Heritage Day in NS has come and gone — but did you get a paid holiday?


Heritage Day is one of six – only six – paid “holidays” in Nova Scotia. We have to treasure the paltry six we get, seven including Remembrance Day, even though if we were in Saskatchewan we would be entitled to ten, in Ontario and Quebec nine. We tie with PEI for the lowest number of public holidays every year; even New Brunswick gets two more days than we do.

Heritage Day in NS is also a “retail closing day” which means that almost all stores excluding drug stores, restaurants, cafes, bars, and gas stations must remain closed.

parsonsThis year Heritage Day commemorates Mona Parsons, a World War II hero from Middleton, NS.

If there is a union where you work, you will be paid for this holiday.

However if there is no union, it’s a little more tricky.

If you have the day off because your shop or restaurant or office is closed, you will get paid a regular day’s pay if you qualify. You qualify for the paid holiday if

1) you’ve been paid for at least 15 of the last 30 days,


2) you’ve worked your last scheduled shift the day before Heritage Day, and you work your first scheduled shift after the holiday.

If you do work on Heritage Day, you are entitled to a regular day’s pay plus one and a half times your regular rate of pay for the hours you worked on the holiday. Let’s say you earn $11 per hour. If, over a month, you work for an average of 8 hours a day, you get paid $11 times 8 = $88, which would be your regular pay. Added to $88 you also get paid time and a half for the hours you work on Heritage Day. Let’s say that you work 4 hours: $11 x 4 =$44 plus half again as much, which is $22.00. You should be paid $88 + $44 + $22 = $154.00, for working on Heritage Day.

The Verdict in the Boushie murder case: Are we going backwards?


Item: In winter 1990, 17-year-old Neil Stonechild, who was Indigenous, was found frozen to death in an industrial zone near Saskatoon. He was wearing a jean jacket, and only one shoe. Everyone recognized that he had been the victim of a ‘Starlight Tour’ – code for the police picking up Indigenous youth from the city streets, driving them to the edge of town and telling them to walk home. The police picked up young Indigenous men for the crime of ‘walking while Indian’ or being intoxicated while on foot — plunking them, often in handcuffs, in the back of the police cruiser.  The cops usually took away the youths’ coats and shoes before dumping them on the edge of town. After a significant public outcry, two cops were fired, but no one faced criminal charges in Stonechild’s murder. Everyone knew the outcomes of many “starlight tours.”starlight2006 book 

In fact, the “tours” were first detailed in a 1997 issue of a free advertising flyer called the Saskatoon Sun. In it, a Saskatoon police officer wrote a column called the Blue Lagoon.   bluelagoonHis article “Beligerent [sic] drunk gets ride to highest power in land,” described two city cops who deliberately drove  a “drunk” Aboriginal man to the city’s Queen Elizabeth power plant, miles from downtown late one night. Once at the remote location, one cop opened the back door of the cruiser and ordered the man out. The cop called out after him “one less guest for breakfast.”

In 2000, another Aboriginal man, Lawrence Wegner, was found frozen in a field near the Saskatoon dump. He was wearing only a t-shirt, socks and jeans, though it was the dead of winter. The RCMP refused to interview two witnesses who said they saw two policemen push Wegner into a police car early that evening. The police conducted no photo lineups, no lie detector tests and no further investigation. The police insisted they never picked Wegner up. The police theory was that the victim simply took a long walk on a sub-zero night; yet his socks showed no dirt or holes. No one was charged in Wegner’s death.  Since 2000, at least 5 Indigenous men were found frozen to death just outside Saskatoon.

Are we going backwards? From 1990 into the 2000s there were no charges and no trials held in connection with the Starlight Tours – yet Indigenous youth  likely had been abducted  by the police and left to freeze to death in Saskatoon and many other prairie cities.

Item:  In 2018, white farmer Gerald Stanley stands trial  for the murder of 22-year-old Colten Boushie.  An all-white jury of farmers and town folk from the Battlefords area just north of Saskatoon deliver a not guilty verdict. At the trial, a ballistics expert testified that the handgun could not have fired without someone pulling the trigger. But the jury refused to believe that  Stanley, a neighbour and ‘one of them’ , had pulled the trigger (at point blank range), which killed Boushie instantly.boushie1(Memorial sign left in front of the Court House, Halifax at the Demonstration “Justice4Boushie”, Sat. 10 Feb.)

