News

1. Quadriga

Quadriga cofounder Lovie Horner

Halifax Examiner contributor Andrew D. Wright took a deep dive into the corporate history of the Quadriga cryptocurrency exchange, and found much of it was based on false promises and lies.

Click here to read “Quadriga’s Magic Ride: A journey into a labyrinth of money and lies.”

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2. Taxi drivers discuss proposed industry changes

Taxi drivers met at the Halifax Forum on Monday night to discuss proposed changes in their industry, reports Zane Woodford for The Star.

Last week, the transportation standing committee approved the recommendations Hara Associates made stemming from the Vehicle for Hire Licensing Program Review.

The change causing most of the concern for drivers is the increase in taxi owner licences.

The meeting was organized by David Buffett, president of the Halifax Taxi Association, who said drivers will take legal action if the changes, including the increase in taxi licences, go ahead.

But some drivers, including Walid Ali, expressed support for the increase in taxi licences.

I completely agree with the 600 roof lights to be released because we are working from 14 to 16 hours just to cover the expenses of renting the roof light, even 18 hours every day to cover the expenses of renting the roof light.

The recommendations go to Council today.

3. Feds to clean up Sable Island

Horses on Sable Island. Photo: Parks Canada

Ottawa announced on Monday it was funding a $3.4 million cleanup of Sable Island. The funds will be used to remove unused buildings and dispose of hazardous debris on the island. A portion of the funding will go toward developing solutions to reduce fossil fuel consumption on the island. All of the work is being done to protect Sable Island’s ecosystems.

In December, a group of citizens and activists called The Offshore Alliance also expressed concerns about the island’s ecosystem. That group condemned the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board on its release of a call for bids to explore for oil in the Sable sub-basin.

The deadline for written comments on the Call for Bids was Feb. 8, but those comments are not yet on the CNSOPB website. The call for bids closes on May 8.

4. Black firefighter promoted to senior ranks in department first

Corey Beals, a firefighter with the Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency, is the first African Nova Scotian to be promoted to senior ranks of the fire department, reports CBC’s Sherri Borden Colley.

Beals was one of three officers promoted to a new role of assistant chief. Beals is now the highest-ranking Black chief officer in the fire department’s 265-year history.

Beals spent 10 years as a volunteer firefighter before joining the department as a career firefighter in 1997. Beals says his promotion is “extremely significant.”

I’m extremely proud of my personal accomplishments, but it’s more than just about me and what I’ve accomplished. This is an opportunity for the community, not just North Preston or the Black community, but the community across all of HRM to see that … Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency is evolving.

5. Ferry services stalled

The high winds in the region over the past few days are causing problems with ferry services. On Monday, the cable ferry that crosses the LaHave River on the South Shore may be out of commission for a couple of days. Several passengers and crew were stranded on the boat for four hours after high winds caused an equipment failure, reports Mairin Prentiss with CBC News.

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic is set to resume its service between North Sydney and Port Aux Basques, N.L. today after that service was shut down on Friday. Winds clocked at 100km/hour were causing eight-metre swells in the Cabot Strait.

Eight-metre swells. Yikes.

6. More weather

There’s weather on the way for Wednesday. My kid is already putting spoons under her pillows and ice cubes in the toilet in hopes of a snow day.


Views

1. Values behind the numbers

Karen Foster, an associate professor at Dalhousie University and Canada research chair in sustainable rural futures for Atlantic Canada wrote a column for The Chronicle Herald, a counterpoint to Don Mills’ economic data-filled piece on Feb. 2. 

Foster says Nova Scotia needs to look behind the numbers for other stories on economic growth, including when it comes to protecting the environment.

My argument is that our region needs to set goals other than economic growth and efficiency. No contemporary, forward-looking society can ignore climate change, a phenomenon the esteemed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change attributes largely to economic growth for the sake of growth. The more we extract, produce, export, consume and throw away, the worse our climate prospects get. No urban stadium is going to pull us out of that mess.

Foster suggests the province invest in small, niche businesses in rural communities, mobile rural service delivery, and create and support the conditions for small-scale food and energy production.

2. Living wages and valuing the work of women

On the weekend, another job-hunting friend posted an ad searching for a medical office assistant. The pay? Twelve dollars to $12.50 per hour. These kinds of administrative roles are crucial to offices and should pay much better than they do. And like jobs in childcare and non-profits, these roles are often held by women. We still undervalue the work done by women. Many still regard what women earn as “extra” for families. Men are still considered the primary breadwinners and should therefore earn more.

