News

1. Houston government announces $57 million to address staff shortages in long-term care

Long-term Care Minister Barbara Adams announces the government’s new spending plan. Photo: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson reports on the announcement that the Houston government will spend $57 million over the next couple of years to help with staff shortages in long-term care. Henderson writes:

Across the province there are hundreds of unfilled positions for continuing care assistants (CCAs) who provide front-line care to elderly people living in nursing homes, in their own houses through home care, or in residential care and assisted living facilities. Staff shortages mean longer days for the people who come to work and numbers provided by the Department of Seniors and Long-term Care suggest hundreds of people have quit.

Over the past 20 years, 12,000 CCAs have graduated from one- and two-year training programs offered through the Nova Scotia Community College. Today only 6,600 are on the provincial payroll earning between $16 and $18 an hour. Only 375 students are currently enrolled at community colleges, which have the capacity to train twice that number. 

In light of these facts, the Houston government says it plans to spend $22 million over the next two-and-a-half years to cover 100% of tuition and training to attract another 1,400 CCAs to the health system.

Louise Riley, chair of CUPE’s long term-care and community services coordinating committee said the announcement was good news, but what’s needed are better wages and increased staffing levels, which will keep the continuing care staff the province has now and help recruit new CCAs.

Click here to read that story.

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2. Environmental, community groups demand stop to clearcutting

Photo: Ethan Lycan-Lang

Ethan Lycan-Lang was at a news conference on Wednesday where representatives from several environmental and community groups got together to tell the province to stop clearcutting on Crown lands and implement the recommendations from the Lahey Report.

The groups at the conference were the Ecology Action Centre (EAC), Sierra Club Foundation, Healthy Forest Coalition, Friends of Nature, Extinction Rebellion NS, Nature NS, Hike NS, and Council of Canadians. Ray Plourde with EAC told the crowd at the conference:

Lahey’s recent evaluation confirms what we have been seeing on the ground.

And what Nova Scotians across this province have been saying, reporting, defending, decrying, and even going to court or jail to stop. The situation has reached a breaking point.

Plourde also detailed what the group called the last decade of inaction by the province. Biologist Bob Bancroft, representing Nature NS, called the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables a “rogue department” and asked for transparency.

As Lycan-Lang learned, the group also wrote a letter to the province outlining the same demands. The group said the province expected to release a response to the Lahey review soon.

Click here to read the full story. 

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3. Families will pay $966 more for groceries in 2022

A new report suggests Canadians will pay 5% to 7% more for their vegetables in 2022.
Photo: Yvette d’Entremont

This news will likely not be a surprise to anyone who’s been in a grocery store lately and it looks like it will just get worse. Yvette d’Entremont learned that food prices will continue to go up in 2022. She reports:

Canada’s Food Price Report for 2022 suggests overall food prices will increase 5% to 7%, with the average family expected to pay $14,767 annually on food.

That’s $966 (7%) more than in 2021.

D’Entremont interviewed Alyssa Gerhardt, a Dalhousie University Agri-Food Analytics Lab researcher and one of the report’s co-authors, who said food insecurity will be a big issue in 2022. And it’s not just food prices. Gerhardt said we need to think bigger picture. As Gerhardt told d’Entremont in their interview:

I would like Canadians to start talking about food insecurity and how it’s tied to housing insecurity, because I think particularly in Nova Scotia, what’s happening right now with the housing crisis and these rising food costs is that it’s making it very hard for a lot of people in our province.

And I think that we don’t always talk about those two factors together, but I personally think they’re very interrelated and I think just bringing those different challenges into the same conversation is something I’d like to see come out of this report.

Just yesterday, I was at the grocery store. The price of meat has really gone up over the last several months. I was also going to buy a six-pack of cupcakes at the grocery store bakery, and they were almost $7. So I decided against it and will make my own.

Click here to read d’Entremont’s complete story.

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4. Lancers “gravely concerned” about Halifax Common master plan

Halifax Lancers horses. Photo: Halifax Lancers Facebook

Yvette d’Entremont also had this story on a presentation by the Halifax Lancers to the HRM Community Planning and Economic Development Standing Committee on Wednesday. The non-profit equestrian group that offers adult and junior riding lessons and therapeutic lessons is “gravely concerned” about proposed redesign of its facility under the master plan.

