1. Recruitment of health care professionals

two women assist an elderly woman
Continuing Care Assistants Kamal Kaur, left, and Sherlyn Monteroso, right, help resident Hilary Wellard at Saint Vincent’s Nursing Home in Halifax. Credit: Communications Nova Scotia

“A 23% wage increase for continuing care assistants (CCAs) last year combined with a government decision to make tuition and books free for people applying to the CCA program at Nova Scotia Community Colleges has ‘stabilized’ staffing levels at many nursing homes,” reports Jennifer Henderson.


There are currently about 96 vacancies across the province for family doctors. 

“Recruitment is a global challenge and we are competing with every other jurisdiction,” said Suzanne Ley, executive-director of the Office of Healthcare Professional Recruitment. Ley told the committee “a record number of new doctors were recruited last year,” but she did not provide a number nor the net gain to the province after subtracting those who retired or departed. 

Ley promised to find an answer to a question posed by Dartmouth North MLA Susan Leblanc. Leblanc wanted to know how many doctors who began practicing in Nova Scotia three years ago have since given up their practice. 

Click here to read “Nova Scotia gains more CCAs, but recruiting family doctors still a challenge, committee hears.”

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2. Allan Street bikeway

An intersection is shown where drivers have to turn but cyclists can go straight. Cartoon people walk on sidewalks and bike on the road.
A rendering shows a diagonal diverter, similar to what HRM wants to do at Allan and Harvard streets. Credit: NACTO

“Almost five years after councillors approved it, Halifax is now able to finish building its Allan Street bikeway,” reports Zane Woodford:

As part of this bikeway, HRM wanted to build a diagonal diverter at the intersection of Allan and Harvard streets.

That diverter would allow cyclists to travel through the intersection in any direction, but would force drivers to turn. The feature would, as municipal staff put it, “force a left hand turn on approach from Allan Street, and a right hand turn on approach from Harvard Street.”

Some residents of Harvard and Lawrence streets opposed the plan. As the Halifax Examiner reported in August 2018, 20 of them took the municipality to court.

A court hearing was held last year, and Justice Diane Rowe issued her decision Monday, siding with the city.

Click here to read “Halifax wins court battle over Allan Street bikeway.”

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3. Parliamentary hearing on Paper Excellence delayed

Man with grey hair reading aloud from a document on the desk in front of him, with his hands spread in the air, wearing a dark blue suit jacket and tie with a pale blue shirt and a small Ukraine flag folded on his lapel.
NDP MP and natural resources critic Charlie Angus addressing Canada’s minister of natural resources, Jonathan Wilkinson, at the March 21, 2023 meeting of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, and specifically asking questions about Paper Excellence. Credit: Natural Resources (RNNR)

Yesterday, the federal Standing Committee on Natural Resources was scheduled to question four representatives of Paper Excellence about the company’s ownership. As well, other witnesses asked to testify about the issue, including, oddly, Christian Leuprecht, a professor at the Royal Military College of Canada.

But just hours before it was to begin, the meeting was cancelled. We’re told that was because another parliamentary hearing was running late and so the translators were unavailable, but we haven’t been able to verify that. Regardless, the committee hearing will be rescheduled.

Read Joan Baxter’s backgrounder on the issue.

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4. DFO responds

A red and white boat in the water.
Sustainable Marine’s in-stream tidal generator. Credit: Sustainable Marine

“As the Halifax Examiner reported last week, Sustainable Marine Energy (SME) Canada says it is leaving Nova Scotia after a five-year experiment with tidal power near Digby, which included a $28.5 million subsidy from the federal government,” reports Jennifer Henderson:

The CEO for Sustainable Marine Canada, Jason Hayman, blamed the Department of Fisheries & Oceans (DFO) for refusing to grant the company authorization to test the same technology — a single floating platform with several turbines mounted below the water line — at an established demonstration site in the Minas Passage area of the Bay of Fundy near Parrsboro. 

Premier Tim Houston went public with his criticism that the decision was a major setback for the province’s aspirations to develop tidal power as a way to green the grid and get off coal.

On Tuesday, DFO responded to Henderson’s request for comment.

Click here to read “DFO responds to Houston’s complaints that it killed tidal project.”

