For their part, the public utility says it is dealing with a backlog but it’s committed to working through it.
“Since January, we have processed approx. 650 electrical permitting requests and acknowledge that there continues to be a backlog which we are working to resolve as quickly as possible,” Stacy O’Rourke, Nova Scotia Power’s communications director, wrote in an email statement.
O’Rourke wrote that the utility is committed to phasing out coal and that processing permits for solar installations is a priority.
“Nova Scotia is not incentivized to bring on renewables at all, let alone in a timely fashion, and that’s a big problem,” said Claudia Chender, the Nova Scotia NDP critic for natural resources and renewables.
Chender says Nova Scotia Power’s attempt to charge solar customers a connection fee earlier this year demonstrates the need for the provincial government to reform how the utility is regulated.
“So that there’s a service standard for sollar installation. So, that they’re incentivized differently not just for selling power but also for meeting our environmental targets and getting us towards renewables,” she said.
Tory Rushton, Nova Scotia’s minister of natural resources and renewables, says regulation changes are a possibility.
“I’ve been very clear right from day one, there’s nothing off the table. We made some amendments to the acts during the recent legislative sitting. We’re in the middle of regulations. This is an open file,” he said.
Rushton says the high demand from homeowners to have solar panels installed is a positive sign in Nova Scotia’s pathway to phasing out coal.
“I understand from comments made on social media from Solar Nova Scotia that there’s a high interest rate so that’s a good thing. And we encourage Nova Scotia Power to move these things forward,” he said.
With an average of 766 lab-tests for COVID-19 done daily through the week covered by the report, the positivity rate of lab tests was 18.5 per cent, an increase from 17.6 per cent in the previous week.
But provincial case counts no longer necessarily give an accurate picture of active infection rates because the government has significantly scaled back testing and doesn’t include the results of tests done at home.
Health officials say 149 people were hospitalized as a result of COVID-19, including 16 who needed to be admitted to the ICU.
That’s down from the 196 new COVID-19 patients including 13 needing critical care reported the week before.
The province did not provide further details about the latest deaths. Information about COVID-19 victims, including age, gender and health region, is no longer included in the weekly updates.
The province says four new outbreaks were reported at long-term care homes during the period covered in the report.
Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:
Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.
To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings may be mandatory in indoor public spaces.
WATCH: Kids under 5 still without an approved COVID-19 vaccine
An advisory panel to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday voted to recommend COVID-19 vaccine booster shots for children ages 5 to 11, at least five months after completing their primary vaccination course.
The advisers considered data from the CDC that showed protection from two doses starts to wane over time, and that boosters in older age groups improved efficacy against severe COVID and hospitalizations.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky still needs to sign off on the committee’s recommendation, but signaled at the meeting that she was likely to back the additional shots.
“We know immunity wanes over time, and we need to do all we can now to protect those most vulnerable,” Dr. Walensky said. “It’s important for us to anticipate where this pandemic is moving and deploy the tools we have where they will have the greatest impact.”
Just over 29 per cent of U.S. children ages 5-11 are considered fully vaccinated with two doses of the Pfizer PFE.N/BioNTech 22UAy.DE shot. The vaccine is not yet authorized for children younger than 5.
The committee voted 11 to 1 to recommend the additional shots, with one doctor abstaining.
As of Thursday afternoon, it has garnered just over 400 signatures.
Some students, who signed the petition, say at first, they weren’t too happy about the decision.
“My first thoughts weren’t all that positive,” said Spencer Boyer, secondary four student. “I don’t really like being told what to do — told what to wear. But I had a conversation with the principal and we were told that at least the students would have some input and we’d have multiple options on what we could wear. So I can see where the administration is coming from now.”
Wilson says she’s putting together a committee compromised of students and staff who will give their input on different designs for the shirts.
A senior ranking RCMP member in charge of command decisions during the mass shooting spree is doubling down on the decision to not issue a news release earlier. The RCMP have come under immense scrutiny over its communication with the public during the rampage. As Graeme Benjamin reports, his testimony is resulting in anger among victims' families.
The RCMP say the commission of inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia would be violating its own rules if Mounties who have endured trauma were called to testify without some form of accommodation.
The Nova Scotia RCMP issued a statement today saying members who have already provided interviews to the commission during its ongoing investigation should not have to appear at the hearings and relive the events of April 18-19, 2020, unless their trauma is mitigated as much as possible.
The statement does not say what kind of mitigation measures the Mounties are seeking.
Last Friday, the inquiry’s three commissioners said that subpoenaed witnesses with “wellness issues” may request special arrangements, including testimony by closed-circuit TV or testimony from another room.
The inquiry’s mandate calls for it to conduct its work through what is called a “trauma-informed” approach.