Tamzen Black, who spoke to the committee on behalf of the Lancers, said the plan is flawed and will severely affect the group’s operations. Specific concerns are around accessibility of the facility’s only entrance and the dimensions of its outdoor riding arena. Black said.

There’s no apparent consideration of the built environmental standards currently under development as part of Nova Scotia’s accessible legislation.

Lancers is determined to become more accessible to and reflective of the diversity amongst Nova Scotians, not less.

Fortunately, the committee deferred the motion to send the Halifax Common master plan to council with Coun. Pamela Lovelace adding, “I do think we need to just hold our horses.”

The motion will be discussed at the committee’s next meeting in January.

The city needs more horses and a facility that allows for more riders.

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5. Rally planned for appeal hearing where Kinsella will testify

Halifax Regional Police are trying to prevent Chief Dan Kinsella and Professional Standards officer Derrick Boyd from testifying before the Police Review Board into Kayla Borden’s complaint of racial profiling by Halifax Regional Police in June 2020.

Matthew Byard has the latest on the story about Kayla Borden’s appeal at the Nova Scotia Police Review Board, which is set for Monday. As Byard reports, Borden and MLA Angela Simmonds are set to speak at a rally outside the Best Western Hotel in Burnside where the appeal hearing is scheduled to take place.

And Halifax Regional Police Chief Dan Kinsella will now testify at that appeal, but Insp. Derrick Boyd won’t. Byard reports:

Despite Kinsella’s claims, in its ruling Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Police Review Board said, “Chief Kinsella has had no direct involvement in this complaint.”

The Board went on to say, “Although Chief Kinsella may not be the best suited within HRP to speak in detail to those issues, he is clearly qualified to do so.”

“His subpoena is allowed to stand; the subpoena of Inspector Boyd is quashed.”

Click here to read that story.

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6.  COVID update: 34 new cases and an outbreak at StFX

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Tim Bousquet has his COVID update, which includes details on an outbreak of the virus at StFX in Antigonish. Bousquet writes:

Public Health notes that 21 people have tested positive related to the StFX outbreak (Antigonish is in the Eastern Zone). Today’s numbers included just 12 of those because the other 9 came in after the reporting deadline; they’ll be included in tomorrow’s [Thursday’s] numbers.

Thirty-four new cases were announced on Wednesday. Here’s the breakdown by Nova Scotia Health Zone:

• 14 Eastern
• 13 Central
• 6 Northern
• 1 Western

Click here for the complete update. 

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7. The Tideline: Keeper E

Keeper E

This week’s episode of The Tideline is a keeper. Well, a Keeper E.

Tara Thorne and Adelle Elwood, whose stage name is Keeper E., chat about her debut album of pop tunes, The Sparrows All Find Food, which she produced at home in Sackville, NB, and her winning new artist of the year at Nova Scotia Music Week.

Listen to that episode here for free!

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Views

Kids these days are all right

Young people looking to their future. Photo: Devin Avery/Unsplash

On the weekend I had a conversation with a group of people who started complaining about young people today. It doesn’t matter where that conversation took place because, as I pointed out, complaining about young people is as old as time itself. You’ve heard or read this quote before — attributed to Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and any number of people:  

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

I don’t get this. I know people of all ages who have bad manners, love chatter in place of exercise, and are quite the tyrants.

I personally have gobbled up lots of dainties at the table and I’m a 51-year-old Gen Xer (no one notices us, so they didn’t notice me taking those dainties).

We see these arguments about young people all the time.

So I thought I’d write about young people today and why I think they’re okay. In fact, I feel badly for young people because they’re playing on a field with tougher penalties, and old people who keep moving the goal posts and laughing when those youth can’t kick the ball into the net.  

Now, the particular complaints in this conversation started with chatter about young people and technology, primarily how youth are too connected to their phones and social media. Kids these days are so hooked to their phones, always posting on TikTok and SnapChat, and they don’t get outside to play, so the conversation went. I get the worry about too much screen time, but growing up in the 70s and 80s, we were told TV would fry our brains. 

Sure, this is a real concern, but technology changes; we don’t use smoke signals and carrier pigeons anymore, right?

