1. Health care money

A white man with short grey hair and wearing a blue suit with a purple tie.
Premier Tim Houston speaks with reporters after the health care summit on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023. Credit: Jennifer Henderson

“Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston called Tuesday’s federal-provincial meeting on health care funding ‘productive,'” reports Jennifer Henderson:

Although many details remain to be discussed ⁠— and no final agreement has been signed between Ottawa and the provinces ⁠— Houston said proposed agreements will see $154 million in new money put into the Nova Scotia health care system this year, 2023-2024. 

Houston indicated the province expects to receive an additional $102 million a year for the next few years through a new bilateral agreement between Nova Scotia and Ottawa that is separate from the core Canada Health and Social Transfer (CHST) annual funding. 

That $52 million would flow to Nova Scotia as a one-time top up to the CHST for this year only. 

Click here to read “Proposed agreement between feds, province will mean $154 million for health care in Nova Scotia.”

2. Security deposit

A two-storey building with beige siding, white trim, and a red brick front, and white doors. There's a large paved parking lot out front.
Apartments at Melody Lane in Lantz. Credit: Suzanne Rent

“A Hants County resident who paid an illegal security deposit for an apartment in Lantz is taking the landlord to small claims court to get her money back after the landlord didn’t show up for the residential tenancy hearing,” reports Suzanne Rent:

As the Halifax Examiner reported in January, Nicoline Wyszynski paid a deposit for an apartment in Lantz.

Wyszynski attended the residential tenancy hearing on Jan. 24, however neither Fabrizi or Ritchie showed up.

“I’m not surprised, but still pissed off,” Wyszynski said in an interview with the Halifax Examiner on Tuesday. 

The residential tenancy officer, Sheila Briand, awarded Wyszynski the $600 for the security deposit, $1694.50 for storage fees she incurred, and $31.15 for the application fee. Wyszynski now has to go to small claims to get the money back. She said Abruzzi Properties didn’t appeal the decision. 

Wyszynski said she now has to fill out all the paperwork, take it to the sheriff’s office, and pay the fee. She said while it’s a lot of work, she keeps going through the process because she said the money she’s owed is hers. 

… “I am tired of landlords, pardon my language, shitting on potential tenants.”…

“I really want the government to step down on these landlords and do something about it. It’s not fair to the people who are working and with the economy the way it is, they’re stealing money from us,” she said. 

Click here to read “‘Just keep fighting:’ tenant wins back security deposit after landlord a no-show at hearing.”

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3. $16 million for travel nurse

five smiling people
Credit: NSGEU

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Nova Scotia Health paid $16.3 million to nursing agencies that supply travel nurses between Apr. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022.

On Tuesday, the Examiner published part of an open letter from nurses working in the Emergency Department of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, the largest hospital in the region.

Nurses face disciplinary action by the College of Nurses if they speak out publicly about working conditions, so the letter to the premier and health minister was signed by Hugh Gillis, a vice-president with the Nova Scotia Government Employees Union (NSGEU). 

The letter described “a revolving door” of RNs at the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department where experienced RNs continue to leave because they are tired of working short-handed and the young nurses arriving to replace them don’t stay because (1) they can’t be properly mentored and worry they will make a medical error that costs them their licence or (2) they have flown in from other provinces to work on a 12-month contract as “travel nurses” for a private nursing agency that pays their rent/airfare and provides wages up to $70 to $80 an hour. 

“Our nurses are looking at the travel nurses making double their pay,” said Gillis. “So to people on the front lines, that’s a very mixed message. How can the government say it is focussed on recruitment and retention when it is paying people working side-by-side double?”

The NSGEU claims none of the government’s emergency department changes announced three weeks ago following a “health care summit” after two tragic deaths address the situation where the biggest hospital emergency department is running with only 60% of its complement of nurses. Nova Scotia Health has neither confirmed nor denied that statement. 

Nova Scotia Health has been paying agencies to supply travel nurses and other temporary health care workers to hospitals across the province where staff vacancies are high. There are 1,200 vacant positions for nurses in Nova Scotia and competition — and poaching —across North America is fierce.

How much has Nova Scotia Health been paying private nursing companies? The answer was more than a week in coming but on Tuesday senior communications advisor Brendan Elliott said Nova Scotia Health paid $16.3 million between Apr. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022 to nursing agencies that supply travel nurses. That was only for a nine-month period.

The RNs employed by the province working overtime and being denied vacation at the Halifax Infirmary Emergency Department think they deserve some of those millions. 

They are begging the government to do what it did to retain continuing care assistants (CCAs) in nursing homes. Give them more money to keep them from quitting. Through Gillis, they suggest paying retention bonuses and shift differentials when working short-handed and caring for a higher number of patients. 

Act now, said the union rep, if you want to stop the bleeding of local nurses into other health care jobs, where the work-life balance is better.

