Letters to the editor, March 1, 2018

These are the letters and comments from the print edition.

NSCC stands a-loan

Congrats to my university peers on the recent promise of complete loan forgiveness, though there is still no student loan relief in sight for NSCC grads. The press release from Labour and Advanced Education minister Labi Kousoulis stated: "We are committed to helping students pursue their post-secondary education and move into the workforce." I guess only if I do so with a university degree in hand.

Our government continues to allow college and university students access to student loan programs, but only university grads access to the loan forgiveness program. Yes, college is generally shorter and less expensive, but college students shoulder the entire burden, without so much as a token gesture from our government. Compared to 65 percent of university grads, over 92 percent of NSCC grads remain in NS, committed to the revitalization of rural communities for future generations. —Lesley McGill, Lawrencetown

Fixing welfare

Nova Scotia's Department of Community Services recently shared details of planned changes to the Employment Support & Income Assistance program, which deputy minister Lynn Hartwell described as the most fundamental transformation in the department in decades. Two details in particular were highlighted in the news: Income assistance recipients will be able to keep more of the income they earn if they are working, and basic support rates will increase by five percent. Both of these changes will come to light in 2019-20. As an organization that supports thousands of Nova Scotians who are struggling, we are encouraged by part of this news.

But only 35 percent of the department's caseload is close to the labour market, which means the announced changes provide little hope for Nova Scotians on income assistance who are unable to work for a variety of reasons, like long-term disability or mental health challenges. A five percent increase to their basic allowance will not have a meaningful impact. We hope the department's plans and recommendations include this group of Nova Scotians on income assistance.

We need to educate ourselves on the realities of our social welfare program. Tired stereotypes and damaging misconceptions are preventing progress. There are brave Nova Scotians raising their voices about the struggles they face every day on income assistance. Listen to their stories. The wheels of change turn achingly slow when you're struggling with a day-to-day existence. Show your support. Reach out and see what you can to do help. Light a fire under your elected official. Tell them you support a bold transformation of the Employment Support & Income Assistance program that restores dignity for all Nova Scotians. —Nick Jennery, executive director, Feed Nova Scotia

Super suggestion

Linda Pannozzo is to be commended for her look at the Ocean Supercluster ("Public coffers, private bonanza," Opinionated story, Feb 22). Her argument that the private sector participants hardly appear to require public sector donations to undertake big projects is compelling. Especially since many of them now condemn public subsidies that have been helpful to them in the not-so-distant past.

However, Ms. Pannozzo could have shown a bit of restraint to better support her arguments. Do we know how the public interest will be protected? Will transparency protocols be built in that provide that kind of reassurance? Will Emera perform more responsibly than it does in its main business model? The project at least deserves an opportunity to demonstrate its good faith and potential on behalf of Canadians.

Before we rush to speak ill of the corporate elites, could we acknowledge that when it comes to the fishery and mismanagement of our oceans, there is plenty of blame to go around? From the largest fishing enterprises to the smallest individual fisher, the motivation has been to keep harvesting the resource even when that same resource has been placed in peril. Some call it greed. Others label it ambition. Regardless, it is fairly apparent that if we all were better behaved our oceans would be in less perilous condition. —Stewart Lamont, managing director, Tangier Lobster Company

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