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5. Herald

A concrete building is seen on a grey day. The sign says "The Law Courts, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Supreme Court of Nova Scotia." There are three flags — two Nova Scotian and one Canadian, in the centre.
The Law Courts in Halifax in February 2020. Photo: Zane Woodford

In March, Gus Richardson, the vice-chair of the Nova Scotia Labour Board, issued a decision siding with the Superintendent of Pensions order that Halifax Herald Limited pay $2,656,656, plus interest into the pension fund, reflecting payments the Herald failed to make in 2018 and 2019.

Members of the Halifax Typographical Union, which represents the Herald’s reporting staff and now-retired reporters, have a blended pension plan, including both defined benefit and defined contribution elements, presumably based on when they were employed.

Ian Scott, the Chief Operating Officer of the Halifax Herald Limited, testified at a hearing held before the board last November. Richardson summarized Scott’s testimony as follows:

The economic and demographic assumptions that underpin pension plans began to change for employers in general, and for newspaper companies in particular, in the first and second decades after 2000.

The 2008 financial crisis; globalization; the rise of the internet; dropping interest rates. All these and more roiled the economy and established business models. Mr Scott testified at length to this impact on the operations and business model of the Herald. As if not more important was a rapid decline in advertising revenue, as advertisers ‘followed the eyes’ from print to digital sources of information. He referenced one study which indicated that net advertising volume for newspapers overall had declined from roughly $3.5 billion to $941 million over the period 2010 to 2020, while advertising over the internet had risen over the same period from less than a billion to $9.624 billion. The share of advertising money going to newspapers in particular over that period had fallen from 28.7% to 6.5%: see, for e.g., Ex. 2, Tab 8. He also pointed to precipitous declines in subscribers, as people turned away from printed newspapers towards online sources of news and information. Delivery costs went up as the subscription numbers went down. He also testified to the ongoing efforts the Herald had been making over the past decade— and continued to make — to pivot from the traditional ‘hard-copy’ delivery of news to the digital realm. All of this took money at a time when revenue streams are drastically declining.

On top of these pressures were the more general economic climate of very low interest rates on investments. Mr Scott testified that the long-time decline in interest rates to historic lows made it all the more difficult for the Plan to maintain its funding requirements.

There was a lot of argument about whether changes in legislation concerning pension funding requirements could be applied retroactively — the Herald said they should, but Richardson said that was a failed reading of the legislation.

The Herald is a private company, and so its finances are not available to the public. I have no idea if it can meet the order to pay $2.6 million (plus interest), but I doubt it.

I do know that the Herald has appealed Richardson’s ruling to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and will make that formal appeal before a judge on June 5.

I’ll have more to say about the particulars of the order, Scott’s testimony, and the evidence after I review it in detail.

It’s awkward reporting on this. As much as I think employees should receive a pension, the Halifax Examiner is in no financial position to offer a pension to its employees. The financial pressures on the Herald are likewise real; in some ways, the benefits the Herald agreed to with the union when the company was flush with cash are another cement tire around the neck of a legacy news operation.

But a promise is a promise, and people made life decisions (including, presumably, accepting early retirement buyouts) based on the promised and legally regulated pensions.

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6.  Little Narrows quarry

Twenty-two people wearing white hard hats stand in front of a very large yellow truck.
This 200-tonne haul truck once operated at the Little Narrows quarry.

CGC Inc. has announced that it will reopen its gypsum mine in Little Narrows. After three years of construction, the mine will produce up to two million tonnes of raw gypsum annually, to be barged to the company’s processing plants in Montreal and elsewhere.

With the exception of some down time during World War 2, the mine operated from 1936 to 2016.

Just before it closed, in 2014, mastodon bones were discovered at the quarry.

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7. Dartmouth shooting

A police release from early this morning:

On May 2nd 2023 at 11:08pm Halifax Regional Police responded to a shooting call on Murray Hill Drive in Dartmouth. One adult male victim was located and transported to hospital in serious condition.

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Stephen Archibald retires from his Jane’s Walks

A man in a baseball cap stands in front of steps leading to a yellow door, as he holds onto an iron structure.
“Here I am caressing the oldest decorative iron downtown, the 1817 railing around Province House,” writes Stephen Archibald of one his Jane’s Walks. Credit: Sheila Stevenson

Stephen Archibald reviews his many years of leading Jane’s Walks, a practice he is now retiring:

I’ve enjoyed my adventures leading Jane’s Walks but last year I realized I’ve aged out and it was time to just savor the presentations of others. Hope to see you during the program this year and in the future.