And it’s not just the kids using the phones and social media.

I can’t count how many times I’ve had to fact check memes on Facebook posted by people older than me. You know the memes: everything from the ridiculous (like Nostradamus predicted the COVID-19 pandemic) to the racist (complaining about how refugees get more money than seniors.) They are all memes that are easily debunked with a quick Google search. But no matter — they get shared anyway. 

And it’s these same older people who posts complaints that young people don’t know cursive, or don’t walk to school in snowstorms, and wouldn’t know how to use a rotary phone. (Nostalgia is fun at times, but hardly anybody has a rotary phone these days.)

Just the day after this conversation I was out for breakfast with a friend. There were two couples at separate tables near to ours, in their late 30s – early 40’s. Each couple had their elbows propped up on the table and their faces right in the screens of their phones. They hardly spoke to each other and stared at those phones all through breakfast.

As for social media, I wonder if young people today share less about their personal lives than their parents do. Kids don’t know a world without Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram — their parents rushed to set up a blog to share stories about their kids the day they were born. And sadly, those same parents shared — and overshared — every single detail of their children’s lives. (I wrote about this last year).

Many of these kids are young adults now, and I bet they have a better understanding of consent and privacy than their parents did when they posted embarrassing stories and photos just for the likes.

A couple of years ago, mommy blogger Christine Tate wrote that she refused to stop posting about her nine-year-old daughter even after the child begged her not to anymore. Tate’s daughter asked that all the photos be taken down and Tate refused, writing, “promising not to write about her anymore would mean shutting down a vital part of myself, which isn’t necessarily good for me or her.”

This is infuriating.

And because they grew up with social media, I’d say young people better understand how it affects their mental health. Just last week, fellow Morning Filer Ethan Lycan-Lang wrote about why he’s not on Twitter. Two lines he wrote stood out for me:

But I like life without [Twitter]. I don’t know if it’s possible to be a Twitterless journalist. But the great experiment continues, to the undeniable benefit of my mental and physical health.

What else? …

I went to a high school in a suburb where the biggest pastimes were hockey and hanging out in your car in the Burger King parking lot. There wasn’t much room for diversity then. Inclusion of any kind of difference certainly wasn’t on anyone’s radars — you fit in or you kept your head down. I didn’t like high school that much. 

My whip-smart niece, who is now 22, went to the same high school. She was a representative with the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. I can’t imagine that school having a GSA when I went there in the late 80s. I don’t think it would have been safe for anyone to be openly gay, and I am glad to see how it’s evolved for the better. 

And then there’s the argument that young people don’t know about work ethic.

Just over a year ago, I was working on a project with two women in their 20s. Both had university degrees and already tonnes of work experience. Like many others their age, they had more than one job. But one of these young woman was thinking of quitting her full-time gig (she also had a part-time job, too). There was nothing wrong with the work, she said, but she felt she got all she wanted out of that job. A couple months later, she gave her notice — without having a new gig lined up —  and found a better one.

The other young woman left her job to go back to school. I remember her saying, “There are so many exciting things to do!”

The rules around work no longer apply. No one gets a job out of high school, works their way up, and retires with a party and a gold watch. Certainly, the ceiling at many workplaces remains too low for women — and anyone who’s not a white man.

Young people in the job market — hell, even us older ones — can no longer find work with benefits or pensions. It’s not that they don’t want those benefits. How many job postings have I shared here over the last couple of years that wanted candidates with degrees and several years of experience, yet don’t pay living wages — and sometimes don’t pay at all?

Older generations will say young people don’t understand how to be loyal to employers. I say young people understand that many employers were never loyal to employees in the first place.

And young people today are dealing with crises I don’t remember even thinking about as a teen, or in my 20s or 30s. First, there’s the housing crisis. 

I have a daughter who just turned 19. A couple of months ago, she asked me how much rent costs in our neighbourhood. I looked up some listings online and told her what rents looked like for apartments in the city. And she said, “I’ll never be able to afford to live on my own, will I?” And I didn’t have an answer, neither on Google nor through my own parental intuition. 

