News

1. Neighbours speak up about short-term rentals

Alexander Quon at Global has a good piece on the short-term rental market in Nova Scotia. Quon interviewed Bill Stewart who lives in the Hydrostone and who’s frustrated with some of the problems coming from the short-term rentals on his block. Stewart says there’s a “string of visitors” at one house in particular, and fights and late-night parties. Stewart started a group called Neighbours Speak Up to talk about the issue and lobby the provincial government.

If we see an increase in the number of short-term rentals, potential buyers may try to purchase those properties, and we will begin to end up with a lot more visitors in our neighbourhood than there are residents.

Quon also chats with Jordan Hipson, CEO and founder of Over Sea Real Estate Management, who manages short-term rentals. Hipson says he started with one property in 2016 and now has 60. Hipson tells Quon short-term rentals aren’t affecting the long-term housing stock and are good for the economies of smaller communities.

Places like [Chester, N.S.], where there is no hotel, is now seeing a growth in tourism because people actually have somewhere to stay right there.

In March, the province announced new legislation around short-term rentals like Airbnb with regulations to come into effect in 2020. Business Minister Geoff MacLellan told Global consultations, including with Neighbours Speak Up, have started.

2. Former CBC building to be demolished in 2020

A tender will be out this fall for the demolition of the former CBC building on Bell Road, according to a report by CBC Nova Scotia. 

In a press release, Health Minister Randy Delorey says the site will be used for the expansion of the QEII site.

The demolition of the CBC Building will allow for the expansion of the Halifax Infirmary site that includes a new cancer centre, outpatient centre, research and innovation centre, and an expanded inpatient care centre.

The province bought the building and the land in 2017 for $4.5 million. The demolition is expected to cost $1.6 million and will take place in 2020.

DHX Media is the current tenant and will work out of the building until the end of the year.

3. The media’s role in the decline in rooming houses

The city condemned this rooming house at 2179 Gottingen Street. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Robert Devet at The Nova Scotia Advocate has an interview with Jill Grant about the disappearing rooming houses in the city and the role the media has played in that. Grant is a retired professor at Dalhousie’s School of Planning, who published a paper, Regulating marginality: how the media characterises a maligned housing option. Janelle Derksen and Howard Ramos are the paper’s co-writers.

The paper looks into local media reporting on rooming houses and how that affects policies from City Hall.

Grant, Derksen, and Ramos looked at 272 articles in local print media  between 1995 and 2015 and found only nine that had a positive tone about rooming houses.

In the interview, Grant says originally they wanted to study why there was a decrease in rooming houses in the city and in that research started to notice the negative ways in which rooming houses were described in the media.

That message coming from the media has made it easier for the authorities to say that we have to regulate these rooming houses, and then that we have to close them, without considering what the social implications of those choices are.

Now we have fewer people who have to live in places with bedbugs and leaking plumbing and so on, but people still need to live somewhere. If we don’t want people to have to live in those kind of conditions we have to make sure they have the resources to live in better places.

Journalists of course are part of society, and so they bring that social understanding to the work they do. I think all of us do that, it’s really hard to get away from that. Until we started working on analyzing the data that we published in this paper I really hadn’t thought about it myself, and it hadn’t occurred to me that this kind of framing was going on.

As reporters you make choices every day about what is a story, what isn’t a story, and how you tell the story. Those choices ultimately have an impact in society in terms of what people pay attention to.

Grant says between the dates of articles, 1995 to 2015, there were about 200 addresses in the city that at one time were rooming houses. By the time of their study in 2018, there were 70 or 80 rooming houses left, with 50 of those for students.

4. Man arrested in phone scam

A man in Ontario was arrested after a woman in Hilden, between Brookfield and Truro, was scammed out of $15,000, according to a report from Preston Mulligan at the CBC.

The man told the woman he was working with the RCMP and a bank. When she questioned if the call was legit, the man asked her to call the number on the back of her debit card. The suspect answered that call.

Const. Akhil Mooken of the Peel Regional Police say they are working with the phone company to figure out what happened.

