1. COVID-19 update

A photo of a square white sign with removeable black letters, which says COVID 19.
Photo: Ystallonne Alves/Unsplash

Tim Bousquet was away for a well-deserved weekend off, so I filled in on the COVID updates. A total of 30 new cases of COVID-19 were announced on the weekend: 18 new cases on Saturday; and 12 new cases on Sunday.

As of Sunday, there were 204 active cases in Nova Scotia. There are 20 people in hospital and six of those are in ICU.

Jump to sections in the article from Sunday:

Here’s the schedule for the pop-up testing this week:

Monday (today)
Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Cineplex Cinemas, Bridgewater, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Centennial Arena, noon-7pm
Cineplex Cinemas, Bridgewater, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Cineplex Cinemas, Bridgewater, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

Alderney Gate Public Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Central Library, noon-7pm
Halifax Convention Centre, 2-9pm
Cineplex Cinemas, Bridgewater, noon-7pm
Centre 200 (Sydney), 3pm-7pm

They may add sites, so double-check the updated schedule for pop-up testing sites here.

On Saturday, there were no potential exposure advisories. I checked the press releases from Nova Scotia Health and it looks like the last day there were no potential exposure advisories was on April 14.

But that was short-lived as there were a few more advisories sent out last night.

And two schools in the Halifax Regional Centre for Education are closed until  Thursday. 

A screenshot of a tweet from the Halifax Regional Centre of Education, which says that two schools are closed until June 10.

Premier Iain Rankin and chief medical officer Dr. Robert Strang will have a COVID briefing today at 3 pm (or so). Tim Bousquet will live tweet that, so you can follow along here.

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2. Fitch Report showing some results

A photo of an EHS ambulance.

Jennifer Henderson reports on the Medical Transport Service, a one-year pilot project to help reduce the number of ambulance trips used just to transport patients between hospitals. As Henderson writes, the Fitch Report, which studied the emergency health system in 2019, found that transferring patients between institutions accounted for 47% of all ambulance calls and only 2% of those patients required the gear in an ambulance and the skills of a paramedic. Henderson explains how the pilot project works:

In March, Emergency Health Services introduced three passenger vans, each capable of moving two patients using wheelchairs and another four patients who must be able to walk. There are no stretchers. The Ford Transit vehicles employ drivers trained in first aid and with advanced defibrillator skills.

The vans operate six days a week, from 6am until 6pm. There is one stationed in the Halifax Regional Municipality, one in the valley (it runs between Windsor and Middleton), and one stationed along the South Shore serving the area between Lunenburg and Liverpool.

According to Greg Wolfe, acting manager for the Central Zone of Emergency Health Services, the vans are used most frequently to move patients between smaller community hospitals and larger regional hospitals, where they have appointments for diagnostic tests and consults with specialists.

To date, more than 300 patient trips have been made. That number would probably have been much higher if COVID restrictions had not limited each van to only one patient per trip for five weeks in April and May.

Click here to read Henderson’s report on the project. 

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3. Free speech and ‘really good conversation:’ Opportunities to teach and to learn

an exterior photo of the North East corner of the Halifax Central Library, in bright mid-afternoon sun, with the sunlight bouncing off and through the different coloured glass windows. You can see the reflections of the opposite buildings in the facade.
Halifax’s Central Library is now shuttered, but still delivers services. Photo: Wikipedia

Stephen Kimber, who says he was once a “free speech absolutist” writes about two recent and close-to-home incidents that has him thinking about free speech.

The first incident is the Halifax Public Libraries’ decision not to remove a book activists call “transphobic” from its shelves. Kimber looks at the book, Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters by Abigail Shrier, its popularity on Amazon, and what psychologists are saying about the misinformation on its pages.

The book is out there, so banning it from libraries will simply drive many readers to sellers with no interest in conversation while creating a barrier for would-be readers with limited means whose budgets do not include books.

While Shrier’s incendiary arguments received their initial oxygen in the conservative blogosphere, my guess is that some honestly raised questions and genuine confusion have also fanned those flames.

