1. Alternative budget
“A report released Wednesday says it’s possible to be fiscally responsible while also addressing Nova Scotia’s most pressing problems and ensuring no one is left behind,” reports Yvette d’Entremont.
The alternative budget report was published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) on Wednesday, a week before the Progressive Conservative government tables its March 23 provincial budget.
Released during an online press conference, Nova Scotia Alternative Budget 2023: Leave No One Behind is a collaborative project involving multiple stakeholders ranging from non-profit and frontline service organizations to academics.
Dealing with the province’s health care crisis, addressing social and economic inequalities, transformational climate funding, and spending on the next generation are the alternative budget’s top priorities.
“It really is about ensuring that we hold our government to account for the choices that they do make and that they will make next week,” CCPA-NS director and report co-author Christine Saulnier told reporters.
“Our alternative budget really does raise that bar. It shows what we could expect from them. We could expect them to actually reduce poverty in a very significant way. Including for children, but not just. These are the expectations that we want to lay out in a way that’s very pragmatic.”
“No one at Nova Scotia’s finance department would confirm if Michelin asked for a subsidy as a pre-condition for expanding production at its tire plant in Bridgewater. But a look back at the discussion in the legislature when politicians passed Bill 227 to expand the Capital Investment Tax Credit may offer some insight,” reports Jennifer Henderson.
Final reading and passage of the bill took place after 5pm on November 9, 2022.
The amendment to the Financial Measures Act — usually debated following the introduction of a provincial budget — increased the tax credit from 15% to 25% of a company’s investment in new equipment. It also increased the subsidy from $30 million to $100 million.
Liberal leader Zach Churchill questioned why the change to the tax credit was backdated to the previous month of October.
“Right now, we haven’t been given any rationale for why there’s backdating on this, and that would make one wonder what the reason for that is. If there is a current deal or a promise that happened before this legislation has actually passed, certainly I think the House and Nova Scotians should know what that is,” Churchill said on November 9.
On Wednesday, the province announced it was spending $12 million for transitional modular housing for health care workers and skilled tradespeople in communities where there’s a shortage of housing. The regions include Cumberland, Antigonish, Guysborough, Inverness, South Shore, and Colchester.
“We’re working hard to recruit and retain healthcare workers and other skilled tradespeople. We simply can’t afford to have that work impacted by a lack of available housing,” said Colton LeBlanc, acting Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said in the news release. “This added investment will help to quickly get more housing into communities where supply is limited.”
In January, the province announced it was spending $8 million on modular housing for health care workers in communities across Nova Scotia.
The Housing Trust of Nova Scotia will administer the money and the logistics of the housing projects. The housing is expected to be ready for the summer.
“A new report on accusations of sexual assault against a former professor at the University of King’s College in Halifax has revealed additional incidents and recommends that the university apologize to victims and settle any legal actions,” reports Frances Willick at CBC.
In 2021, longtime professor Wayne John Hankey was charged with sexual assault, gross indecency and indecent assault involving three male complainants for incidents that they allege occurred between 1977 and 1988.
Hankey died in 2022, just a month before the first trial was scheduled to take place. He had pleaded not guilty to all charges.
After the first criminal complainant came forward, King’s hired two lawyers at Toronto firm Rubin Thomlinson to lead an independent, third-party review of the allegation. The scope later broadened to include other accusations.
“Dr. Hankey engaged in a pattern of predatory and abusive behaviour towards some young men,” the final report says. “We became aware of numerous incidents which ranged from subtle solicitation, sexual suggestion, homophobic remarks, to sexual assault.”
As Willick writes, the report details incidents that span decades, but many other incidents that were “possible they occurred.” Eighty-one people were interviewed by the investigators over 110 hours. The report said University of King’s College is not only accountable for the abuse, but it also protected Hankey.
William Lahey, the university’s president, apologized to victims during a public address on Wednesday.
To the men who have been harmed by Dr. Hankey’s reprehensible behaviour and the university’s inaction to spare you from it, I apologize to you, deeply, sincerely and publicly. We apologize for what was done to you and for the university’s past failure to address Dr. Hankey’s behaviour properly and fully.
“We failed to protect you, we failed to believe you and we are sorry.”
5. Doctors retiring from practice
Skye Bryden-Blom at Global Halifax has this story about two doctors at a family clinic in Spryfield who are leaving their practice, saying they are “on the verge of burnout.”
Dr. Margaret Rowicka and Dr. Mary O’Neill, who work at the Spryfield Family Medicine clinic, say they will both retire in April. That will leave 4,000 more Nova Scotians without a family doctor. Bryden-Blom writes:
The doctors say despite their best efforts, their calls for support have gone unanswered.
“We are basically swamped, we are exhausted, we’re on the verge of burnout,” says Dr. Rowicka.
“I’m actually retiring earlier than I thought. I can’t continue to do it. My family, my personal life is suffering, and I just have to leave because without any help this is not sustainable.”
