Category Archives: Uncategorized

For $9.80 a season, we could eliminate conditions which generate most “slip & fall” accidents… really.

Today, a friend posted on Facebook a photo of herself in a wheelchair, her leg in a fresh plaster cast.  She is one of three friends, in the last month, who has shared a picture with an arm or leg in a cast after slipping on icy city sidewalks. cast

Last week Councillor Sean Cleary noted Haligonians could have state of the art snow and ice removal, plus sanding or salting on metro streets for an extra $2 million per season.  He said $2 million is on top of the $6 million we already spend, with limited results.

Since HRM already pays $6 million, the extra $2 million would cost each household about $13.30,  figuring there are about 150,000 households in HRM.

Looking at it another way, with a population of 415,00 probably half are children or the elderly.  If the other half  (about 207,00) who are working age adults paid for the extra snow clearing, it would cost each of us an extra $9.80 per season.

No matter which way you look at it, the extra $2 million would cost each of us pennies a day.  FallOnIce-738120

In an earlier op-ed, I suggested that each visit to a hospital emergency ward costs the system a minimum of $200.  And that $200 does not include compensating the patients who cannot work for weeks or longer and lack sick pay, or paying for needed physical or occupational therapy sessions, or paying for homecare if needed. A parent with a broken arm or leg can’t fix dinner, do laundry, grocery shop or take the children to school.  A person on crutches or with an arm in a sling can’t easily drive a car or take transit.

When all these costs are factored in, it is clear the only solution is for us, as a community of taxpayers, to pay those extra pennies a day.  Spending the extra $2 million should curtail the miseries of broken limbs, sprains and concussions due to falls on HRM’s sidewalks.  Falls affect the young, old alike.  My friend with the broken leg is 35 years old—who will walk her dog, prepare her meals and take her to and from the fracture clinic for follow up?

The forecast for winter 2020 is ice, snow and sleet.  It’s time we seriously prepared for it.


Is NS Health under McNeil headed for life-support– listen to this British drama podcast

Just listened to an incredibly great  podcast from BBC Sounds here.  It’s called First Do No Harm.  Part one is called Elaine, Part two is called Rhys. You must listen, it’s about an hour and a half altogether.  It is a drama, a radio play, that revolves around  a  hospital in an unnamed suburban city in the west of England.  Elaine’s husband has just died at the hospital of malfeasance, and about 8 others have had family members who also  died there.  But this is no murder mystery — was it medical error, doctor error, or a system that broke down?  The surviving family members start a class action lawsuit.

The first part of the drama is very political and very well done. Journalists call  the grieving families money-grubbers, when details of financial settlements are leaked to the press.  The meeting with the hospital higher-ups is very believable. Some people want to take the pay outs, but others refuse to settle.  Instead they want an inquiry into what is going wrong at the hospital.  The famed NHS (National Health Service) seems to be on its last leg — and that’s about to break because of increased privatization of services which is nipping at its heel.  It becomes harder to keep the members of the class action group fighting.

The second part Rhys centres around what actually happened in the hospital the night of Elaine’s husband’s death– Rhys is the name of the doctor who was in charge. steth

While it takes place in today’s England, it is a chilling  foreshadow of what can happen in this country — especially in Nova Scotia.  The McNeil  government shaves dollars and cents from hospital and health care budgets, doesn’t make good on promises, and refuses to hire enough full time career nurses.  One theme in the drama is mental illness, the “sectioning” or forced hospitalization of mental patients and the lack of care for them both inside and outside the institution.

If you listen at your computer, you won’t move.  If you download the podcast to your smart phone you can listen while walking or on the bus. Go to iTunes and download the  podcast BBC’s Drama of the Week.

It’s a reminder of how political and how entertaining (there are some good jokes) radio drama can be.unionjack

Of course our CBC does none of the above.  The heavy-footed Murdoch mysteries cause fits of yawning; the quick and smart-ass new Street Legal which touches on a serious issue but in a stagey or preachy way — these dramas are almost laughable in comparison to  quality, the pacing and the acting on this radio drama.



Books … reading in these times

Just finished Austin Clarke’s early 1970s novel The Bigger Light.  Uncomfortable, and clever.  It’s about a man from Barbados, maybe in his 40s, who is a cleaner at a stockbroking firm on Bay Street.  The man lives with his wife probably in the relatively new (at the time) St Jamestown  apartment complex in Cabbagetown in Toronto. bigger-lightHe has a relatively comfortable existence, as his wife works as a nurses’ aide at the Doctors’ Hospital (no longer existing). So they have enough money and a nice apartment.  But he is always taunted by others’ success.  The discomfort for the reader comes when the protagonist talks about being rich, how he will be noticed, and join clubs and get respect.  His first way to get noticed is having his letters to the newspaper published, and he thinks that will catapult him to success.  He tries to distance himself from West Indian friends at his club… and he envies the freedom he thinks other Blacks have.  Again an excellent novel by the late Clarke.  I still feel his real tour de force is his  novel More — which has suspense, and racial tensions in Toronto down pat.more

