Roundup: 187 active COVID cases, Stellarton restaurant embraces accessibility, Canso spaceport draws protests, fire fears at Liverpool RCMP station

Luke Reddick (left) and mom Jody Holley peruses the braille menu at a Pictou restaurant. Photo: Steve Goodwin

Plus: Local employers talk of a labour shortage, but newcomers say it’s harder than ever to find meaningful work in Halifax

Nova Scotia has 187 known active cases of COVID-19, with 24 new cases and 32 recoveries reported in the latest government update. Sixteen people are hospitalized in provincial COVID units, including two in ICU.

Of the new cases, 23 cases are in the Central Zone and one is in the Western. Health officials say that “there continues to be community spread in the Central Zone, primarily among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.”

Officials also report exposures at five HRM schools: Portland Estates Elementary, Rockingstone Heights School, Ellenvale Junior High, Citadel High, and Joseph Howe Elementary.

As of yesterday, 80.1% of Nova Scotians have had one dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and 74.8% have had both shots. Across Canada, 77.0% have had the first jab, and 72.0% are fully vaccinated.

So far, COVID has killed 28,367 people across Canada, including 98 Nova Scotians.

Photo: Bruce Murray

A shortage of workers or a shortage of good jobs?
Business lobby groups often bemoan a shortage of workers. What they usually fail to mention is that the businesses that struggle to find workers tend to offer low-paying jobs with no benefits and erratic hours.

Marianne Simon was an accomplished author and newspaper editor in her native India. Since she immigrated to Halifax, she’s been on the hunt for meaningful work, running into many employers who don’t recognize her skills and experience, or expect newcomers to work for free during training, or offer insultingly little pay.

In her new Unravel Halifax column, Simon interviews other newcomers about their experiences building lives in Halifax. In her first instalment, she talks with another Indian expatriate, Meera Raghava (name changed, due to fears that her candour will hurt her job hunt).

“I was a Registered Nurse in India,” Meera recalls. “I worked in a large hospital, and loved nursing, and especially teaching student nurses. And I was financially secure.”

She heard Nova Scotia was desperate for health-care workers, and assumed it wouldn’t be too hard to find meaningful work here.

“The waiting period became endless. I’ve been in Halifax for a year and a half now, and I’m still unemployed,” Meera says. “I am now getting my credentials assessed by the National Nursing Assessment Service, in preparation for taking a bridging course that will qualify me, a nurse trained in India, to do the same job in Canada.”

And every day she waits is another day away from her husband and two children in India, a family divided until she finds financial security.

Read more in the latest issue of Unravel Halifax.

Pictou County restaurant embraces accessibility
Thirteen-year-old Luke Reddick is legally blind, which makes it impossible for him to order unaided in most restaurants. That’s why he likes going to Jungle Jim’s in Stellarton, which now has braille menus.

“I’m pretty happy they have them and I can come to the restaurant and be independent,” he says.

His mother Jody Holley works at the restaurant, and suggested adopting the braille menus. The benefits have gone far outside her family, though. She recalls an older customer using the new option for the first time.

“That was an overwhelming experience,” she says. “I was grateful I was working and was able to present her with the menu. It was really special. It’s really for them to come in and be able to order. I talked to Luke and asked him, ‘If you were older like her would you be afraid to go a restaurant or feel awkward?’”

Steve Goodwin reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Canso spaceport draws protests
As Maritime Launch Solutions hosted an information session on Oct. 6 to update the community on its plans to build a spaceport, nearly 100 people from Action Against Canso Spaceport protested outside.

A group of First Nation elders is spearheading the opposition.

“I’m here under the instruction of the grandmothers of the Mi’kmaq community, this area encompasses our traditional territory, Mi’kma’ki,” says protest organizer Elizabeth Marshall. “I’m here to inform you: the grandmothers, the grandfathers — the community that I represent … oppose this project, 100 per cent … We don’t agree to colonialism anymore, and we are not going to commit any further destruction and ecological harm, to the life that you propose, for a few jobs.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Fire fears at Liverpool police station
There were fears of a fire at the Queens RCMP detachment in Liverpool on Oct. 2, as smoke filled the building. Staff Sgt. Daniel Archibald says no evacuations were necessary, a claim contradicted by public radio traffic that several in the community heard, which appeared to describe an evacuation in progress.

It turns out a malfunctioning furnace blower caused the smokey conditions. Twenty firefighters were on the scene for an hour.

Kevin McBain has the story for LighthouseNow.

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