A white man with dark glasses and a blue suit
Hugh Gillis Credit: NSGEU

“The government’s initiatives to add more nursing seats at universities and community colleges is great,” said Gillis. “But that’s down the road. What we need is immediate incentives to retain our nurses to keep working in the emergency department. And to bring back some of the experienced people who have left. It’s as simple as that.”

Contract negotiations with both the 3,600 nurses employed by the NSGEU and the much larger Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union representing nurses across the province begin later this month. The NSNU has also been vocal about the need to pay its nurses retention bonuses. Bargaining for better wages and working conditions often lasts a year and, at a minimum, a few months.

Nurses at the Emergency Department at the region’s biggest hospital are telling the government they can’t hang in there long enough to wait. They’re preparing to vote with their feet.

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4. Black health professionals

A Black woman smiling calmly, wearing a gold wrapped headscarf, red framed glasses, and bold silver jewelry.
Reverand Phyllis Marsh-Jarvis. Credit: Contributed

“A memorial scholarship for Black students studying health professions has been established in the name of a community and health advocate who was also the first woman in Nova Scotia ordained by the African Orthodox Church,” reports Matthew Byard:

The Health Association of African Canadians (HAAC) will host a free hybrid event Saturday, Feb. 11 at noon at the Black Cultural Centre in Cherry Brook, and virtually on Zoom, where they will announce the two inaugural recipients of the Phyllis Marsh-Jarvis Memorial Scholarship.

[Archy Beals, chair of HAACs scholarship committee] said Marsh-Jarvis was still working with and advocating for HAAC when she passed away in 2021.

In 2015 Marsh-Jarvis became the first woman in Nova Scotia ordained by the African Orthodox Church. In 2016, she took over as rector at St. Philip’s African Orthodox Church in Whitney Pier where her mentor, Father Vincent Waterman, had served. 

Her June 2021 obituary said, among many accolades, that Marsh-Jarvis started a seniors’ activity program at St. Philips, and served as a board member on the Community United for Black Education, The African Nova Scotian Service Provider Network, Aids Coalition, and other organizations. 

“[HAAC] wanted to honour the legacy of Reverend Mother Phyllis, and because of her work with the association, and where she was all about education and all about bettering yourself, so this was the perfect opportunity to remember her legacy by naming the scholarship in her honour,” Beals said.

Click here to read “Scholarship named in honour of health advocate to be awarded to Black students in Nova Scotia.”

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5. HRM is selling off parks

An overhead satellite image shows an existing school on the left, a sports field in the centre, and a proposed school drawn in yellow on the right, with parking and a bus loop.
A concept showing the proposed new school next to Park West School. Credit: HRM/HRCE

This morning, Zane Woodford has two articles about the city’s sale of established parks for development reasons.

The first involves parkland behind Park West School in Clayton Park. As the area was built out in the 1990s, developers were required to give parkland to the city, to accommodate the growing population in the new subdivisions. This included three parcels, totalling about 4.25 hectares, “which are now a mostly forested and used for informal trails,” explains Woodford.

The province built the school in 2000 to accommodate the same growing population.

But there’s been so much development in the area recently that the school can’t handle all the kids, so the province wants to build a three-storey addition to the school on the adjacent parkland. Halifax council has obliged. Of course, this leaves even less parkland for an even greater population.

Click here to read “Halifax council approves parkland sale for new Park West School.”

Woodford’s second article is about the sale of “a sliver” — 221.7 square metres — of Penhorn Lake Park to Clayton Developments and Crombie REIT for the redevelopment of the old Penhorn Mall site in Dartmouth, “just weeks after run-off from their project filled the lake with silt.”

Apparently, the developers laid out a street grid that included property they didn’t own, and it’s too much ado to reconfigure the street grid, so Halifax council has once again obliged.

Click here to read “Council agrees to sell sliver of Dartmouth parkland to Penhorn Mall property developer.”

It’s hard to critique the province for (in the case of Owls Head) contemplating or (in the case of West Mabou Beach Park) not yet contemplating the sale of provincial parkland and remain silent when the city sells off parkland willy-nilly to developers, including the same province.

Sure, the acreage is small, but we either have parks or we don’t. Over the decades, both the Dartmouth Common and the Halifax Common have shrunk in size as publicly owned land has been sold off for private development, among other uses. And the municipality seems intent on continuing the process. Parkland should be inviolable.

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6. Is ‘green hydrogen’ the next Crypto?

This aerial view of the Point Tupper site shows a rendering of EverWind's project facilities in phase one and phase two (imagine contributed by 3D Wave)
Rendering of EverWind’s Point Tupper hydrogen project (contributed by 3D Wave)

Yesterday, Tim Halman, the minister of Environment and Climate Change, approved the Environmental Assessment for Phase 1 of the EverWind ‘Green Hydrogen’ plant in Point Tupper, even though neither the company nor the province can explain in plain language where the ‘green’ energy that will supposedly power the plant will come from.

