Sunday, 23 July 2017

Caring for a child is work, but society doesn’t seem to see it that way. “Single parents on welfare are often portrayed as lazy or ‘getting a free ride’; as though their children effortlessly raise themselves,” writes new contributor Lenore Hemming. “It’s interesting that our society only views child care as valuable if it is someone else’s child.”

First voice welfare activists in Nova Scotia are trying very hard to raise awareness about the incredibly difficult living conditions they have to deal with on a daily basis. At times it seems like nobody is listening. And nobody is helping them. Lately there have been modest signals that Nova Scotia’s labour movement at least is hearing them. There is a long way to go, but it’s something to build upon.

Nine years since she first encountered gender discrimination at the NSLC Pearl Kelly is still waiting for closure. Although the Liquor Corporation fought her at every step, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission and the Court of Appeal both found in her favour. Now she is waiting for the chair of the Board of Inquiry to set a date for the hearing to determine damages. It’s taking a long time.

We take a look at the provincial parties’ responses to a social justice questionnaire, zooming in on commitments around welfare and people who work for very low wages. And some other observations.

You often don’t get sick in a vacuum. Having a stressful job, a mind numbing job, or maybe one that doesn’t make you feel appreciated, are all things that affect your health. The same is true for being unemployed. For part two of a series on the things that make you sick contributor Alex Kronstein focuses on unemployment and job security, and employment and working conditions.

New contributor Alex Kronstein suggests that an election campaign is the perfect time to bug the candidates about the underlying social causes of our healthcare crisis. In part 1 of the series he argues that when it comes to income distribution Nova Scotia could do much better. A living wage, a $15 minimum wage, making it easier for workplaces to unionize, and a guaranteed income are all measures that could make a big difference here.

Former firefighter Liane Tessier finally gets her day in court. Tessier faced gender discrimination, retribution and gossip at the Halifax Regional Fire & Emergency department in 2005, and has been trying to get her case heard ever since. Now the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (NSHRC) has set aside 10 days starting October 30 for a tribunal to look into Tessier’s allegations. I have written a lot about Tessier’s case over the years, and have nothing but admiration for this courageous woman.

Christine Saulnier, Nova Scotia Director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, looks at the different ways politicians propose to address poverty in Nova Scotia during this election: wage increases, social programs, tax-based incentives, or a job.

The Liberal plan to cut taxes will not benefit the very poor, while the money could have been used to raise the income assistance rates or reduce the clawbacks, she writes, while simply saying that “the best social program is still a job” ignores the many people who simply are unable to work. Meanwhile, the NDP proposal to raise minimum wage to $15 definitely helps people who are struggling to make ends meet.