Letters to the editor, February 21, 2019

These are the letters and comments from the print edition.

Tackle the stadium

If trust in public officials is at an all-time low, it is because of deals like the CFL stadium. When Halifax city council met privately with the Canadian Football League's promoters and agreed to be bound by the promoters' non-disclosure terms, they gave the promoters too much control over the deal.

The promoters are telling us what financing arrangements they expect, including the diversion of commercial property taxes, and new taxes on hotel rooms and car rentals. They get to promote their version of the stadium story to the public, and city council is not challenging or qualifying any of it.

The Halifax Chamber of Commerce has also been strangely silent about the proposed subsidies for the stadium. The chamber has been campaigning for tax fairness and for fewer fees, so why are they giving the CFL promoters a free pass?

Mayor Mike Savage says that the city needs to see the business case before deciding on the stadium proposal.

Given the recent dismissal of city planner Bob Bjerke, city staff must be keenly aware that an unfavourable finding will not be well-received, so they must walk a very fine line. They have no experience operating a football franchise, so the safe choice will be to use the CFL's own attendance projections, the CFL's estimate of stadium costs and the CFL financing model, with some minor adjustments to give the appearance of due diligence.

For the many parts of the deal that are not yet agreed on, they can make assumptions that favour the stadium.

Mr. Savage is indifferent to the economics of it. He has already stated that we should not expect this type of venture to pay for itself. All that council needs is a report that says that the stadium is unlikely to become an economic burden. But no knowledgeable, competent person would ever give such an assurance. So what is the point of it?

Some years ago, council was hopelessly entangled in the Commonwealth Games proposal, and it was premier Rodney MacDonald who saved the day by saying "no" to any financing. This time, the unpleasant task of bringing the city back in line falls on premier Stephen McNeil. The stadium can't go ahead without new provincial legislation for the tax charges. He needs to say "no" to all of it.
— Mark Porter, Dartmouth


Health-care cure

Maybe the government is not completely to blame for the long-term bed shortage and the rising costs to the health care system. But if that's true, then the politicians should make government more accountable as to how the money is spent.

Having spent several years as an employee at one of the region's largest long-term care facilities, I have first-hand experience with the true nature of how we waste public money. The front-line workers and supervisors were great and really cared for the clients, but the management was only interested in lining their own pockets. While unionized and non-union/non-management employees had to contend with pay freezes for the good of the company, upper management never missed a bonus or pay increase.

The front-line staff often worked extra time to cover for the fact they were always short-staffed due to budget constraints, and they dare not object or else face bullying or shift cuts. Heaven forbid an employee suffer from depression or anxiety, because they would be further bullied and ostracized. For an organization that claims to support mental-health wellness, it never shows support for employee mental wellness, preferring to drive out employees. Any time an employee stands up to these discrepancies in aid of a workmate and wants to tell the truth, they are reminded that everyone is expendable. Everyone except long-term management.

This is one of the key reasons why Nova Scotia cannot keep the best care workers. They are overworked like our doctors and abused by their employer, not a positive situation at all. If one of the largest long-term care facilities treats staff like this and gets away with it, there is little doubt the other organizations will follow this business model. The government should investigate the long-term care facilities receiving public money, and find out what is painfully obvious: We need more long-term beds and fewer company execs abusing taxpayers.
— F. Jordan, Dartmouth

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