Are an increasing proportion of young people now publicly identifying as trans? If so, is it because society is now more open to allowing people to express their gender identities? Or are some young people, who are exploring gender possibilities, being shunted into “irreversible” decisions too quickly? Or both? Or …? And how can parents — and society — support young people to make their own right decisions?

Those are all reasonable questions.

The second incident involves Rebecca Thomas, the award-winning Mi’kmaw poet, Halifax’s former poet laureate, who says the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development wanted to add her book Into the Fire to a reading list of books for students aged 12 to 15. But first, they wanted her to remove six of her poems from the book. Thomas still doesn’t know why.

Kimber writes:

[Thomas] guesses, she told the CBC last week, the issue may be that some of the poems include the “F-word” — a word it is almost certain every 12 to 15-year-old Nova Scotian school student already knows and can use in many different sentences.

But Thomas suspects — more significantly — that the department may also have been uncomfortable with her frequent use of the term, “Indian,” which is no longer considered “appropriate” language in polite company.

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4. Staff recommend Halifax council officially rename Cornwallis Park to Peace and Friendship Park

Cornwallis statue hangingin midair while being removed from its base
Cornwallis statue being removed. Photo: Zane Woodford

Zane Woodford reports that the former Cornwallis Park in Halifax could get a new name. A staff  report heading to council on Tuesday suggests the park adopt the name it’s been using temporarily: the Peace and Friendship Park.

The report to council on Tuesday recommends a community consultation process to choose the new name. If approved, [Coun. Lindell] Smith would work with HRM’s Diversity and Inclusion staff to conduct research and define the consultation area, and then the municipality would put out a call for name suggestions.

The report also recommends council amend the city’s street naming policies to allow apostrophes in street names.

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What shouldn’t go back to “normal?”

On a sunny morning, Suzanne Rent wrote in coloured chalk on her driveway "Goodbye Third Wave", with pictures of the COVID 10 virus.
Found on a driveway. Photo: Suzanne Rent

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives for the past 15 months. We’re all looking forward to getting back to “normal,” but over the weekend I wondered what changes we’d like to keep. Did we learn anything that improved our lives? On Saturday I asked my Twitter followers and Facebook friends:

I know everyone is enjoying the day, but I have a question: When this pandemic is over, what shouldn’t go back to “normal?” In other words, what are lessons we learned that we should keep?

And wow, did people respond. I thought I’d share some of their thoughts and ideas here, along with my own answer to the question. Here we go:


A banner saying Wear a blazes mask in capital letters hangs along the verandah of a yellow house
Photo: Suzanne Rent

This was one of the most popular responses. A lot of people want to make mask wearing a part of our regular routines, especially in cold and flu season, and I agree with them. Now, I don’t imagine we’ll be wearing masks as often as we are now. No doubt we’ll all rip them off in the hotter months. Not everyone will buy into permanent year-round mask wearing. But if it helps keep those cold and flu germs from spreading, well, wearing them during cold and flu season will be easy to do. And it shouldn’t be considered a pandemic practice. Here are some responses:

Wearing masks when you are sick! It was amazing to skip cold and flu season this year. — Neil Lovitt

Mask wearing in public places where physical distancing is difficult. I haven’t had a cold since the fall of 2019. — mxhdroom

I know I’ve certainly enjoyed not getting a cold or flu since the begining of 2020. —  Jenny from the Block

Lesson to keep: wear a mask or stay home if you have a cold or flu-like symptoms. — Dale Dewar

Just remember a lot of people rely on lip reading / facial expressions to get by in life. And masks definitely hinder that. — @girlsgoneriled

Arrows and signage in grocery stores

Photo of a dred direction arrow on the floor of a grocery store
Walk this way in the grocery store aisle. Photo: Suzanne Rent

I try to follow the arrows, but sometimes they make no sense, especially in the areas of the stores, like the bakery or deli, which aren’t straight up-and-down aisles. But lots of people love the arrows and other signage in stores:

For the love of all that is sacred keep the arrows in the grocery store aisles!! — Alison Covert

We also need an educate-then-mercilessly-shame protocol for the staggeringly high proportion of people who haven’t figured that system out in the last 15 months! — Chris Elvidge

Not everyone loves the arrows, though:

Sorry, I HATE them! I only want that one jar 1/3 down the aisle, then I want to turn around and get on with it. The arrows are always going the wrong way. Who goes down every single aisle every week? — G. Ketchum

Can we at least agree on keeping to the right as you push your cart down the aisle?

