This date in history
On campus
In the harbour


1. Surf

Photo: Blair Davis via
Photo: Blair Davis via

“Nova Scotia has new regulations for coastal aquaculture, but don’t expect that to put an end to the controversy around open net pen fish farms anytime soon,” reports Erica Butler.

This article is behind the Examiner’s paywall and so available only to paid subscribers. To purchase a subscription, .click here.

2. Turf

FIFA officials show off the Women’s World Cup turf at BC Place. Photo: CBC
FIFA officials show off the Women’s World Cup turf at BC Place. Photo: CBC

“The city is looking at earmarking another $1.6 million to build a new all-weather sports turf in Cole Harbour,” reports Stephanie Taylor:

Area-councillor Lorelei Nicoll said the more than million-and-a-half extra municipal staff say is needed to construct an artificial field at the former Gordon Bell Annex site is more of a contingency, bumping up the estimated cost of the project to $3.9 million.

As I’ve said before, it’s not so much the cost of turf that worries me, but rather the risk to children:

And, yes, the complaints about artificial turf are coming from the very best elite players. Still, in Nova Scotia, and especially in Halifax, nearly all fields used for children’s soccer have been converted to artificial turf.

In my discussion with my American friends, they were astounded to learn that the use of artificial turf was so widespread in Nova Scotia. To a person, they and their children abhor it. The play is considered too fast, the field conditions dangerous. And that attitude seems to have been adopted by the bureaucrats in the places they live, resulting in very few artificial turf fields being constructed. (I don’t pretend that my friends are a representative sample of all of the United States, but still.)

I raise this issue not because I’m an expert on injuries related to the various types of turf, but rather because I don’t think anyone has even considered it. So far as I can determine, no one has bothered to investigate the potential health effects on the children using the fields. If real grass is safer, we should know. And if artificial turf presents a significantly higher risk of injury to children, we should stop using it.

I raised those worries in June; since then, there have been suggestions that there’s a link between artificial turf and cancer, but there’s no hard data to back up that concern. Again, my concern isn’t cancer, but rather run-of-the-mill injuries and their long-term effects.

3. The .1 % and the student exodus

Halifax CAO Richard Butts
Halifax CAO Richard Butts

“Former St. Francis Xavier University president Sean Riley’s final contract allowed him to collect more than $1.2 million for administrative leave he was not able to take in years leading up to 2011,” reports Sandy Smith.

Halifax CAO Richard Butts is getting paid $343,000 this year, reports Pam Berman.

Better beat up on some unions so we can afford to pay these guys, eh?

Anyone who apologizes for big money paid to university presidents should look at the drivel they put out as serious writing, like this piece published in the Chronicle Herald, supposedly written by “Allister Surette, recteur, Université Sainte-Anne, and chairman, Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents, and Don Bureaux, president, Nova Scotia Community College,” but undoubtedly actually written by a PR professional.

The piece is full the truisms and feel-good nonsense that passes for deep business thought:

As educators, we know the value of experiential learning to both students and employers. It gives students the chance to start building their professional network, applying their classroom knowledge to real-world situations. In turn, employers gain fresh ideas and perspectives that contribute to new solutions, opportunities and markets — not to mention providing them with a close look at potential employees.


We are committed as post-secondary institutions to work together to realize the coalition’s goal of “offering the most co-ops and experiential learning programs per student in Canada.”

And, in the end, when we support student success by increasing such practical learning opportunities, we all win.

Universities are so committed to co-op placements that they’re getting a piece of the action. Here’s how Dalhousie explains it:


Co-operative Education is not a job placement program, it is a formalized educational strategy that offers exceptional learning opportunities that must be planned, developed, coordinated, tracked, monitored and graded. The true cost of delivering this program is approximately $1200 per work term, even when students find their own employment.  To offset a portion of these costs there are two co-op fees.

Co-op Orientation Course Fee
Students must pay a one-time fee of $300 for the mandatory Co-op Orientation Course; an admission requirement for the co-op program. 

Co-op Program Fee
A program fee of $500 is assessed for each four-month work term. This fee is added to your student account two weeks after the start of your current job competition. Because this is a program fee, not a placement fee, it is assessed if you find your own job and it is non-refundable if do not find a job. If you are not doing a scheduled work term notify the Co-op Office before the start of the job competition to avoid the charge.

That’s 800 bucks before a student even starts a co-op placement. Companies pay “competitive wages.”

I couldn’t find any definition of “competitive wages” through the Dal program, so I hunted around Saint Mary’s program. At Saint Mary’s, ” there is a $500 registration fee for each work term,” but hey, “students are typically paid by the hour with average wages falling between $12 and $15 per hour.”  Figure take-home pay of maybe $4,000 and change for a three-month program. That will barely cover rent and commuting. Maybe they can hit up the campus food bank.

It’s true that this year the province has a “2015 Strategic Cooperative Education Incentive” for employers, which mandates a wage of at least $15 hour. But don’t worry, employers! You won’t have to actually pay that:

To be eligible for the incentive, Employers must pay a minimum of $15.00 per hour plus 4% vacation pay. The Student Employment Program will reimburse $7.50 per hour (50% of the required minimum hourly wage of $15.00 per hour) to a maximum of 40 hours per week. 

