How icy is it on Nova Scotia roads? Even salt trucks can’t stay upright


Driving conditions were so treacherous in Nova Scotia on Friday morning that even the salt trucks were slipping off the roads.

At 9:30 a.m., a Trenton public works salt truck slid down a sloped, icy street and tipped over onto Main Street, spilling a large amount of salt into the intersection.

New Glasgow Police spokesperson Const. Ken MacDonald said the 59-year-old driver was not injured, and the road will be closed for a few hours between High Street and Forge Street while the truck is towed and the salt is removed.

MacDonald acknowledged the irony. « No question about it, » he said.

A second salt truck slid off Highway 2 into the ditch near Great Village around 8 a.m.

Freezing rain covered much of the province in ice on Friday morning, causing traffic tie-ups, fender benders and school closures. The precipitation changed to rain mid-morning, but the temperature is expected to plummet again this evening.

A salt truck with a plow slid off the road and into the ditch on Friday morning near Great Village, N.S. (Lisa George)

Road conditions across the province were treacherous due to freezing rain on Friday morning. (Lisa George)


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Nova Scotia premier seeks to ‘support’ First Nation after string of suicides – Halifax


Premier Stephen McNeil says Nova Scotia is looking to find ways to support the province’s largest Mi’kmaq community after a string of suicides.

McNeil, who is also the province’s Aboriginal Affairs minister, said the province already funds a crisis call centre at Eskasoni First Nation and may “enhance” that funding.

“It’s been a real tragedy in Eskasoni in the last month and we’ve seen a number of people who felt in despair, where they did the unthinkable really in lots of ways,” McNeil told reporters after a cabinet meeting Thursday.

Aboriginal group calls for more mental health funding in wake of Eskasoni First Nation suicides

Eskasoni Chief Leroy Denny said last week multiple suicides have underscored the need for more health-care resources in the Cape Breton community.

Denny called on all levels of government to step up, noting that more long-term funding is needed for culturally informed mental health, trauma and addictions services.

“We’re looking at how do we support him,” McNeil, who spoke with Denny last week, said Thursday. “We’re looking at it from a provincial point of view and the crisis call centre, and other initiatives that we can do to help support him.”

The Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs has called on Ottawa to put more money into the crisis line and mental health supports for the roughly 4,500 people who are part of the Eskasoni First Nation.

Chief Bob Gloade of the congress called the situation “extremely urgent.”

WATCH: Cape Breton’s Eskasoni First Nation experiencing mental health crisis

The congress is asking for $600,000 in annual funding for the distress line, $150,000 for a clinical therapist, $75,000 for resources to support focus groups for people 20 to 40 years old and $90,000 for suicide prevention training.

McNeil said he has spoken with the local MP, Mark Eyking, about what they can do together and with Eskasoni.

“I would agree with the chiefs the federal government should play a role,” McNeil said.

“The crisis line in Eskasoni is one that has been used broadly for Mi’kmaq across the province, not just in Eskasoni. So we’re working with … the chief, he has some proposals into Aboriginal Affairs provincially but we would certainly welcome any help at the national level.”

First Nations community in Cape Breton grieving after multiple deaths

Eskasoni health director Sharon Rudderham said last week the community has experienced multiple deaths, both expected and unexpected, intensifying its grief.

“The compounding effects and the re-traumatization that are impacting our community we believe require a more effective response to dealing with the situation,” she told a press conference at the Eskasoni Health Centre last week.


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Dip for Mental Health: Nova Scotia trio commits to 31-day Polar Dip – Halifax


A trio of brave young men have vowed to take the plunge for mental health every day in January, all to raise money and awareness for mental health services in Nova Scotia.

Koko McNeill, Sid Fraser and Mitchell Hippern are performing a 31-day dip for mental health. All the money they raise throughout the month will be given to Phoenix Youth House.

For they say the importance of talking about mental health is something he holds close to his heart.

“When I was younger, I dealt with a lot of mental health challenges, depression, anxiety, panic attacks,” McNeill said. “I knew at a pretty young age that [mental health] was something I wanted to get involved with.”