Curbside pickup/online grocery shopping

I have never used curbside pickup, but people seem to like it.

Curbside Delivery as a permanent option for food and retail delivery. — Susan Kilpatrick

Gardening/cooking at home

A photo of a woman wearing a flower-printed top making sauteed veggies in two skillets.
I’ll have what she’s making. Photo: Sigmund/Unsplash

All this staying at home has meant people are cooking more meals or growing their own food. And people seem to like it:

That whole make bread at home thing and the suddenly gardening thing. — Shawn Mac

I loved seeing and hearing of people cook meals at home; garden; spend time crafting more; spend time at home. — Angela Rafuse

Yvette d’Entremont wrote about this in September. But it turns out while we’re cooking more at home, we’re also wasting more food. d’Entremont learned that, “households are wasting 13.5% more food at home overall, generating 2.3 kg of organic food waste when compared to 2.03 kg per week pre-pandemic.”

Stay away from me (or at least six feet)

A young woman holds up the palm of her hand to the camera as if to say "STOP".
Give people their space! Photo:
Isaiah Rustad/Unsplash

The term “personal space” came up a lot in the responses on Twitter. A lot of people like their personal space and have found people invade it quite often.

 I want folks to give me 6ft of social distancing forever. — Caitlin Johnson

Yesss! If no one ever stands too close and breathes all over me in a checkout line again, I will be a happy, happy person! — @JulesInTheVille

Understanding personal space. — Katy Notie

Let’s stay 6 feet apart in the stores. — Marie Chiasson

The six foot rule in the grocery store. The personal space is wonderful. — Clayton Banfield

I LOVE the 6’ away rule. Stay. Away. From. Me. — Patti M.

I’ve always hated people up in my personal space. Queues for shopping & the bank have always been the worst. Perhaps some people believed the line moved faster if they are only 2″ behind me grr. — @wonder652


A photo of a closeup of a man's hands washing under a running tap with lavender coloured soap.

This should be a given.

Increased and enforced hand hygiene everywhere but especially in schools. — Clare B.

Dudes not washing hands after pissing. — @katies_got_soul

I wrote about dudes not washing their hands after pissing back in March 2020, just before we had any clue how COVID would affect our lives:

Some statistics from the Center for Disease Control were circulating on Twitter that said only 31 per cent of men wash their hands after using a public washroom, while only 65 per cent of women do. The tweet that included those stats was posted in 2018, but was making the rounds again.


A colourful pop-art style photo of a hand with a bright pink rubber glove holding a yellow spray bottle with a red spray head, against a turquoise background.

I don’t think anything has been as clean as it’s been the last year or so! Everyone is cleaning, deep cleaning, sanitizing, and wiping things down, including everything in grocery stores.

All the cleaning that they should’ve been doing before the pandemic. We all know machines, carts etc are dirty so why have they not been cleaning them all along? — @Haley_Parker

Exactly what I was going to say! Also the conveyor belt that you put your food on. — @cubancigarluvr

Shaking hands

A closeup of the hands and forearms of two Black men shaking hands. One is wearing a white shirt and one a blue shirt.
Photo: Cytonn Photography

Handshakes. Always found those gross.— Jennifer MacKay

I never want to shake another person’s hand again. I mean I’ve always hated it but now I’m especially grossed out. — Kel Edwards

An obvious one but we shouldn’t go back to hand shakes. Huge public health gains from dropping the practice. — Ben Eisen

I never want to shake a hand again. — @familyvalues420

We shouldn’t go back to shaking hands as a greeting. Instead I like AOC’s hands crossed over your heart while saying Nice to meet you. Keeping hands away from your face (mouth, nose, eyes) should stay. — @soshogal

My fellow Morning Filer Ethan Lycan-Lang wrote about this recently. Lycan-Lang wondered what greeting could replace a hand shake:

Let’s get this out of the way first: the elbow bump, while health-conscious and ironically hilarious, needs to die as soon as we’re through this pandemic. It feels and looks ridiculous. That’s self-evident. No argument required.

