1. Living wage
Titled ‘Living wages in Nova Scotia 2023 update: Working for a living, not living to work,’ the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) annual report was released on Thursday.
“More than half of those who are working are not earning a living wage. And the standard that we apply in order to do these calculations is about a quality of life. This isn’t a poverty wage. It provides a little bit of a cushion. But it’s still conservative,” CCPA-NS director and report author Christine Saulnier said in an interview Wednesday.
“We don’t include life insurance. We don’t include what would be necessary in order to own a house, for sure. If you have any family members with any significant health or disability needs, that’s not in the budget. You’re looking at over half of the working population not earning a living wage, which should concern us all.”
The report found that in Halifax, the living wage rate for two adults working full-time (35 hours a week) to support two children is now $26.50.
In the Annapolis valley economic region (Annapolis, Kings, and Hants counties), it’s $25.40. It’s $25.05 in the Southern region (Digby, Lunenburg, Queens, Shelburne, and Yarmouth counties). For those in the Northern region (Antigonish, Colchester, Cumberland, Guysborough, and Pictou counties), a living wage is $24.30. In Cape Breton, it’s $22.85.
2. Survivors in their own words: ‘Are you sure you didn’t just go to a party and make some bad choices?’
This is the latest story in our series of stories from survivors of sexual assault and rape, and how they were treated by police:
I was 20.
I was visiting a friend who worked in a dorm at a small-town NS university. It was being used as a summer hostel.
Some guys who were staying down the hall invited me for a drink, while I waited for my friend to get off work.
I went. I can’t explain why. Why should I explain why I walked into a room?
I didn’t walk back out.
I regained consciousness in the hallway hours later, smelling of sex and vomit, my shorts halfway down. Or were they halfway up? No, down. There’s no place in this story for glass-half-full optimism.
Let’s skip ahead a few days. I was sitting at a desk on the last day at my summer job when an RCMP officer called. My friend who worked in the dorm had filled out an incident report, and the officer wanted to verify the facts. He started asking questions without checking if it was an okay time to talk. I spoke as quietly as possible, hoping no one in the office would hear.
He read the report my friend had given, emphasizing certain words, like “drunk” and “spacey.” He asked if I had anything to add. I explained that I didn’t remember much. I was pretty sure they’d put something in my drink.
“Did you see them do it?” the officer asked. I told him no. He asked if there was a toxicology report.
There was no report. The ER nurse, with hair the colour of a worn work boot, had looked me up and down as I clutched the edge of the gurney. She asked how much I’d had to drink. She clucked her tongue and asked, what did I think would happen when I went into that room? She asked if I’d called the police. She’d sighed, as though I’d inconvenienced her, and left to find someone to ‘deal with’ me.
I threw up in the garbage can, stuffed wads of paper towel into my underwear, and ran away before she came back.
“Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella announced his retirement on Wednesday, giving less than 10 days notice,” reports Zane Woodford.
Kinsella, who became chief in July 2019, made the announcement in a news release just before a Board of Police Commissioners meeting.
“After 37 years of policing, today I am announcing my retirement. It’s been an honour and a privilege, and I am grateful to the Halifax Board of Police Commissioners and Halifax Regional Council for the opportunity to serve as Chief of Police for the last four years,” Kinsella said.
“My greatest thanks go out to HRP members whose professionalism and dedication I have witnessed with the greatest pride and gratitude, to members of Hamilton Police Service before then and all those professionals that I’ve had the honour to serve alongside.”
Kinsella came to Halifax after 33 years in Hamilton. His retirement is effective Sept. 15.
“Nova Scotia health officials say hiring about five more midwives would clear the long waiting list of people wanting midwifery care in Halifax, but how many are needed in the rest of the province is unclear,” reports Taryn Grant at CBC.
Demand for midwives has been unmet in Nova Scotia for years, with an average of 136 pregnant people wanting, and not receiving, midwifery care from the team at the IWK Health Centre annually since 2016.
Midwives provide care to expectant parents throughout pregnancy, childbirth and part of the postpartum period as an alternative to the care of a physician. They work out of clinics, hospitals and patients’ homes, with the option of home-birth if patients choose.
There are currently 16 midwives working at three sites in Nova Scotia — Halifax, Lunenburg and Antigonish.
A recent letter from the Department of Health and Wellness to a legislative committee said an additional 5.5 full-time equivalent positions would have cleared the IWK’s wait-list in 2022. However, funding for the program has been stagnant for the past four provincial budgets at around $2.3 million.
A spokesperson for the department said the province “has been focused on stabilizing midwifery services within existing teams and locations,” while exploring future expansion.
