1. Halifax Examiner investigation spurs action on Parliament Hill
“There is growing agreement among Members of Parliament of all parties that there is a need for a parliamentary investigation into the corporate structure of Paper Excellence,” reports Joan Baxter:
Yesterday, Charlie Angus, NDP MP for Timmins—James Bay, introduced a motion to the Standing Committee on Natural Resources asking for a debate on Paper Excellence, given recent media reports about the company’s complex and opaque corporate structure, with shell companies in myriad offshore jurisdictions, which he said, “are tied back to Indonesia and the Sinar Mas Group,” which owns Asia Pulp & Paper (APP).
Angus was referring to articles published about Paper Excellence in recent weeks by a host of media outlets — the Halifax Examiner, CBC, Glacier Media, Le Monde, Radio France — working on a joint investigation as part of the Deforestation Inc. project led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The “Deforestation Inc” media articles detailed links between Paper Excellence, which is said to be owned by Jackson Wijaya, and Asia Pulp & Paper / Sinar Mas, which is owned by his father, Tejuh Ganda Wijaya (sometimes also spelled as Widjaja). Both Paper Excellence and APP told ICIJ that the two corporations operate independently and are separate from each other.
Baxter was in Ottawa Tuesday for the hearing, and spoke with government regulators and members of all parties:
Following the meeting of the Natural Resources Committee yesterday in Ottawa, Nova Scotia Liberal MP Kody Blois representing Kings—Hants told the Halifax Examiner that the committee had work to do “in relation to some of the revelations” about Paper Excellence, and about whether there is a need to be concerned “about the idea of Chinese domination in the financing” of the company.
Conservative MP Shannon Stubbs who represents Lakeland, Alberta (and who happens to be the granddaughter of Dartmouth’s first female mayor, the late Eileen Stubbs) said she supports Angus’ aims to get more information on the review that was done of the Paper Excellence takeover of Resolute Forest Products under the Canada Investment Act.
Stubbs told the Examiner she thinks it would be “helpful” if Jackson Wijaya were called on to appear before the Natural Resources Committee where he could be asked about relations between Paper Excellence and APP.
Bloc Québécois MP Mario Simard, representing Jonquière, said he is ready to support Angus’ motion for a debate on Paper Excellence in the Natural Resources Committee.
In an earlier interview with the Examiner, Green Party co-leader Elizabeth May said her first reaction to the recent media coverage of Paper Excellence was “vast relief” that there was now public attention on the company.
Baxter requested interviews with Nova Scotia MPs Sean Fraser (in whose riding the Northern Pulp mill sits) and Andy Fillmore (parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, who carried out the review of the Paper Excellence acquisition of Resolute Forest Products), but neither responded.
Click here to read “Deforestation Inc: Media investigation into Paper Excellence ignites concerns on Parliament Hill over the company’s mysterious ownership, Chinese ties, and rapid expansion in Canada.”
As I think this article will attract national attention, I left it in front of the paywall. But obviously, this kind of impactful reporting costs money and time, and time is money. Please consider supporting our work by subscribing to the Halifax Examiner.
2. Doctors’ notes and luring doctors to Nova Scotia
“The Houston government is introducing legislation to streamline what it calls administrative hurdles to health care delivery,” I reported yesterday:
In particular, the legislation:
• makes it illegal for employers to require a doctor’s note from employees for sicknesses of five days or fewer. But should an employee take two sick leaves of five days or fewer in any given 12-month period, the employer can require a doctor’s note for the third sick leave of any duration. The change, said Health Minister Michelle Thompson, will save 50,000 hours of physician time annually.
• removes all application fees for any health care provider seeking to relocate from other Canadian jurisdiction to Nova Scotia. Such fees can be up to $200 annually, depending on profession. The legislation also says all applications must be processed within five business days. Additionally the government says (no legislative change was required for this) it will now pay for the first year licensing fee of any health care provider relocating to Nova Scotia. Depending on the profession, licensing fees can range from $1,000 to $2,000 annually. The provider will be responsible for paying their own licensing fees after the first year.
• allows the colleges overseeing the 21 regulated health professions to recognize the credentials and licences of health care providers trained outside of Canada.