With the advancements in technology, the criminals are getting more advanced and so is the equipment and techniques that they’re using.

The woman sent the money in three different packages, three of which were returned to her.

5. Shelter Movers gives women a chance to start over

Moving day.

On Wednesday, Yvette d’Entremont at The Star wrote a story about an organization called Shelter Movers, which just opened a Nova Scotia chapter. Volunteers with Shelter Movers help women leaving situations of domestic violence move and store their belongings for free. They even provide pet fostering, language interpreters, and security guards, if needed.

Women leaving domestic violence have many barriers, including money, transportation, and communication. Having someone to help you move is a positive step toward getting out and starting over. Marc Hull-Jacquin of Halifax started Shelter Movers in Toronto in 2016. He says they want to make sure women can take their belongings with them.

Shelters rarely have any storage of any kind, and the challenge that women face is that most shelters have a two-bag limit, so if you imagine putting your whole life in those two bags and you won’t see the rest of your stuff ever again.

Shelter Movers is donor-funded, and they’ve partnered with Alice Housing, Bryony House and the YWCA.

Yesterday on her Facebook page, d’Entremont says she got some angry emails about the story, including a message from one man who called her a “man hating bitch” for writing the article. But this service is excellent news for anyone fleeing domestic violence,  most of whom are women. Good on Hull-Jacquin and the volunteers with Shelter Movers.  This service will change lives.


Views

1. Where are the women in the Nova Scotia workforce?

In February, the Halifax Regional Municipality released its Executive Standing Committee’s HRM Workforce Report for 2017-2018 which showed that women make up 29.1 per cent of the municipality’s workforce. I’ve been thinking about this for a while and was curious to know how many women work in other sectors around the province, so I set out to get some numbers.

Statistics Canada has numbers for each year from 2014 to 2018 for females and males in a number of industries.

The breakdown for women over the age of 15 is here.

And for males over 15, it’s here.

According to these numbers, there are more women in the service-producing sectors, healthcare and social assistance, educational services, and accommodations and food service.

For women in forestry and logging, and support activities for forestry, mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, the “x” means the estimate didn’t meet the threshold requirements for reporting. That number is different for each region or province. The threshold in Nova Scotia is 500, so the x means there are fewer than 500 women working in those industries.

I went looking for more specific numbers. This is about as scientific as me making a long list of industry associations to contact and sending out a bunch of emails. Most of the people I contacted got back to me with numbers. If the industry associations or other employer groups didn’t keep track of how many women work in their industry, they told me so and I included that below. Others included details on programs they have to hire more women. I think this is a pretty good look at where the women are in the provincial workforce. So, here we go.

Doctors

Male physicians

Specialist: 813

Family medicine: 606

Total: 1,419

Female Physicians

Specialist: 453

Family medicine: 547

Total: 1,000

Source: Doctors Nova Scotia

Lawyers
According to a statistical snapshot from the Nova Scotia Barrister’s Society Annual Lawyer Report from the fall of 2018/2019, there were 774 women practicing law compared to 1,104 men. That information is further broken down into how many years since those members were called to the bar. There are 422 men with more than 27 years of practice compared to 115 women. The numbers are much better for those with less than seven years with 258 women and 241 women. The society didn’t have any figure on how many female partners there are in firms in Nova Scotia. This information is self-reported, so lawyers aren’t required to self-identify, although this was the first annual report in which members were asked to self-identify.

Dentistry

According to the Nova Scotia Dental Association, 44.5 per cent of their membership or 260 members are women.

Dental hygiene remains a female-dominated sector. The College of Dental Hygienists of Nova Scotia has 718 registrants who hold a license to practice and 98 per cent of them are women.

Nursing

According to numbers from the Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union, in 2017, there were 3,913 female licensed practical nurses (LPNs), 156 female nurse practitioners, and 9,088 registered nurses (including nurse practitioners). In the same year, there were 229 male LPNs, seven male nurse practitioners, and 573 male registered nurses, which again, includes nurse practitioners.

Pharmacy

I contacted the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia,  but they don’t track numbers of women working as pharmacists.