And a wave isn’t an adequate replacement. It’s something you do as you’re passing by, or seeing someone from across the street. You don’t wave at someone when you’re standing face to face. That would also feel and look ridiculous.

Bowing seems like a good, safe way to greet people with respect without giving them a cold or a potentially fatal respiratory illness. It’s pretty common in some cultures. We could adopt it here, I suppose. It would take some getting used to. I’d probably need about five years before I could bow to someone without feeling self-conscious, but I think I could adjust.

But the handshake is more intimate and more tactile.

And it’s the most democratic greeting we have. You need two parties, working on an even playing field, doing the exact same action to create a handshake. It only takes one to bow. If you get snubbed bowing to someone, then you’ve just acted submissively to a bastard. If you get snubbed when you extend your hand, you may get offended, but no handshake has transpired. Like all the best things in life, it takes two.

Sick days and going to work sick

A woman hiding under her white duvet and pillow, not wanting to get out of bed. She's holding her glasses, so she probably planned to get up at some point.
If you’re sick, stay home. Photo: Unsplash

In mid May, the province announced that Nova Scotians who are sick with COVID-19 can qualify for up to four paid sick days. The announcement was shared in a news release here. This was good news since many workers don’t get sick days. But in the responses, readers not only wanted sick days, they wanted to get rid of the attitude that workers should suck it up and go to work sick anyway.

Don’t go to work if you are sick. It’s no longer being a hero if you infect everyone else. — Danyel Diamond

Yes. Completely agree. Need the employers to be on board with this unfortunately. Plus paid sick leave for those who don’t have it. For those of us that did – eyes are now open incl mine – to the reality that many have no choice. work=pay bills. Sick= $0 — @wonder652

“Powering through” illness – Feeling obligated to attend a social/work function when not feeling well. @katies_got_soul

Blowing out candles

A photo of three children aged from 4 to 6, blowing out the candles on a birthday cake, and spreading their little kid germs.
Photo: Nathan Dumlao/Unsplash

Will another tradition get blown away because of COVID-19?

Blowing candles out on birthday cakes. Gross before. Bad idea now (now that we know how many water droplets and germs we are breathing out). — @_Rose_SG

Mask wearing in crowds and no more blowing out candles on birthday cakes. Just give the birthday person a piece of cake with a candle. No more cakes covered with spit and virus! — Carla Quinn

Yes to the candles most of all. What the hell were we thinking?? — @GrnEyedGirl1970

Gender inequality

a photo of a woman on a sofa with her toddler and baby, happily watching something together on a tablet.
Photo: Unsplash

Women really have taken on a lot of the work during this pandemic. Many women had to leave their jobs so they could take care of their children, who they were teaching at home.

Women need to change what’s acceptable. Teachers, nurses, it all fell on low paid disregarded women. I’m in QC, could go on a long rant about how women were treated during pandemic. We need to unite to take over from what is going on. — @Lee98604032

I wrote about this in a Morning File in May 2020:

The Canadian Women’s Foundation lists all the ways in which women are affected by the isolation measures during the pandemic, including an increased risk of gender-based violence, economic stress, increase workload of caregiving and housework, and reduced access to services. As the foundation stats points out, Indigenous women, Black women, East Asian women, women with disabilities, and senior and elderly women face even greater isolation and barriers during the pandemic.

Women are also working on the frontlines of the pandemic. Says the foundation:

The three industries with the highest ratio of women versus men in Canada are health care and social assistance (82.4%), educational services (69.3%), and accommodation and food services (58.5%), reports Statistics Canada. In 2015, “around 56 per cent of women were employed in occupations involving the 5 Cs: caring, clerical, catering, cashiering, and cleaning.”

Women are facing greater job losses:

Given that women are concentrated in sectors and industries hardest hit by isolation measures, a higher proportion of women have lost their jobs in the early stages of the pandemic. During the week of March 15-21, employment dropped by 298,500 or five per cent among women aged 25 to 49, which was more than twice that of men.

And supporting women in the workplace — and all families, really — means providing child care. And not the “organic” kind former premier Stephen McNeil once suggested.