• allows the Governor in Council (the lieutenant governor, so in effect, the premier and cabinet ministers) to expand the scope of practice for the various regulated professions without the approval of the full legislature
• takes the authority to create forms required of employers away from the Workers Compensation Board and gives it to the Governor in Council instead.
Click here to read “Houston government to make it harder for employers to require sick notes and makes it easier for health care providers to move to Nova Scotia.”
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3. Dartmouth shelter
“Mayor Mike Savage will write a letter to the province asking it to keep an overnight shelter in Dartmouth running into the summer,” reports Zane Woodford:
Deputy Mayor Sam Austin, the councillor for Dartmouth Centre, brought the motion to council’s meeting on Tuesday. Austin’s motion directed Savage to write a letter “asking that the Province keep the shelter operating at 61 Dundas Street, Dartmouth open, or provide alternate space, and that the Province adopt the same approach of maintaining capacity for the other emergency shelters that it is funding in HRM.”
The shelter is scheduled to close May 31. It typically houses 10-18 people a night.
Click here to read “Councillors ask provincial government to keep Dartmouth shelter open.”
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4. Another Lalo lawsuit
“A victim of a notorious former youth worker and probation officer is suing the provincial government,” reports Zane Woodford:
Lawyer Mark Knox filed notice of action against the province on March 10. The plaintiff’s name is subject to a publication ban, and the attached statement of claim calls him X.X.F.
“Cezar Lalo, at all material times hereto, was a servant and agent of the Defendant, His Majesty the King in Right of the Province of Nova Scotia, in the capacity of a youth worker under the direction and supervision of the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, and/or the Department of Justice,” Knox wrote in the statement of claim.
Lalo’s name is more commonly spelled Cesar, and he was convicted of sex crimes against 29 young people that occurred between 1973 and 1989. He’s also been the subject of at least 60 civil cases in Nova Scotia Supreme Court. Tim Bousquet wrote about two such cases in 2017. Lalo died in 2019.
Click here to read “Victim of deceased former youth worker and probation officer sues Nova Scotia.”
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5. Student charged with attempted murder
A 15-year-old student at Charles P. Allen High School has been charged with two counts of attempted murder and other related charges after two school employees and the student himself were stabbed.
Police says the injuries are not life-threatening, but obviously this was a serious and traumatic event, not just for the injured but also the broader school community.
At a press conference yesterday, police repeatedly refused to answer reporters’ questions. One question suggested that the student had injured himself before the employees were injured. Whatever the exact sequence of events, the student is obviously troubled.
Not to downplay the seriousness of the incident, but I couldn’t help but think it could’ve been much worse. Thankfully, the student didn’t have access to an AR-15 or such.
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6. Question period
This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.
Not surprisingly the first Question Period of the spring sitting of the Nova Scotia Legislature was dominated by questions about health and housing.
The Liberal representative for Bedford South, Braedon Clark, asked Health Minister Michelle Thompson if she would re-establish an incentive for family doctors who set up new practices in the Halifax Regional Municipality (Central Zone) after the Houston government eliminated it a year ago.
Last March, the government introduced a new physician recruitment incentive offering family doctors and specialists up to $125,000 over five years if they agreed to work outside the city. There were 86,050 people looking for a doctor then. Today the current number of Nova Scotians without a doctor or nurse practitioner has grown to more than 137,000. Here’s the exchange:
Clark: The doctor waitlist has doubled in Nova Scotia since this government came to power but if you drill down, in the Central Zone it is even worse, it has tripled. We are now the only Atlantic province without any recruitment incentive to practice in the capital region for new family doctors. I’d like to ask the minister of health if she agrees that it was a mistake to get rid of that incentive and we are now seeing the consequences of that decision?
Thompson: We do know that a large percentage of the need-a-family-practice registry in the urban area is driven by immigration. People moving to this part of the province. We also know that a number of physicians are retiring. So, there are a number of things we are doing. We are working with Dalhousie Family Medicine to look at incubator clinics to support new physicians in looking at collaborative care practice in order to transition them out to community… we have increased the number of medical residency seats and we will continue to do more until we fix health care.
Clark: Mr. Speaker, what is odd to me today is that both the premier and the health minister have talked about how important it is to incentivize health care professionals to stay and practice here in Nova Scotia and we agree. And yet at the same time, last year they axed an incentive that has led to really serious consequences in the Central Zone where the number of people without a family doctor has tripled. In the Bedford-Sackville area, it is up 650% over a year and a half. There needs to be substantial, real incentives to retain family doctors in the fastest growing part of our province. So, I would ask the minister, will she commit to re-instating the incentive for family doctors in the Central Zone?