Participating lawyer Robert Pineo says if the public inquiry is to make proper findings of fact, it is critical that RCMP decision-makers testify and that their evidence is tested under cross-examination.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2020.
“We just want to send the message that we’re here for all the people in this community,” Stefanson said. “We take all of this very seriously. We’re here to support the community any way we can.”
Piwniuk said infrastructure changes are along the way for the province.
“Every time we see a flood there’s always something we can improve,” he said. “Each flood is totally different from the next, and because (of) our uniqueness, because of the snow that we had, the rain, we have to see what we need to invest into.”
Piwniuk said the province is currently seeking federal approval to fund a Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin channel.
In the event of an evacuation, Stefanson says she’ll turn to the surrounding communities to help those who may be displaced.
“As Manitobans we’re very resilient,” she said. “We all come together, very large volunteer community within our province. We’re very fortunate to have those surrounding communities that will help out as well, so we’ll reach out to everyone to be a part of the solution here.”
Editor’s note: This story contains an image of an offensive symbol. Reader discretion is advised.
After nearly two years, Angela Bowden still remembers the fear she felt when she laid eyes on a sign bolted to a cabin in the woods of Queens County, N.S.
Bowden, an African Nova Scotian writer and poet, had been spending the 2020 Labour Day weekend in a cottage with friends and family in the Greenfield area.
One of her friends returned from an outing and reported seeing a disturbing sign on a nearby cottage – a sign depicting a noose, with the words “Redneck Hangout.”
Bowden went to go see it herself and was shocked by the sight.
“I immediately started to shake. The image was so unsettling and I just wanted to get out of there,” she said. “We felt very unsafe.”
Bowden said by now, the symbolism behind the image of a noose should be well-understood.
“Unless you grew up on the planet Mars, the noose is synonymous with lynching of Black folks. It’s like the golden arches: you know what it is when you see it, it’s not something that you have to guess,” she said.
In an interview Thursday, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Chris Marshall said officers in the Queens County district received a complaint in September 2020 about a sign on a cabin on Beaver Tail Lane, which was visible from the roadway.
Police seized the sign and Kozlowski, who police say is the property owner, was arrested on Sept. 16, 2020, and released without charges.
Marshall said investigators have been gathering further evidence and information over the last 18 months, and have had “lots of discussions” with the Public Prosecution Service to ensure the threshold was met to lay charges.
“In order for charges of the willful promotion of hatred to be laid, ultimately it has to be content that’s displayed in a public place and clearly targets an identifiable group, that is basically something that rises above the level of simply a remark,” he said.
“But there are sometimes things that are much more subvert.”
Marshall said a search warrant was executed for Kozlowski’s phone, and it also took time for investigators to sift through its contents to gather evidence.
He could not say what was gathered, but said they were looking for any further evidence that could “corroborate the intent of the sign.”
“And ultimately, whether or not we could get the objective belief on reasonable grounds that the sign itself, and all the circumstances surrounding it, met the definition of willful promotion of hatred against an identifiable group,” he said.
Marshall said the RCMP takes allegations of hateful acts seriously.
“Any act that promotes hatred … is absolutely unacceptable in our view, and our investigators are going to follow up on any information that we receive,” he said.
Creating new wounds
Bowden said she is still processing the news about the charge and has mixed feelings.
“On one hand, yes, of course, it’s nice that justice does its job and the wheels are turning and we’re recognizing that that’s something that we’re not going to tolerate in our society,” she said.
“But charges are only as good as the conviction, the conviction is only as good as the sentencing – and we’ve seen far too much in Nova Scotia where people are charged, people are convicted, and then there’s a slap on the wrist, because I don’t believe that the justice system in itself is able to actually view these incidences in the proper context, or through the proper lens.”
“So I guess my expectation and hope would be, for this particular case, that they do seek that expertise, and they do seek those resources, so justice can be served for African Nova Scotians in this province.”
Bowden added that this case is not just about a sign – it’s a reminder of the centuries of racism and oppression felt by Black people around the world.
“These types of incidents, they not only rip open old wounds, they create new wounds. And it just keeps going and going and going,” she said.
“And so I think it’s important for us to recognize, as a society, that when these types of behaviours happen, the ripple effect is felt straight throughout the Black communities of Nova Scotia, Canada and beyond.
“We’re dealing with people’s trauma – historically and contemporary.”
‘Trial by social media’
Kozlowski is the president of Wilson Equipment Ltd. He could not be reached for comment Thursday, and a person who answered the phone at Wilson Equipment said the company had no comment.
Kozlowski’s lawyer, Victor Goldberg, said in an interview that he believes this is a matter of “character assassination” and his client maintains his innocence.
“Mark’s done nothing illegal and I’m confident that he will be exonerated when this matter comes to court,” he said. “What’s unfortunate is that the presumption of innocence that operates in our court system doesn’t necessarily operate (in) a trial by social media.”