I’m Suzanne Rent  and I’m filling in for Tim this morning. You can follow me on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent


1. Basic income

Evelyn Forget at Basic Income Earth Network conference in 2018. Photo: Andre Coelho 

Erica Butler chatted with Evelyn Forget who wrote Basic Income for Canadians. Forget will one of several speakers be at the Basic Income: The Evidence Speaks conference at the Halifax Central Library tomorrow. Butler’s chat with Forget is a really good rundown of how a basic income in Nova Scotia could look and who would benefit. Forget explains:

I think of a basic income as a way of addressing some of the issues of a changing labour market as well. Some of the data we’re looking at says that 50% of the new jobs that are being created are precarious jobs. Especially young people, they end up working part time jobs or seasonal jobs or contract jobs without the sorts of benefits and continuity that we’d like to see.

And I mean it’s always been true for some people. But what’s happening now, of course, is that these kinds of changes are affecting good, middle class jobs. The kids with PhDs and the kids with Master’s degrees are finding themselves in the same position.

So basic income is both a way of ensuring that people without resources have enough resources to live a reasonable life, and it’s also a top up for people who find themselves working precariously. So the working poor would receive support as well.

I’ll be taking notes and asking questions at the conference,  which runs from 9:30 a.m. until 4 p.m. There’s a free lunch. Other speaks include Kourtney Koebel, Dr. Catherine Mah, and Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard.

You can learn more about Basic Income Nova Scotia and the conference at their Facebook page here. Maybe I’ll see some of you there.

Click here to read “Basic Income basics: No, it’s not impossible.”

2. Dear Prospective Atlantic Schooner players…

“Dear Prospective Atlantic Schooners Football Players,” writes Evelyn C. White:

[The] damning  revelations in the recent Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission Report … underscore the clouds of suspicion that have demeaned, dehumanized, disrespected, humiliated and generally criminalized African Nova Scotians (especially Black men) for generations. Men of African descent who look … like many of you.

Moreover, you should know that Halifax officials paid serious coin to Scot Wortley, a white criminologist from elsewhere to “prove” that Halifax police have abused Blacks; abuse that Blacks have themselves been protesting for generations.

As for the report itself — prospective Atlantic Schooners — here’s a small sampling of what Wortley got told:  “…I was hanging out with some White friends of mine and I yelled over to one of them across the street,” said a Black male in his thirties. “The police stopped and grabbed me while I was standing at a bank machine. They said I was drunk, and they arrested me. I was taken to booking. When they went to release me there was money missing. I came in with $385 and they gave me back only $78. I got mad and told them I wanted my cash back. They took me back to the cells. The incident escalated. The male officer punched me and said, ‘Don’t look at me you fucking nigger.’ The female officer said ‘Who you gunna call? Barack Obama?’ … I had no criminal charges going into this incident. But eleven charges were laid as a result of it. I had to hire a lawyer and spend thousands to get out of this situation and clear my record.”

Click here to read “Dear Prospective Atlantic Schooners Football Players: think twice before coming to racist Halifax.”

3. Inez Rudderham

Inez Rudderham

Premier McNeil says he watched some of the video Inez Rudderham, a young Nova Scotia woman with cancer, posted on her Facebook profile this week. In the video, Rudderham tearfully talks about the cancer diagnosis she received two years ago, after trying to get a family doctor and being turned away from ERs. Now, she’s waiting to get mental-health care to deal with that diagnosis.

This is the face of the health-care crisis in Nova Scotia. I cannot receive help for trauma that I experienced because of this failed system until July.

What about my four-year-old daughter who doesn’t have me there, fully, because I need help and I’m not receiving it?

As of Thursday afternoon, the video had more than 1.6  million views. Andrew Rankin at the Chronicle Herald talks with Rudderham’s aunt, Terry Rudderham.

I felt what many people are feeling after watching that video,” said Terry. “I first felt a lot of love for Inez. I really admire her bravery, of course. But I felt really sad she’s in this situation and also that many, many people in this province are also in this situation.

