Labour Media release

News release: Bryony House has a home: workers relieved but questions remain


December 10, 2019

Halifax, NS –  The workers of Bryony House (PSAC DCL Local 80022) are pleased that a new home has been found for the only transition house in the Halifax Regional Municipality, but questions remain about why it only happened after such a long wait and public pressure. 

“More than anything, I’m relieved” said Kristina Fifield, a staff member at Bryony House “When we started reaching out to the public, we said, ‘we need beds’ and we are so happy that we have achieved this.  We had over 1200 people write letters of support, and if it weren’t for that, I don’t think we’d be getting ready to move into a new home.”

Last week, the management of Bryony House made a public announcement that they had found a new location for a shelter.  Previously management had told workers and PSAC representatives that a new temporary location would not be found until 2020, but after a campaign of public pressure including a rally in front of the former shelter, management and the board of directors announced that a new shelter would be operating before Christmas.  Management and the board of directors have not offered any explanation of their lack of action prior to the public campaign or why the former shelter could fall into disrepair without plans for a temporary shelter.

“I am inspired by the workers of Bryony House, who stood up for their clients and community, when no one else would.  I am so glad that there is a safe place in the HRM for women and their children, but there are still a lot of unanswered questions” said Colleen Coffey, Regional Executive Vice President-Atlantic of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. “Despite knowing the state of the old shelter, why was their no plan in place for a temporary location? Why did it take nearly 3 months to find a temporary location?  There needs to be a larger conversation here about transparency and accountability.  The blame doesn’t rest entirely with the board and management either.  Public funds support this shelter, but where was the provincial government when Bryony House stopped being able to provide shelter space to their clients?”

The PSAC represents nearly 200,000 workers in Canada across various sectors, including workers at several transition houses in Nova Scotia. 

“I am glad that the workers at Bryony House can get back to doing what they do best: serving their clients in a safe, comfortable environment for the time that they need.  These decisions can have life changing consequences, and I’m just glad no one was killed while the board and management were dragging their feet.“