Working from home

A photo of a Black woman's hands while she uses a Mac laptop. she has a lovely orange sweater, and there's a cup of tea and a notebook beside her, and the light from the window on her left.
Photo: Daniel Thomas/Unsplash

I am a big proponent of working from home, and so are many others. I just wrote about this in Morning File on Thursday. A recent Leger poll found that 35% of Canadians would look for another job if their current boss wouldn’t give them a work-from-home option.

Working from home should be here to stay every time it’s possible. Gives an amazing chance to people with mobility issues, parents of young children, and people who can only afford to live further out to prove they can do great work. — Gina Létourneau

Working from home is no less productive than at the office, ~95% of the time. Also, those meetings could have been emails. — @Grant_Morgan81

The time wasted in commuting to work. Working from home is the best thing that could have ever happened. I finally have balance in my life and time to do the things I enjoy because I’m not exhausted all the time. I’m also so much more productive and available for my daughters. — Diane Wessman

What is more likely, though, is a hybrid model in which people work a couple of days at home, a few at the office. As this response suggests, that idea has its benefits:

We should definitely go to a hybrid model of work, mixing at home with in office. I think there are huge benefits to WFH like productivity, reduced commuting and emissions, people spending time in creative but no less productive ways. But…there’s the downside like zoom burnout and lack of social connectivity. So I think giving people the choice to stay home, but maybe go in once or twice a week or whatever, would be an ideal balance for a lot of people. — AlyanWh

Not over-scheduling our kids’ lives

Two young boys are destroying a couple of pillows in a pillowfight, laughing their heads off at all the work they're creating for their mom.
Let kids be kids. Photo: Allen Taylor/Unsplash

A lot of people liked that over-scheduled kids got a break:

Parents who overfill their kids’ schedules with way too many activities/sports/lessons. Hopefully they’ve learned to let kids fill their own time or managed to do it and home. — @Trish_in_NS

I agree too. Other parents used to shake their head at me because my kids took swimming lessons. THAT’S IT?? People would say. Why aren’t they in soccer, little league, martial arts, language classes…. Oi —  @wonder652

Expecting our kids to be so busy they don’t know how to play or be bored once in awhile. — @katies_got_soul

Parents and kids spending more time together. Even though we might be tired of each other at times, there is a different closeness now and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. — Olivia Valor

Options for learning

A photo of a young woman hunched over her laptop
Photo: Unsplash

Kids are back to school for the rest of the year, but online learning worked for some families:

Meaningful learning can and does happen at a distance. Bums in seats in a classroom does not mean learning is happening. Review what works in a variety of learning situations and build on that. — @lmockford

Yes, options for learning, would love to see the province offer the choice of online classes for all grade levels. — LadybugLovesPaper

Virtual conferences and meetings

A Zoom meeting on a laptop, with a mug of hot beverage
Zoom meeting

Many of us are Zoomed out, but taking part in meetings, conferences, and other events gave us options, too. We could attend events all over the world.

Virtual meetings and classes, demos, exhibitions. It has been great not to be excluded by distance. — @margssister

I wrote about this in April. Event planners had to play catch-up with technology, and many of them suspect conferences and other events will be more of a hybrid model in the future.

Virtual health care

A closeup of a woman doctor's hands. She's looking at her phone, wearing a while lab coat and stethoscope.
Photo: National Cancer Institute/Unsplash

Virtual health care is really popular and people want it to stay for good. Personally, I love it. It cuts down on travel time and people are more likely to show up for appointments. It’s a perfect solution for those brief appointments, like those required for just a prescription renewal. I wrote about this in March, and doctors in Nova Scotia were pushing to make this a permanent service. Here’s how some other feel about virtual health care:

Phone in doctor’s appointments! Especially as a person that lives multiple hours away from my family doctor and can’t switch because of the doc shortage! — Alicia Cooke

Phone call doctor appointments for things they don’t need to see- renewals, etc. — Desiree Trott

Oh… And telemedicine really needs to be here to stay. — Kelly Anne Snailham

Virtual doctors appointments should always be available. — NSDebbiMasked

Virtual doctor’s appointments for minor ailments. Sending a photo over a secure connection and a phone call are good enough for the vast majority of doctor’s appointments. Better use of everyone’s time.