Brendan Maguire, the MLA for Halifax Atlantic where the doctors’ clinic is located, told Bryden-Blom he’s working with Nova Scotia Health to get more resources for the community.
The premier has said he’ll spend and do whatever it takes but what we’re seeing now is that family clinics are shutting down because they’re not getting the help and the resources they need.
That will add thousands more Nova Scotians to the Need a Family Practice Registry. As of March 1, the number on that list is now at 137,587.
Kids whose childhoods were made into social media ‘content’ are starting to speak out
Back in August 2020, I wrote this Morning File about “sharenting,” the concept of parents sharing — and especially oversharing — information about their children on social media.
There’s a range of what parents share about their children. That goes from parents posting birthday or graduation photos to celebrities sharing and profiting off every detail of their children’s lives.
I suspected then that the kids of social media influencers and YouTube stars whose childhoods had been shared online would eventually come forward to talk.
Well, it looks like that’s starting to happen.
Fortesa Latifi at Teen Vogue wrote this article, Influencer Parents and the Kids Who Had Their Childhoods Made Into Content, and interviewed Claire (not her real name), who, along with her family, are stars on YouTube.
Claire’s life has been on social media since she was a toddler. Her family’s YouTube channel has more than a billion views. But Claire, now a teenager, told Latifi that she’d prefer that none of those videos or content exist. She also said as soon as she turns 18, she’s going no-contact with her parents because of all of this. Latifi writes:
Claire, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, has never known a life that doesn’t include a camera being pointed in her direction. The first time she went viral, she was a toddler. When the family’s channel started to rake in the views, Claire says both her parents left their jobs because the revenue from the YouTube channel was enough to support the family and to land them a nicer house and new car. “That’s not fair that I have to support everyone,” she said. “I try not to be resentful but I kind of [am].” Once, she told her dad she didn’t want to do YouTube videos anymore and he told her they would have to move out of their house and her parents would have to go back to work, leaving no money for “nice things.”
When the family is together, the YouTube channel is what they talk about. Claire says her father has told her he may be her father, but he’s also her boss. “It’s a lot of pressure,” she said. When Claire turns 18 and can move out on her own, she’s considering going no-contact with her parents. Once she doesn’t live with them anymore, she plans to speak out publicly about being the star of a YouTube channel. She’ll even use her real name. Claire wants people to know how her childhood was overshadowed by social media stardom that she didn’t choose. And she wants her parents to know: “nothing they do now is going to take back the years of work I had to put in.”
Long before social media was around, we heard the tragic tales of child stars and their stage parents. So, children wanting to cut their parents out of their lives like this is not new. What is new, however, is social media and the speed at which children’s lives can be shared online.
There are no laws protecting children whose families put every detail of their childhoods online. The children of influencers and other social media stars are working for free. France is ahead of us on this. The country introduced a new law in 2020 that will provide protections for child influencers under the French labour code similar to those protections already given to child models and actors.
I did a quick search and there are dozens of families who make a living from their own YouTube channels. I’ve never heard of most as these aren’t shows I’d follow. But parents don’t even have to be famous to over share about their children online. Everyday families share a lot about their kids, including embarrassing photos, details about their health, or issues the kids may be having at school.
Some of the most horrendous social media “content” I’ve seen being shared by parents involves them playing pranks on their children. Over the years, the stunts include tossing a cheese slice at your toddler’s face or pouring or spraying water at them, all while filming their reactions to post on social media. Another prank on TikTok called #ghostprank has parents locking their children in dark rooms with some sort of creepy filter that terrifies the kids.
The most recent prank making the rounds has parents smearing a handful of Nutella, the chocolate-hazelnut spread, on something like a roll of toilet paper and then asking their child to pick up that item. They convince the children the Nutella is feces. Again, the toddlers’ reactions are filmed and posted on social media for likes and laughs. You will have to believe me when I say parents are doing this because I won’t share links to the videos here. As you can imagine, the children being pranked in these videos are upset, crying, and scared.
This is all incredibly atrocious, mean, and downright bullying behaviour on the part of parents. Children implicitly trust their parents and playing such pranks and then filming it for public consumption is destroying that trust.
Kids, of course, love humour, telling jokes, and being goofy. Watching kids play with humour is one of the best things about being a parent. In December, Rachael Sharman at The Conversation had this article about children and pranks and what’s appropriate. I like this tip she offers on age-appropriate pranks:
“Punching down,” or playing a prank that makes the prankee look foolish or causes them embarrassment might not be taken well. And it might look distasteful to onlookers. Choose a prank you know you will both find funny, or that makes you the butt of the joke as well as the child.
Parents have to be thoughtful about what they share about their children, but it’s easy to get caught sharing too much.
First, the platforms are designed to keep you sharing content for the hits. So, a family starts out posting some seemingly innocuous videos, which go viral. Then you want to make more videos for more hits. Maybe you start making a few bucks on those videos. That creates more pressure to make more content, invading your kids’ lives even more.