Item: In 1991, a 43-year-old Cree trapper, Leo LaChance, walked into a pawnshop in Prince Albert, Sask. He wanted to sell his pelts. Carney Nerland, the white store owner, refused to buy. He was drinking in the shop with two friends who worked as prison guards. As LaChance was leaving the store, Nerland shot him with an assault rifle; LaChance managed to stagger out the door and a few steps on the sidewalk before he fell into the deep snow of a bitter January night. Nerland, a self-described white supremacist, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and leader of the Saskatchewan branch of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian Aryan Nation. He was also a police informer. He pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter, and served fewer than 3 years in jail. He served time in the same jail where his guard friends worked. He was released into the witness protection program.

Item: “There is [are] two justice systems: one justice system for the white; one justice system for the Indian people. It’s all right for a white person to kill an Indian person.” Those were the words that Chief Lindsay Kaye told reporters. He didn’t say this last night or today, but more than 22 years ago. Kaye represented the family of Pamela George, a 28-year-old, mother of two from the Sakimay First Nation, near Regina, Sk.map-sask-better

In 1995, two white male University of Regina students, both aged 20, picked up Pamela George, who worked part time as a sex worker in downtown Regina. They drove her to a ditch near the airport. There they forced her to fellate them and then they savagely beat her to death.

Justice Ted Malone instructed the jury to remember that George was “indeed a prostitute,” when considering whether she consented. The defence insisted race was not a factor in the case. In fact one defence lawyer stated, “These are a couple of pretty damn good boys as far as I’m concerned. Had it not been for the alcohol, they would never have found themselves in this position, and that’s why the whole racial thing sort of burns me.”

After 10 hours’ deliberation, the all-white jury found the students guilty of manslaughter; each served fewer than four years in prison.starlite

Item: In 1996, an elderly white farmer from Alvena, Sask shot and killed Leonard Paul Johns, 33, from the One Arrow First Nation, west of Saskatoon. The police said the shooter acted in self-defence, as Johns had attempted a break-in. No charges were laid. But the then-chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations said, “If the roles were reversed… would anybody believe that the Crown would not prosecute?”

The mainstream media in Canada tell us that each murder of an Indigenous person is unique, and each tragedy stands on its own. But we cannot look at these cases in isolation. There is a pattern here, which becomes more and more weighty and oppressive with each death.  We, as white settlers, have to see the murders of Indigenous people in Canada the way Indigenous people see them —as genocidal. I could make a list of shootings and killings of Aboriginals by police and others for every prairie province. Because Boushie was killed in Saskatchewan, I decided to make a partial list for Saskatchewan, which has a population of 1 million people. Somehow, as Canadians, we see the pattern of the US cops’ shootings of nearly 1,000  African-Americans every year as racially motivated, and genocidal. We need to see that pattern in relation to the killings of Indigenous people in our own country. But too many whites refuse to see what has been a deadly pattern for  Indigenous people  — a pattern which makes true reconciliation an impossibility.boushie2Drumming on the Court House steps, Halifax.  Taken on 10 Feb. at the demonstration against the verdict and in support of  Justice4Boushie.    


*As a matter of interest, I lived in Saskatoon from 1989 to 2000.  

What’s a good book– or not

the-millStill reading this one — brilliant. About the mill at Pictou NS, can’t stop reading it.  And Coles even cancelled the author’s book launch in their  store in the mall there because the mill told them to do it, in so many words…

MacIntyre’s new book is riveting.  It has to do with the Toronto media, the massacres at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps (1982), the Falange and Israel.  Look up what the Falange is.   Women’s roles pretty rocky, yet the book ‘works’...

onlycafeallendeThis book does not work quite as well.  If you liked “The Help” which was all the rage about 4 yrs ago, you’ll like this book. 3 different characters, one less likeable than the next — but it all works out in the end.  Plus there is a bit of murder and mayhem in the middle. raceThis book by Eddo-Lodge works and works well.  In a straightforward and delightful way she explains exactly why, as a black person in the UK, she’s not talking to whites– even well- intentioned ones –about race. Highly recommend it.

drabbleIf you wonder about getting old or are already there, you must read this brilliant book.  You’ll never forget the characters. You’ll want to meet the narrator and travel with her on her social work rounds which concern seniors’…

brotherA family of two, one from the Caribbean and one born in Canada, lives in today’s Scarborough, the suburb of Toronto. This is a novel that flags race, class and entitlement.  It’s wonderful.  Chilling and honest. jen

This book is by a new friend and first time author, Jen Powley. She  has drawn a fine and  deliberate picture of what it’s been like for her to live with MS.  Clever, funny and radical. Her spirit and her understanding of chinks in the spirits of others is amazing.