Some people have some concerns about virtual care, though.

See, I worry about overuse of phone appointments. PCP’s watch for other things like complexion, body language, etc that won’t nec. come through on a phone call. And many people with processing disorders struggle with telephony or zoom meetings. Should be on offer, but not common. — @GirlsGoneRiled


A screenshot from the Pheedloop website.
Pheedloop Accessibility

A lot of these technological changes mean more people, including people with disabilities, can take part in so many more things. We’re thinking how to make the world more accessible. Keep it going!

Apply the same flexibility and adaptations that we seemingly were so quick to employ at the outset of the pandemic to disabled people who have been advocating for these accommodations for decades; option for virtual conferences, telehealth, work from home etc. — Ally Garber

Accessibility also means access to the internet and computers, too. Internet access continues to be an issue, though, especially in rural areas. It was nice to see schools hand out Chromebooks for kids who needed them for online learning.

Long-term care

A photo of the red and white sign over the front door of the Northwood Centre on Gottingen Street.
Northwood on Gottingen. Photo: Halifax Examiner

The Examiner has covered the COVID-19 situation at Northwood during this pandemic. And it’s exposed how our seniors are treated:

*Fix long term care* Put money into caring for our elders and increase wages for LTC workers and day care workers. We need these workers more than we realize as a society and yet they are massively underpaid for both ends of the care spectrum. — Lara Switty

Attention to long-term care. I think the pandemic has caused the general population to notice that we really don’t do a great job of “caring” for our seniors, and we do an even worse job of looking after those hired to do the caring, (wages, benefits, working conditions, etc.) Let’s not have any of that return to “normal.”— a Facebook friend


A scardboard sign on a wrought fence reads, “HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT,” behind Kevin, a volunteer with Mutual Aid Halifax.
A sign reads, “HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT,” behind Kevin, a volunteer with Mutual Aid Halifax, as he speaks to reporters in Dartmouth on Monday. — Photo: Zane Woodford

Houses are selling for tens of thousands over asking price. Before emergency rent control was introduced, tenants were faced with rental increases they couldn’t afford. More people are living on the streets. Lack of affordable housing has been a huge issue and it’s one we’ll look at more in-depth soon (you can read about that here.)

We should never go back to an uncontrolled rental market. — zero-use plastic

Rent not being allowed to increase by anymore than 2%. — @Judy88728273

Focus on mental health

Paying close attention to our mental health, regular self care and sticking to the life priorities set for ourselves. Nothing like a life threatening pandemic to make us realize how much we used to sweat the little things. Honour those that have died by living our best lives. — @Paula52794612

A lot of responses asked for more mental health resources. We’ve seen an increase in calls to crisis lines, and so on. But many say more needs to be done.

I would add to this: finding the right work-life balance and enjoying hobbies for the hobby’s sake, and not making them “side hustles” for profit.

Universal Basic Income

A photo illustration of several yellow diamond-shaped signs with black capitalized text reading "Basic Income"

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) proved to be a good test for universal basic income and many people would like it to stay:

The UBI we had during the pandemic needs to stay. I’ve seen people who have worked their guts out and harmed their bodies only to get miserable paycheques they cannot live on. [People] who received CERB were much healthier after a few months of money and rest. — Brenda Thompson

The Examiner has covered universal basic income here, here, and here.

Living wages for essential workers

a photo of twenty one dollars and 80 cents.
In Halifax, a living wage is $21.80/hour and a lot of essential workers aren’t making that. Photo: Halifax Examiner

I think you all know how I feel about this. This pandemic showed us who really is working on the frontlines during an emergency. Grocery store workers got a little bump in pay and were labelled heroes, but as soon as restrictions lifted, that pandemic pay was gone, too. Cashiers, shelf stockers — and the folks who work in produce, the bakery, and every other section — are a crucial part of our food distribution system. During this pandemic, they were also at a higher risk of catching the virus. Yet many of them make minimum wage or just above.

The same goes for cleaners and janitors who worked even harder to keep everything clean. Delivery drivers were on the road, dropping off our packages or food.