And the platforms don’t care about your children; they just like that you’re posting content. (Twitter is much the same with our rage; it wants you to be angry and comment on every tweet, piling on to another person. People fall for it all the time).
Secondly, parenting is hard. As any parent will say, children don’t come with an instruction manual, and each child has specific needs. Parents need support and I suspect a lot of them go online to find it in this ever-increasingly disconnected world.
But those parents forget that while they may find solace in sharing their lives with other parents in similar situations, other people are looking on. And those people don’t have your or your child’s best interests at heart. Social media is not the same as sitting at someone’s kitchen table talking about your concerns and asking for advice. Having private parenting groups on social media platforms like Facebook is a good way to connect with other parents while keeping others from outside that group checking out your posts. But parents also need more support offline, too.
You know that saying, it takes a village to raise a child? Platforms don’t care if the relationship between you and you child disintegrates because of oversharing. They don’t care if you’re invading your child’s privacy. They are the landlords of a village that only wants to keep the villagers on their platforms. And by oversharing for likes, you’re doing exactly what they want you to do.
In the Teen Vogue piece, Latifi interviews Bobbi Althoff, a mom who shares content about motherhood to her 3.6 million followers on TikTok. Althoff doesn’t have her children in her photos and videos and uses pseudonyms when mentioning her kids. She did share more details about her kids before, but changed her mind after people made terrible comments about her children.
Another mom, Maia Knight, who has 8.5 million followers on TikTok hides the identities of her children on her videos. In one of her videos, Knight told her followers, “they’re toddlers now. I have decided not to show them anymore…I’m making a choice for my daughters to protect them.”
Maybe things are turning around in the sharenting sphere.
There’s a phrase in marketing that “everything is content.” Besides my disdain for the word “content,” I don’t agree that everything is content. Some stuff is not meant for social media and that includes privacy of children. Parents have to be content with that. Your child will thank you.
Don’t put ozone in your rectum
Oh, the wellness industry! The grift that keeps on grifting.
This week, a video was making the rounds on social media in which Gwyneth Paltrow, founder and CEO of GOOP, talks about her wellness routine.
There’s a lot going on here that people have been talking about, including Paltrow’s admission that she’s tried “rectal ozone.”
Dr. Jennifer Gunter, OBGYN who’s written books like The Vagina Bible and Menopause Manifesto and has long been a critic of Paltrow and her wellness nonsense, had lots to say about all of this in her own newsletter:
Ozone is not medicine, it’s harm. And it’s also a common naturopathic and functional medicine grift. The FDA has stated that “ozone is a toxic gas with no known useful medical application in specific, adjunctive, or preventive therapy. In order for ozone to be effective as a germicide, it must be present in a concentration far greater than that which can be safely tolerated by man and animals.”
I mean if that doesn’t scream DON’T PUT IT IN MY RECTUM, I don’t know what does?
Recently, the FDA cited a wellness center in Dallas for claiming ozone as a therapy for COVID-19.
In the video, Paltrow shares more details about her wellness routine, including that she doesn’t eat before 12pm and on most days her lunch consists of bone broth. For supper, she eats mostly vegetables. Many commentors say this is disordered eating.
And a few people pointed out that in the video, Paltrow is hooked up to an IV. IV therapy is another wellness grift of “untested, yet expensive vitamin concoctions.” Here’s Gunter on that one:
It did leave me wondering about the nutritional value of all the recipes on GOOP and in her cookbooks as well as the benefits of the supplements that she sells, because obviously they are shit if they leave her needing expensive IV concoctions.
My concern about much of the wellness industry is that the grifts are sold by attractive people with money. You and I may brush this off as the nonsense that it is, but some people watching Paltrow’s videos — as well as the wellness videos by attractive people who aren’t as rich as Paltrow, but on social media seem to have perfect lives — will think, “oh, if I eat bone broth and use rectal ozone, I can be attractive and rich, too.”
This stuff is more than hot air; it’s dangerous.
Active Transportation Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
The Molecular Underpinnings of Diastolic Dysfunction (Thursday, 12pm, online) — Matthew Caporizzo from the University of Vermont will talk
Aggregate, Regional and Sectoral Implications of Transportation Costs (Friday, 2:30pm, Room 2184, McCain Building) — Sophie Osotimehin from Université du Québec à Montréal will talk
Hear everything breathing this way (Thursday, 7pm, SMU Art Gallery) — poetry reading with Matt Robinson and Margo Wheaton; more info here
In the harbour
09:45: Rossi A. Desgagnes, chemical tanker, arrives at anchorage from Saint John
11:30: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, moves from Autoport to Pier 41
14:00: Rossi A. Desgagnes moves to Irving Oil
19:30: MSC Rossella, container ship, sails from Bedford Basin anchorage for sea
11:00: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York
I have a few more profiles on women over 50 to write, but I’m still looking for women to interview, too. If you know any women I should include, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you, and please subscribe!