Marshall’s book is also an autobiography and a bit humorous.  Marshall, a Toronto actor formerly in the DeGrassi series, had a tumour on her spine which was removed. Still, at 45 yrs of age her life in Lyndhurst — arguably the best rehab hospital in the country — is very harsh.  The book reveals a lot about physical and psycho-social therapy. Her relationships with her husband and sons is portrayed in an intimate way.  I felt the book was a bit slick — but for people who have never suffered a serious illness or injury, it’s a very useful read. marshall


finklesteinYou can never go wrong with Norman Finkelstein.  Gaza now ignored by the media — was all over the news during Israel’s various sieges, massacres and destructions of the largest open air prison in the world.  When we read about 17 yr old Ahed Tamimi and her jailing on 12 counts of assaulting an IDF soldier on her front steps– you see what the Israeli state is doing to Palestinians – in the West Bank, Gaza and at home in Israel where Palestinians make up 20% of the Israeli population…  

The Man Who Drove Over Wray Hart


Let’s look at two lives; let’s look at Wray Hart, aged 62, and Dennis Patterson, 23, the man who allegedly killed him.

Patterson allegedly struck Hart in the early hours of Saturday morning near the Sobey’s store on Queen Street in south-end Halifax. Patterson was charged with drunk driving causing death.

We read that Hart went out to look for some returnable bottles so he could buy some cigarettes for a friend. Patterson was likely wrapping up a night of drinking and partying when he got into his car and drove. Hart was on the sidewalk when he was struck.

photo by Gary Julienwray-hart.jpg

Hart collected bottles and cans to earn what must have been a meager living. I saw him every couple of days, wheeling a shopping cart loaded with blue bags stuffed with recyclables. We used to smile at one another and sometimes I’d hand him a bag of empty bottles. On sunny summer mornings I used to see Hart sitting on the low stone wall at the old library, quietly asking for change from passers-by.

What do we know of the man driving the car, Dennis Patterson of Quispamsis, NB? We read he is an MBA student at Saint Mary’s University, where I taught in the same business school for 17 years. I often taught MBA students. Most were full of privilege, intent on making lots of money, and short on life experience.

We know that Quispamsis has a population of 17,656.[1] The median family income is $101,907 — 34% higher than $76,000 — which is the median family income for all Canadians.[2]

There are 170 “Blacks”, and 585 “North American Aboriginals” according to the 2011 Census.

dennis-patterson.jpgphoto by CBC

Immigrants make up only 5.6% of the town’s population, compared with 20.6% in Canada as a whole. More than half of Quispamsis’ 995 immigrants are from the US and the UK—that means they are probably white. There are also 50 Chinese and 190 from S. Korean immigrants but not one from India or any country in Africa.

More than 3650 people in Quispamsis have at least a bachelor’s or undergraduate degree or diploma;    another 1035 have completed apprenticeships and are employed in their trades. Nearly 5,000 have taken courses in business, management, architecture or engineering.

In Quispamsis, 5705 of the 6175 homes are owned, only 465 are rented. Half of the homes have 8 rooms or more in them.

We know that Wray Hart had recently had moved to an apartment with his own fridge and a radio. Those who knew him said Hart was the “kindest man you’d ever meet,” others said he was “the hardest working man in Halifax”. Lorraine Glendenning, who was a friend said, “he told me he had arranged his bed so he could look out the window at the stars when he was listening to the radio at night.”

What do we make of Dennis Patterson’s background? The Census statistics tell the story of Quispamsis – a white, professional, and solidly middle class suburb of St John. A possible parallel to Patterson’s accident takes place in the 1985 bestselling novel Bonfire of the Vanities[3]. Author Tom Wolfe called the book’s hero, Sherman McCoy, a “master of the universe” because he was a Wall Street financier or trader, rich and powerful. McCoy was out on the town with his mistress Maria, who was driving his car, when she struck a black teenager. McCoy was charged with the hit and run accident which left the teen in a coma. Maria lied to police and said McCoy was driving. McCoy’s life spun out of control — he lost his job, his home and his family. In the end, someone quotes the Bible, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his own soul?”

Let’s hope it’s not too late for Dennis Patterson. He’s got to think about his own privilege and the fact that he, like others in his MBA cohort, are supposed to make “ethical and socially sustainable decisions”[4] and understand “the role that ethical and socially-sustainable factors play”[5] while studying for his MBA. Maybe now he needs to question his own privilege and consider why he ever believed it was OK to drive while under the influence.