Thompson: We know there are a variety of ways in which physicians want to practice and we know that an urban practice is different than a rural practice. We are working with physicians; we are working with Doctors Nova Scotia to better understand what the physicians would like to see. We are in the middle of negotiations with them now.
Prior to these negotiations, the last salary agreement between the province and Doctors Nova Scotia cost approximately $1 billion a year, the largest single expenditure in the Health Department.
Halifax-Needham MLA Suzy Hansen pressed Colton LeBlanc, the minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act, on the issue of fixed-term leases.
Hansen provided examples of people who did not have their lease renewed and the property owner increased the rent on the unit by over 50%, well above the 2% rent cap in place until the end of this year. As Hansen noted “it’s all perfectly legal” but clearly not what was intended by the rent cap legislation introduced more than two years ago.
Hansen: Does the minister think it is acceptable that someone could be at risk for becoming homeless for no other reason than the landlord wants to double the rent?
LeBlanc: Our government supports the intended use of fixed-term leases. What I have heard in the media over the past months is specifically regarding the unintended use of fixed-term leases and that is concerning. As we look to strengthen and modernize the Residential Tenancies Act, we engage with our stakeholders… any changes I look to make in this legislature, it’s always looking through the lens of balancing the rights and responsibilities of both tenants and landlords.
LeBlanc will hold a briefing later today on what’s being advertised as “proposed amendments to the Interim Residential Rental Increase Cap Act related to the rent cap timeline and allowable rate changes.” The current 2% cap on rent increases was set to expire at the end of December.
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6. The Icarus Report
I get criticized for doing this — hey, they show the system works, I get it — but I do find these incidents fascinating.
There were two emergency landings at Stanfield International Airport last month. The first seems the most potentially serious, but was resolved:
[A] Boeing 767-322 aircraft operated by United Airlines Inc., was conducting flight UAL146 from Newark/Liberty Intl, New Jersey, USA (KEWR) to London/Heathrow, United Kingdom (EGLL). During cruise, the flight the crew detected vibration from engine #1 and also noted that the engine was not producing thrust, accompanied by an elevated exhaust gas temperature (EGT). The Quick Reference Handbook (QRH) procedures were accomplished, the #1 engine was shut down and an emergency was declared with Moncton ACC. The crew requested and received clearance to divert to Halifax/Stanfield Intl, NS (CYHZ), where the aircraft landed safely at 0629 UTC. The aircraft was examined by Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting crews before taxiing to the gate under its own power. Examination of the #1 engine, a Pratt and Whitney PW4060-3, revealed small-size metal debris in the tailpipe and oil from the engine core area. The inboard side of the accessory gearbox had a crack extending from the top along the forward edge of the gearbox case. There was no evidence of an uncontained failure of the engine. As of 08 February 2023, the aircraft remains out of service in CYHZ, awaiting engine replacement.
The second might amount to, um, a passenger who needed a bath?:
[A] Boeing 787-9 aircraft operated by British Airways was conducting flight BA216 from Washington Dulles Intl (KIAD), VA, to London/Heathrow Airport (EGLL), UK. At approximately 0100Z (2000 EST, Feb 01), the crew informed the Moncton Area Control Center of smoke in the cabin and declared an emergency. The crew requested and were cleared to divert to Halifax/Stanfield Intl (CYHZ), NS. The aircraft landed safely on Runway 05 at 0140Z (2040 EST). During the flight, the cabin crew discharged a portable halon fire extinguisher in the forward cabin at Row 10 seat D, E, F as a precaution. Further inquiry revealed that no smoke was present but there was an acrid smell around row 10 seat D, E, F (forward cabin). Initial maintenance action consisted of removing a number of Passenger Service Units (PSU’s) and ceiling panels for inspection, including in the area above and around the area where the acrid smell was noted. No fire, soot or smoke damage was noted in the area. The middle PSU in the forward cabin was inspected in detail, all middle PSU oxygen generators were found in the green band with no signs of heat or burning present. Further checks were completed in the premium economy cabin with the PSU and the recirculation pack area inspected and found okay. All packs were function checked and no acrid odor detected. The aircraft has been returned to service.
