NEWS

1. Allison Holthoff

A white woman with brown hair and brown eyes.
Allison Holthoff Credit: Facebook

This item is written by Tim Bousquet

Allison Holthoff died at Cumberland Regional Health Care, after seven hours in the emergency department waiting room before seeing a doctor.

This is a terribly sad story. You can read the CBC account here, and Saltwire’s account here.

It’s still not known how Holthoff died. Holthoff, who was the deputy chief at the Tidnish Bridge Fire Department, is survived by her husband, Gunter Holthoff, and their three children.

Although not the major part of the story, a precursor to it is that Allison Holthoff and her husband Gunter Holthoff didn’t bother to call an ambulance to their Tidnish home. That’s because in September, when Allison Holthoff was thrown off a horse and suffered a possible broken hip, Fire Chief Andrew Fullerton waited three hours for an ambulance that never came, and decided to drive Holthoff to the hospital himself, against fire department policy.

“Gone are the days when you’d call 911 and an ambulance would be out from Amherst in 15 minutes,” Fullerton told Saltwire. “When we get a medical call, a cardiac arrest, our first question now is where is the ambulance coming from and when is it arriving. You don’t know if the ambulance is going to be coming from Truro or New Glasgow or Valley.”

This mirrors the experiences of Kelly MacPhee, an Armdale man who suffered a heart a heart attack and died while waiting 40 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, and April George, a Bass River woman who likewise suffered a heart attack and died while waiting 80 minutes for an ambulance.

Although they had better outcomes, there is also the case of Kevin McInnis, a 78-year-old man who broke his hip in Point Pleasant Park and waited two and a half hours for an ambulance to arrive from Milford in Hants County, and Lynn McLaughlin, a 67-year-old Tantallon woman who nearly died while waiting for an ambulance that never arrived.

We can’t know if professional paramedics on an ambulance could have diagnosed Allison Holthoff, and if that could have saved her. But ambulance wait times appear to be part of her story.

As for spending many hours in the emergency department waiting room, that’s become routine at all hospitals.

On Monday, Health Minister Michelle Thompson issued a statement about Holthoff’s death:

I would like to express my deepest condolences to the family of the patient who died at Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre. This is a tragic loss, and my heart goes out to them. I understand they want answers. 

Nova Scotia Health has begun an investigation, known as a quality review, into this case to determine what happened, how we can do better and what we can do to prevent it from happening in the future. 

This investigation began automatically after the patient’s death. The results will be shared with my department and with the family. 

I want to assure all Nova Scotians we remain committed to and focused on fixing our healthcare system. We will act on what we learn from this investigation, and we will continue to act on what we’re hearing from healthcare workers, communities and Nova Scotians.

But the death of Allison Holthoff is only the starkest and most recent example of the shortcomings of the health care system. Many more people have died for lack of quick response, and we can sadly expect more such deaths. 

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2. Shannon Park development

On a grey winter day, the MacKay Bridge is seen in the background with the vacant lands known as Shannon Park in the foreground. On the right, there are parked cars and children playing in a field.
Shannon Park in Dartmouth on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023.qu Credit: Zane Woodford

“Years in the making, a development agreement for Shannon Park is due before councillors this week,” reports Zane Woodford.

The Harbour East Marine Drive Community Council, comprising Dartmouth-side councillors, meets Thursday. The development agreement for the long-vacant Dartmouth property is on the agenda, with a recommendation to schedule a public hearing.

Canada Lands Company Ltd. (CLC), a federal Crown corporation, has proposed, via consultants WSP, 3,000 residential units on the 34-hectare site.

As Tim Bousquet highlighted in a Morning File last year, the process has been slow, having started in 2016 with a detour to consider a CFL stadium.

CLC estimates the full build-out, over four phases, will take 10 to 15 years.

This article is for subscribers only. You can subscribe here.

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3. Kale

On the weekend, Chris Lambie at The Chronicle Herald shared this photo on Twitter.