The United Way and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives tell us that a living wage in Halifax is $20.10 per hour, and here we have companies paying university-trained employees three-quarters that, with half that meager salary reimbursed by the government.

And, no, “they’re just students” doesn’t cut it. Co-op students too have to pay rent, buy groceries, and otherwise live in the world, and besides that, they’re doing real work that brings real benefit to employers. They should be adequately compensated. Moreover, once temporary co-op students go out on the job market, the wages they find at permanent jobs aren’t much, if any, higher.

Surette and Bureaux’s ghost writer worries about a “drift of this talent” — i.e., young people — “to other provinces.” Damn right graduates are getting the hell out of Nova Scotia — employers here pay shit wages.

Meanwhile, the .1% are raking it in. If we’ve got the money to pay university presidents millions of dollars for not working, surely we have the money to pay young people a decent wage to actually work.

For shits and giggles, I did a quick word count of the Ivany Report; here’s what I (didn’t) find:

Inequality: 0
Low pay: 0
Low wage: 1 (in a paragraph about temporary foreign workers)
Living wage: 0


There’s nothing worth linking to today. If that’s your thing, you can easily find people insisting that we kill a bunch of people halfway around the world. There’s always a good reason to kill people.



No public meetings.

The city has issued a tender offer seeking a head hunting firm to hire a deputy chief administrative officer.


Legislature sits (1–6pm, Province House)

This date in history

On November 17, 1755, Lt. Colonel George Scott took 700 troops and attacked 20 houses in Memramcook for the sin of their residents being French.

On campus


Thesis defence, Engineering (9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Allison L. Mackie will defend her thesis, “High Rate Clarification For Treatment Of Mine Water.”

Oil industry safety (11:30am, Room 8007, Life Sciences Centre) — Hisham Saadawi, from Ringstone Petroleum Consultants, will speak on “Is the Oil Industry Paying Enough Attention to Process Safety?”

Ocean biology (11:45am, Room 3655, Life Sciences Centre) — Mike Dowd will speak on “Statistical Data Assimilation for Ocean Biology.”

Thesis defence, Neuroscience (1pm, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Karyn Jourdeuil will defend her thesis, “Deciphering the Induction and Patterning of the Conjunctival Papillae in the Chicken, Gallus Gallus.” Bring your own chicken.

In the harbour

The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:
The seas around Nova Scotia, 8:45am Tuesday. Map:

Toledo, car carrier, is arriving at Autoport at 9am from Southhampton, England; sails to sea this evening
APL Oregon, container ship, Cagliari, Italy to Pier 42

Vera D sails to Muriel, Cuba
NYK Constellation sails to sea
NYK Romulus sails to sea


See you this afternoon, Mariette.

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

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  1. To paraphrase Tim’s line ‘If only we (the plebes) made less money, we’d (the 0.01%) would all be richer.’

  2. The St of X pres thang is just outrageous and I think everyone but City Council recognizes that Butts is just another mercenary.

    Austerity and fiscal restraint is so for the plebs.

  3. We are going to regret the turf. Among other problems, the fields are locked when not in use, so you can’t just go use them. In terms of injuries, a kid told me they change their style of play to avoid injuries.

    1. I am saying this is a bad thing. You shouldn’t have to modify your play because the turf will hurt you.

  4. If you want to get really pissed off, ask Mount Saint Vincent University students about paying full-time tuition fees to take on unpaid internships (see the Nutrition Program).


  5. Administrative leave is a holdover from the older model for university governance: A long time professor (Dr. LTP) becomes departmental chair for a few terms, then the VP Academic retires and Dr. LTP agrees to be nominated to by VP Academic, serves in the position for five years, still has 5 more years to retirement and is given a year of administrative leave because the the VP job paid only marginally more than her/his old salary, but meant that they had no time to conduct research, teach or develop courses so they got a year to catch up on their research/re-establish their lab/re-design their courses to reflect current scholarship. The administrative leave was basically designed to give them time to go back to being professors.

    Now we have a situation where professional administrators never start teaching, let alone return to it and admin leave is used as extra, hidden compensation. This is partially the result of a few academic recruitment firms who dominate the market being able to set wage and benefit patterns for presidents and VPs at all the research universities in the country. It creates absurd situations where people are getting paid admin leave salaries from their time as VP at one university while being paid a president’s salaries at their new job at some other university.

    Meanwhile, bright, extremely well trained new PhDs can’t get hired to permanent jobs anywhere.

  6. Artificial Turf is a great example of sneaking privatization – instead of taking property tax and turning it into solid union wages for city crews (or even less-solid but still local contractor wages for landscaping contractors), you have a big lump sum payment being sent to a company from out of the province. Saving money on the municipal operating budget in the short turn, but at what cost?


  7. Re: grads and poor wages.

    I’d be really curious to see a breakdown, by age, of employment levels and incomes. I’m not sure that data actually exists, though.

