would start to look for another job where they can work from home.

This last point is interesting because it shows how workers can shape their own experiences in the workplace. I suspect a hybrid work from home/work at the office model will become popular. Some workers do miss connecting with colleagues.

I’m actually getting out of the office today for a meeting. I guess I’ll have to put on real pants.

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Government

City

Environment and Sustainable Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm) — live on YouTube

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4pm) — live on YouTube

Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Thursday, 6pm) — live on YouTube

Province

No meetings.


On campus

Saint Mary’s

Thursday

No events

Friday

10th Anniversary Hockey Conference (Friday – Sunday) — “A biennial event held at various locations throughout North America. It has instrumentally advanced scholarship on ice hockey and it attracts scholars and community members who take any kind of interest in the sport.” Free virtual event, register here.


In the harbour

Halifax
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Pier 41 to Autoport
11:00: Tugela, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves back to Pier 41
15:45: Tugela sails for sea

Cape Breton
12:00: Tanja, bulker, sails from Port Hawkesbury Paper for sea
14:00: Patmos Warrior, oil tanker, arrives at outer anchorage (Point Tupper) from Arzew, Algeria


Footnotes

It’s not Mount Everest, but I’m heading back to Beaver Bank this weekend for my riding lessons.

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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. “We could have postponed to next year, but there was so much planning that had gone into it — the training, the timing, the time off work, arranging for people to fill in — that it just seemed like the right thing to do.”
    Many, MANY people in Nova Scotia could have justified far more important things with the same logical missteps but chose not to.
    Public health officials should issue an apology for carelessly congratulating him and clarify that they do not encourage this selfish behaviour at any scale during a global pandemic.

  2. In a puff piece in the Coast, entitled “Why Climbing Everest During a Pandemic Isn’t as Problematic as it Seems,” Victoria Walton let us know that Nepal is just like Nova Scotia in its need for tourism (I would add desperate, but that’s just me) and quoted Dr. Walsh’s understanding of the COVID situation in Nepal, to wit:

    “But Walsh says on the ground, many climbers are unaware of the extent of the COVID situation. ‘We heard speculation, rumours. There was never really any confirmation,’ says Walsh. ‘Nepal is pretty hush hush on those things. From what we could gather, there were at least 17 cases, probably more, but we’re not really sure.’

    On May 23, the day that Dr. Walsh summitted, (according to easily obtainable non-hush-hush records) there were 514,321 active cases of COVID in Nepal, during a crisis outbreak in India and surrounding countries, and the International Red Cross, among other organizations, encouraged people around the world to make donations. The number of Nepali active cases represented about 1.79% of the population of the country, which has a very poor primary health care system still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2015. 1.79 may seem like a small percentage, but if Nova Scotia had the same level of cases, on May 23, we would have had more than 17,000 active cases )—the entire populations of Truro, Windsor, and Falmouth combined. NS actual case number on that day: 943.

    How much does an Everest expedition cost? I bet it would buy a lot of health care in Nepal, but then it’s so important that another person climbs Everest, well, because “It’s there.”

    You can read the Coast article here: see https://www.thecoast.ca/halifax/why-climbing-everest-during-a-pandemic-isnt-as-problematic-as-it-seems/Content?oid=26545198Falmouth dentist Kevin Walsh

    1. On top of the actual Covid statistics in Nepal, that country’s need for oxygen for hospitals was also well-documented at the very time Dr. Walsh was prepping for an ascent. The Nepalese government even made direct appeals to climbers to return their empty oxygen tanks instead of abandoning them on the slopes as it the normal practice.

      https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/may/18/urgent-oxygen-needed-nepalis-mobilise-to-take-charge-in-covid-crisis

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/11/nepal-urges-everest-climbers-to-return-used-oxygen-canisters-amid-covid-crisis

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/10/hopeless-situation-oxygen-shortage-fuels-nepal-covid-crisis

  3. So glad the blatant hypocrisy of the Everest trip was outed.

    Rank privilege of the climber, Rankin and Strang. Blind to privilege that somehow congratulating someone for breaking Covid rules would somehow be celebrated be it climbing Everest or not. (I won’t even get into the elite moneyed class it takes to pay for an Everest expedition).

    There is so much about Covid that has laid bare the inequities of our society. So much of the getting back to normal just papers over. Methinks the essential cleaning staff at the elementary school won’t be off to Nepal anytime soon.

    In the end it’s not about let them eat cake, more let them climb Everest.

  4. Thanks for your ongoing coverage of people at work, from tracking job postings to your two fine pieces today on Black women and working from home. The “world of work”—what we call work, what we have to do to get work, what we have to put up with to keep our work—it all remains a vast unknown territory compared to the “world of business” and bosses. Your writings help us explore that unknown territory. Thanks.