READ MORE: Thousands attend 99th annual Vancouver Polar Bear Swim in English Bay

The trio have done most of the jumps into the Bedford Basin. But on Saturday, they somehow convinced dozens of their peers to simultaneously take the plunge at Halifax’s Point Pleasant Park.

With the temperature sitting at a frigid minus 8 and a wind chill of minus 17, to say Saturday’s jump was on the colder side would be an understatement.

“The car’s running,” said one dipper after the plunge. “If only you could drive it down to the beach.”

“I don’t feel much at all, actually. I’m a little hungover,” said another.

WATCH: 2018 Herring Cove Polar Bear Dip

But NcNeill says the temporary rush from the icy cold Atlantic is worth it if it helps raise money and awareness of mental health services in the province.

“A lot of people that I know that have been impacted by mental health challenges or mental illnesses have reached out and said, ‘Thank you so much for doing this,’” says McNeill.

“It’s been wicked.”

READ MORE: Chilly New Year’s Day dip for a good cause in Penticton

The three men have currently raised $3,000 for the Phoenix Youth House, with the funds specifically earmarked for the youth and family therapy program, as well as the youth drop-in centre.

With a goal of $10,000, they feel they’re well on their way.

“Phoneix Youth, they deal with a lot of different challenges for youth, a lot of different obstacles that youth have in general,” McNeill says. “A lot of the youth in the shelters there have mental health issues, so hopefully the money we raise will help.”

All the money raised from the Dip for Mental Health will be donated at the end of the month. Until then, you can follow their journey through the #DipForMentalHealth hashtag on Facebook and Instagram.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Nova Scotia RCMP announces new commanding officer – Halifax


Nova Scotia RCMP will be under new leadership come 2019, with the appointment of Chief Superintendent Lee Bergerman to the position of assistant commissioner.

Bergerman brings 32 years of experience with the force to her new role and says she’s ready to take on the challenge.

“I’ve got the whole province that I’m responsible for, so I’m really looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to going out and seeing the other rural detachments,” she said in an interview with Global News on Monday.

READ MORE: RCMP investigating fatal collision on Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail

Born in Vancouver, B.C., Bergerman joined the RCMP in 1986. Throughout her time in the Mounties, she has worked undercover, in criminal intelligence, serious crimes and the unsolved homicide unit.

She notes she’s broken ground for women throughout her career and says she’s confident she can do the job.

“I think that if you talk to any female leader, they’ll tell you that it’s not about the gender, it’s that I’m capable and I have a diverse career and I’m ready for this position regardless of my gender. So, I think that’s what the focus should be,” Bergerman said.

She says the biggest challenge for the police force will be the legalization of marijuana and how officers use the substance.

“I think going forward, there’s going to be legal challenges about usage because you’ve got some police forces where there really isn’t a policy as long as you show up fit for duty, and with the RCMP, it’s 28 days before showing up for duty, so I see that as a challenge,” she said.

Nova Scotia’s current commanding officer, Assistant Commissioner Brian Brennan, has accepted the position of deputy commissioner of contract and Indigenous policing.

He will be transferred to Ottawa in the new year.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Nova Scotia rejects $900K request for cancer treatment covered by Ontario


After three lines of chemotherapy and a clinical trial failed to cure Stephen Saunders, his doctors offered him hope: to send the Nova Scotia man to Boston and modify his T-cells to attack the cancer that’s otherwise left him with just months to live.

But at roughly $900,000 for treatment and the associated hospital stay, hope doesn’t come cheap.

Last week, Nova Scotia’s Health Department denied a funding request for Saunders, whose case highlights the ethical and economic dilemma that all provinces could soon be facing — whether to pay for a treatment that costs about five times more than other life-saving procedures like heart, lung and liver transplants.

Neither the health minister nor the medical director of the Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program would talk about the specifics of Saunders’s case.

But the Onslow Mountain man spoke openly to CBC about a life interrupted at 55 by a pain in his knee that turned out to be Stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma. About how he tries to get in his 10,000 steps on the good days. And about how much he wants to live. 