A tweet that says "Point Pleasant this morning." the photo included is of a wheelchair sitting outside a blue tent set up in a park. Both the tent and wheelchair are covered with snow.
Credit: Chris Lambie/Twitter

Today, Andrew Rankin has the story of Kale, the 30-year-old man living in the tent:

For the seventh straight night, he said, he’d slept in Point Pleasant Park in a tent. Saturday afternoon he sat bundled inside it while people and their dogs walked the nearby trails of the popular south-end Halifax park.

“I’m starving,” he said.

“I just need more food.”

He asked that only his first name, Kale, be used. A few metres from his tent sat a wheelchair lightly covered by the previous night’s snowfall. Kale said he suffered serious frostbite while homeless last winter. He’s been in out of the hospital since.

Each day, he crawls to his wheelchair and wheels himself out of the park to panhandle for food.

“I’m really weak,” said Kale.

Rankin spoke with Tom Urbaniak, a political science professor at Cape Breton University, who said, “sadly and tragically, we will see more cases like this in Nova Scotia as the supply of low-rent housing evaporates, as waiting lists for supportive housing mount, and as community organizations struggle to patch together some help.”

The Herald reached out to HRM and spokesperson Ryan Nearing mentioned the encampments in Halifax, Dartmouth, and Lower Sackville, but redirected them to the province for more answers. The province, meanwhile, said it was continuing to address the housing crisis, mentioning that later this month people will be moving into Overlook, housing in the former Travelodge in Dartmouth. No word on who will be given priority access to these units, though.

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4. Property values

At a row of houses under construction on a sunny day, workers grip a window from the inside as they lift it into place.
Workers install a window at a home under construction on Nadia Drive in Dartmouth on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Credit: Zane Woodford

“The value of Nova Scotia properties is rising steeply this year due to a hot housing market in 2021 and new construction projects,” reports Tom Ayers at CBC.

Residential values are going up about 20 per cent overall in 2023 and commercial properties are increasing about seven per cent, according to the Property Valuation Services Corp.

“There was times when we used to do assessments on a three-year period — we’d only do a reassessment every three years — so at that time we used to have some large increases, but I would say since we’ve gone to a yearly [basis], these would be … probably the largest that we’ve seen,” said Lloyd MacLeod, PVSC director of assessment.

The numbers vary by municipality and are based on sales data from the year 2021, plus property condition information up to Dec. 1, 2022.

The pandemic had an impact on property values in 2021, but no one is sure how much, MacLeod said.

As Ayers reports, most of the largest total assessment increase were in or around HRM. Here’s the top six:

  • Town of Stewiacke, 28.5%
  • Annapolis County,  23.9%
  • Town of Berwick, 23.5%
  • Town of Mahone Bay, 22.5%
  • Municipality of East Hants,  21.2%
  • Halifax Regional Municipality, 21.1%

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5. Crypto scam

A man holds up a gold coin with a B on it in front of a computer that shows an image of graphs from stock markets.
Pig butchering is a crypto scam making the rounds. Credit: Art Rachen

The Nova Scotia Securities Commission sent out a press release on Monday warning Nova Scotians about a new crypto scam making the rounds. The scam is known as “pig butchering:”

  • the victim receives an unsolicited message via text, email or social media, or clicks on an ad for crypto trading on social media sites
  • the victim is often directed to use a different messaging platform, such as WhatsApp, Telegram or SMS text, through which the scammer attempts to develop a personal relationship with the victim; these platforms make tracing the scammer difficult, if not impossible
  • the scammer then persuades the victim to open a crypto trading account and deposit a small initial amount of money by describing great profits
  • a short time later, the scammer shows the victim fake account statements indicating large gains and persuades the victim to invest more, which is called “fattening up the pig”; these are fake documents as the scammer has not actually used the money to purchase crypto
  • when the victim attempts to withdraw money from the account, the scammer demands fictional taxes or fees to access their funds; if the victim insists on withdrawing funds, whether or not they have paid the additional amounts, the scammer continues to delay or disappears.

Unfortunately, the technologies these scammers use rarely leave a trail, so there’s not much that can be done to recover the victim’s stolen money.