In his statement, McNeil says he contacted the Nova Scotia Health Authority to connect Rudderham with psychiatric services for oncology patients.

4. Brewsters of Nova Scotia

Jeremy White and Melanie Bock-White of Big Spruce Brewing. Photo from Facebook

Evelyn C. White wrote about the women in the Nova Scotia brewing industry for the Nova Scotia Advocate as a run up to the inaugural Brewster Festival at the Mayflower Curling Club on Saturday.

White learned that Brewster is the historical term for women who brew beer. White talks with a couple of brewsters, including Melanie Bock-White at Big Spruce Brewing in Cape Breton and Kelly Costello, an assistant brewer at Good Robot Brewing Company, which is hosting the Brewster Festival.

Bock-White, a certified beer sommelier, says it’s important to celebrate the women in the industry.

We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. The same folks who understand that [sports] are better when both genders participate now ‘get’ that this perception … spreads to all things. Beer is beer. There is no gender appropriation.

The festival is another way to normalize craft beer as a niche exclusive to no one. If you’re curious about beer … this will be a perfect way to make the happy introduction.

Learn more about the Brewster Festival here.

5. Leafs need to stand up to and shame sexist fans

Lezlie Lowe has a good piece in the Chronicle Herald on what the Toronto Maple Leafs could do to stop the sexist and abhorrent behavior of their fans.

On April 22 CTV Toronto journalist Miranda Anthistle was approached by a Leafs fan who yelled, “f*** her right in the p****”  at her. In a tweet Anthistle says this happens about once a month. This particular fan thought it was hilarious and the Leafs management had a statement saying it doesn’t condone the behaviour. But Lowe says the team and players need to do more.

I’m talking about Auston Matthews calling out these deplorable bros on social media. I’m talking about Nazem Kadri using his next interview to express disdain for the practice. (Let’s face it: he can use the image improvement.) I’m talking about Mike Babcock arranging a press conference solely to announce that fans who target women journalists are unwelcome supporters of the team. That threats of sexualized violence are nothing the Leafs want within a stick’s-distance of their organization.

Stopping this kind of behaviour needs to start when players are kids and their parents are taking their kids to the rink and watching them play from the stands. Parents and coaches can set an example and start calling out sexist, racist, and violent behaviour from the get go. As Lowe says, “sports is a metaphor for life.”

At all levels of play, a golden ticket for learning and practising co-operation, physical literacy and social skill-building. Sport culture also mirrors broader culture. The mores of sport are the mores of our society — and let’s not forget that this includes the broad exclusion of women from high levels of play and coaching. The denigration of skill in women’s leagues. Lower salaries and fewer sponsorship opportunities.


1. Keeping the commute close to home

Tuesday morning, I was driving downtown from Fairview and headed over that ramp toward the Windsor Street Exchange, the one on which two lanes form during rush hour, yet no one seems to know where to go when they get to the exchange itself. As I was attempting to safely change lanes in that bungle of vehicles, I wondered how many of those drivers needed to be on the road at all.

We talk a lot about getting people on the bus or on bicycles as ways to reduce the number of cars on the road, and we need to do that. But maybe some people don’t even need to leave their homes get to work.

More people are telecommuting or self-employed and working from home.

Suzanne working from home (not exactly as shown)

I first started working from home when my daughter was an infant.  It wasn’t always easy trying to manage a baby, phone calls, writing, and deadlines. But it was a pretty good option at the time. I’m  sure we saved thousands of dollars on childcare and I liked the flexibility.

I started working mostly from home again about a year ago. Most of the time, I get to work in my own space with natural light and fresh air. Sometimes I work from my balcony. I have the freedom to put my work aside and get my daughter at school or go for groceries in the afternoon. I don’t have coworkers standing in the cubicle next to me whispering about office politics. I am saving time on commuting and money on gas. I have a social outlet through the interviews I do or places where I volunteer. I can work in my pyjamas if I feel like it. And even though I am often working or looking for work, I don’t have nearly the amount of stress I’ve had in previous years.