Rather than vent about the many employers that don’t pay their staff well, I decided to find those that do. Christine Saulnier at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives told me there are a couple of employers in Halifax who’ve been public with their living-wage policies: Adsum for Women and Children and Co-operators Insurance.

I called Sheri Lecker, executive director at Adsum for Women and Children, to find out about the living wage policy. According to Lecker, the policy came about during collective bargaining in 2016 (unionized workers at Adsum are members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, CUPE). In 2015, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives calculated the living wage for Halifax as $20.15. Lecker says negotiations were based on that calculation.

Unionized employees received at least the $20.15 before benefits; some employees received more, depending on their roles. Casual employees also started earning the $20.15/hour. And summer students, whose wages are funded through federal grants, are topped up to $15/hour. Staff have received one per cent cost-of-living increases every year since 2016.

Lecker says the initial response to paying their staff was mixed. Of course, non-profits rely on donations to support their work and some donors expressed concern about funding salaries. But Lecker says programs offered at Adsum rely on educated and experienced staff, and those staff should be compensated accordingly.

“Our human resources are our most expensive resources, but they are our most important resources,” she says.

Still, Lecker says other donors called with donations or words of support when they heard the news.

Lecker says it was important for them to pay a living wage, especially since most of their staff are female and they support other women through their programming. According to the Community Council Sector of Nova Scotia, there are 36,000 employees in the non-profit sector in Nova Scotia. Eighty-seven per cent of those employees are women. She told me that in non-profits staff are paid less because people believe they are there to fulfill their passion for giving back.

“It diminishes the value of this work when people say, ‘Oh, but you really love it,” she says. “When you don’t pay people well, we are saying we don’t value all those qualities and qualifications you bring to the table.”

Adsum has 40 employees; about 20 of those are unionized roles. Lecker says she wants the staff to be engaged in the community and not struggling paycheque to paycheque.

She says the policy has opened a dialogue about women, work, and what they earn. Offering a living wage works well for recruitment and retention of staff and it fosters continued loyalty from staff, and she wants employers to know paying a living wage is “doable.”

“Ultimately, in our work, we will be supported if we do good work. And if we want good people, we have to be a good employer. That’s the message.”

Hallelujah!

I reached out to Co-operators and didn’t hear back by the time I filed this morning. But the national insurance firm was certified as a living-wage employer in 2015.  According to this article from the Guelph Mercury, the Co-operators signed on to pay its staff a living wage in each of the cities where it has offices, including Halifax. At that time, they company was also working to ensure its third-party contractors and other vendors were paying their staff at least a living wage as well. Co-operators employs 4,300 staff across Canada.

Paying a living wage: it can be done.


Noticed

1. Province House

On  Monday, there was a celebration of the 200th anniversary of the Nova Scotia legislature. CBC’s Jean Laroche tweeted out this photo. Apparently, women weren’t invited to the party or permitted in photos.

Alexander Quon at Global News has been working on this story for a couple of months and has photos inside.

2. Old Town Clock

I’ve been watching the renovations on the Old Town Clock on Citadel Hill. You can’t see much lately because the work has been under wraps for a few months. But when I’m downtown, I’ll snap a photo and post it to my Facebook group, Stories of Prince’s Lodge Rotunda. I started the group on the rotunda, the famous landmark on Bedford Highway, after I wrote a story in 2017 about its last resident. Like the rotunda, the Town Clock was ordered constructed by Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, during his time in Halifax overseeing the city’s garrisons (he had the rotunda built as part of English gardens on Sir John Wentworth’s country estate on Bedford Highway where he stayed). The Duke didn’t approve of tardiness and ordered the clock to keep the garrison on time. The clock began keeping time October 20, 1803.

The news of the renovations was announced last summer and the work was supposed to wrap up in November. Taryn Grant at The Star Halifax got a look inside before the work started. But as you can see, there’s still work to be done. I took this photo last week.

And this shot was from early December when the clock looked like R2D2 was keeping watch over the city.

I emailed Jeffrey Lansing at Parks Canada to get an update on the work. He tells me renovations are expected to be completed sometime in the spring. The work is being done by Seagate Construction Inc.

A lot of the work is because of water damage inside the structure. Windows and doors are being replaced but the clock won’t look too much different than before the renovations started. Lansing tells me the clock face will look refreshed with a new coat of cobalt blue paint and the application of gold leaf on the hands and numerals.

Lansing tells me the only original part of the Town Clock is the clock mechanism itself. Parks Canada rebuilt the aging clock in the 1960s.

The Nova Scotia Archives has a number of photos of the Old Town Clock online. It has undergone other renovations over the years, including in 1960 and 2005, and was once a dark green colour. Check out this photo by W.R. MacAskill. 