    The only info I can find is more general income data, but that tells a very different story: Halifax has high employment rates, and some of the highest incomes, in the whole country:

    Of the 33 largest urban areas, Halifax comes in at #13 for incomes of single individuals, and #11 for families. All of Canada’s major metropolises fare worse, and most of the smaller cities too, except in the prairies.

    I often hear about how that’s because jobs and good wages accrue almost entirely to old folks, leaving young people with crumbs. That’s probably true to a substantial degree, but is that problem more pronounced here than elsewhere?

    Again, there doesn’t seem to be any age-based data on this, but we do know that income inequality is less pronounced here than in most cities. And our percentage of people living in low incomes is also relatively low:

    So it doesn’t look like Halifax’s high incomes are due to a handful of wealth hoarders at the top of the food chain. The opposite, actually.

    So to me the question is not whether wages for young people are shit here. They definitely are. The questions is, are they more shit than elsewhere? The data seems to show that they may actually be LESS shit.*

    *Unless you’re moving to Alberta, but then, Calgary’s post-oil-crash unemployment rate is now a full percentage higher than Halifax’s, so that might not be a great idea either.

      1. The wages aren’t in line , they’re unequivocally higher here.

        And only way the cost of living is lower in Vancouver is if you look narrowly at the CPI and exclude the cost of owning or renting a home. Factor that in, and Vancouver’s small advantage on (some ) consumer goods becomes irrelevant. Anyone arguing that the average Vancouverite has more cash in pocket is really cherry-picking the data.

        I’ve lived in Vancouver. It’s easier here.

        1. As well, the cost of living isn’t “much higher” here, it’s marginally so, and the higher after-tax incomes more ban compensate.

          I’m starting to think Haligonians aren’t happy unless we feel hard-done-by.

          1. The thing is, we ARE hard done by. Just because wages may be worse elsewhere doesn’t make them great here (as you pointed out earlier). Let’s not also ignore that the overtime threshold in Nova Scotia is a whopping 48 hours/week, while in BC, it’s only 40 hours/week. As well, B.C. has 9 stat holidays compared with 7 in Nova Scotia. Sales tax in B.C. comes to 12%, as opposed to 15% in NS.

            Basic wages are bad in Vancouver, and they’re bad here, too. I lived in Saint John, NB, and while the wages were slightly lower there, the cost of living was much lower. I think it would help if we could legislate a higher rate based on the city.

            What’s most important is that we all recognize that basic wages are barely livable in Halifax, Vancouver, and much of Canada (and the U.S). In fact, when you calculate take-home pay after taxes, I don’t see how one can actually claim that $12.50 or $13.00/hour is enough to pay for rent, internet, bus pass or car, phone, healthful food, dental care, eye care, prescriptions, child care, possible other emergencies, and even have a hope in hell of putting much towards savings—and that’s more than minimum wage.
            If you’re really curious, try calculating your take home pay using the CRA’s payroll website:

            This is becoming a serious issue. Unions have managed to keep the bar above ground, if only slightly. I think companies like Stupid Store assume that, because $12.50/hour is above minimum wage, this is somehow great, and it’s easy for Payin’ Lessthan (I’ve changed the names to protect the wealthy) to think that and go on about his merry way. He’s surrounded himself by others who are as wealthy as he is, and they are all completely out of touch with reality. I’d love for him to try working as a part-time produce clerk in one of his own stores in Halifax. (Almost all of the jobs at Stupid Store remain part-time only). How many of his own products do you think he could afford to purchase, working 32 hours/week (if he could even score that many hours) at $12.50/hour (the top-out pay for part-time workers at Stupid Store)?

            As I’ve stated before, we need to start campaigning for living wages (and living hours) and recognize and celebrate businesses that are already doing this. They are not only helping workers, but they are improving the whole economy and helping to maintain needed services at the same time.

  8. Wow, those co-op fees are nuts. I think this must be a fairly new thing. I did a co-op program at Dal, 93-97, and there were no fees – unless they were hidden in tuition and I was too stupid to notice. Two of the three placements I got paid well – $4-500 a week, which twenty years ago for an inexperienced kid was solid. One was in Ottawa and one in Halifax. The other one was for a small consultant in Cape Breton that essentially paid me to research my own business ideas, so it wasn’t a bad deal. I still ended up leaving the province. But I eventually came back.

    1. I had to pay (I think) $200 or $250 for a co-op back in 1998, but went International for my term with an NGO and it worked out quite well. But the new fees seem awfully high, compared to what they’re bringing in.

    2. I paid $300 a term a few years ago. Quite reasonable considering that I got paid $17-20 an hour (half of which was paid for by the taxpayers).

      I’ve had trouble finding work as an engineer in Nova Scotia partially because once you no longer fit into a subsidized form of employment (new grad or co-op) a lot of businesses don’t really want to hire you, having to pay a living wage to their engineers and labourers is so unfair :(.

      Unfortunately the slowdown in the oil and car industries has made it hard for me to find work outside of our lovely province, so here I am, helping make Halifax a bolder place (somehow).

      But hey, maybe now that ISIS killed some people in a NATO country the armed forces will hire me to help spread freedom worldwide!