CJ Blennerhassett, vice-president of the Association of Nova Scotia Midwives and president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, told CBC she expects the demand for midwives to only keep growing, and that signing bonuses and relocation support should be part of any recruitment and retention efforts.
5. Bruce Guthro
I heard plenty of lovely tributes to Bruce Guthro yesterday and I expect we’ll hear plenty more in the coming days. The Cape Breton singer-songwriter died on Tuesday. Guthro had just turned 62 on his birthday on Aug. 31.
He brought together both established and up-and-coming artists in his mould-breaking songwriters’ circles, where the musicians face each other in the centre of a room, surrounded by the audience, allowing a vulnerable and emotional atmosphere of storytelling.
Cormier described Guthro as “one of the most likable people you ever met in your life.”
“He was so incredibly proactive and positive. But it was impossible to stop it. And that’s what inspired all of us,” said Cormier, who knew Guthro for more than 30 years.
“He saw the universality of us as writers, but also saw the thing that made us different, which made us stronger. And he was compelled, for some reason, to demonstrate that to the world over and over and over again, and that’s what the circles were.”
Guthro transcended genres — from rock to traditional — and marched to the beat of his own drum, said Cormier, forging his own path in a cutthroat industry through his ability to connect with people and brush off negativity.
Jeff Douglas at CBC’s Mainstreet spoke with Bill MacNeil, one of Guthro’s co-producers, as well as musicians Kim Dunn, Matt Minglewood, and Sam Moon about Guthro’s life and legacy (that interview is here).
6. Atlantic News
Michele and Stephen Gerard, owners of Atlantic News at the corner of Morris and Queen streets in Halifax, are selling the newsstand after 29 years. The couple announced the news in a press release on Wednesday, writing “it is time to pass the torch, so the business can flourish under new owners.”
For 50 years Atlantic News has serviced its community of “diverse and incredibly loyal customers.” say Michele. The driving force for decades is its large selection of magazines and newspapers plus its convenience store component. Atlantic News has been referred to by many Nova Scotians as an institution. Just a few of the many quotes from over the years, various customers have told the staff or Michele and Stephen are “I can always trust Atlantic News to have the good stuff.” “You are truly exceptional and I am so impressed with you.” “Your store is everything a newsstand should be and more.”
Over the years Atlantic News broadened its selection and began to curate international and local art greeting cards, becoming a destination for people purchasing cards. In more recent years they have branched into mostly non-fiction books that they line in with their magazine titles. Michele says “customers delight in the books that they are discovering on our shelves” This portion of the business continues to grow. For more than 15 years they have been the only business in Nova Scotia that is an authorized print on demand site for Press Reader, which carries over 2000 same day newspapers in 60 different languages. Since 2017 they are the only place in Nova Scotia that brings in the weekend edition of The Globe and Mail and the Sunday New York Times plus other broadsheets. They have approximately 400 monthly prepaid subscribers to those two main newspapers.
The Gerards started working at the store with former owner Onough Doherty in 1994, and bought the shop in 1998. They are having a 50th anniversary celebration on Sunday, Sept. 24 from 10am to 4pm.
Help wanted: meat cutter
Nancy and Oscar Huntley have owned Canning Village Meat Market for 22 years now, although the meat store has been around since the inception of Canning itself. It’s a family-run business that includes their son, Andrew, and daughter, Beth, as well as their two grandchildren.
But the Huntleys have been having a tough time finding a skilled meat cutter to work in the shop. So, on Wednesday, Nancy headed to Facebook to share this post:
Are you looking for an interesting career but can’t afford tuition or fees or simply don’t know what your future plans may hold and want to take a year off before going into a trade or college program?
We are considering doing an in-shop training retail meat cutting program. There is a shortage of trained meat cutters in our province and we simply cannot find enough employees so are looking to train people for these positions.
The idea[l] applicant is someone who is interested in getting experience in this type of work opportunity.
Experienced meat cutter wages are typically between $20-$25/per hour when fully trained with experience.
If you would like further details, please contact us at email@example.com or stop by the shop and talk to Andrew.
Yesterday, I spoke to Nancy about the hunt for a meat cutter for the shop. She told me Andrew is working in the shop seven days a week, and Oscar has some health issues which means he has to cut back on work time. They do have a staff person who works as a meat cutter in the summer, but drives a school bus the rest of the year.
So far, the Facebook post has hundreds of shares and dozens of comments. She said she’d like someone to commit to the job for a couple of years after the training, although she’s working on the details. Whether that will turn into finding someone to work at the shop remains to be seen.
