News

1. Health care funding

Rendering of renovated Dartmouth General Hospital. Photo: Dartmouth General Hospital Foundation

Canadian premiers met Monday and issued a call for a 5.2% annual bump in the Canada Health Transfer, among other demands. Andrea Gunn reported on the meeting for the Chronicle Herald:

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil said he wasn’t sure whether a 5.2 per cent increase would be sufficient to deal with the challenges in his province, but it would be a good start.

“It was unanimous about the federal government needing to play a larger role in the delivery of health care. When the program started we were 50 per cent each. Currently, in our province, there’s less than 20 per cent contributed (federally) towards the delivery of health care,” McNeil said.

Meanwhile, Carolyn Ray of CBC News reports that all of the doctors working at the Dartmouth General Hospital have signed up to donate roughly $660,000 to the Above and Beyond Campaign, which hopes to raise $13 million in total to contribute to the $150 million Dartmouth General renovation and expansion.

Hardly a school or hospital is built these days without a fundraising campaign attached to top up what government agrees to spend on these projects. On the one hand, it’s great that people are willing to give for a public building. On the other, you need to have money to give money, and I wonder what relying on community fundraising top-ups does to the equitable distribution of services and infrastructure in the province.

2. NS is nowhere near its Ivany tourism target… Now what?

Donna Hatt, NS South Shore Lobster Crawl organizer. Photo: Jennifer Henderson
Jennifer Henderson reports for the Examiner:
Despite making significant progress in attracting more visitors and generating $2.6 billion in revenue last year, the province’s tourism industry is still a long way from the goal of $4 billion by 2024 envisioned by the Ivany Report five years ago.

“We’re updating our strategy which we are calling The Second Half,” Judy Saunders told hundreds of tourism operators assembled at the Westin Hotel for the industry’s annual conference. Saunders, who chairs the Board of the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS), is not giving up on the ambitious target set by Ivany but says it will take much more work.

“We have an incredible opportunity but it is time for a re-set and a critical review,” said Saunders. “Unless we adjust out approach to tourism, we won’t get there.”

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3. Ontario man dies in Nova Scotia crash, Nova Scotia man dies in Ontario crash

Over 1,800 people a year die in vehicle collisions in Canada, so days like yesterday, when local headlines include two such fatalities, tragically shouldn’t seem unusual. According to CBC News, on Sunday a 33-year-old man from Nova Scotia was killed in a crash on Ontario’s highway 401 involving a tractor-trailer and 30 to 40 other cars. Then on Monday morning, a 41-year-old man from Toronto died in a collision with a logging truck at an intersection on highway 4 and Beech Hill Road.

4. Altercation at Halifax jail leaves prisoner with fractured arm

The province’s Serious Incident Response Team is investigating an incident at a Halifax Regional Police jail where a prisoner’s arm was injured in a physical altercation with a booking officer. Both HRP and SiRT issued this release yesterday afternoon:

SiRT was contacted just before noon on December 1, by Halifax Regional Police reporting a male who was lodged in their Prisoner Care Facility had sustained a possible broken arm following an altercation involving a booking officer.

An adult male was escorted from a cell to be checked by EHS. While awaiting EHS the male subject kicked a booking officer twice, he was then placed in handcuffs and suffered the injury while being restrained. Investigators have confirmed the injury consists of slight displaced fracture in the shoulder.

Over at CTV Atlantic, the headline from December 1 reads, “Officer injured in assault at prisoner care facility in Halifax.” The CTV story (and others) quote an earlier police release which described the incident slightly differently:

Police say at around  9 a.m., the man was being examined by EHS when he became aggressive and assaulted an officer at the facility. In the process of officers restraining the man, his upper right arm was injured.

I guess step one for SiRT will be to establish who was in the room for the altercation.

Kudos to the CBC for pointing out that jails are now being called “Prisoner Care Facilities.”