Like the rotunda, the clock had caretakers who lived in an apartment in the base of the clock tower. The last caretaker family lived there in the 1960s. I love this photo of the clock from the early 1900s. There’s a clothesline outside.

The Nova Scotia Archives is such an excellent resource for photos, not only of the Town Clock,  but of many landmarks and people around the province.

The Town Clock is often open each June during Doors Open Halifax. 


Government

City

Tuesday

Special Harbour East – Marine Drive Community Council (Tuesday, 12pm, City Hall) — a quick meeting before the city council meeting in order to approve land use changes that will allow for the redevelopment of the Ship Victory property on Windmill Road in Dartmouth — the owners of the property, the Valardo family, want to build a 10-storey apartment building at the site.

Tim mentioned this yesterday.

City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — among other items, staff is recommending that council reject an offer from Soccer Nova Scotia to purchase the Gray Arena in Dartmouth.

If all goes well, Tim will be at the council meeting and live blogging it via the Examiner’s Twitter account, @hfxExaminer.

Wednesday

Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall) — back to the police budget.

Province

Tuesday

Health (Tuesday, 1pm, Province House) — Janet Knox, CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and her VP of Integrated Services, Tim Guest, will be asked about the accreditation of the authority. Undoubtedly, the Tracy Kitch expense scandal will be discussed.

Wednesday

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, Province House) — Information & Privacy Commissioner Catherine Tully will be asked about the security failure of the FOIPOP website.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Information Without Borders Conference (Tuesday, 9am, McInnes Room, Student Union Building) — the topic of the 13th annual student-run conference is “Information Accessibility.” Info and register here.

Board of Governors Meeting (Tuesday, 3pm, University Hall, Macdonald Building) — divestment is on the agenda.

Why entrepreneurship can benefit every student (Tuesday, 4:30pm, Collider, LINK Classroom, Killam Library) — Tim wrote about this yesterday.

Wednesday

Jodi Lazare. Photo: Rachael Kelly

Our Legal Relationship with Animals (Wednesday, 7pm, Room 104, Weldon Law Building) —  Jodi Lazare will talk.

Trombone, She Wrote: Music by Canadian Women Composers (Wednesday, 7pm, the Music Room, 6181 Lady Hammond Road) — Trombonist Dale Sorensen, percussionist D’Arcy Gray, and pianist Lynn Johnson will perform works by F. Jane Naylor, Monica Pearce, Barbara Pentland, Elizabeth Raum, and Barbara York. Tickets here.

Saint Mary’s

Tuesday

Racial Apartheid & Black Freedom Struggles in Nova Scotia and South Africa (Tuesday, 6:30pm, Room 135, Patrick Power Library) — a panel discussion to celebrate African Heritage Month, with Lynn Jones (Global African Congress, NS Chapter), researcher and filmmaker Francesca Ekwuyasi, and social justice strategist, songwriter and educator Delvina Bernard.

Wednesday

Used books and board games sale (Wednesday, 9am, Loyola Colonnade) — and a $2 lotto board, all in support of the United Way. Continues Thursday.

Mount Saint Vincent

Tuesday

James R Shirley: Landscapes from the Soul (Tuesday, MSVU Art Gallery) — a selection of monotypes and pinhole photographs from the collections of Mount Saint Vincent University and Dalhousie University. Until May 19. Information here.


In the harbour


16:30: Artemis, container ship, sails from Pier 41 for New York


Footnotes

I’m getting ready for a scheduled six-hour power outage in the building where I live. At least wildlife/salty fog is not to blame for this outage. I hope to work offsite tomorrow, provided the weather doesn’t strand me at home.


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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. Drilling off Sable Island would be in shallow water with a jack-up rig unlike the drilling off the southern tip of South Africa where the government is very excited about the gas discovery in a well in 1,432 metres of rough seas
    Total’s first attempt to drill the Brulpadda Prospect in 2014 was suspended prior to reaching target due to difficulties experienced by the drilling rig in the harsh deepwater environment. After extensive review of the challenging surface conditions, Total contracted the Odfjell Deepsea Stavanger semi-submersible rig to drill the Brulpadda-1AX re-entry well in December 2018.
    https://www.africaenergycorp.com/operations/south-africa-block-11b-12b/

  2. I understand there are stockbrokers who really love their jobs. I believe there are television executives and plenty of actors who love their jobs. There are probably scientists and doctors who love their jobs. Why does no one think to ask these (mostly) guys to work for the love of it? Hmmmm.