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How should we think about COVID?
Richard Starr takes “the media” to task for their reporting on COVID:
As has been the case for a year now, the media cooperated with the government’s news management strategy. The ever-growing death count was treated in ho-hum fashion.
Although Thursday’s weekly update added seven more fatalities, bringing reported COVID deaths to over 800, those deaths occurred sometime before the March 7-13 “reporting period.” The result was a headline on the ATV website announcing that “NS reports no new COVID-19 deaths in current reporting period, slight decrease in hospitalizations.” The best spin doctor in the world be hard pressed to achieve a headline that better suppressed bad news.
As for the monthly Epidemiological Summary that came out on Wednesday, it disclosed 15 deaths in February from COVID. This news rated just a single column headline in the Chronicle-Herald. The brief article failed to report that buried in the the same report was a table showing that deaths in January totalled 53, nearly twice the 27 fatalities acknowledged by the monthly Epidemiological Summary for January 2023. So deaths in January were understated by nearly 100 per cent in the summary report for that month. But thanks to unhelpful reporting, you need to ferret that out yourself.
Or, you could’ve, you know, read the Halifax Examiner. As I reported last week:
Nova Scotia reported seven new deaths from COVID, recorded during the most recent reporting period, March 7-13.
The reporting of deaths lags, so none of the seven deaths occurred during the reporting period (that is, all occurred before March 7). There may have been COVID deaths during the reporting period, but they won’t be recorded until future reports.
As an example of the lagging reporting of COVID deaths, in the January monthly Epidemiologic Summary (issued Feb. 15), 27 deaths were reported for the month of January; Wednesday, that January death count was revised upward to 53.
The Epidemiologic Summary issued Wednesday also records 15 COVID deaths for the month of February. That figure will almost certainly also be revised upward next month.
I’ve repeatedly criticized the government for the smoke-and-mirrors game it plays with the reporting on COVID deaths.
Every day, I get emails and social media messages to the effect of “Tim Houston is killing people,” because of the change in COVID policies and the pea-and-cup game with death reporting. But as I’ve reported, Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Robert Strang said that he himself led the national effort to change public health’s reporting on COVID, including how deaths are recorded.
And while Houston as premier implemented the government changes of COVID protocols, he said he did so after consulting with Strang, and Strang stood beside Houston as Houston announced the changes, supporting the changes both verbally and symbolically. I know Strang well enough to know that if he disagreed with the changes, he certainly would’ve said so.
Starr headlines his piece, “Nova Scotia COVID death rate since last July among the highest in Canada.” That’s both right and misleading, and exploring this might help us think about COVID a little more clearly.
For sure, in terms of an absolute death-to-population rate, Nova Scotia ranks pretty high. But that ignores the fact that our population skews elderly compared to most other jurisdictions. From time to time, I’ve run comparisons with other jurisdictions, both in Canada and the US, and I haven’t been able to find any appreciable difference in COVID death rates based on age.
Put simply: a lot of old people are dying from COVID everywhere. That’s not unique to Nova Scotia.
I had this exchange with Strang last November:
Bousquet: Going back to COVID, it’s been long three years… at the beginning of the pandemic, COVID expressed itself most terribly at Northwood and 50 or so seniors died, and there was widespread public anguish and concern about that. We’re now at a stage, post-vaccine, post everything else, when we’re having basically a Northwood every month of about 50 seniors dying from COVID. And it seems like no one cares. Can you speak to that? I mean, is it now just that we expect that 50 people, 50 old people will die every month and, oh, well, that’s the way it goes, let’s get on with life. Or should there be a different conversation happening?
Strang: So, you raise a really interesting and important question. I know I care. And my colleagues, Dr. Lynk and everybody in the health care system certainly care. The challenge is, is that, you know, the very frail elderly are very vulnerable to respiratory viruses. We had — and this is not to diminish those deaths — but we had numbers of people, probably on average, it’s estimated at least 4,000 Canadians die every flu season. There was never much attention on that, pre-COVID. So, it’s a reality, and an objective in public health for COVID and moving forward for all these respiratory viruses, we’re working as hard as we can to decrease severe illness and death.