But that’s working from home and self-employment, which is different than telecommuting when you’re employed by someone else.

I found this list of pros and cons of telecommuting compiled by Global Workplace Analytics from about 4,000 studies. The pros include reduced traffic and accidents, increased employee satisfaction, reduced attrition, increased productivity, saving employers money, reduced potential for discrimination, and opening the workforce to marginalized groups.

This bit stood out to me:

75% of managers say they trust their employee, but a third say they’d like to be able to see them, just to be sure.

Why are managers hiring people they can’t trust? What does this say about management’s ability to find the right staff? And how is an employee’s work affected if they know their boss doesn’t trust them, regardless of where they work? Lack of trust and micromanaging are horrible ways to run a workplace whether you’re working in an office or at home.

Other arguments against include zoning issues, concerns about taxation and employment law, and issues around the security of data.

Telecommuting or working from home is not for everyone. It can lead to depression and feelings of isolation, which CBC reports in this article from Wednesday. According to Paula Allen, vice-president of research for Morneau Shepell, mental health claims and isolation are increasing at work and in our personal lives.

Isolation impacts everything with respect to health. It impacts mental health, and the risk of depression, and it impacts anxiety and people’s personal well-being. It also impacts physical health. The strain that state puts on you has been associated with cardiovascular disease and immune system disease.

I’m curious to know how many of those mental health disability claims were caused by stress in workplaces in actual offices. My guess is those are on the rise, too.

This same CBC report says 12.6 per cent of Canadians work from home and more organizations have telecommuting policies, including Dalhousie University and the federal Public Service.

Telecommuting should be part of work life in our cities. More transit, more people on bikes, and more people working from home, if it works for them and their employers, of course. Maybe there can be incentives for employers — you know, the ones who trust their employees, who encourage them to telecommute. And where would people choose to live if they knew they could work from home? That might shape how our communities looked.

Of course, fewer people working downtown means fewer people headed out for lunches at downtown restaurants or to bars for after-work drinks. But maybe those people will choose to spend that time closer to home, with family, volunteering in their communities, or having a drink on their own patios.

The future of work is changing and maybe it will look closer to home for answers.


1. #HelpHerForAdsum

Photo: Andy Bowers

Yesterday, I muted the words on Twitter connected to a certain trial taking place in the city. I won’t mention it here, but will say there was some good that came out of it. Andy Bowers, who holds The Andy Vent Calendar every December to raise funds for Feed Nova Scotia, started the #HelpHerForAdsum campaign and raised $2,230 for the women’s shelter in Halifax. The campaign closed yesterday, but you can still donate directly to Adsum House for Women and Children.

2. Tick talk

Blacklegged tick

I’ve been noticing a lot of tick talk lately. Of course, it’s spring and people want to get outside, and they’re noticing and more aware of blacklegged ticks, which spread Lyme disease. Nova Scotia is a hot spot for Lyme disease. The first case was diagnosed here in 2002 and the number of reported cases has been increasing ever since.

I first wrote about Lyme disease back in 2013. I spoke with Donna Lugar who lives in Bedford, one of the hot spots and close to Admiral’s Cove where the disease-carrying ticks were found in 2006; she was diagnosed with Lyme. She’s also the director Nova Scotia branch of CanLymeNow. I noticed more discussion and articles on it since then and know a couple of people who were diagnosed with Lyme. Lugar says there are more ticks now but also more information and knowledge, although it she says it depends on the doctor you see.

“A lot of the people I know of who are treating Lyme, they themselves had it and went through hell to get diagnosed and get well, or they have a family member who had it and suffered,” Lugar says.

Lyme is known for the bull’s-eye rash, but not everyone gets the bulls’-eye rash. Lugar says about 20 to 30 % of people with Lyme will get the bull’s-eye rash and about 80 % won’t get any kind of rash at all.