What made it easy for me as a presenter were the volunteers who handled all the organizing and publicity. During my time I was well handled by Katie McKay, Sam Austin, Peter Ziobrowski, and Emily Miller. We should all be grateful for their service.

And special thanks to Sheila Stevenson who during all of my walks could be heard from the back of the crowd shouting “speak up!”

Archibald has been, and remains, a treasure.

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Now reading

A Brutal Sex Trade Built for American Soldiers” — New York Times reporter Choe Sang-Hun details the decades-long sex trafficking of girls and women in South Korea in brothels and sex clubs serving American soldiers. The sex trade and associated slavery was encouraged by the Korean government and tacitly approved of by the US military. Now aged, the trafficked women are fighting for justice.

THE WOMEN OF AFRICVILLE: Race and Gender in Postwar Halifax” — a 1998 thesis submitted to Queen’s University by Susan Morion-Jean Precious.

Now listening

Mandolin Orange:

YouTube video

Now watching

The International Space Station on Google Street View (toggle around and click on the dots to get descriptions of what you’re looking at).

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Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 12:30pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate and online) — agenda


Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda

Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — Most Recent Accountability Report, Business Plan, Financial Statements, Action Plan and Affordable Housing Initiatives; with representatives from the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Nova Scotia Provincial Housing Agency (formerly Housing Nova Scotia)

On campus

Saint Mary’s

The Poetry of the Dark Side (Thursday, 6pm, SB255, School of Business Building named after a grocery empire) — Jack Mitchell will give the inaugural May the Fourth Lecture on Star Wars and Religion. Refreshments, Star Wars trivia with prizes, and a rare screening; reserve your spot here.

In the harbour

05:00: Northern Jamboree, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Baltimore, Maryland
06:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 41 from St. John’s
10:30: East Coast, oil tanker, sails from Imperial Oil for sea
11:30: Northern Jamboree sails for sea
Midnight: Mediterranean Spirit, bulker, picks up pilot at outer harbour and on to Sheet Harbour

Cape Breton
06:30: Zaandam, cruise ship with up to 1,718 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Charlottetown, on a seven-day cruise from Montreal to Boston
16:00: Radcliffe R. Latimer, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Sydney
16:30: Zaandam sails for Halifax
18:00: Harmonic, oil tanker, arrives at Outer Anchorage (Chedabucto Bay) from Girassol offshore terminal, Angola


You know how “we” are surprised when young people — not just teenagers but those in their 20s and even 30s — show no interest in getting their driver’s licence and don’t even know how to drive? I wonder if people in, say, 1925, were amazed that young people didn’t know how to ride a horse.

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Tim Bousquet

Tim Bousquet is the editor and publisher of the Halifax Examiner. Twitter @Tim_Bousquet Mastodon

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  1. I’m sure there are union types that will call me a sucker, but I’m not sure I’d value a pension plan that wasn’t purely mine, anyway. At least anything less than a defined benefit plan from the government (bankrupt companies can define something all they want).

    So RRSP for me, with the first 5% matched by my employer, locked up until I leave, which I’d never touch, anyway.

    There really is no reason why Examiner couldn’t kick in matching 5% to employees today, or at least, in lue of the next 5% raise. No long term liability, broker handles the details.

  2. What a world we live in where a business can appeal it’s arguable theft of employee benefits to the Supreme Court.

    1. I struggle to understand the argument of Saltwire. If they have a loan or mortgage on the building, why don’t they argue that they cannot pay the bank “’cause things have gone badly.” Pensions are deferred wages and you cannot just “steal them” with impunity. I have no idea why they tink that arguing that things have changed and they don’t have the money only aplies to pension obligations. How about “sorry we cannot pay for paper, or on our bajnk loan.” They are all obligations entered into in better days… There should be enforecable legislation. Pensions First!

    2. So decisions you approve of should be barred from the right to appeal that all litigants enjoy? I assume people would still be allowed to appeal decisions you disapprove of. That would be a great system.