For COVID, for the pandemic, we used very strong, specific measures that we would never contemplate, never, ever thought we would need and would never have got the acceptance from Nova Scotians Canadians to use for an annual flu season. That was very different — those tools we used for in a pandemic where we had a totally new virus, lots of unknowns and very little immunity. So, now we’re in a space where we have COVID, flu, RSV, other viruses, which are serious issues, especially for the very young and very old, that we need to — I would argue we didn’t take serious enough pre-COVID. What we need to do is take them more seriously collectively. And today is a good example. It’s not about necessarily — because to actually control those viruses to the point where seniors aren’t at risk, we’d have to shut our society down every respiratory season. That is not possible or feasible.
So we need to find a balance. And part of that balance is everybody being more respectful, if I could use that word, of respiratory viruses and they themselves not may be at risk of severe disease, but all their actions have an impact on how much at risk their grandmother is, their very young, young niece might be. So, we all need to step up and say, I need to do things for others in my community. And part of that is this multi-layered approach, which indicates that we have to take respiratory viruses more respectfully and seriously.
Bousquet: Given that, still about half the COVID deaths happened in nursing homes. A very large number, hundreds probably, are people who caught COVID in hospital. So isn’t there a Public Health responsibility to better manage those long-term care facilities and hospitals such that COVID isn’t being spread in those institutions as opposed to out here in the world where, you know, whatever happens, happens?
Strang: So, a couple of points. We take that very seriously. There have been significant investments in the health care system in terms of infection control in the last couple of years, in terms of minimizing the spread of respiratory viruses and other infectious organisms. And in particular, we worked very closely with our long-term care colleagues over the last two years in building capacity and support for infection control. The reality is, though, the very strict measures that we used that really prevented much impact on long-term care facilities. Recognizing Northwood. Those had their own substantive impacts.
And one of the my biggest concerns is that, the first two years of the pandemic, we had major impacts on on the health of seniors in long term care facilities by isolating them — many, many stories. So I don’t think we can talk about seniors living in long term care and focus only on viruses. We need to look at them collectively and say, how do we find a balance? And ultimately, there is going to be some level of risk. But we work to minimize those risks— but looking at all the risks and looking at both their physical and mental health, in a comprehensive way.
We had another Northwood in January — 53 old people dying, almost all of them who were either living in a nursing home or who were in hospital.
I say this not to diminish the death of old people — I have old people in my life I care deeply for, and I take concrete steps to protect them from COVID — but rather to help define the problem: COVID isn’t much of a threat to young people. Of the 322 people in Nova Scotia who have died from COVID since July 1, just one was younger than 50 years old. For the younger set, COVID is way down the list of causes of death.
I think we should be clear about the risk to old people, and we need to stop the pea-and-cup games.
I also think we need to focus significantly more resources on controlling the spread of COVID in nursing homes and hospitals. Outrageously, the Department of Health can’t tell me how many people have died from COVID after contracting it in hospital — they say they don’t collect that data — but it’s certainly in the many hundreds. That speaks to the need for better air circulation and other controls in hospitals.
I’ve had COVID, and it sucked. And I’m getting older myself, so I’m acutely aware that in a decade and a bit I’ll be in that most vulnerable over 70 group and COVID will still be around.
So how do I think about COVID? Well, I know that we are all potential vectors for the virus, and you add enough vectors together and it leads to a vulnerable old person.
But I’m also aware that society as a whole is done with broad COVID controls — you can blame that on a global lack of leadership, or backing down to the denialists, or to caring more about the economy than health, or to just basic human nature of only being able to hang on for so long, or to anything else you want, but it’s just a fact.
Therefore, I take what seem to me to be reasonable cautions. If I’m going somewhere where I know old people are likely to be present — the grocery store, the drug store, like that — I wear a mask. I wore a mask when I was on a plane recently. Before I visit the old people in my life, I isolate and test for a week. I have a HEPA filter in my house that is on when people visit. When I got COVID, I isolated until I tested negative, which in my case was 13 days. And I test myself whenever I have potential symptoms. Otherwise, honestly, that’s about it.
I realize this isn’t helpful for people who, for instance, live with both children who go to school and old people.