[1] According to the 2011 Census

[2] http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/wealthiest-1-earn-10-times-more-than-average-canadian-1.1703017

[3] Also made into a movie in 1990.

[4] http://www.smu.ca/academics/sobey/mba-learning-goals.html

[5] http://www.smu.ca/academics/sobey/mba-learning-goals.html

Women’s March – Halifax 20 January

About 400 people, overwhelmingly female. attended the second annual Women’s  March in Halifax. Our turnout was about the same as the one in Rome, Italy which has about NINE TIMES the population of Halifax.  The speeches were not given by politicians, unlike last year where the mayor (among other ‘dignitaries’ ) spoke.  Mayor Savage must have used the fact he wasn’t asked to speak this year to avoid attending altogether.  I also saw no city councillors or MLA’s, or MPs.  I stand to be corrected if one slipped by my eagle eye.

Canadians, Arabs and Jews for a Just Peace, plus Independent Jewish Voices – Canada and No Way to Treat a Child (UNJPPI) were the organizations that made the banners and carried the signs.  One of the hosts of the day, Rana Zaman, read a short speech about why the crowd should support Ahed Tamimi a 16 yr old girl who has been  jailed — with no bail — for slapping a soldier in the West Bank.  Look at my earlier posting for more on Ahed Tamimi.

This was a great day, I saw women of all sorts, plus children come out.

Also Liane Tessier (see https://judyhaiven.ca/2017/12/13/liane-tessier-and-discrimination-at-halifax-fire-service/) spoke eloquently about the need for oversight of employers in Hfx and NS on issues about equity.  She and I are starting Equity Watch at a public meeting this Thurs. 25 Jan. at 6 pm at the Central Library Halifax. liane-womens

After 10 Years, Hassan Diab is Finally Free–

By Judy Haiven

Few Jews today should have missed the lessons of the Dreyfus affair a century ago. Dreyfus, a French Jew, was a captain in the upper ranks of the French military. In 1895 he was convicted of being a spy, though he vigorously denied it. Systemic anti-Semitism and his being the only Jewish officer at his rank both played a huge role in his conviction. Despite evidence that another officer was in fact the spy, at a second trial in 1899, Dreyfus was again convicted. Jailed for years on the remote Devil’s Island, he became a broken man both physically and emotionally. Leading French intellectuals, artists and writers (including Emile Zola) rallied to his cause and protested Dreyfus’ convictions. In 1906 he was finally freed, and exonerated.dreyful-gettyHassan-Diab-justice-300x200

There are some similarities between the Dreyfus Affair and the case of Hassan Diab. Canadian Hassan Diab is finally free – in part thanks to many individuals and advocacy groups that worked for years to demonstrate the flaws and inconsistencies in the evidence against him, and that demanded a halt to his extradition to France. Diab’s six years of house arrest and three years in a French prison were outrageous injustices meted out to a man who had committed no crime.

Lebanese-born Canadian Hassan Diab was a marked man ever since once he was named as France’s only suspect in the 1980 bombing of a Paris synagogue that killed four people and injured 40. Since 1999, French police had set their sights on Hassan Diab whom they believed was a terrorist involved with a Palestinian group, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). But the French police could not clearly prove this. They said Diab’s was the same handwriting as the bomber’s and that an identikit photo proved it was Diab. However handwriting experts confirmed that Diab’s handwriting did not match the five handwritten words on a hotel registration card thought to belong to the bomber. Though a woman in Paris identified the attacker as between 40 and 45 years of age, Diab was only 26 at the time, a student writing exams in his university in Beirut. His presence at the university was corroborated by affidavits from other students and from documents sent by the university. The fingerprints and palm print on evidence found by the French police were not the same as Diab’s.

Nonetheless, despite linking Hassan Diab to the crime, in November 2008, France demanded his extradition to stand trial for the murders. Diab was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa where he lived. He taught sociology at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The Canadian court had imposed very strict bail conditions. For example, his wife, Rania Tfaily, also a sociology professor at Carleton, had to accompany him twice a week to campus when he taught his class; he had to wear an electronic ankle bracelet (which cost him $2,000 a month); he had a curfew and had to live under house arrest when not at work. He was forbidden to own a cellphone.