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VIEWS

Kinkeeping: another term for all the unpaid labour women do

Here’s term I learned over the weekend: kinkeeping.

Well, it’s not a new term at all and it defines unpaid, uncredited work done by women, including the work women do to keep families connected. So, it’s the planning and organizing of family gatherings, remembering birthdays, buying gifts for familiy members, and so on. I learned more kinkeeping on Saturday when I watched this TikTok by a contributor named AdviceGirl:

Kinkeeping is the root of stress in most women’s lives and because they don’t know the name for it, they’re often called irrational.

….

During the holidays, there’s a lot of cooking and cleaning and planning and organizing and wrapping of paper and remembering of dates. But a lot of it goes unnoticed because the whole role of this job is to be invisible and to perform convenience for everyone and to put on a show.

You may notice during the holidays there are a lot of women in your kitchen, bonding, talking, but they’re also doing work. And it’s not only your mom. It’s your aunts, your grandma. They just know subconsciously your mom needs help and they create a bonding experience out of it. And that’s fine. But if you look at the men, they’re sitting at the table, talking, laughing, and telling stories with their feet up, not knowing what time anything starts.

Writer, actor, and documentary filmmaker Jackie Torrens shared this tweet that started a good discussion on this invisible work women do, including over the holidays, and how they are just done with it all:

A tweet from Jackie Torrens that says, "i've a therapist pal & they say every jan their sessions are w angry exhausted cis women who have to go back to work having had no real break making the holiday happen for others who don't notice & don't help - cis lady friends, it's really time to change these thankless patterns."

The term kinkeeping was coined in 1985 by sociologist Carolyn Rosenthal her article, Kinkeeping in the Familial Division of Labor:

Kinkeeping is primarily a female activity and is related to the importance sibling relationships hold for people. The position of kinkeeper persists over time, and occupancy is frequently passed from mother to daughter. Having a family kinkeeper is related to greater extended family interaction and greater emphasis on family ritual at both extended family and lineage levels.

But the term has come to also include any invisible work usually assigned to women because of their gender and for which they don’t get credit. The term I often hear used is “emotional labour.”

I wrote about this invisible work back in June 2022 after reading a Twitter thread from a man who talked about all the ways he stayed organized as a CEO and a father to six kids. As I wrote in that piece then, several people pointed out to this guy he forgot to credit his wife for helping to keep his family’s life organized, too. She’s the one doing the kinkeeping. (I noticed that guy’s back on Twitter talking about how he stays productive every day. He still doesn’t seem to mention his wife much, but rather quotes Bruce Lee and Marcus Aurelius instead).

As for the extra invisible work women do over the holidays, this one woman named Lea wrote in this article at Medium about how she was the one person responsible for planning for the holidays. That included organizing holiday gatherings, buying and wrapping gifts, baking, decorating, and more, until one Christmas she decided she was done with it all.

While the invisible work of the holiday hustle was 100% born out of a place of love, what I was really doing was spending all my emotional captial.

The year it got the better of me, I left on Christmas day, earlier than planned. I ate Taco Bell from a truck stop and cried for the whole 8-hour drive.

Even after this meltdown, I kept trying.

Trying to balance making space for our 2-person family to have holiday traditions while also accomodating travel and everyone else too.

Though my spouse is really helpful, he didn’t understand how exhausting holidays were for me.

We can dissect cognitive labor and invisible work all day long, but the truth is a lot of is society’s attitude about it.

No one blamed him if we said no about traveling. No one blamed him if there were no gifts.

They blamed me because that’s what often happens when the invisible work isn’t done in a heterosexual couple.

This fear of judgment and disappointment only increases pressure felt by (mostly) women.

That’s what kept me trapped in a cycle of running in the holiday hustle.

What I really got in return was guilt, bitterness, exhaustion, and not feeling good enough.

Lea made some good points about how social media and FOMO or the fear of missing out has made kinkeeping worse because people are trying to keep up with creating the holiday magic other people share on their social media feeds (much of what people share on social media is not real, folks).