In my 20s, I had my own one-bedroom apartment on Brunswick Street in Halifax. I worked at a bar and went to university and could easily afford the rent. Now, the rent for that same spot is at least three times as much as I paid. In other words, far out of reach for my daughter right now, and likely also in a few years. In fact, the rent for that place is very well out of my own reach now, too, and out of reach for other adults with full-time jobs. This is a crisis we all share, but it will shape when and how young people will reach the milestones of adulthood — like buying a house — that we and our parents’ generation did much easier.  

And then there’s climate change, the biggest crisis of all them all.

When I was in high school, we didn’t talk about climate change. I am not sure the term was even used then. We knew about acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer, which was blamed on aerosol sprays, like the hairspray we used to keep our “mall hair” in place.  

But climate change is no joke now. It’s young people who are leading the rallies to get the world to pay attention to it. There’s Greta Thunberg, of course, who uses Twitter to demand people in power take action on climate change. Other young people are suing countries over climate change. The earth will warm and sea levels will rise and young people are disappointed that the adults they know are failing them. 

There’s no point in bitching about young people these days. Kids today are all right and I like them. But the world we’re handing over is not okay. We need to stop complaining about young people and their phones, and do better. 

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Noticed

Real women having a really good laugh. Photo: Gemma Chua-Tran/ Unsplash

Over on my Facebook account, I get lots of ads for clothing, mostly pajamas and underwear. That likely says something about the jokes I make on Facebook about my casual attire as someone who works from home.

What I noticed lately are the models in these ads. There’s so much diversity. The models aren’t all airbrushed, but rather women of all sizes, ages, races, heights, and abilities. They have tattoos, birthmarks, stretch marks, prosthetic limbs, and all sorts of hairstyles. It’s refreshing to see. These models could be women you know. They are what we often call “real women.” 

These ads may not say anything about the quality of the products, but it’s nice to see how that clothing could look on your real body. 

Followers of these ads love the diversity, too, and say so in the comments. “I love your models!” is a comment I see most often on these ads. 

Last week, I saw an ad for “Bras for Small Boobs” that featured an older woman, likely in her 60s or 70s. She had long, grey hair and was posing in an orange bra and undie set. Again, people loved that an older woman was the model in the ad. I thought she looked fabulous.  

But not everyone was pleased. This woman was very slim and several commenters said it was inappropriate and irresponsible for the bra company to use that model in their advertising. One woman said the picture of that woman triggered her eating disorder and would be a bad influence for young girls seeing the ad, too. Still others said this woman must be ill. 

All of this had me thinking: are women only “real” if they look a certain way? What the heck is a real woman anyway? 

From what I remember, the term “real women” was first used in the early 2000s as a marketing tool by Dove in its soap commercials. The term bothered me then. The fashion industry is atrocious in the way it treats its models and demanding they look a certain way, but those models are still real women. If you’re living, breathing, and doing your thing in life, you’re a real woman, right? 

I was underweight — at least according to my BMI score — until I was pregnant in my early 30s, and I’m an “average” size now, and don’t remember not feeling “real” at any point.  

Amanda Mull with The Atlantic wrote about this a couple of years ago in this article, “There’s no such thing as a real woman. 

Mull wrote about all the brands like Dove, Evans, Lane Bryant, and Aerie, that use “real women” with “real bodies” as models in their ads. But she points out that by promoting certain types of womanhood, some women are bound to be left out. Mull asked: “If only some women can be categorized as “real,” what becomes of the women outside those boundaries?” She continues in the story:

Even for the brands that market to “real” women with more sizes, the result is still pretty clear. These ads wrest the mantle of cultural approval from one subset of women and bestow it on another, a transfer of power that will hopefully be met with grateful sales dollars. In doing so, the campaigns validate one set of people as the truest to a nonsensical concept. For “real women” to be a useful idea, people have to grant that it’s possible for a person’s womanhood to be fraudulent. You can remove digital retouching, but there is no objectively correct way to depict a woman in a photo, or for a woman to present herself in real life. 

The realities of being a woman in 2019 are just as messy and varied as everything else about trying to find solid footing in this cultural era. A woman in a full face of makeup is no less real than one who never bothers to apply eyeliner, and both of those women are real whether they fall outside a brand’s size range or fall within the traditional ideals of beauty that women have now been asked to reject. 