In June 2011, Justice Robert Maranger ordered that Diab be extradited to France. Maranger did have misgivings; in his words the case against Diab was “convoluted”, “very confusing”, “with conclusions that [were] suspect”. Appeals to the extradition decision were denied, and Diab was extradited to France in November 2014.

For the last three years, Diab has been in solitary confinement awaiting trial in a maximum-security prison on the outskirts of Paris. Though some French magistrates were convinced Diab was the wrong suspect, the prosecutors seemed desperate to pin the crime on him.

The Role of B’nai Brith Canada

In 2009, at a hearing in connection with the extradition, Diab’s lawyer explained that Diab intended to return to teaching at Carleton University. According to media reports, the next day an Ottawa-based member of B’nai Brith called Carleton University to complain that Diab was still teaching there.

Later that day, Carleton fired Diab, who was three weeks into teaching an introductory sociology course at the University. Even before Carleton University came out with its statement, B’nai Brith Canada, commended the university for having done the “right thing” in not allowing Diab to teach. In their statement, B’nai Brith Canada said it was “deeply disturbed” by the news that the alleged bomber would be permitted to teach.

Frank Dimant, B’nai Brith Canada’s Executive Vice-President said that “the conditions of Diab’s bail do not even allow him to leave his home alone or to own a cellphone, but Carleton officials believe that it is fine for them to make him a member of their faculty? The last place in the world where this man belongs is in a university classroom, in front of impressionable students.” Dimant went on, “We find it deplorable that university officials believe that there is nothing wrong with employing Diab. The safety and security of the community as a whole, and of the Carleton University campus in particular, are of great concern to us….”

Dimant seemed to be most concerned about Diab’s effect on Jewish students. In an op-ed in the National Post Dimant wrote, “Were he [Diab] permitted to teach, he would be in regular, ongoing, daily contact with students, some of whom are Jewish and already feel the stigma of being marginalized on campus.”

Dimant’s key worry seemed to be that Diab would make anti-Jewish slurs against Jewish students – this despite the fact that Diab had never been accused of uttering a single anti-Semitic sentence.

B’nai Brith Canada describes itself a human rights organization which has “championed the cause of human rights in Canada since 1875.” Their YouTube site displays the motto: “Grassroots human rights advocacy and a lifeline for our community.” B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, “advocates for the human rights of all Canadians… and advocates for global human rights…”. If B’nai Brith and its League for Human Rights advocates for human rights, what about the rights of Hassan Diab? Isn’t a basic tenet of all human rights the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty? Clearly B’nai Brith is extremely selective about its human rights advocacy.

B’nai Brith might be quick to point out that they merely wanted the process to go ahead. In other words: let Diab be extradited to Paris for a trial– but all along the way there were signs of a weak and problematic case against him.

B’nai Brith seems to have missed the lessons of the Dreyfus affair a century ago.

Just as it was convenient for the French to scapegoat Dreyfus, it was convenient for B’nai Brith to scapegoat Diab. It was in B’nai Brith’s rush to judgement that they zeroed in on Diab, an Arab, to blame for the synagogue attack. Not only did B’nai Brith ignore the unconvincing legal case against Diab, but B’nai Brith hardly complained when he was put under house arrest and incarcerated without trial for years. And five days after Diab was freed of all charges in France, and a day after he returned home to Ottawa, B’nai Brith has said nothing publicly. B’nai Brith owes Dr Diab and the Canadian public an apology.

Two other Canadian Jewish organizations also joined in to condemn Diab, without any convincing evidence. The website of Simon Wiesenthal Center says it is “committed to countering racism and anti-Semitism and to promoting the principles of tolerance, social justice and Canadian democratic values through advocacy and education.”

But Wiesenthal’s external relations director, Dr. Shimon Samuels, demanded that Diab be sent to France for trial immediately, no questions, no concerns. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center called Diab “an accused terrorist mass murderer as if he was charged with drunk driving”. CEO Avi Benlolo said, “One can only wonder how a reputable university like Carleton can place an alleged murderer at the head of a classroom – teaching and meeting with students. The university should take a cautionary approach until all charges against Diab are cleared.”

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) said that they applauded the decision to uphold the extradition order against Diab, “The fact that the main suspect in this hateful terrorist attack will indeed face the justice system gives hope to the survivors…” CIJA too claims to combat “…anti-Semitism and discrimination in all its forms and advocates for fundamental rights and freedoms, [and] social justice…”

At no time did B’nai Brith seek to make common cause with well-respected social justice and advocacy groups such as Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT), the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the BC Civil Liberties Association, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, and the Canadian Labour Congress – to name a handful. They all demanded justice for Diab.