I think we should pay those who work retail and any service positions a lot more. We have always underpaid everyone who has held those jobs, and that’s something that needs to stop. — @righteousbean

Living wage for grocery store workers, early childhood educators, food service workers, shelter workers, delivery drivers. — Cary Ryan

Not prioritizing equity in our society. We should all be humbled by the selfless work of essential/frontline/healthcare workers & give them fair wages, paid sick days, & respect for the tough work that they do. — Shar

I really hope that those that were making more on gov benefits force crappy employers in the service industry to pay better. BC just raised the server wage to $15.25 thank God! — @BCReality

Underpaying, overworking and generally ignoring the immigrant women who provide essential care as PSWs. — @yep_she


A meme, probably a photo montage, of a grey and white cat leaping onto a ten speed bicycle.

More people are on bicycles! Maybe if we had more/better infrastructure, even more people would get on their bikes and ride.

The run on bicycles and bicycle accessories. — therilesyouknow

Keep opening highways to bikes and pedestrians. — Rob Welch

Popularity of cycling I agree. But I’d also like to be able to go into a bike shop and be able to buy a cassette or a chain. Or even someday a bike without a 12 month wait. — PKCampbell78

Comfortable clothes

A photo of a young blonde woman, wearing a black blazer, dotted blouse, burgundy sweatpants and cozy slippers.
The work from home hybrid outfit: Business on top, casual on the bottom
Photo: @all_about_elle/Twitter

Also, super-comfortable clothes. Preferably without bras though that may never fly. — Barbara Stewart

Wearing real pants?!? — KA Social Media

If anything, this has probably proven that the necessity of dry clean only office wear was probably an expensive affectation. That could stay gone. — Jordan St. John

I joked last week that Phase 1 of my reopening plans involved wearing real pants. For the past several weeks, my work-from-home wardrobe has consisted of leggings, Examiner t-shirts and hoodies, and my red flannel pajama bottoms with the gingerbread-people print. Turns out a lot of other people want to stick with more comfortable wardrobes, too. I’m sure this is part of a desire to live more simply and to ditch office culture. Sure, we’ve had casual days at the office for a while and jeans have been accepted in workplaces. But think of the time we’ve all saved not having to get ready for work and be in public.

Oh, and leggings are real pants.

Exploitive travel

A massivelay large cruiseship dwarfs the buildings in Venice as it passes by.
A cruise ship in Venice.

Not everyone will agree with this one, especially as they plan their next big trip. But a few people said they’d like to see less travel, especially on cruise ships (I always known they were pretty germy).

What did happen over the last year or so, however, is a lot of people explored their own communities, travelled locally and learned about communities they never heard about before. The Atlantic bubble encouraged people to visit communities in their own region.

I would like to see exploitive travel stopped. Cruise ships. Safari. Game hunting. — BookGirl

I’d like to see people plan air travel more mindfully/sparingly as it’s such a contributor to climate change. Plus all the poor destinations like Venice getting loved to death. — @soozapaloozan


A couple of weeks ago, Iris the Amazing and I had a conversation about how many of us learned about the negative effects of isolation. I think we’ve all felt it a bit as we stay home, cut off from friends and family, and our regular routines. But living in isolation is sadly too normal for far too many: seniors in long-term care homes or in rural communities; people who are experiencing abuse; caregivers who look after family members; people in jail and prison; children who are abused and neglected. I know there are others.

You and I will get back to our regular lives one day and we’ll reconnect. But we should think about the ways in which others are cut off from their communities. Isolation doesn’t even mean being alone. You can be with people and still feel isolated.

Only one person responded with an answer about isolation. But I hope it’s something we all think about now.