In non-fiction I just read Class Action.  This book is 17 years old, but the case itself dates back to the late 70s.  You read that correctly.   class0action-bkLois Jenson made history when she launched the first class action suit in the US based on sexual harassment.  She worked in the Eveleth Mine in the Iron Range town in northern Minnesota.  The mine and the town  is probably 100 km from Thunder Bay, Ont.  And part of the iron range that goes up to Atikokan.  The first half of the book is the most fascinating — about her life as a single mother, her poverty and the times in the  towns of Eveleth, Virginia and other tough mining towns.  While her horrendous harassment started almost from the day she began work in 1975, the law suit was finally ‘won’ in 1998.  Imagine that.  Her health had deteriorated and she had to leave her job in ’92.  Finally there was a group of 15 women litigants, and bits of their stories were revealed in the fascinating 2005 Hollywood film (starring Charlize Theron) called North Country. I encourage you to get the dvd out of the library and watch.  All the legal stuff in the book (hundreds of pages of it) left me a bit cold, but on this International Women’s Day, it’s worth remembering Jenson — reading the book, and watching the movie.  When I looked on class-action-figurefor the cover of the book to show you, the first thing that popped up was this Power Ranger — of course an “action” toy.  How well I remember Optimus Prime from when my eldest son was obsessed by it.  How appropriate for IWD 2018.

What is totally in line with corporate speak is the Status of Women page courtesy of the feds —iwd-2019-en

It’s rather disgusting — there’s the conventional call out & buzzwords (read “innovation”) for girls to go into STEM sciences, there’s the lie about women getting great jobs (what about being able to keep them?? with the harassment and the various transgressions by men at the workplaces).  Curiously there is a list of themes for past IWD in Canada.  The most political theme was 17 years ago, 2002: Working in Solidarity: Women, Human Rights and Peace. 

Has that idea gone the way of the dodo bird, or rather the “innovation” rabbit hole?

And I’ve just read Matt Taibbi’s powerful  book I Can’t Breathe.  Taibbi’s a journalist, a blogger and a great researcher. He’s a goodi-cant-breathe_writer too.  This is the account of Eric Garner’s 44 year life. Garner is of course the Black American who died in 2014 when he was asphyxiated by a cop on Staten Island in New York City.  He had been selling “loosies” or single cigarettes for a dollar or two on the same street corner for years.  The cop got off all charges. You have to read this book.  Eric’s eldest daughter, Erica, fought for an inquiry and to clear her father’s name for years.  But at age 27, she succumbed to a heart attack and died  All very shocking.  But the book is excellent and worth reading.



Halifax is Number 22 — out of the 26 best cities to be a woman in Canada!

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has just released its report on the top 26 cities to be a woman in Canada.  Drum roll is rather muted since Halifax ranks 22 out of 26.  That’s not great.  The report is very interesting, especially if you skip ahead to  pages 16-19.

What’s great is the shout-out to Equity Watch, an organization I helped to found last year.  No union, no social service agency, no other campaign was highlighted — just Equity Watch and here’s what the report says:

“Opposing harassment in the workplace:

Equity Watch formed in early 2018 after firefighter Liane Tessier finally received an
apology from the Halifax Fire Service for years of harassment, bullying and discrimination. Equity Watch is working to promote workplaces that are free of bullying, harassment and discrimination by advocating for better governmental regulation of employment equity; encouraging the hiring, development and promotion of women, visible minorities, the disabled, and Indigenous peoples; monitoring bodies like the Human Rights Commission, whose job it is to uphold equity; and assisting individuals who have been bullied, harassed or discriminated against at work.”

The Best and Worst
Places to be a Woman
in Canada 2019
The Gender Gap in Canada’s 26 Biggest Cities

by Katherine Scott

To find out more about Equity Watch look for us on FACEBOOK



2 Jews, 3 Opinions– Jewish Canadians’ Diverse Views on Israel-Palestine

What do Canadian Jews think of Israel, what do they think of its illegal occupation of the West Bank and Gaza?  Independent Jewish Voices Canada commissioned an EKOS poll and go some useful results — see Diana Ralph’s excellent analysis and all the facts here


I’m proud to be a member of IJV– you can help support us in our community outreach and our research.  Go to our site and make a donation today here.   Or sign up for more news and alerts for free.pal-2

The Saltwire Fix

Word is that three journalists who work for Canadian Press in Halifax will be permanently laid off at the end of March.  Why? Some have nearly 20 years seniority. news3

When we look at the daily paper in Halifax, the Chronicle Herald, we see that much of the international and national news content comes through the Canadian Press newsfeed service. But that contract has been cancelled by SaltWire Network, the newspaper giant which now controls 35 daily and weekly papers (including the Chronicle Herald) in Atlantic Canada. news1

In 2017.  SaltWire bought Transcontinental’s 28 “brands”, 4 printing plants and commercial printing operations in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Plus SaltWire bought distribution operations in the Atlantic region.  650 jobs (in the region) suddenly slipped away — whether through layoff or payoff.  The only province almost unscathed by SaltWire is New Brunswick where Irving-owned newspapers proliferate.  

Five days ago, SaltWire announced it is selling off 10 buildings or plants which formerly housed  newspapers including the Cape Breton Post in Sydney NS, and the Guardian in Charlottetown.  Tough times for SaltWire or a cash grab? Or both?news2


What really happened to Liane Tessier in the Hfx Fire Service — and what is Equity Watch doing for others who face discrimination and bullying at work?

You will want to listen to the excellent interview  of Liane Tessier and me by journalist Scott Neigh at RABBLE, here