Two Jewish organizations supported Diab – the United Jewish People’s Order, and Independent Jewish Voices-Canada. IJV-Canada has supported Diab from the start and demanded he be freed. IJV-Canada joined with other Canadian advocacy groups to expose discredited evidence and the Canadian government’s complicity in allowing Diab’s extradition. The way the Canadian government handled the Diab case is eerily reminiscent of its bungling of cases involving other Arab-Canadians including Maher Arar, Omar Khadr, Muayyed Nureddin, Abdullah Almalki and Ahmad Elmaati. All were tortured in foreign countries as a result of faulty Canadian intelligence and the refusal by our governments of the day to intervene. All have since been issued with apologies and compensation. Will Hassan Diab be the next?

reprinted from IJVCanada.org where it was first published 17.01.18.

Your Rights At Work: The Boss Can Take Your Tips!


New Year’s Eve may be a distant memory but it was arguably the best night for getting big tips – if you worked in a restaurant, bar or club.

But beware: more than 33% of respondents to a tipping study I did a few years ago report either that management takes a portion of their tips, or that the servers do not know if management takes money from the tips. This is because some managers typically collect the tips at the end of the night and then distribute them how they please.

Can they take ‘our’ money, is that legal, you ask?

The answer is “perfectly legal, yes.”

Across Canada there are only two provinces in which the Labour Standards Act recognizes that servers’ tips are the exclusive property of the servers. One province is Québec, the other is Newfoundland and Labrador. Elsewhere, across the country—and here in Nova Scotia — bar and restaurant owners or managers can do what they like with the tips.

  • 59% of Halifax bar and restaurant workers in the tipping study said that they collected all their tips.
  • 16% reported that management collected and divided the tips.
  • 17% noted they were not sure what happened to all the tip money, but servers thought it was likely that their manager took a cut.
  • 6% of respondents admitted they weren’t allowed to keep the tips at all.

When asked, 67% of the respondents admitted it would be great to change Labour Standards to the way it is in Québec or Newfoundland and Labrador. In other words, tips should be the property of the server. 17% of respondents said there was no need to change the law.

Of course none of this speaks to the tip-out to the front and the back of the house staff. The tip-out is for staff who don’t usually receive tips directly from the customers. The servers often pay a percentage of their tips to the host or hostess, the buss-people, and the kitchen staff.

However, many restaurants and bars in Halifax in fact charge servers just to work there! Here’s how: every shift, servers must pay 3-5% of their total food and beverage sales to management. On $1000 sales in food and beverage, the server pays from $30 – $50 to “the house”—whether or not they made tips on all the sales that shift.

Dine’n’Dash Fund

Then there is the ‘dine and dash’ fund. Some restaurants collect .50-$1.00 from servers each shift. That money is meant to cover customers who leave without paying their bill. Or the fund is used to cover breakage or theft of glassware or cutlery. Imagine how that adds up –if a server works 5 shifts a week, 40 weeks a year—management can take $100 a year off each server’s pay. And if there are 10 servers—it works out to at least $1,000 plus a year that management is able to steal from its workers.

Is this against the law? In NS, yes and no!

If the employer charges a server when a customer leaves without paying, the employer has to be able to show that it was the server’s fault the customer did not pay. Only then is the boss entitled to charge the server. However the is seldom enforced: most restaurant owners or managers simply dock the server whose customers did not pay. Or they charge every server 50 cents or a dollar per shift – which is nothing but a cash grab by the boss. It is a blanket penalty on all servers even though there is no proof any server was guilty of allowing customers to dine and dash.

As for charging for breakage, the NS Labour Standards Act suggests the manager obtain a written authorization or a “clear agreement between the employer and employee” when they start the job about deductions from employees’ pay.

Of course almost no restaurant or bar bosses clarify these ‘rules’ with their staff.

An ironic twist is that NS Labour Standards states that any deductions an employer does take from an employee’s gross pay must not take the wages below the hourly minimum wage!

And finally a note to restaurant patrons. It does not matter if you leave a cash tip or one on your debit or credit card. The same things happen. If the boss takes part of the tip, he will take part of the tip whether left in cash on the table or on a card. If the server has to pay 3-5% of sales each night for the “privilege” of working there, that’s how the boss collects his tip.

If you want to unite with others to campaign for better rights at work, contact me at workwonks@gmail.com