Isolationism. Where we are divided by the promise of personal gain, selfish gains over anything or anyone. Perhaps because we were forced apart by the Pandemic, that we come together as friends and neighbours. — @MichaelBest54


I’ve seen that social media meme floating around saying we’re not all in the same boat. It’s true and this pandemic revealed inequalities in many ways. So I’ll wrap up with a few thoughts on that:

Normal should not include racist colonialized actions that undermine First Nations autonomy and devastate our environment. — Cindy MacCallum Miller

Another one I’ve been thinking about is more conscious collective action, and seeing how when we have time to step back and rest, we have time to make changes or demand change. — @Loliryder

Capitalism. Wealth inequality has continued to increase. Power differentials, largely based on economic metrics, continue to widen. — @RogerNDavis

Lack of supports for low income families. The pandemic magnified where are systems fall short. Today for instance: where do people go for heat relief? — @RothwellMrs

We shouldn’t have the massive imbalance of rich vs poor – especially when the super rich do so on the backs of the poor and then leave them hanging. — Sonja Regier

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As you know, I filled in for Tim Bousquet writing and tweeting the COVID-19 updates. Iris was a big help, too. We were Zooming on Saturday, reviewing some tech issues. This is very detailed work, waiting around for the numbers, tweeting them out, and then packaging it all into an article. I don’t know how Tim does it every day.

(If you don’t already, you should subscribe so Tim can keep you all updated. You can subscribe here.)

Yesterday after I wrapped up the COVID update, I took a drive to the Eastern Shore, one of my favourite drives in the province. It’s beautiful there, and so quiet.

I stopped in Sheet Harbour where I found this. Ahh, I love what I find on road trips!

A photo of a small motel building with a fence in a rural area. There are many tourist posters on the fence. In the foreground is a large red painted box on the back of a pickup truck. In the truck bed is a bag of castoff white lace fabric items, possibly a tablecloth or wedding dress. Also in the truck bed is a nearly nude male mannequin. His torso and lower half are separated, and on his lower half he's wearing long white support kneesocks. His naked mannequin butt is facing the bright sunshine.
Half-cut in Sheet Harbour. Photo: Suzanne Rent

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Investment Policy Advisory Committee (Monday, 12pm) — live on YouTube


Committee of the Whole and Halifax Regional Council (Tuesday, 10am) — both livestreamed on YouTube with captioning on a text-only site; Committee of the Whole agenda; Halifax Regional Council agenda



No meetings.


Health (Tuesday, 1pm) — video conference: IWK Programs and Services across the Province and Atlantic Canada, with several specialists from the IWK Health Centre

On campus



No public events


WATER: An Atlantic Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Roundtable (Tuesday, 1pm) — Zoom event:

hosted in partnership with Creative Destruction Lab – Atlantic (CDL) at Dalhousie University, Women in Business New Brunswick (WBNB), Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub and Ulnooweg. Join this free event with presentations from Indigenous women and Elders who work closely with the water we so heavily rely on, and an engaging discussion about what we can each do going forward to protect the water in the Atlantic region.

In the harbour

05:30: Siem Aristotle, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Emden, Germany
07:00: Manon, car carrier, arrives at Pier 31 from Southampton, England
10:00: AlgoScotia, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from Montreal
11:30: Siem Aristotle sails for sea
13:30: Manon moves to Autoport
14:00: Lagrafoss, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
15:00: NYK Meteor, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Antwerp, Belgium
21:00: Atlantic Star, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Baltimore
22:30: Manon sails for sea
23:45: Lagrafoss sails for Portland

Cape Breton
07:45: Orange Tiger, bulker, arrives at Canso outer anchorage from Sept-Iles, Quebec
13:00: Orange Tiger sails for sea


Welcome back, Tim! I hope you had a great weekend. I’ll fill in anytime.

Please subscribe, or drop us a donation. Thanks!

Suzanne Rent is a writer, editor, and researcher. You can follow her on Twitter @Suzanne_Rent and on Mastodon

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  1. Thanks for a great Morning File, Suzanne, including the photo from Sheet Harbour : – ).

  2. At least two of those items on the list are related: Bikes were in short supply in part because bikes and bike components are all made overseas. At the same time, we’re talking about UBI because people do not have jobs. There is nothing stopping us from making bikes in Canada again other than the higher costs of labor in Canada and stronger environmental protections making imported products “cheaper”. There’s a solution to this problem that is a lot cheaper than UBI – tariffs.

  3. I worked in Schools for 30 years and was way ahead of the handwashing/ sanitizer curve. The sanitizer is a fairly recent thing. It wasn’t fool proof but the last three years I worked without much more than a slight cough.
    I just wish I would have thought of the mask thing.