“Most people don’t see the tick,” Lugar says. “It feeds, falls off and then you have all these symptoms.”

The Department of Health and Wellness has the numbers on reported cases of Lyme disease. In 2013, when I first met Lugar, there were 156 reported cases. In 2018, there were 438 cases of Lyme disease, according to the Tick Borne Diseases Response Plan. Still, Lugar says that misses a lot of cases.

Check out this map that shows that most of the province is at higher risk for Lyme disease. Moderate risk areas include Guysborough County, while Cape Breton was mainly low risk, except for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

“We know the whole province is at risk,” Lugar says.

The ticks are more active in the spring and the fall when it’s damp, so they have been enjoying the rain this past week. They’re less active in the heat of the summer, although they’re still around.

So, what can you do about the ticks? Lugar says don’t use Vaseline to remove or smother ticks. Get fine-tipped tweezers to remove the tick and don’t squish its body with the tweezers.

You can get tick removal kits at the Canadian Lyme Disease Foundation or Atlantick, a Nova Scotian firm.

Lugar says even dental floss works in an emergency.

“Sometimes the ticks are so small it’s hard to get under them with any kind of thickness,” Lugar says.

Tuck your pants into your socks and wear light-coloured clothing. If you’re in the woods a lot, there’s Permethrin-treated clothing (it’s not good for cats, though). Constantly brush yourself off and put your hair in a ponytail. Lugar says when you get home, put your clothes in a dryer on high heat for about 20 minutes. That will kill the ticks. Have a shower and do a thorough tick check, maybe with a buddy. If you have pets, check them, too. Lugar says vets in the province are talking about ticks year-round now, encouraging owners to check their pets often.

“It’s pretty much impossible to avoid ticks,” Lugar says.  “If you have pets, they could be bringing them in.”

City Hall will be lit up in lime green on May 1 to start Lyme Awareness Month. And on Saturday May 4 Lugar is hosting a Lyme information session at C.P. Allen High School at 200 Innovation Drive in Bedford.


No public meetings.

On campus



SURGE Launch Oceans Event (Friday, 5pm, SURGE Sandbox, Life Sciences Centre) — a weekend-long event.

8th Annual Harmony and Hope Concert (Friday, 7:30pm, Faith Tabernacle, 6225 Summit Street, Halifax) — A concert for cancer research, featuring Charlie A’Court, Dalhousie Health Professions Chorale, and Bedford Brass Quintet. Tickets $30/ $20, available here.

In the harbour

03:00: Ef Ava, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for Portland

Acadian. Photo: Halifax Examiner Credit: Halifax Examiner

04:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea
04:30: CMA CGM Ivanhoe, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Colombo, Sri Lanka
04:30: Elka Glory, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Irving Oil
05:45: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Autoport from St. John’s
06:00: ZIM Yokohama, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Valencia, Spain
07:00: Lomur, cargo ship, moves from Bedford Basin anchorage to Fairview Cove
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling moves to Pier 36
15:00: JSP Levante, cargo ship, arrives at Pier 31 from Moa, Cuba
15:30: NS Pride, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Antwerp
16:30: ZIM Yokohama sails for New York

05:30: Faust, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
10:00: MOL Paradise, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
16:00: Ance, oil tanker, arrives at anchorage from Houston
18:00: MOL Paradise, sails for New York
21:00: Faust, car carrier, sails for New York


If you’re a freelancer in the city, working from home and need to get out and about, I’m up for meeting.

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

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  1. The premier watched “some” of the video? I know he is busy, but it’s under 5 minutes long.

    1. Dicks is a common surname. Cox is a common name. I have a photo of a business in Clarenville with a sign above the door ‘F U’ ,( belonged to Fishermans Union). The Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker is no longer in business.
      The surname prudes in Nova Scotia should be ignored and/or parodied. And banned from vacationing in Ko Phuket ( we used to laugh every time we passed by the place, but that was in the ’60s when prudes were pilloried across the media )