Apr 152015

Dal student and Solidarity Halifax member Aaron Beale speaks to The Chronicle Herald about why students are fighting back against austerity during the occupation of Minister Whalen’s office on April 13.


Listen to the interview HERE

Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.

Apr 142015

On the morning of April 13, several university students occupied Nova Scotia Finance Minister Diana Whalen’s office, in protest to the recently-released provincial budget.

Cramming in the age of austerity. Students pull double duty as they occupy Nova Scotia Finance Minister Diana Whalen's office, while hitting the books. [Photo: M. Howe]

Cramming in the age of austerity. Students pull double duty as they occupy Nova Scotia Finance Minister Diana Whalen’s office, while hitting the books. [Photo: M. Howe]

The Halifax Media Coop interviewed John Hutton, incoming vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union, and Dr. Alex Khasnabish, Department Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Mount Saint Vincent University. John Hutton is a member of Solidarity Halifax and Alex Khasnabish is co-director of the Radical Imagination Project.

Listen to the interviews HERE.


Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.


Apr 132015

Stephen McNeil and the Liberal Party have introduced a draconian austerity budget for Nova Scotia. With major cuts, freezes, and changes to existing social programmes, this austerity agenda is doomed to fail and result in major pain for the working class in our province. It is a rehashing of the infamous John Savage years, when the Liberal government of the 1990s undertook a drastic campaign of gutting social spending and attacking public sector wages.

Austerity continues to be the ruling class solution to the Great Recession of 2008. Instead of reining in the big banks and corporations, the ruling class seeks to blame working people for this economic crisis. It was finance capital, not nurses, teachers and bus drivers who crashed the economy. We didn’t cause this crisis, and we won’t pay for it.

  1. Health Care – The Liberals have basically frozen health care spending for the next year. This will result in increased wait times and the nursing shortage will likely get worse. Wait lists for long-term care and home care will also continue to grow. On home care, the Liberals are moving forward with plans to privatize, allowing multinational corporations to make money off caring for our seniors. At the other end, the Liberals are reducing funding for the Children’s Oral Health Programme, which was suppose to provide kids under the age of 16 with basic dental care, but will now be restricted to 14 years of age.
  2. Post-Secondary Education – The Liberals have totally deregulated tuition fees for one year in what they are calling a ‘market readjustment’. What this means is that tuition will rise dramatically at all of our public universities and colleges, both undergrad and graduate studies. There is no cap on the level of increase this year. In addition, the Liberals removed the cap on increases permanently for out-of-province students, reducing the likelihood of young people coming to Nova Scotia for school.
  3. P-12 Education – One potential positive in the budget is an additional $20 million for P-12 Education. However, on top of the fact that the Liberals had promised during the election campaign to restore $65 million in cuts by the previous government, much of the new money is earmarked for dubious corporate-influenced education “reform” initiatives, instead of dealing with critical class size and composition issues.
  4. Child Care – There is nothing in the budget to address early childhood education and child care. While other provinces have created universal pre-primary programmes or invested in regulated child care spaces, Nova Scotia’s Liberals have sat on their hands while kids go without the support and care they need.
  5. Social Assistance and Housing – Social Assistance rates have been frozen in the budget. People living on social assistance are already well below the poverty line and this freeze will impact some of the most marginalized people in our communities. Overall there is a cut in the funding for the Department of Community Services. The previous government had said they would invest $500 million over ten years in affordable housing. The Liberals promised to honour this commitment but there is no new investment in affordable housing in the budget.
  6. Corporate Welfare – While funding for social programmes has been cut, slashed and frozen, the Liberals continue to provide for their business friends with millions in new spending for corporate welfare. The Liberals have eliminated the Department of Economic and Rural Development. All staff were told they would be immediately laid off. Part of the funding for the Department is being given over to Nova Scotia Business Inc to dole out in corporate welfare. Other parts of the funding are going toward a new Department of Business. The Liberals have eliminated any and all focus on rural development and will provide much less support for rural Nova Scotia.
  7. The Environment – This budget is characterized by undermining action on one of the most pressing crises of our time, with $600,000 cut from sustainable transportation, and cuts to the department of energy, environment, and natural resources.
  8. Civil Services and Public Sector – The Liberal budget lays off 320 civil servants around the province, on top of cuts already made to child welfare, tourism and income assistance offices. They have also frozen wages and salaries for all non-union employees at the provincial government. This is setting the stage for a series of major labour negotiations. Teachers, the Civil Service, and Health Care workers will be at the bargaining table over the next year. The Liberals have made it clear that they intend to blame Nova Scotia’s economic problems on public sector workers. Public sector workers will not accept wage freezes while inflation continues to rise, likely leading to job action in the coming year.
  9. Film Tax Credit – The Liberals have slashed the Film Tax Credit to less than 25% of its previous value. This will be devastating to Nova Scotia’s vibrant film industry. Already, several film companies have said they will be pulling out of Nova Scotia. It has taken 20 years to build up Nova Scotia’s film industry, creating good jobs for artists in many disciplines, but it took only one day to bring the industry to standstill.