« There’s all kinds of reasons why I want to stay living, things I want to do, » he said. « Watching my kids grow up and being with my partner… bigger projects, travel maybe if I could. »

The cost of a life

Work is underway to potentially offer CAR-T therapy closer to home, but that doesn’t change the question of funding. 

Health Canada approved the treatment in September and clinical trials have begun. And in about 18 months, the pan-Canadian Oncology Drug Review is expected to make a recommendation about the treatment’s value, which the provinces use when deciding whether it should be publicly covered.  

In the case of this treatment, it could be a life-and-death decision: in adults, CAR-T therapy is meant for patients whose blood cancer hasn’t responded to two or more lines of chemotherapy. 

Dr. Drew Bethune says that new treatments offer great promise but their cost can be challenging, especially when there’s limited data about their long-term success. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

​ »It’s a very difficult world we live in, with very difficult heart-wrenching decisions, » said Dr. Drew Bethune, medical director of the cancer care program. Bethune is among those who advise the Health Department on whether to fund an out-of-province cancer care request, but he wouldn’t speak directly to Saunders’s case.

But he said that if looking at a request for CAR-T therapy, Nova Scotia would need to weigh the extreme cost, with the evidence of its success and how other Canadian patients who have received it have responded.

« As much as we just like to say, ‘Yes, let’s do it,’ it’s our responsibility to see what impacts it has on the whole [cancer] program, the expense of it. »

Other provinces

Exactly how many Canadians have gotten public coverage for the cancer therapy in the U.S. is unclear, but Ontario alone has sent 26 adult patients in the last two years, according to figures from that province’s Ministry of Health. 

Children might be more likely to qualify for out-of-province funding for this therapy, Bethune suggested. A 2018 clinical trial showed the children and young adults treated with CAR-T therapy had an 80 per cent chance of complete remission, while a trial involving adults with the same type of cancer as Saunders showed a 40 per cent complete remission rate.

« I think the evidence is fairly clear that the pediatric age group has a greater success rate with the treatment than the adult age group — but even in the adult age group some of the results are really excellent, » Bethune said.

And he said Nova Scotia would be watching how patients elsewhere in Canada have responded to CAR-T therapy.

Hailey MacDonald says it’s unfair that Ontario is paying for CAR-T therapy for some of its residents, while Nova Scotia has not offered to pay for her father. (Save Stephen Saunders/Facebook)

Saunders’s daughter, Hailey MacDonald, said the decision not to fund her father’s treatment is proof of the inequity in Canada’s health-care system.

The family can’t afford the cost on its own, but she’s holding out hope Nova Scotia may change its mind; she said she got a call from the Health Department on Friday saying it « hadn’t yet made a decision. » 

Her father is flying to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston this week for a consultation, regardless of the response. 

« We understand as a family that this may not happen in time for my dad, » MacDonald said.

« We hope that that’s not the case, but there will be somebody else’s family member that will need this in the very near future. And Dad’s kind of paving the way for other patients. »


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‘Iconic’ photo of hockey players at Peggy’s Cove helps to feed Nova Scotians – Halifax


Downtown Dartmouth was buzzing with dozens of people on Sunday as they came out in droves to support Nova Scotians across the province in need of food.

The twist? One of the most popular Canadian photographs of the year was the driving force behind the fundraiser.

“I had less than zero idea that this photo would blow up the way that it has,” said Adam Cornick, the photographer behind the photo and owner of Acorn Art & Photography.

“I kind of had an idea it would be an appealing photo for people out here on the east coast but just not the level it’s reached, no, no idea.”

READ MORE: Photograph of Hockey at Peggy’s Cove lighthouse becomes instantly iconic

At the beginning of December, Cornick saw months of creative planning come to fruition when he was able to snap a photo of two of his friends playing shinny hockey on a slab of frozen water in front of Peggy’s Cove lighthouse.

The photo has since exploded online with admiration for the shot as well as emotion to those it has touched.