I think, however, that some of the fear of COVID is a hangover from the stark measures that were taken in 2020 and 2021. Really, we were all masking in Nova Scotia when the virus wasn’t even in the province, and now the virus is everywhere and no one much is masking. A lot else has changed — the vaccines have come, and there have been milder (albeit more contagious) variants, we’ve developed some amount (perhaps very small) of immunity from having the disease. But still, there’s a whiplash factor: first we cared about nothing else, and now we don’t care at all. It’s no wonder some people are anxious and confused.
I’d like to see a Public Health response that is more directed at protecting the most vulnerable, first of all by being honest and direct about the large death toll for old people, but also by including improving ventilation in facilities that house old people and doing a better job of promoting vaccination.
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Heritage Advisory Committee (Wednesday, 3pm, online) — agenda via this page
Regional Centre Community Council (Wednesday, 6pm, HEMDCC Meeting Space, Alderney Gate, and online) — agenda
Audit Committee and Audit and Finance Standing Committee (Thursday, 1:30pm, City Hall, and online) — Audit Committee agenda; Audit and Finance Standing Committee agenda
Youth Advisory Committee (Thursday, 5pm, City Hall) — special meeting
Indigenous Centred Approaches to Health and Wellness (Thursday, 5:30pm, online) — panel discussion with Elder Malcolm Saulis, Gail Baikie, Brent Young, Michelle Brun, and Cheyla Rogers; with AI-generated captions
Why we need John Henry Newman NOW: His courage, wisdom and witness (Thursday, 7:30pm, Room SB 255, School of Business named after a grocery empire) — Michael W. Higgins from the University of St. Michael’s College, U of Toronto, will talk
In the harbour
05:00: NYK Constellation, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
08:00: IT Integrity, supply vessel, sails from Pier 9 for sea
13:30: IT Integrity arrives back at Pier 9
15:00: Oceanex Sanderling, ro-ro container, arrives at Pier 42 from St. John’s
15:00: Hyundai Courage, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk, Virginia
15:30: NYK Constellation sails for Fort Lauderdale, Florida
17:00: Sheila Ann, bulker, sails from Coal Pier (Sydney) for sea
It’s a hill no one cares about, but I continue to fight valiantly, defending the traditional mores and religion, as the forces of modernity corrupt the youth and attempt to force the one-word “healthcare” upon the holy scripture, the Halifax Examiner’s Style Guide, which dictates, as the ancients and Dog himself declared, that “health care” is indeed two words. I will die on this hill — lonely, without friend or comfort, but with principle intact.
That’s a great assessment of the Covid situation, Tim. It’s an absolute disgrace that so many people are contracting Covid in hospital. We have a friend that is nearly 70 that has recently been diagnosed with cancer and is really concerned about picking it up when he goes to hospital for surgery. Recently a good friend had a cancer screening appointment and 4 days before the appointment she contracted a nasty case of Covid. She called booking to inform them that she had tested positive 4 days prior…..their response: ‘Oh, no problem…..just wear a mask’. It’s really disturbing that you could be walking into a CT scanner room on the heels of a person with a raging case of Covid.
I am on that ‘health care’ hill with you, Tim.
Please keep up the fantastic COVID coverage. I’m with you on the steps you take. I fell fortunate not to have contracted it nor spread it to anyone that I am close with or anyone else as far as I know.
I am fortunate to work for myslef from home and rarely meet with clients face-to-face. My other public interactions are limited, which helps a lot.
When a person is duly elected to public office there is an summed responsibility to respond to reasonable requests from legitimate news media like the Examiner to comment on any given issue. In fact it should be sanctionable for an MP, MLA, or Councillor to not respond. Providing responses to the public through credible media is one of the main reasons they are elected to serve. For MPs Fraser and Filmore not to respond is an insult to those who elected them and at best is just plain rude. It is their job!
Keep up the coverage on Covid, Tim. We may see the risk differently, and thus have vastly different behaviours, but I greatly appreciate that your coverage encourages me to see things from a viewpoint other than my own.
As others have said, I’ve appreciated your ongoing coverage, but this article is wrong-headed. The CDC, PHAC, & the Chief Science Officer of Canada have all variously indicated that Long COVID develops in 10-20% of infections, and is a “mass disabling event”. (The use of the word “infections” is intentional: It’s cumulative). That presents some ominous challenges for the economy. Long COVID is, by far, the largest COVID problem, and you’ve completely ignored it in your framing.