I’ve recently started getting spam for green hydrogen investment opportunities, which look a whole lot like the spam for crypto currency investment opportunities I was getting a year ago. I’m struck by the parallels between the two.

Both purport to solve a problem — in the case of crypto, an allegedly overly regulated monetary system, and in the case of green hydrogen, climate change. Both rely on fancy new technology that not a lot of people can understand but promises to revolutionize the world. Both are said to be so important that governments must upend established regulatory systems, and in the case of green hydrogen, subsidize with enormous amounts of public money.

But if you open the hood and take a look, you see mostly baseless promises hawked by people who stand to make billions of dollars, if only the rest of us would unquestioningly believe hard enough.

I’ll say again what I said Monday: the EverWind “green hydrogen” plant will at least initially (and probably for many years) take power from the existing grid. The Halifax Examiner has repeatedly tried to crunch the numbers on this, and we’ve been unable to come to any end game when EverWind actually produces enough new renewable power, over and above what will be needed by Nova Scotia Power’s customers, to power its operations.

But if you shuffle the cards just so, and view the loaded deck through a funhouse mirror and high-priced PR professionals’ smoke, green hydrogen is just the trick to solve all the world’s climatic problems. Invest now!

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7. $3.52 million to replace the Jubilee Road bridge

A roadway with sidewalks as it proceeds over a bridge with railings on either side. On the left, a woman walks on the sidewalk.
A woman walks across the Jubilee Road bridge. Credit: Google Street View

The Jubilee Road bridge across the railcut is cost $3.52 million to replace.

The bridge is the next in line for replacement — the Quinpool Road bridge was recently replaced.

Costs of the bridge replacements are shared by the city, Halifax Water, and CN, but in this case the bulk of the costs — $2.67 million — will be assumed by Halifax Water.

“Due to the nature of the work to rehabilitate the concrete bridge arch, it is not possible to maintain the existing water and wastewater pipes during construction or to reinstate the existing wastewater pipes in their existing size and layout once the bridge work is complete,” wrote Louis de Montbrun, the acting CEO of Halifax Water, in a letter to the Utility and Review Board. “During construction, a temporary wastewater pipe supported by a temporary utility bridge will maintain wastewater service whereas the watermain can be temporarily taken out of service, removed and capped with minimal impact to adjacent customers. After bridge work is complete, the watermain and modified wastewater pipes are to be reinstalled over the CN bridge and the temporary pipe and utility bridge removed.”

The Halifax Water Board approved the expenditure on Jan. 26, and pending approval of the UARB, construction will presumably begin soon.

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8. Nathan Brown

A Halifax police release from yesterday:

The suspicious death of a man that occurred this weekend in Dartmouth has been ruled a homicide.

On February 4 at approximately 11:20 p.m. police responded to a report of a shooting on Lahey Road. Officers located a man outside of a residence who had been shot. The man was pronounced deceased at the scene.  

The Nova Scotia Medical Examiner Service conducted an autopsy yesterday and has ruled the manner of death to be a homicide. The victim has been identified as 36-year-old Nathaniel Maurice Brown. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones during this difficult time.

Members from the Special Investigations Section of the Integrated Criminal Investigation Division are continuing to investigate the case. At this time, investigators do not believe that this was a random incident.

Investigators are asking anyone with information about Nathaniel’s murder or video from the area, who has not yet spoken with police, to call 902-490-5020. 

My understanding is that Brown was not the intended target of the shooting but was rather shot by a “stray bullet.”

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Budget Committee (Wednesday, 9:30am, City Hall and online) — agenda

Land Lease Community Project (Wednesday, 6:30pm, Sackville Heights Community Centre) — scheduled in event of inclement weather on Feb. 1


Land Lease Community Project (Thursday, 6:30pm, Chocolate Lake Rec Centre) — snow date for Feb. 6 meeting


Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place and online) — Nova Scotia Farm Loan Boardand Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board – Annual Report, Financial Statements and Business Plan; with representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, and Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board

On campus



Etuaptmumk: Two-Eyed Seeing – Transforming Education (Wednesday, 6pm, online) — a virtual conversation between Elder Albert Marshall and Richard Kroeker; info and registration here

Naturally deadly: A toxicologist’s take on foraging and gardening (Wednesday, 7pm, online) — Dalhousie Mini Medical School

Not Now, Not Yet. Build Your Own Lockdown (Wednesday, 7:30pm, David Mac Murray Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — a Devised Theatre Production until Feb. 11


Fitting African Centred Perspectives into Social Work Practice (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — panel discussion with Querida Quarshie, Talisa Boland, Chidiebere Maduakolam, Ayeshah Ali, and moderator Terrence Lewis; info and registration here