Provincial government

The provincial civil service is made up of 56 per cent women. Brian Taylor with Communications Nova Scotia told me 53 per cent of the jobs classified as EC12 and above (that includes managers) are women. Over at the Department of Agriculture, eight out of nine of the senior leadership roles are held by women. Taylor added that nine of the 17 deputy ministers are women, 10 of the 13 associate deputy ministers are women, and the head of the public service is a woman.

RCMP

As of April 1, 2019, there 778 male RCMP members and 199 female RCMP members working in the province. No break down of rank was available.

In civilian staff,  there are 55 male civilian members and 68 female civilian members and 54 male public servants and 297 female public servants. (Both civilian members and public servants are categories of RCMP employees who are both civilian).

Military

The DND sent me a very detailed Excel document that breaks down members of the regular forces and reserves by rank and gender. These are numbers for all of Canada. I can’t include it all here, but thought I’d add some highlights.  Overall, 15.7 per cent of the Canadian Armed Forces, including the regular force and the primary reserve, are women. There were 10,399 women in the regular forces and 4,906 in the primary reserve, as of May 31.

Navy:  642 female officers  and 2,396 male officers, and 1,168 female non-commissioned members and 6,689 male non-commissioned members (NCMs).

Army:  1,281 female officers and 6,050 male officers and 3,466 female NCMs 25,702 male NCMs.

Air force: 1,339 female officers and 5.249 male officers, 2,482 female NCMs and 10,949 male NCMs.

My contact, Olivier Gallant, told me the forces has a commitment of increasing the representation of women by one per cent each year, with a target of reaching 25.1 per cent by 2026.

As for civilian staff working for DND across the country, there are 11,666 women and 15,971 men.

Engineers

I spoke with Len White, CEO and registrar at Engineers Nova Scotia, which is the licensing and regulatory body for engineers in the province. He tells me there are 839 female professional engineers (P.Eng.) and engineers-in-training (EIT) licensed by Engineers Nova Scotia. That’s 12 per cent of its 7,006 members.

White says they’re working on more representation of women in the field and the numbers are growing; he says more than 26 per cent of the growth in EITs last year was in women. The average age of the male membership is 51 and 39 for female. The association started in 1920 and didn’t have its first female member until 1970. White says their long-term goal was more diversity and inclusion, while a mid-term goal is to have women represent at least 30 per cent of its new P.Eng. membership.

Half of the group’s governing council is female, its last several presidents have been women, and two-thirds of its executive is women.

Education

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union has 8,722 members and 6,723, or 77 per cent, of those identified as female. That’s just teachers. Angela Murray, the public relations coordinator with the NSTU, says last year the membership would have included administrators and community college faculty. She told me in an email the percentage of women would have been less, but probably still at about 70 per cent.

The Halifax Regional Education Centre has 7,877 employees and 72.4 per cent identify as female for a total of 6,086. This number is for all employee groups, including teachers.

ACOA

I was also curious about who was getting the money from ACOA for projects. The agency just started encouraging applicants to self-identify in November 2018, but self-identifying is not mandatory. Since November 2018, ACOA has funded 891 new projects. Of those, 63 projects are women-owned and/or -led. More specifically, 46 are women-owned and -led businesses, 10 are women-led businesses only, and seven are women-owned businesses only. Chris Brooks, the director of communications and outreach, gathered all this information for me and says the agency knows, anecdotally, those numbers are higher.

Real Estate

The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors has a membership of 1252 realtors and 52 per cent of the realtors are women.

Port of Halifax

Richard Moore, president and CEO of the Halifax Employers Association, which represents the longshoremen at the Port, says the number of longshoremen fluctuates throughout the year, but they have about 500 employees in three union locals. About 12 per cent or 60 of those members are women. Moore says in The Halifax Freight and Steamship Checkers’ Union, Local 1341, about 32 per cent of the membership is women.

At the Halifax Port Authority, spokesperson Lane Farguson says there are 85 staff members,  including those in the Halifax Seaport Market, and he estimates about half are women. Karen Oldfield is the CEO of the HPA.

