Roundup: Vax update, Houston’s plan for the housing crisis, man charged in Truro killing, calls for more action after racist incident in Antigonish

The housing crisis hit a flashpoint in August, when police violently clashed with unhoused people and their supporters. Photo: Ben Murray

Plus: Doctors urge people to not forget the flu as they continue fighting COVID

The provincial government has released a new batch of statistics showing how the COVID-19 vaccinations dramatically reduces death and serious illness from the disease.

From Oct. 14 to 20, Nova Scotia had 77 known cases of COVID:

  • 23 (29.9 per cent) were fully vaccinated,
  • Three (3.9 per cent) were partially vaccinated,
  • 51 (66.2 per cent) were unvaccinated.

From March 15 to Oct. 20, Nova Scotia has had 5,506 known cases:

  • 324 (5.9 per cent) were fully vaccinated,
  • 353 (6.4 per cent) were partially vaccinated,
  • 4,829 (87.7 per cent) were unvaccinated.

There were 304 people hospitalized:

  • 11 (3.6 per cent) were fully vaccinated,
  • 30 (9.9 per cent) were partially vaccinated,
  • 263 (86.5 per cent) were unvaccinated.

During the same period, COVID killed 32 people:

  • Three (9.4 per cent) were fully vaccinated,
  • Three (9.4 per cent) were partially vaccinated,
  • 26 (81.3 per cent) were unvaccinated.

As of Friday (when the government last updated the statistics), Nova Scotia has 160 known active cases, with 15 people in hospital, including four in ICU.

Flu season returns
And as COVID continues to dominate the public-health discussion, doctors are urging people not to forget about their annual flu shots.

“We worry about Nova Scotians getting sick with flu as our province continues to see cases of the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant,” says Dr. Heather Johnson, president of Doctors Nova Scotia. “We all must stay well so hospital beds, emergency departments and testing centres are reserved for people who really need care, particularly as we enter the fourth wave of the pandemic. Receiving your flu shot is the single most effective thing you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones from the flu. The flu shot is safe and free for all Nova Scotians six months of age and older.”

Read more in LighthouseNow.

Houston’s plan for the housing crisis
When Tim Houston was campaigning during the summer, there was little to suggest that he was going to take dramatic action on the housing crisis. He repeatedly opposed rent controls, and didn’t hint at a plan to address soaring rents and historic-low vacancy rates.

But now that he’s premier, he’s identified housing as a pressing issue. With citizens clamouring for tangible action, he’s rolling out a sweeping strategy: extending the current two-per-cent cap on annual rent hikes for two years, earmarking $35 million to build 1,100 affordable housing units, and $10.1 million to address homelessness. The government also plans to construct new student residences for NSCC’s Stellarton, Dartmouth, and Halifax campuses.

Gary Burrill. Photo: Ben Murray

Many landlords dislike the scheme, saying rents are already too low.

Jenna Ross is a property manager with about 100 rental units in the Halifax area. “People think they’re taking the rent money and putting it in their pockets,” she says. “The margins are very tight, and they take all the risk, whether or not a tenant pays rent or takes care of a place, or if the roof or septic goes.”

But housing advocates call it a win, at least in the short-term.

“(We) can celebrate a major victory that will help thousands of people be able to stay in their homes,” says NDP leader Gary Burrill in a press release. “While this change will mean the immediate relief of some of the anxiety people are facing with the rapid increases in rental costs, permanent rent control, beyond the two-year rent cap, is still needed to protect tenants.”

Janet Whitman breaks it all down in this new Unravel Halifax feature.

Man charged in Truro killing
The Sept. 5 killing in of Prabhjot Singh Katri, a student from India, made headlines around the world. Now Truro police have made a break in the case, charging two suspects and seeking a third.

Twenty-year-old Cameron James Prosper from Pictou Landing First Nation is in police custody, facing a murder charge.

Dylan Robert MacDonald faces charges of being an accessory after the fact to murder, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle, and flight from police.

Police also have an arrest warrant for 22-year-old Marcus Denny from Pictou Landing, wanted as an accessory to murder after the fact

“We … want to acknowledge the pain that this senseless act has caused the entire community, and we understand that people have been very anxious and fearful,” says a press release from the Truro Police Service. “This work is complex and technical, and our end goal has always been bringing those responsible to justice.”

Raissa Tetanish reports for The Pictou Advocate.

Tara Reddick

Calls for action after racist incident in Antigonish
A video that’s circulating social media depicting a racist incident was the subject of a community engagement session at Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School on Oct. 5 and one local mother is urging education officials to take stronger action.

“We were there to support a young woman in our community who was a victim of racism,” says mother of four Tara Reddick. “It was an emotional meeting that involved school administers community members, elders, youth, parents, and allies … I think three teachers attended the meeting … (It) was disappointing that more teachers at Dr. John Hugh Gillis didn’t feel it was important enough to engage, or just listen to the community’s concerns.”

Administrator Paul Landry promises the fight against racism is continuing. “Staff … work every day to promote and celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity to ensure their schools are welcoming, safe, respectful, and supportive learning environments,” he says.

Drake Lowthers has the story for The Reporter.

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