News

1. Concrete capture

Lafarge Canada, Brookfield cement plant. Photo taken on a recent site tour of the facility during “winter shut-down,” when operations were on hold for yearly maintenance of machinery. Photo: Linda Pannozzo

“In 2017, Environment Minister (now Premier) Iain Rankin approved Lafarge Canada’s proposal for a one-year pilot project to burn scrap tires in its 55-year-old cement plant in Brookfield near Shortts Lake, about 13 kilometres south of Truro,” reports Linda Pannozzo:

The plan to use tire derived fuel (TDF) at the Brookfield plant involved injecting 350,000 tires a year (6,000 tonnes) — 15% of the kiln’s total fuel input — into a cement kiln where they would, according to Lafarge, “combust faster than the eye can see” in a 1,450 degrees Celsius inferno. 

[D]ocuments obtained by the Halifax Examiner through a Freedom of Information request reveal that senior government scientists within Nova Scotia’s Department of Environment (NSE) raised serious pollution-related questions and concerns about Lafarge’s 2017 EA registration document — but the project was approved anyway. 

This is the first of a three-part investigative report. Click here to read “Concrete capture, Part 1: When Lafarge Canada proposed to burn Nova Scotia’s scrap tires as a solution to climate change, senior government scientists raised serious concerns, but the plan was approved anyway.”

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2. Digital tax credit

The Halifax Examiner has qualified for the Digital News Subscription Tax Credit, under section 118.02 of the Income Tax Act.

The tax credit allows individuals to claim up to $500 for subscriptions to qualified Canadian journalism organizations. See here for more details, and for the tax forms necessary to claim the credit.

Subscriptions from the years 2020 through 2024 are eligible. The tax credit applies to individuals (not companies or institutions), and only for subscriptions to the Halifax Examiner (that is, only in part for the joint subscriptions with the Cape Breton Spectator). Click here for the list of subscriptions that are eligible for the tax credit.

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3. Unsung Heroes

Photo: Nova Scotia Nurses Union

Jennifer Henderson reports that the province has commissioned yet another study of staffing levels at long-term care facilities.

The previous studies include

• the Nova Scotia Nurses Union December 2015 report, “Broken Homes
• the Expert Panel on Long-Term Care’s December 2018 report
• the Royal Society of Canada’s Working Group on Long-Term Care’s 2020 report, “Restoring Trust

All three reports revealed the obvious: staffing levels need to be increased in long-term care facilities.

Now, reports Henderson:

[T]hanks to a recent grant of $97,412 from the Nova Scotia Health Research Fund (administered by Nova Scotia Health), Dr. Janice Keefe and two investigators will interview people about working conditions in eight nursing homes across the province. The project described as “The Unsung Heroes, Long-Term Care staff’s quality of work life” is expected to report next spring — a year from now. 

Click here to read “Unsung Heroes.”

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4. Bikeway

Some of the bikeway infrastructure already installed on Allan Street, at the corner of Chebucto Lane, shown in a July 2019 Google Streetview image.

“The municipality is looking for a contractor to rebuild the intersection of Oak, Oxford, and Allan streets with traffic signals and new cycling infrastructure,” reports Zane Woodford:

The work is part of the city’s Allan/Oak Local Street Bikeway project, creating a cycling route, albeit with no protected bike lanes. The bikeway, like the one on nearby Vernon Street, uses curb extensions and speed humps to slow traffic.

Click here to read “Halifax tenders for redesigned Oak-Oxford-Allan intersection, part of bikeway project.”

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5. Rankin

“During a Chamber of Commerce state-of-the-province event last week, our new premier postured back at the chamber’s posturing about his government’s budget,” writes Stephen Kimber. “But should we have faith he means what he says?”

Click here to read “Premier Rankin talks a good game. Where have we heard that before?”

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6. COVID-19

Photo by Georg Eiermann on Unsplash

The steady increase in COVID cases in Nova Scotia continues — two on Friday, seven on Saturday, five on Sunday — almost entirely representing those flying in with the disease and their close contacts. It seems there’s so much pestilence in the rest of Canada that there’s a good chance that someone travelling into Nova Scotia is carrying the virus.

Most disturbing is that one of the new cases is a woman over 80 (the rest are relatively young people, including two people 19 years old or younger). There are now three people in hospital with the disease, but I don’t know if the elderly woman is one of them.

As of this morning, there are 40 known active cases in the province.

The active cases are distributed as follows:

• 13 in the Halifax Peninsula/Chebucto Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 6 in the Dartmouth/Southeastern Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 3 in the Bedford/Sackville Community Health Network in the Central Zone
• 1 in the Colchester/East Hants Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 1 in the Pictou Community Health Network in the Northern Zone
• 4 in the Cape Breton Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Antigonish & Guysborough Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 1 in the Inverness, Victoria, and Richmond Community Health Network in the Eastern Zone
• 4 in the Annapolis and Kings Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 3 in the Lunenburg & Queens Community Health Network in the Western Zone
• 1 in the Yarmouth, Shelburne & Digby Community Health Network in the Western Zone

Two cases are not assigned to a Community Health Network, but they are in the Central Zone; I believe these are people from Nova Scotia but living in another province.

I’ve updated the potential COVID exposure advisory map to remove expired advisories and to add new advisories from over the weekend:

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7. Big raises at Emera

Emera President Scott Balfour. Photo: Emera

This item is written by Jennifer Henderson.

Emera’s president and CEO got a million dollar raise last year. Scott Balfour earned eye-popping compensation totalling $7.78 million for exceeding performance expectations at the helm of the parent company of Nova Scotia Power and Tampa Electric. Balfour received a $1.4 million cash bonus on top of his $1-million salary. 