“There are a few people writing,” Nancy told me about the ad. “I contacted our MP’s office to see what he knows about government grants because I’d like to have some funding that I could give a decent wage to somebody coming into this program. I would need a commitment of eight months just to learn how to do the meat cutting and the sausage making.”
“I put that out there because I wanted to know are there people looking for this type of industry to go into? It’s a dying industry.”
She sad she’d like someone to commit to the job for a couple of years after the training.
Oscar previously worked in heavy construction, but went back to school in his 50s to take a retail meat cutting course at NSCC. Nancy said that course ended just after Oscar took the program. Nancy said the meat cutting course wasn’t considered a trade, but rather an arts program. She said there are few places where you can train to become a meat cutter.
“The labour shortage in that area is outrageous. We have advertised for five years on the Canada Job Bank,” Nancy said. “It’s been forever.”
There is a meat cutting training program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary. She said they graduate about 13 students each year, but many of them stay out west to work. Nancy said she’s been in contact with them to see if they can help. She did have two applicants in the past five years, but one moved on after a bit, while another who had an interview decided to stay out west.
“It’s made finding somebody very difficult,” she said. “Meat cutting still has technical components. You have to know what is a T-bone. You have to know what a striploin is, where do you get a tenderloin from… it takes some time and it takes some skill to get people trained in this.”
She said they do get interest from newcomers to the country, but she said the process is a long one with lots of paperwork. And she said because it’s a blue collar job, it’s considered unskilled.
Nancy said she had one couple and their children from Ukraine who were going to move to the area from where they are staying in Cornwallis, but they couldn’t find housing nearby.
Nancy said the store does offer its staff a benefits package, including health, dental, and life insurance, after a three-month probationary period. She said her other staff do make more than minimum wage. She is offering $18 to $20/hr for a meat cutter to train.
“Probably for us, it’s the nature of the position,” she said. “It’s not a luxurious job. It’s hard work here. There’s lifting and standing on your feet.”
Nancy said the store got busier during the COVID pandemic as more people shopped local. They even expanded the shop last year. She said on weekends, the store is “packed.”
“We’re exhausted because we don’t have the help we need to continue,” she said.
“I am very serious about the ad. I just have to figure out how to work out the details. I can’t offer a diploma. I can’t offer a certificate because I am not an institution… there has to be an avenue employers can take to make our work environment interesting for people to come into work and to be happy in the workplace.”
2. Kids and crises
Amil Niazi, a columnist at The Cut, wrote this piece about the decision to have children in a world that seems to be going to hell pretty quickly. Niazi is pregnant with her third child, and put a question out on Twitter and Instagram asking her followers how they make their own decisions about having children or not when the world seems to be burning in many ways. Niazi writes:
I got long emails from over 50 strangers, men and women who are scared, anxious, hopeful, optimistic, who have kids and fear for their future, who won’t have kids so they don’t have to, and who don’t know how they can possibly make a decision like this at a time like this.
On days when Emily Cosbey, who lives in Buffalo and has a 1-year old son, thinks about the state of the world, she “shuts down.” “I cry, uncontrollably, thinking about the future that he belongs to,” she writes. “The future that I am setting him up for, but all I can see is the ugliness.” Meg Z., a 28-year-old living in New York City, knows that she wants kids one day and she has “a partner who is supportive and silly and kind and would love to see him be a father to our children,” but deciding whether or not to actually have one is paralyzing. “I am racked with such gnarly anxiety that I don’t know how I, personally, could bear bringing someone into this world,” she writes. Nadia Mike, an Inuk mother from Nunavut in the north of Canada, has three kids who have already confronted the destructive change that haunts their futures. “I have a 16-, 11-, and 5 year-old, and it’s so sad to see the world deteriorating right before our eyes and to try to explain that it’s fucked up, but also try to hold promise for them,” she says. Her own brother had to flee Yellowknife earlier this month after fires forced thousands from their homes.
Since the start of summer, the anxieties and concerns raised in the letters that Emily, Meg, Nadia, and so many others wrote to me have been in my mind, too. In May, I found out I was pregnant again. In June, the air in Toronto where I live was considered some of the worst in the world because of wildfires 336 miles away in Montreal. Maybe I could pretend even six years ago with my first that the climate in Toronto wasn’t so vulnerable, telling myself we were safe or that something would come along to fix it. Now, suddenly faced with Canada’s first 104-degree summer day in history and air so thick with smoke I could barely breathe no matter where I went, well, I can’t exactly ignore the state of the world for this new one. My entire pregnancy has been punctuated and defined by whether or not it was safe enough for me to even be outside, let alone allow my kids to play out there. Where would I find my hope?
My child is a young adult now and I think about this, too. I think about how she will afford to live in a world that seems to be getting more expensive for all of us. And yes, I think of the climate crisis, too.