Energy sector

I emailed Ray Ritcey, the CEO of the Maritime Energy Association, who says the association doesn’t track the numbers of women in the sector, although he pointed me to a couple of groups that promote women in the industry: WIECAN and Young Women in Energy.

Mining

Sarah Kirby at the Mining Association of Nova Scotia told me the association doesn’t track the number of women working in mining.

Farming

According to the Census of Agriculture from Statistic Canada, women made up 27.3 per cent of all Nova Scotia farm operators in 2016, which is the highest number in Atlantic Canada and up from 25.9 per cent in 2011. It’s lower than the national average, which is 28.7 per cent of all farm operators in 2016.

Retail

The Retail Council of Canada directed me to a link at Statistics Canada for its numbers. In 2018, there were 33,900 women over the age of 15 working in retail.  That’s full time, part time, and casual. There were 31,800 men working in retail.

Tourism

The numbers include those for employees working in the tourism sector, accommodations, food and beverage, recreation and entertainment, transportation, and travel services. In total, that’s 427,310 employees in Nova Scotia. Of those, 50.3 per cent are men, 49.7 are women. More women work in accommodations (65.5 per cent), food and beverage (62.4 per cent), and travel services (76.2).

Source: TIANS/Statistics Canada

Restaurants

Gordon Stewart, executive director of the Restaurant Association, sent me some estimates from its membership:

  • 35 per cent are owners or part owners of restaurants
  • 20 per cent are working chefs in restaurant
  • 62 per cent are servers
  • 50 per cent are bakers
  • 30 per cent are kitchen staff
  • 45 per cent are supervisors/managers
  • 50 per cent are sommeliers

ACTRA

Richard Hadley at ACTRA Maritimes says they have 168 full members who identify as female and 206 who identify as male, while there are 75 apprentice members who identify as female and 87 that identify as male. Hadley says a big issue in their industry is representation of women on screen. He sent along a link for the Bechdel Test, which gauges the participation and portrayal of female characters in film.

Trades
In the 2017-2018 year, the Nova Scotia Apprentice Agency had the highest numbers of apprentices to date (6,611). In that time frame, the number of female apprentices increased by 18.2 per cent with 414 female registered apprentices. The agency also provided $2,137,500 in grants through its Apprenticeship START program to 482 businesses that employed 661 apprentices. Of those 661 apprentices, 9.7 per cent are women. You can see more here.

In the agency’s 2017-2018 annual report, the numbers show that more women are taking part in non-traditional trades, with the top five as cook (42 per cent), welder (18 per cent), construction technician (4.5 per cent), carpenter (7 per cent), and automotive service technician (4.7 per cent)

I don’t think any of these numbers came as a surprise to me. There are still lots of women in education and healthcare roles, like nursing and dental hygiene. I was glad to hear some industries, like engineering and the military, are working to recruit more women. It would be interesting to see how many people of colour and Indigenous Nova Scotians are represented in the same sectors.


Noticed

Alexander Quon at Global tweeted out this photo yesterday. A nice message as we head into a long weekend.

For any historians or genealogists out there, Sherri Borden Colley at CBC tweeted out a request for help locating and identifying grave sites and headstones of No. 2 soldiers of the 1st World War, 1916-20.

Here’s the entire post she received from George Borden, secretary of the BBHMS:

The Black Battalion Historical Marker Society (BBHMS) formed since September 20, 2018, is seeking your help in locating, identifying and photographing grave sites and headstones of No. 2 soldiers of the 1st World War, 1916-20. It is our hope that your board of directors, along with your field officers, will personally or through contacts help to find the location, identify the grave and headstone, and as well, take a clear photo of those headstones. Then, email or postal mail your findings to The Black Cultural Centre (Coordination Centre), 10 Cherry Brook Road, Cherry Brook, NS B2Z 1A8 Attn: BBHMS Email contact: contact@bccns.com Your assistance will contribute to the creation of an electronic inventory, for which resources will be secured to beautify, upkeep and maintain the last resting place of our ancestral warriors.