I hope women are tired of this all, too. While the work itself may be invisible, the consequences of it are not invisible to us. As I wrote back in June, that unpaid work does have a cost, including to women’s earning potential:

More of women’s time is taken up with unpaid work than men. Women spend an average of 3.6 hours or 15% of their day on unpaid domestic and care work compared to the average of 2.4 hours or 10% of the day that men that spend on unpaid work (Statistics Canada, 2019). As a result, many women effectively perform a “second shift” of unpaid work on top of their paid work, and this impacts their earning potential

But, of course, the biggest cost of kinkeeping is the physical and mental burnout for women.

Advice Girl on TikTok shared a part 2 to her message on kinkeeping and this time she had some thoughts on solutions:

I have a lot of faith in breaking the cycle because it’s not governmental, it’s societal. So, if we talk about it more, it can solve itself. And one thing that’s absolutely important is having vocabulary to express how you’re feeling.

Kinkeeping is just something humans need to do… If you’re raising kids, you can’t just stop kinkeeping. That’s just not how it works. Look up the term weaponized imcompetence and maybe talk with your husband on how it makes you feel if he does use that. An example being, “Can you do the dishes? I don’t know how to do the dishes. No, you do the dishes better.” That’s weaponized incompetence.

Not only is it important to educate our daughters about this, but our sons. Tell them dates and times. Help them memorize birthdays. And as women don’t be afraid to accept credit where credit is due.

I’m glad to see young people like Advice Girl talking about this because this is a good start to breaking the cycles. Much of this invisible work is what we all have to do to keep our homes and lives running, but for too long the responsibility has fallen on women to do it.

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NOTICED

Quiet hiring: another term for exploiting workers

A white sign with black font that says Help Wanted is taped to a window
Quiet hiring just means more workers will be exploited. Credit: Tim Mossholder

Last August, I wrote about quiet quitting, a new term floating around that meant workers were just doing what was required of them in their job and not going above and beyond for a job that didn’t do the same for them. And then there was quiet firing, which is just another term for constructive dismissal.

Well, it’s a new year, so there’s a new term making the rounds. It’s called quiet hiring and it’s being called the next big thing in labour and a career-impacting trend to watch out for in 2023.

So, what is quiet hiring? According to this article from MSNBC, quiet hiring is “when an organization acquires new skills without actually hiring new full-time employees. This could mean hiring short-term contractors or encouraging current employees to temporarily move into new roles within the organization.”

If that sounds familiar it’s because quiet hiring is not new at all, but yet another way to get current staff to do more work for the same pay. Or it’s when employers hire contractors to do work without providing them with any of the stability or benefits they might provide to a full-time employee. This, of course, is less expensive for the employer, but offers no benefit to the employee.

The term quiet hiring is not fooling anyone, including a number of commentors on social media who suggested that if your employer is quiet hiring, you should organize a union.

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Government

City

Today

Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 11am, City Hall) — agenda

Tomorrow

Board of Police Commissioners (Wednesday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — agenda

Province

Today

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — The Impact of the Cost-of-Living Crisis on Vulnerable Nova Scotians and Those Living on Income Assistance; with representatives from the Department of Community Services, Feed Nova Scotia, Chebucto Connections, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia, and Nourish Nova Scotia

Tomorrow

Public Accounts (Wednesday, 9am, One Government Place) — Accountability Report and the Management of Crown Lands; with Karen Gatien, Department of Natural Resources and Renewables


On campus

No events


In the harbour

Halifax
10:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Liverpool, England 
15:30: Vayenga Maersk, container ship, sails from Pier 42 for sea
16:00: Rt Hon Paul E Martin, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
17:15: Atlantic Star sails for New York
19:00: Acadian, oil tanker, sails from Irving Oil for sea

Cape Breton
11:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Government Dock (Sydney) from Halifax
20:00: AlgoScotia sails for sea


Footnotes

It’s not dark before 5pm anymore. Bring on the light.

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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. Fun fact, the ‘nurse’ who helped the senior in Point Pleasant was a specialized trained physician in that sort of injury. Old assumptions about women die hard. A knowledgeable woman helped so she must be a nurse.