WATCH: Local photographer’s picture of pond hockey by Peggy’s Cove goes viral

“I even had a gentleman get in touch, telling me that he’s been at his father’s bedside, he’s very sick and he’s been showing him this image to keep his spirits up,” Cornick said.

“So, you know, to get a response like that from a stranger who I’ve never met before and it stirred something inside him like that, you realize it’s a powerful medium.”

While the fanfare has caught Cornic off guard at times, it comes as no surprise to those who were eager to purchase a print.

Over $100,000 raised at Peterborough’s 18th annual Three Loonies on the Street

“It doesn’t surprise me at all. It’s an iconic photograph, it contains all sorts of elements like hockey in Canada and what it means to be Nova Scotian and Peggy’s Cove,” said David O’Brien, who gathered with his family to purchase the photo.

“It’s a beautiful shot.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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NSTU says poll shows majority of Nova Scotians critical of province’s handling of public education – Halifax


The Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) commissioned a poll that shows the majority of Nova Scotians are critical of the province’s handling of public education.

The poll was conducted for the union by Corporate Research Associates (CRA).

READ MORE: N.S. Liberals appoint education advisory council after dissolving elected boards

The poll found that 60 per cent of those surveyed believe the government’s actions have a negative quality on public education. Those actions, according to NSTU, include imposing a contract on teachers and eliminating elected school boards.

The survey also found 83 per cent of those polled have a favourable opinion of public school teachers.

Seventeen per cent think the government is doing a good or excellent job of managing the public school system, while 75 per cent rate their performance as fair or poor.

READ: Decision to axe N.S. school boards, a reminder of power of cabinet: Charter expert

Forty-three per cent believe replacing elected school boards with a single advisory council has had a negative impact on student achievement, while 23 per cent see it as positive.

The survey was conducted by phone in October and November, and the sample size was 400 randomly selected Nova Scotians. The poll has a margin of error of ± 4.9 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The full CRA report can be found here. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Ranking Nova Scotia MLAs by reported expenses – Halifax


A direct correlation can be drawn between factors, such as mileage and living accommodations, and the higher-end costs taxpayers are shelling out for MLA expenses.

The most recent six-month MLA expense report covers the period between April and September of this year and shows a bill of $1,586,836.48 was picked up by Nova Scotians.

READ MORE: Nova Scotia MLAs expensed $175,000 in advertising over 6-month period

Each member’s expenses are broken down into categories, such as constituency expenses and travel expenses.

MLAs whose ridings are situated more than 100 kilometres away from Province House are also eligible to claim living expenses, which cover lodging, parking, electricity, cable, phone, and internet charges.

Members who incur those additional costs make up the first 19 places of the 51-person list, although there are several, such as Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster and Victoria-The Lakes MLA Keith Bain, who are further down the list than a number of HRM-area representatives.

“We are committed to transparency, and are the first government to make cabinet ministers’ expenses available online,” said the Liberal Caucus Office in a statement.

Glace Bay Liberal MLA Geoff MacLellan topped the list at $48,617.89, followed by NDP MLA for Cape Breton Centre, Tammy Martin, with $45,925.84.

The PC’s Chris d’Entremont, who represents Argyle-Barrington, rounded out the podium, charging $43,251.49 to taxpayers.

Just over 20 per cent of MacLellan’s costs came from living expenses with $10,200 solely spent on six months of rent. Another $5,707.25 was listed under the travel heading.

Martin’s expenses include $8,374.50 in living costs, which are made up of electricity and cable charges, along with a $1,250 per month apartment rental. The Cape Breton Centre MLA’s living expenses are the lowest of the three, while her travel costs top them at $6,864.45.

D’Entremont’s living expenses of $8,628.29 are made up of one NS Power bill, a pair of Eastlink bundle charges and $1,375 in monthly rent. Travel charges reached $6,189.73.

WATCH: Here’s how much your Nova Scotia MLA is costing you

Liberal members occupy the final two top five spots; Gordon Wilson of Clare-Digby and Lloyd Hines of Guysborough-Eastern Shore-Tracadie each expensed over $42,000.