Government

No public meetings.


On campus

Dalhousie

Roddy Campbell’s Retirement Get-together (Friday, 2pm, Tupper Link) — if you know Roddy and want to give him a retirement watch or some such, you’re welcome to join.


In the harbour

Friday
06:00: ZIM Vancouver, container ship, arrives at Pier 41 from Valencia, Spain

East Coast. Photo: Halifax Examiner

07:00: East Coast, oil tanker, arrives at Irving Oil from Saint John
10:00: AIDAvita, cruise ship with up to 1,582 passengers, arrives at Pier 22 from Sydney, on a 14-day roundtrip cruise out of Montreal
15:30: Undine, car carrier, moves from Autoport to Pier 31
16:00: Julius-S, container ship, arrives at HalTerm from Lisbon, Portugal
16:30: ZIM Vancouver sails for New York
20:30: Platytera, oil tanker, arrives at Imperial Oil from IJmuiden, Netherlands
20:30: AIDAvita sails for St. John’s
20:30: Undine sails for sea
22:00: IT Intrepid, cable layer, sails from Wilson’s Fuel Dock for sea

Saturday
10:00: Dimitra C, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
13:00: Julius-S sails for New York

Upcoming cruise ship arrivals
Monday: Celebrity Summit (up to 2,100 passengers)
Tuesday: Queen Mary 2 (up to 2,620 passengers) and Insignia (up to 800 passengers)


Footnotes

For the next year, I’m working on a project called Not Without Us with Easter Seals Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia League for Equal Opportunities. I’m organizing and hosting five community meetings around the province that will give women with disabilities who’ve experienced domestic violence an opportunity to talk about accessibility. The staff from women-serving organizations like transition houses are also invited to attend. After the meetings, I’ll be writing a report based on what I heard. All names will remain confidential.

This is a chance for women to share their stories, but also have a say in solutions that could shape the standards for accessibility in transition houses and other organizations, so these women can leave abusive situations.

If you know anyone who’d like to be part of the meeting, send an email to suzannerentnwu@gmail.com. The first meeting is in Dartmouth on Wednesday, July 10. I’ll be in Sydney and Yarmouth in August, and Kentville and Amherst in September. I’m also working on a template for those who can’t make the meetings, but who want to have a say.

Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Men and women make different career choices for many reasons, biology being one. Men are drawn towards occupations that involve things and women towards those that are about people.

    We need to worry less about achieving a gender balanced workforce and focus instead on removing barriers to equality for both men and women so that their competence becomes why they’re hired.

    Equality of opportunity is what’s desired, equality of outcome will only lead to failure.

  2. My take away from this article was not about the ratio of male to female doctors, but that there are only 2419 doctors for a population just shy of a million!!!!! That’s insane! I think that definitely qualifies as a health care crisis.

  3. I find the perspective of neighbours of short-term rentals interesting. I am a frequent business traveller and last year I switched from hotels to AirBNB’s and have not looked back. I am not one to have a raucous party in a rented apartment, so I don’t believe I have had a profoundly negative effect on my neighbours. But I can appreciate that there may be problems, and that people may be more comfortable in their homes when there is stability around them.

  4. It appears that TIANS believes virtually the entire labour force in the province is a part of their “industry”. I had no idea it was that important!

  5. How many women are out on the fishing boats, the offshore supply boats, the tankers owned by Irving ?
    How many women working as toolpushers or roustabouts ?
    How many women are long distance truckers,plumbers,electricians,welders,roofers,carpenters ?
    Should school boards stop hiring women until men comprise circa 50% of the classroom workforce ?

    1. Most elementary teachers are female….it is now possible to go through your entire elementary school years without ever having a male teacher.

      Research evidence is that young male students experience improvements in literacy, decreases in behavioural problems, decreases in truancy, improved classroom participation, improvements in group work, etc etc when they have (some) male teachers in their elementary schools….where they act as male role models, male authority figures etc.

      But don’t expect anything to be done to change the current patterns in elementary school.

      Why?