Thank you very much for helping readers locate Nova Scotia’s Minister of Health and Wellness in the photo accompanying item 2. A very necessary chuckle.
Many researchers are now considering COVID 19 an airborne vascular disease rather than simply a respiratory disease because of the damage it is doing to organs, even in mild infections and sometimes even in asymptomatic cases. Until those researchers have a much better handle on the consequences of that organ damage, I’m taking all precautions to avoid getting it. I’ve stopped listening to the unhelpful advice of public health authorities who seemingly have given up on keeping up with the latest science on the severity of this disease and seem to have given up on providing good advice on preventing transmission (air filtration).
I’m lucky to have the ability to keep up with and interpret the scientific literature and the latest from experts in immunology but so many, including those working in healthcare are not able to. That is where public health is supposed to be the sober voice in the room giving good advice to the public who don’t have the time or context to take in vast amounts of ever changing information, so that people can manage their own risk. If public health is being negligent in doing that or worse actively obfuscating things, then joe and jane average can’t properly manage their own risk and end up getting debilitating infections or long term damage to their body and brain.
I think covid is still a serious threat to Nova Scotians .. ie ” long covid ” is more of a factor than is being reported .. in fact in my family .. there two persons .. younger than 60 yrs .. with ‘ long covid ‘ .. a serous inquiry into covid may well be warranted
I typically appreciate your reporting of COVID numbers and helping us to understand what most MSM won’t report on. However, I have to question the statement “COVID isn’t much of a threat to young people.” Not only is it a notable cause of death per one of these attached links, but the specter of the long-term effects, to me, should be a concern that is as much if not greater for young than for old.
I probably should have said “some media.” I appreciate the Examiner’s coverage of COVID-19 but unfortunately many people still get their news from ATV and the Herald. As for the “misleading” headline, the higher rate holds true even if age taken into account. Nova Scotia’s over-70 population is 15 per cent higher than the national average, and our median age is about 7 per cent high but the rate upon which the headline is based 27 per cent higher. And if you go with data in the second table (June 25 to March 4) the gap between NS and is even greater.
If you are looking for a weekly NS numbers, try here. If you hate data DM me and I’ll send you my Excel file with the NS numbers
I have appreciated The Examiner’s reporting on COVID. But I have some qualms with what you say here, Tim. Your assessment of how dangerous COVID is seems completely based on acute COVID. And your comments about what we need to fear or be concerned about is the single worst case scenario: death.
What I’m trying to come to terms with in my own personal assessment of how I should respond to this ongoing pandemic now that public health officials have completely lost their credibility in my view and can no longer be counted in for guidance, is the fact that a high percentage (I have not seen any figures that put the rate below 10%) of people who get a COVID infection end up with some form of long COVID. An insurance industry publication I read used the term “mass disabling event” to describe what we’re going through now. And if that’s the case, then what you say above: “COVID isn’t much of a threat to young people” seems completely misguided because it only takes acute COVID into account. If 10% plus of infections lead to long term complications, and our new way of dealing with COVID is that we just expect everyone to get one or two infections a year, forever, it would seem to me that the younger you are, the greater the chances you’re going to end up with an impairment or disability from the disease.
Assuming I live out my life expectancy, I’ve only got 20 or so years to infect and reinfect myself with the disease we no longer bother trying to prevent. A 10 year old has 70 years of repeated COVID infections to look forward to. I’m no statistician, but that seems like a high risk, or at least high probability, to me.
Thank you for bringing this up. The risks of Long Covid or from otherwise unexplained new and often serious health issues are very real and important to emphasize. In fact anyone who had experienced a covid infection, and especially if more than once, is at risk for some such effect. Repeated covid infection is likely to put a person, no matter their age, into the vulnerable category. I think the idea that having covid as well as being vaccinated gives you a higher level of immunity and implication that this is desirable, is both misguided and dangerous. It is NEVER a good idea to suffer from an infectious (and preventable) disease.
Excusing acceptance of elders dying of covid because they already die of flu is unspeakable. Flu as a public health problem has been with us for over a century and people still die from it. Doesn’t look good for a future with covid added to the mix does it?
Agree with this completely, the binary (dead or recovered) reporting of COVID as a threat misses this. Disability is definitely a threat to younger people, and the incidence seems to be in the region of 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 infected. The impact of potentially being unable to work, and to quality of life in general, is devastating.