5. Steve Adams and a municipal lobbyist registry

Steve Adams. Photo: Halifax Examiner

Tim Bousquet wrote this item.

Yesterday, I raised questions about Halifax councillor Steve Adams’ involvement in a Young Avenue development. Reader David Fleming raises the obvious, and correct, point:

If there ever was an argument that should compel people for why a municipal lobbying registry is necessary, this is it. Why Steve Adams is aware of and moving work for the Tsimkilis family/Dino Capital Ltd. in a ward that isn’t his is baffling. On my searching, Dino/Tsimkilis has not contributed to his campaigns, nor do they or Starlight or any of their holding companies have work in Spryfield. How did he come to understand and support this issue is an important question.

Particularly troubling is – Adams is not running for re-election in 2020. With no registry in place, there is no way to identify whether or not Adams has met with the family or its lobbyists and, after the election, when he inevitably takes a board position or job with a development corporation (similar to what Richard Butts did) – there will be no paper trail to identify whether or not a conflict of interest was in place here.

If Councillors are going to act like this, the public desperately needs to know who they are meeting with and why.

6. Pre-exposure prophylaxis

Adult deer tick. Image: Wikipedia

Boston NPR radio station WBUR reports that in 2020, human trials will begin on a pre-exposure prophylaxis to help prevent Lyme disease. The study is being conducted by a government-funded research body, MassBiologics, who says the medication could be available as early as 2023.

The shot is known as “pre-exposure prophylaxis,” not a vaccine, because it delivers anti-Lyme antibodies directly to the patient rather than triggering the patient’s own immune system to make the antibodies as vaccines do.

You may have heard of pre-exposure prophylaxis before, as the type of medication currently being used to prevent the spread of the HIV/AIDS. John McPhee of the Chronicle Herald reports today on a call from provincial MLA Susan Leblanc and Dalhousie scientist Mark Numer to make the HIV/AIDS PrEP, which must be taken consistently in order to work, fully covered.

“That would mean anyone that qualifies as an at-risk person would be able to go to their doctor and get a prescription and it would be free,” Leblanc said in an interview. “They wouldn’t have to pay any money to take it.”

Besides eliminating unnecessary suffering, Leblanc said universal coverage makes financial sense because the total yearly cost of universal PrEP coverage is about the same as the lifetime costs of a single HIV infection. 

Numer says the drug is a game-changer in AIDS prevention.

7. Trust in the police

Photo: Halifax Examiner

CBC reporter David Burke interviewed community anti-street check advocate DeRico Symonds about how police officer misconduct and criminal activity can erode trust in the force in general. Burke notes:

In the last six years, 17 Halifax Regional Police officers have faced criminal charges, according to data obtained from police, numbers one community advocate says will likely erode public trust in the force.

The officers have been charged with a range of offences, both on and off the job, including theft, sexual assault, assault, impaired driving and voyeurism. At least two have been tried and found guilty, while another two have pleaded guilty. This year, three officers were charged in a little over a month.

Naturally, Symonds says that this recent trend is “alarming” and needs attention.

“I do have fear and anxiety if I do happen to have a traffic stop by police. I just do, it’s something I can’t help,” said Symonds. “I can’t say I totally feel safe in the hands of police officers.”

He wants the Halifax police force to become more transparent with the community and talk more openly about what happens when an officer is accused of a crime. Symonds would also like the force to hold more community forums and workshops where people can ask officers questions. 


Views

Province must reject Northern Pulp waste treatment plan, or lose credibility

Effluent flowing into Boat Harbour at “Point C.” Photo: Joan Baxter

Writing in the Chronicle Herald, Jim Vibert calls the Nova Scotia government on its commitment to let science lead the decision on the treatment and disposal plan for effluent from the Northern Pulp mill.  “…Unless the science is alchemy, astrology or perhaps political, the Pictou County pulp mill’s plan won’t pass muster,” writes Vibert. “And on or before Dec. 17, Nova Scotia’s Environment Minister Gordon Wilson will say so or sacrifice his, and the provincial government’s credibility, on the age-old altar of economics over the environment.”