The majority of his compensation is tied up in deferred share units and stock options that don’t get paid out until he leaves the company or retires. The philosophy is that senior executives will work harder for shareholders if most of their compensation (86% in Balfour’s case) depends on the future growth of the company. 

Emera shareholders are doing very nicely, thank you. The stock price is hovering at $55-60 a share. The company saw earnings rise by 13% last year and a 4% increase in the dividend for each common share. Over the past three years, Emera has delivered a 10% return to shareholders on an annualized basis.

From a small power company in Nova Scotia, Emera has morphed into a major North American player with electricity and natural gas businesses now worth $31 billion. 

Four other top executives at Emera earned total compensation packages totalling more than $2 million each. Tampa Electric president Nancy Tower is due to retire this June after the Haligonian spent much of her career working as the Chief Financial Officer for Nova Scotia Power.

This information about executive compensation is contained in the management circular (filed with SEDAR) that accompanied the announcement of Emera’s annual general meeting scheduled for May 20. The meeting will be held virtually due to COVID. The 100-page document includes a motion to increase by 3,000,000 the number of common shares senior executives are permitted to receive as stock options to “incentivize” their performance. 

Directors’ pay

In 2020, Emera removed meeting payments to 10 Directors and moved to a flat payment structure. It also removed per meeting travel allowances and moved to a single $10,000 travel allowance. COVID meant the Board met by videoconference and directors are expected to return the travel allowance for the last three quarters of 2020.

The annual retainer for Directors in 2020 was $227,500, payable as $85,000 in cash and $142,500 in Deferred Share Units (DSUs).

DSUs cannot be redeemed for cash until the director leaves the board. DSUs are not shares, cannot be converted to shares, and do not carry voting rights. The value of DSUs is based on the value of the common shares of Emera, and therefore is not guaranteed.

Well, only the magnitude of the pay day is in question. Looks obscenely good to most of us.

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Government

City

Monday

North West Community Council (Monday, 7pm) — virtual meeting; captioning on a text-only site.

Tuesday

Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 6pm) — live streamed; captioning on a text-only site.

Province

Monday

Law Amendments (Monday, 9am) — via video conference:

Bill No. 85 – Securities Act (amended)
Bill No. 87 – Pension Benefits Act (amended)
Bill No. 92 – Continuing Care Assistants Registry Act
Bill No. 95 – Parenting and Support Act (amended)
Bill No. 97 – Electricity Act (amended)

Private and Local Bills (Monday, 3:30pm) — via video conference:

Bill No. 74 – An Act to Incorporate The Yarmouth Golf and Country Club (amended)
Bill No. 77 – Digby Marketing and Promotions Levy Act

Legislature sits (Monday, 5pm)

Tuesday

Health (Tuesday, 9am) — live broadcast:

Nova Scotia Health Authority — Joanne Stone, Geoff Piers, Colin Stevenson
Department of Health and Wellness — Kevin Orrell, Angela Purcell
IWK Health Centre —Steve Ashton, Matthew Campbell

Legislature sits (Tuesday, 12pm)


On campus

No events that we’re aware of today or tomorrow.


In the harbour

Halifax
05:00: Atlantic Sea, ro-ro container, arrives at Fairview Cove from Norfolk
05:30: Sirius Highway, car carrier, arrives at Autoport from Southampton, England
10:00: Ef Ava, container ship, arrives at Pier 42 from Reykjavik, Iceland
11:30: Sirius Highway sails for sea
15:30: Atlantic Sea sails for Liverpool, England
21:30: Ef Ava sails for Portland

Cape Breton
No arrivals or departures.


Footnotes

I wanted to write about anti-SLAPP legislation, but ran out of time. I’ll have that for the next Morning File I write.

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Tim Bousquet

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

Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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19 Comments

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    1. Your retirement income will depend upon the return from private sector investments.
      As will your medical insurance,home insurance,vehicle insurance and life insurance.

    1. Yes, I immediately sent the return form giving my assent for the Examiner to be included on the list, but it turns out that Canada Post doesn’t deliver mail instantaneously. The Examiner is approved, and will be included on the list as soon as they receive my signed form.

  1. Re Emera – gross, and dare I ask what NEO stands for in corporate speak? It’s difficult to Google because the first few pages of results are about the prefix.

  2. It is ironic (and sad) that those at the top of the pay scale (CEO’s and management) won’t do their jobs for the pay they are offered when they are hired so they have to be given bonuses. Imagine if minimum wage workers required that they be provided a bonus or they would perform sub-standard. Apparently this private sector rip-off is fairly common in government and non-profits as well.

    Hey folks: You’re hired to do a job, the wage was stated on the application or negotiated before you signed on. Do your job or get fired!

    1. His compensation would have been negotiated when he was offered the position and the terms would have been approved by the board of directors on behalf of the shareholders. If he was a hockey player or a QB in the NFL or a soccer player in the EPL nobody would be complaining.
      The Manchester United goalkeeper is paid Cdn $33.4 million a year

      1. Can’t be compared — the goalie gets paid by the fans, the ceo by the taxpayers. This phenomenon of outrageous pay and bonuses is based on the fallacy that good ceo’s are scarce and therefore Boards cave under this assumption. Under such an assumption nurses and teachers should be paid a lot more.

        1. I did not think that no executive compensation at Emera was founded by rate payers but I could be wrong.

      2. A more relevant comparison would be with the President of Hydro Quebec, one of the biggest power companies in the world and much much larger than Emera. She earns $560,000 a year (although bonuses reportedly add another $240,000).