“As the representative for Cape Breton Centre, I live further away than almost any other MLA, which means there are higher travel costs to get to and from Halifax for meetings,” said NDP MLA Tammy Martin. “I wish more government meetings actually took place in Cape Breton instead of always being in the city.”

When a comparison is done of the distance between constituency offices and Province House, MacLellan and Martin are tied for the longest journey at 424 kilometres each.

PC MLA for Northside-Westmount Eddie Orrell ranks third with a 406 kilometre trip every time he heads to the legislature, although he is barely above the average amount spent at $32,911.77, landing him at 18th on the list.

The PC’s own the fourth farthest riding from the capital as well. Victoria-The Lakes MLA Keith Bain is one kilometre short of 400 away, but despite the sprawling constituency and the long drive to Province House, Bain only cost taxpayers $30,402.96 this time around, resulting in him ranking 29th.

Liberal MLA Derek Mombourquette, who represents Sydney-Whitney Pier, is just shy of that distance with a 397 kilometre one-way trip. It is the fifth furthest away. He landed seventh in costs by expensing $40,930.27.

Nova Scotia Premier and MLA for Annapolis, Stephen McNeil, sits in the middle of the pack at 26th. New PC Leader Tim Houston ranks just outside the top ten at 12th, while NDP Leader Gary Burrill, the only party leader with a Halifax-region seat, landed in 35th.

The PC Party indicated that in some instances, geographic size of constituencies can require MLAs to hold two consituency offices but that “PC MLAs take great care to ensure their expenses fall within the rules and are approved by the Speaker’s Office.”

The PC’s hold three of the five least expensed rankings, including the two lowest amounts.

Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage MLA Barbara Adams charged the least to taxpayers with a total of $18,748.15 spent, while Larry Harrison of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley expensed $19,634.28.

Liberal MLAs Chuck Porter and Kelly Regan were third and fourth lowest, with PC MLA for Dartmouth East Tim Halman rounding out the bottom five.

Follow @Jeremy_Keefe


© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Nova Scotia RCMP investigating suspected drowning – Halifax


RCMP are investigating a case of suspected drowning in a lake on West Side Indian Harbour Lake Road in St. Mary’s, N.S.

Police say that at 6:40 p.m., on Monday they responded to reports that a 57-year-old woman had been located in the lake by two men.

READ MORE: Dartmouth man faces charges after allegedly fleeing the scene of impaired driving-related crash

The men had carried the woman to shore where they performed CPR and call 911.

The Mounties say the woman was transported by Emergency Health Services to the St. Mary’s Memorial Hospital in Sherbrooke, N.S., where she was pronounced dead.

Police say their investigation into the incident is ongoing.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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Child killed by float at Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia


A four-year-old girl is dead after falling beneath a float Saturday night at a Santa Claus parade in Yarmouth, N.S., police said. 

« A very tragic incident, very traumatic for everyone who was involved with the parade and at the scene, » said Cpl. Dal Hutchinson of the Nova Scotia RCMP. 

« My understanding there were a lot of people nearby when this took place. So our thoughts right now are with this little girl’s family, as it’s a very difficult time, but also with the community. With people that were there watching the parade. »

The incident happened just before 7 p.m. near the intersection of Main Street and Starrs Rd in the middle of Yarmouth. The Yarmouth Christmas Parade of Lights was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. on Saturday evening. 

« She was not on the float. She was running alongside of the moving float when she fell underneath the float, » Hutchinson said. 

The girl was treated at the scene immediately by RCMP officers and the Emergency Health Services, and was taken to Yarmouth Regional Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. 

Hutchinson said he knew there were many people who witnessed the incident and suggested that people may want to reach out for help, including first responders, who will be offered assistance if they ask for it.  

« If you’re struggling with what you witnessed, it’s very important to talk about it and seek some help to deal with those emotions, » he said.  

An RCMP spokesperson said police continue to interview witnesses on Saturday night. They are not looking at laying criminal charges, the spokesperson added. 


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