It’s good that there’s more diversity in the models in advertising. Bring it on! But marketing is still preying on our insecurities and pitting women against each other.

And that feels far too real for many of us.  

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Government

No meetings


On campus

Dalhousie

Thursday

No meetings

Friday

CRSSCA – 6th Annual Supply Chain &Logistics Management Workshop (Friday, 10am) — info and registration here

The Human side of Sustainable Supply chains

The whole world runs on supply chains. And massive disruptions like pandemics and uncertainties around them once more proved the life-saving role of supply chain and logistics management (SC&LM). Amid emerging technologies to support efficiencies and under the pressing environmental, social, economic, and cultural imperatives, where and how do we stand for humans that make the “wheels of business” move? Are people at the right place and well-equipped to tackle the big problems we currently face and waiting ahead? Which qualifications are essential for an employer or an employee in successfully managing sustainable supply chains (SSCs)? How do SSCs relate to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals? It is time we revisit the human side of SSCs.


In the harbour

Halifax
08:30: Qikiqtaaluk W, oil tanker, moves from Imperial Oil to anchorage
11:30: Nolhanava, ro-ro cargo, arrives at Fairview Cove from Saint-Pierre
13:30: Qikiqtaaluk W moves to Irving Oil
19:00: Qikiqtaaluk W sails for sea

Cape Breton
05:00: Algoma Vision, bulker, arrives at Aulds Cove quarry from Belledune, New Brunswick


Footnotes

It always snows in December.


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Suzanne Rent

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

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  1. Back when I was a teenager – (does that sound familiar…?) old people who were younger than I am now bitched about us wearing jeans and not wearing bras, the length of our hair and the brevity of our attention spans, and smoking dried leaves that were not the tobacco that ruined their own lungs and blood pressure. What was the world coming to? Silly old people – now complaining about kids reading the news over breakfast, albeit from an electronic device instead of the newspapers that once hid their ancestors’ faces. Kids today have more knowledge at their fingertips than I did after 15 years+ of formal education. They are at least as compassionate as anyone else before them, and they are a pretty good bunch, all told. Sure, they aren’t perfect. Well, news flash! Their critics aren’t, either. If we can’t help them change the world like we dreamed we might do, we should just get out of their way.

  2. Suzanne, women of a certain age — second-wave feminists — decline to use the words “real women” for another reason. The organization REAL Women, founded in 1983 — was created to push back against any of the gains being made for women by feminists. REAL Women became quite powerful — it still exists — and its aim is still to turn the clock back on women’s rights.

    “It lobbies the Government of Canada in favour of legislation to promote what it believes to be the Judeo-Christian model of family life, and to support homemaking. REAL is also opposed to feminism, abortion and LGBT rights (and same-sex marriage in Canada as well).” (From Wikipedia.) I won’t link to REAL Women’s very professional website but they’re not hard to find.

  3. Yes, food is increasing by 8%, but why are grocers’ profits increasing by 121%?

    Loblaw 3rd quarter results

    Net earnings available to common shareholders of the Company were $375 million. This represented an increase of $206 million, or 121.9% when compared to the second quarter of 20

    1. Loblaws is much more than a grocery business. ” Loblaw Companies Limited (Loblaw or ‘the company’), is an omni-channel retailer. It is a provider of grocery, pharmacy, health and beauty, apparel, general merchandise, financial and wireless mobile products and services. It conducts business operations through retail stores, shopper’s drug mart and discounted stores, which include franchise-owned retail food stores, associate-owned drug stores, and in-store pharmacies. It also offers insurance brokerage services, telecommunication services and credit card services. Loblaw operates through various divisions including Market, Discount, Joe Fresh, PC Financial and Shoppers Drug Mart. ”
      The explanation is readily available here : https://www.loblaw.ca/en/loblaw-reports-2021-third-quarter-results
      ” Revenue was $16,050 million. This represented an increase of $379 million, or 2.4% when compared to the third quarter of 2020.

      Retail segment sales were $15,831 million. This represented an increase of $367 million, or 2.4% when compared to the third quarter of 2020.
      COVID-19 related costs were approximately $19 million (2020 – approximately $85 million).”