A Human Rights-based Approach to the New Treaty on Plastic Pollution (Thursday, 7pm, online) — Marcos A Orellana, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Toxics and Human Rights, will talk

Not Now, Not Yet. Build Your Own Lockdown (Thursday, 7:30pm, David Mac Murray Theatre, Dal Arts Centre) — a Devised Theatre Production until Feb. 11



No events


Portia White: A Vibrant Presence (Thursday, 7pm, KTS Lecture Hall) — video screening and panel discussion with George Elliott Clarke, Afua Cooper, Sylvia Hamilton, Sheila White, Abena Beloved Green, and Dawn Harwood Jones; refreshments provided

In the harbour

04:00: Algoma Integrity, bulker, moves from anchorage to Gold Bond
07:30: HMCS Ville de Québec, frigate, moves from Shipyard to Graving Dock

Cape Breton
17:00: Algoma Vision, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry
17:00: CSL Metis, bulker, moves from Anchorage F (in Chedabucto Bay) to Aulds Cove quarry


I was invited to speak with a class of journalism students over at King’s College yesterday. For an hour or so I rambled on about reporting war stories, forgot people’s names, and used a bunch of swear words. The students were forgiving, or at least tolerant, and asked good questions with an energy and enthusiasm I vaguely recall from my earlier years, like say 2019. The kids are alright.

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

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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  1. Using temporary employees, even when the cost is higher, has been a government accounting trick for years. It lets governments claim they are being fiscally responsible by holding the line on staffing and wages, while they hope the short-term costs don’t get out of control, and the long-term costs are someone else’s problem. Those long term costs are not just financial – temporary employees may enjoy higher income, but they have no job security. Mortgages and even renting may be harder to arrange, and people on a treadmill of temporary assignments (nursing and otherwise) may be less willing to commit to a community, start families, and so on. Even when temp workers remain in the same town, assignment to different facilities means loss of institutional knowledge, making workplaces less efficient. Temp workers also weaken unions, which some governments see as a benefit, and the private agencies that supply temp workers make profits, which leave the city, and often the country, but which do benefit investors. (For example,

  2. “Nurses face disciplinary action by the College of Nurses if they speak out publicly about working conditions”. As a retired nurse who at one time was involved with the College of Nurses of NS, I find this hard to believe. Has any nurse actually been investigated or discipline for speaking out publicly about working conditions? I would say this is part of the nurse’s professional responsibility to advocate for her colleagues and for patient safety.

  3. Travel nurses I spoke with earn $70-$80 per hour, as do others at competing private agencies. Many have less than 5 years experience. RNs employed by Nova Scotia Health top out at $43 an hour, including those with 25 years experience. As I reported Tues, most travel nurses do not receive health or pension benefits from their private employer, as Colin May points out. Still leaves quite a gap.

  4. A regular nurse working for the province will receive a salary, and the employer will ,pay CPP and EI and contribute to a pension plan and contribute to a health and dental plan. The total cost of a private nurse is not twice the cost of a nurse employed by a health authority. A union should cease misleading journalists and the public.

    1. So, Colin, your hypothesis seems to be that $70 -$80 per hour is not as expensive (or not nearly as expensive) as those super expensive unionized nurses. Let’s test that hypothesis:
      Maximum Employer paid portion of CPP contributions are $3,754.45 per year.
      Maximum Employer paid portion of EI contributions are $1403.43 per year.
      So……those pesky overpaid unionized nurses are costing the hard working tax payers $5,157.88 a year in employer paid CPP and EI benefits.
      So……$5,157.88 per year divided by 52 weeks, divided by 40 hours per week = $2.48 per hour of employer paid CPP and EI contributions.
      So…….if you subtract the $2.48 per hour employee paid CPP and EI deductions from a $70 per hour private nursing fee, the remaining sum is $67.52.
      So……if you subtract the $43.00 per hour wage from the $67.52, the province is still paying $24.52 more per hour for the private nurses.
      Not sure what defined benefit contributions would be but I’m pretty sure they don’t exceed the $24.52 per hour that is being charged to the province.
      It’s funny how the narrative that ‘unions are ripping off the taxpayer’ changes when your actually try to look at the facts.

      1. If he travel nurses are being paid $70-80, then their hourly cost to NS Health would be much higher than that because it would also have to cover the costs incurred by the agencies that supply the nurses (recruiting costs, travel and living costs, etc) and a profit margin for the agencies. The differential on cost to NS Health for hiring travel nurses instead of staff nurses could easily be twice what you estimate based on their wages.

        1. Maybe nursing is different but when I was an engineer I got billed out to other companies at about 2.5x my salary.

          So a nurse that is being billed out at (conservatively) $160 an hour, working 48 hours a week is costing ~$8000 a week, or the same amount the average Nova Scotian pays in both federal and provincial taxes. This isn’t sustainable.