Vibert is also confident that the Boat Harbour Act, which gave Northern Pulp a five-year deadline to stop dumping effluent into the estuary, will be upheld, as not doing so is “almost unimaginable” after the promises made to the Pictou Landing First Nation.

Vibert is pretty confident that despite Nova Scotia’s history on the subject of resource economics versus environmental consequences, the times they are a-changing.

While the Northumberland Strait fishing industry would disagree, the economics of the equation seem to favour the province taking whatever action is necessary to keep Northern Pulp in operation. The forestry sector across mainland Nova Scotia says its future depends on the mill.

For almost all of living memory, that alone would determine the province’s decision and Nova Scotians could confidently predict approval of Northern Pulp’s plan, along with some kind of deal to extend the life of Boat Harbour until the new treatment facilities are in place.

But times have changed and so has the political calculus.

The political price of putting economics ahead of the environment in this case seems more than the government can afford to pay.


Noticed

Unverified video of Santa drop at CFB Shearwater:

https://twitter.com/RobertMacMinn/status/1201223598146490370?s=20

Government

City

Tuesday

Special Meeting – Halifax and West Community Council (Tuesday, 12:30pm, City Hall) — an eight-storey apartment building at 205 Bedford Highway won’t at all affect traffic on the roadway because reasons.

City Council (Tuesday, 1pm, City Hall) — here’s the agenda.

Wednesday

No public meetings.

Province

Tuesday

Community Services (Tuesday, 10am, One Government Place) — the committee will ask about “Employment Supports for Income Assistance Recipients.”

Wednesday

No public meetings for the rest of the week.


On campus

Dalhousie

Tuesday

Thesis Defence, Mechanical Engineering (Tuesday, 9am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Mark Yao Amegadzie will defend “Thermomechanical Processing of Spark Plasma Sintered Aluminum Powder Metallurgy Alloys via Asymmetric Rolling and Upset Forging.”

Noon Hour Woodwinds Recital (Tuesday, 11:45am, Room 406, Dal Arts Centre) — with students of Patricia Creighton, Christine Feierabend, Brian James, Suzanne Lemieux and Eileen Walsh.

Poetic Pictures at the Symphony (Tuesday, 7:30pm, St. Andrew’s United Church, 6036 Coburg Road) — Leonardo Perez conducts music from Debussy, Tchaikovsky, and Mussorgsky. $15/ $10. More info here.

Wednesday

Thesis Defence, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (Wednesday, 9:30am, Room C311, Collaborative Health Education Building) — Stefan A. Warkentin will defend “Aciniform Spider Silk Proteins: Investigating Solution State Assembly and the Potential of Nanoparticles as a Drug Delivery Vehicle.”

Thesis Defence, Economics (Wednesday, 10am, Room 3107, Mona Campbell Building) — PhD candidate Zongming Ma will defend “Three Essays on Asset Pricing in Regime and ESG Environment.”


In the harbour

05:00: YM Evolution, container ship, sails from Fairview Cove for Rotterdam
06:00: Dimitra C, container ship, arrives at Fairview Cove from Colombo, Sri Lanka
14:00: Asterix, replenishment vessel, arrives at Irving Oil from Quebec City
15:00: Asterix moves to Dockyard
16:00: Dimitra C sails for New York


Footnotes

And so it begins, the snow/rain/ice loop that is Halifax winter. Be careful out there, folks!

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      1. I’m not sure where the number of 6 offences comes from (the story mentions 17 charged and 4 found or pled guilty). If we are calculating the charge rate it is about 3x higher.
        In any case your calculation is 0.001866 incidents per officer *per year*. Let’s put it another way: assume officers on average have a 30-year career. At your stated rate, more than 1/20 (5.66%) of officers would have an “incident” during their career. And based on the CBC story numbers, ~15% would be charged with a criminal offence at some point during their career.