      Because research also suggests that the general public (in the past at least, I haven’t read any literature in the past decade on this but I see no reason to believe there has been much of a change) is suspicious of the motivations of males who want to work with elementary students and suspect?fear?assume? that they are gay/paedophiles (which are often erroneously conflated by the general public)…which reduces any likelihood of there being any public pressure to change this. I was a male elementary teacher when I first read that research and I can tell you that I was shocked that such was the case (being heterosexual and all).

      On top of that you’d have to have faculties of education that want to change those m/f teacher ratios, and I’ve not noted anything that suggests that they have any interest in that change.

      I’ll tell you an anecdote that illustrates this.

      I once had a male student in my secondary science methods course (which one takes to become a jr high/high school science teacher). Near the end of the program after a practicum (i.e., field experience) experience I asked my students if they had decided what grades they wanted to teach and why. So this student says that even after his practicum he still wanted to teach grades 1 to 3 and why. I look at him, puzzled, and then moved on to the rest. But after the class I asked him why he was in the secondary program. He said that he’d applied for the elementary program for 2 years and had been turned down…I was surprised because his background was in science and math (he had a major in one and a minor in the other) and we really need teachers in those fields in elementary schools. So, after he’d been turned down for the elementary program 2 years running he then decided to go to college and get an Early Childhood Education diploma. He graduated at the top of his class and received an award for that, so he applied to the BEd program again for elementary. And he got turned down again. But at the beginning of the summer the university contacted him and said they had an opening in their Secondary BEd program and would he consider taking that. So he did. And that’s how he ended up in my class.

      Make of that what you will. But it does suggest that one reason we don’t have more males in the elementary school system (and this is a problem across Canada, that university wasn’t a Nova Scotia one) is a systemic one that if we want to do anything about it will require pro-active actions on the part of Bachelor of Education programs and Departments of Education.

      1. I hear from a male relative who is going to be a teacher in Ontario soon that men get preferential treatment as teachers because the school system is trying to fix the gender imbalance. However he wants to teach at the high school level.

        I got to sixth grade without a male teacher other than the gym teacher. The only other men in the elementary school I attended were the janitors. How would this have felt if my father were absent or dead?

        The entire notion that women are engaged in a oppressed-vs-oppressor class struggle with men, and come the inversion of the supposedly hierarchical relationship, we will all eat strawberries and cream is nonsense. The well-being of boys is inseparable from the well-being of girls because eventually those boys and girls will make the next crop of boys and girls.

        Our society celebrates the fact that girls cope with the public school system better than boys do, but if boys outperformed girls in the school system, there would be a hue and cry to change the school system (this actually happened in the 80s and 90s).

  6. Excellent article by Suzanne Rent — the figures are shocking, and one wonders what all these bodies, including HRM, are doing to change the balance between men and women. It is telling to see that organizations including the Mining Association of NS , the Maritime Energy Association, the NS Pharmacy Association and the federal government’s ACOA don’t bother to track the sex of their members. Why do you suppose that is — in this day and age.

  7. A close friend arrived home from a week in Cape Breton visiting family to a note on her door from her landlord. It went something like this” “Thanks for being a good, long term tenant. We’ve decided to renovate the unit and turn it into an Air BnB. We would appreciate it if you could be out within the next three months.”

    I highly doubt that’s the only instance of a small landlord converting an apartment to a short-term rental. Comparing Chester (where there’s no hotel, nor a housing affordability/availability problem) to Halifax isn’t fair nor reasonable. Our vacancy rate is at an extreme low, the cost of a two-bedroom apartment is on the rise. We literally can’t afford to lose any apartments, let alone lose affordable spaces that end up renovated for Air BnB.

    The soon-to-be-available new housing stock will further increase prices and won’t be enough to affect the vacancy rate. If you haven’t had to look for a place to live in the past year or so, you do not understand how much it has changed. It is difficult to find a place, you end up (as I did) lowering your standards to get anything. Competition is fierce for even the most modest of apartments.

    She’s ugly out there. It doesn’t look like it’s going to get any better any time soon.