There are alternatives to austerity capitalism. Life doesn’t have to be like this. Through of a mix of public ownership, workers cooperatives, and non-profit enterprise, we can build a sustainable economy and keep more of our wealth here in Nova Scotia, instead of sending it to corporate shareholders in Toronto and New York. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia Office has also published progressive budgets for the past 15 years. These budgets demonstrate that we can afford to invest in health care, education and eliminating poverty.

We need a government willing to break with austerity capitalism and begin building a real future in Nova Scotia. If you are interested in building alternatives to capitalism, contact Solidarity Halifax and get involved in the struggle for justice. Another world is possible.Solidarity-Halifax_logo_web

Apr 062015

Vice-President (Culture & Mayworks) of the Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council Sébastien Labelle weighs in on the potential threat to our local film industry. Sébastien is a member of Solidarity Halifax.

The NS Liberal government seems determined to pursue its trend of broken promises and reckless austerity policies. Already, Nova Scotians had been bracing for the privatization of more public services, including home care services and public document management services. Added to this has been the continued starving of both our P-12 and post-secondary education systems despite electoral promises otherwise.

Now comes the news that the local film industry and the service sector industries that it supports can also expect to take a serious hit.

In comments made last week to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce, Minister of Finance Diana Whalen suggested the coming provincial budget could include the elimination of the film tax credit program.

This news came as a surprise as – in a fashion similar to what led to the health care restructuring debacle – the Liberals have failed to consult key people when determining their policies. Namely, those who work in the affected industry or economic sector. This lack of consultation is made apparent by both the justified outcry of those who work in the film industry, and also by the misleading inaccuracies of Minister Whalen’s comments when describing the film tax credit program.

In her comments, Minister Whalen stated that the tax credit program costs tax payers $24 million per year, when in fact, the program generates more than $139 million annually in economic activity. Through this activity, over 2,000 jobs are created attracting mostly young workers. What’s more, jobs directly related to the film industry have some of the highest levels of private sector unionization offering families security and benefits when most jobs in the private sector are becoming increasingly low paid and precarious.

In comparison, the Royal Bank of Canada, one of the most profitable corporations in the country, recently received $22 million from the Liberal government and is expected to create up to 500 jobs over 10 years.

What this reveals are the typical fallacies of austerity policies where belt tightening rhetoric is paired with corporate welfare for the rich and where investment in the arts and culture is seen as a lavish expense rather than as essential to the vibrancy of our society.

It is high time the NS Liberals paid serious attention to the needs of working Nova Scotians and the health of our provincial economy.

#SupportNSFilm #NSFilmJobs

Please take the time to sign this online PETITION to save our local film industry

Sébastien Labelle
Vice-President, Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council (Culture & Mayworks)
Member, Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists – Maritimes Branch

The Halifax-Dartmouth & District Labour Council represents over 25,000 workers in the Halifax region, including thousands of members of the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), the Unifor Canadian Freelance Union, and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE). The Labour Council also represents thousands of workers in the service sector industries that benefit from a thriving cultural industry.



Note: Statements by Solidarity Halifax members do not necessarily reflect positions held by the organization.