On Sunday, I was driving home and stopped at the crosswalk for a man talking his baby out for a walk. The infant’s bare feet were sticking out of the stroller, kicking around as babies’ feet do, and I remembered back to when my daughter was that age. Yes, back then I worried, especially about the cost of having a child and sometimes if I was even equipped to handle parenting.
But I also thought about how fun it is to be a parent, and all the laughs, stories, and just the smiles of thinking I created this wonderful person. Having children is about hope for something better for all of us, even if we struggle to think and work toward what that something better looks like.
Here’s Niazi again:
I don’t blame anyone for being scared; I’m scared too. There are a million ways for the world to end, but also just as many ways to save it.
If that’s all I believe in for now, that’s enough.
Grocery shopping comparison
Arthur Gaudreau at Halifax Retales often goes shopping and keeps track of prices for various items at different stores. On Wednesday, he shared on some of his findings on Twitter and Facebook, comparing costs of baskets of goods he purchased at Sobeys, Superstore, Walmart, No Frills, and Giant Tiger. He also writes a column at Saltwire, which you can read here. Here’s what he found about the increases in costs:
Superstore has the lowest% increase 1.5%
Walmart has the highest at 12%
On my original list, No Frills won this round
On the vegetarian, Walmart did
And overall Walmart did but the Walmart lead is getting negligible
Take a look at the lists:
Gaudreau also shared a comparison of prices from now and back to October 2017, the Before Times. The baskets he priced include a mix of whole and packaged foods, including chicken breasts, taco shells, milk, and canned beans.
Here’s what he found:
I circled back to when I first did the price comparison in October 2017 I only did SS [Superstore], WM [Walmart] and Sobeys since then Superstore’s basket was up 53.9% 86.46 v 133.02 Sobeys up 59.3% 97.18 v 154.85 Walmart up 66.4% 79.12 v 131.68
Anyone’s wages go up 66% in the last 5 years?
Appeals Standing Committee (Thursday, 10am, City Hall) — agenda
Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee (Thursday, 1pm, City Hall and online) — agenda
Point Pleasant Park Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Women’s Advisory Committee (Thursday, 4:30pm, online) — agenda
Worried Earth Panel (Thursday, 12pm, Halifax Central Library) — discussion before the official launch of the public art exhibition at 3pm (see below)
Worried Earth Exhibition Launch (Thursday, 3pm, outside) — along the fence next to The Butterfly Garden, adjacent to the north wing of the Henry Hicks Building (6299 South St, Halifax). Follow path between MacDonald and Henry Hicks buildings. From the listing:
This public art exhibition features photographs and narratives by youth climate activists from across the lands that are currently politically known as Canada. Youth were invited to participate in research that invited them to take photographs that were representative of the emotions they experienced through thinking about climate change and engaging in activism. Photographs then served as anchors for interviews exploring thoughts and feelings related to each image.
The Volunteers: How Halifax Women Won the Second World War (Thursday, 7pm, Halifax Public Library) — the launch of the new King’s MFA book club, featuring Lezlie Lowe
In the harbour
06:30: Norwegian Joy, cruise ships with up to 4,622 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from New York, on a nine-day cruise from New York to Quebec City
07:00: Zuiderdam, cruise ship with up to 2,364 passengers, arrives at Pier 20 from Sydney, on a seven-day cruise from Quebec City to Boston
07:15: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Pier 41 from Saint-Pierre
12:30: Algoma Integrity, bulker, sails from Gold Bond for sea
14:00: USS Porter, destroyer, arrives at Dockyard from sea
15:30: Zuiderdam sails for Bar Harbor
16:00: Atlantic Sun, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
17:45: Norwegian Joy sails for Sydney
18:00: Gotland, cargo ship, sails from Pier 27 for Bilboa, Spain
19:00: Acadian, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from St. John’s
01:00 (Friday): Atlantic Sun sails for Liverpool, England
05:15: SFL Trinity, oil tanker, arrives at EverWind from New York
07:00: Norwegian Sky, cruise ship with up to 2,405 passengers, arrives at Government Wharf (Sydney) from Halifax, on a 10-day cruise from Baltimore to Quebec City
10:00: CSL Tarantau, bulker, sails from Aulds Cove quarry for sea
17:30: Norwegian Sky sails for Charlottetown
17:30: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, moves from anchorage to Government Wharf
On Tuesday, a friend was sending to me photos of Halloween decorations she was creating. We got to talking about costumes, and I said I was going as myself this year because there is nothing scarier than a middle-age woman. Or I would be invisible, and that would be a different costume entirely.