Category Archives: Investigative2017_5

Restaurant and computer science related jobs are top choices for Permanent Resident nominations in N.S


Maritime climate, local hospitable dwellers and affordable living price are essential reasons for immigrants who decide to settle down in Nova Scotia rather than other provinces. Since 2014, the number of Permanent Resident (PR) nominees has doubled in Nova Scotia from 630 to 1,350. In 2016, the number grew to 1,383 nominees.

According to the Labour Market Classification of Nominees, in the last five years the lead job for newcomers working in Nova Scotia is cooking, which accounts for 7 per cent of the total labour market. Food service supervisors is the second choice, accounting for 6 per cent. Computer programming, and software engineering both come in as the third choice, each taking up 5 per cent of all immigrants’ occupations.

From 2011 to 2016, the Nova Scotian population rose by a mere 0.6 per cent, with 949,5000 people in the province. This is lower than the national average at 1.2 per cent. To combat this, last year Nova Scotia government kicked off several programs to bring in more immigrants like Stay in Nova Scotia, which helps international students stay after graduating, and Atlantic Immigration Pilot, which is an employer-driven immigration program between Government of Canada and the four Atlantic Provinces.

Pranav Sharma, an Indian student in the computer networks masters program at Dalhousie University, plans to take part in the Atlantic Immigration Pilot next year.

Pranav Sharma, a Dalhousie graduate student, is looking forward to his next chapter in Nova Scotia. Photo by Sixian Zuo.

“Computer science is the first preference for students in India” says Sharma. “After the Common Entrance Exam, only top students are able to enter computer science programs in India.”

However, Sharma says if Indian students want further and more specific study, they have to turn to countries like the United States and Canada.

“Though the bachelor courses are very good (in India), for the Masters, colleges are very few,” admits Sharma.

Sharma says he has a student loan issued by a bank in India. If he gets back to India, he needs to work seven or eight years to pay it off. However, if he works in Canada, it may only take him two years. The PR visa will allow him stay here and work.

According to the 2016 skill level criteria by the National Occupational Classification (NOC), if computer science students like Sharma successfully get university degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s or doctorate, and find a relative job, their skill level is graded as ‘A’- professional jobs.

“As soon as you have your permanent residency, like a landed immigrant, you can register here as our client for free,” says Josephine Chica, who works for Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia (ISANA). “If you are looking for a job, tell us. ISANA offers workshops on resumes, cover letters and networking.”

Chica was originally from Philippines and lives in Halifax with her two children. She used to be a client in ISANA and got her citizenship in 2015.

“Nationally, it is clear that Asian countries dominate immigrant source countries. This is the case across [labour market] categories…” and has remained consistent over time, says the 2016 annual report from Immigrant Services Association of Nova Scotia.

For most Chinese people, a good way to start their lives in Canada is running a restaurant. Jane Fan, a Dalhousie student studying electronic business, is the co-owner of Panda Buffet, a Chinese restaurant in Bedford. She decided to become a co-owner in 2016 as an investment.

“If they want to put what they’ve learnt into practice, to stay here and make living, an easy way is starting a food business, or taking over a restaurant”, says Fan. “You can see there are a lot of restaurants in Halifax being run by Chinese, even some are Japanese sushi restaurants or Thai food restaurants.”

Like Fan, a big proportion of Chinese students in Canada are studying business. She is currently applying for the PR visa as her common-law partner who has been working in Halifax for more than one year. Fan says she will be satisfied with the PR visa and has no desire for citizenship in Canada, or she will lose her Chinese citizenship.

Carpool is emergying in Windsor’s Chinese community


According to Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey, there were 7,925 people who speak Chinese living in Windsor, Ontario. In recent years, carpool is emerging in local Chinese community.

Carpool is popular among Chinese students who are studying in Windsor. They offer and find carpools through specific groups on WeChat, a Chinese scotia media platform. They attribute this phenomenon to convenience.

A Guatemalan woman and her journey as a small business owner


After 30 years in Canada, a woman from Guatemala sticks to her roots by sharing the flavors of the Latin cuisine.

Claudia Pinto. Owner of Cafe Aroma Latino. “Being able to share my culture with everybody is my happiness.” Credit: Sofia Ortega

With a diploma of International business by NSCC, accounting studies at Dalhousie University and more than 25 years of cooking experience, Claudia Pinto is the chef and owner of Café Aroma Latino, a café that offers a mix of Latin American dishes and a small grocery store specialized on Latin American products.

“Before I open the cafe. I travelled almost all Latin America trying to find the staple of that specific country to be able to come here and cook as authentic as I can.” Pinto says.

Surrounded by colonial furniture, Guatemalan pottery, Latin American crafts and the aromas of her spices, Pinto runs her business located on the corner of North Street and Agricola Street in the North End of Halifax.

“I love this part of the city. People here is friendly, easy going, patient and honest.” Pinto says.
The area has a very diverse range of businesses. From restaurants and bars to start-up companies, beauty-wellness businesses and many more.

According to Patty Cuttel-Busby, Executive Director of the North End Business Association, there’s about 400 business in the zone encompassed by Agricola Street, Gottingen Street, Cogswell Street and Young Street.

Café Aroma Latino is one of them. Since the business started almost 9 years ago, it has always been located in the same spot.

“One thing most of the businesses in the area have in common is that the majority of them are small-locally owned business. I think that is very important and what distinguishes the North end from many other places.” Says Cuttel-Busby.

As reported in the latest data by statistics Canada, there are 1,259,812 business in the country by June, 2017, 2.5 per cent of those business are located in Nova Scotia.

According to an analysis of Statistics Canada’s total business counts in Nova Scotia by employment size in June 2017, there are 31,255 businesses in the province. Out of that number 73.9 per cent have an employment size between one to nine employees and 54 per cent of the total number of business in the province have between one and four employees. The numbers are practically the same compared with the same period of time in 2016.

Pinto’s business reflects that trend. Back in 2008 when she opened Café Aroma Latino, she started with three employees plus herself. Now after nine years, she is the only one.

From cooking, serving, book keeping, cleaning, purchasing and cleaning, Claudia Pinto does it all. She sometimes has somebody to help her, but not every day.

But this is not the first time Pinto owns a business. Her passion for her culture made her start Tenango Imports back in 1997, a business of traditional Guatemalan crafts, clothing and colonial furniture.

The business wasn’t profitable. After two years of trying, Pinto decided to close it down.
After that experience Pinto had several different jobs but the dream of sharing her culture remained alive.

It was until studying international business at NSCC when Pinto wrote the business plan for Café Aroma Latino, combining her passion for cooking and sharing her culture. After a few months she got a loan from Credit Union to make it happen.

Consolidating her business has been a long process. During almost four years Pinto had to work both in her business and at RBC bank in order to afford keeping Café Aroma Latino running.

“It’s been an enjoyable and stressful journey.” Pinto says. “But being one of the few restaurants focused on Latin food makes me proud, unique. Being able to share my culture with everybody is my happiness.”

Since 2014 she works and focuses only in her business, and even though she is not “making the big bucks” as she says, she doesn’t have the business for the money.

“As long as I have money to pay my bills and to travel to visit my father I am happy with that.” She says.

Pinto feels she reached her main goal when she opened her business, now she is focused in expanding her menu by creating new meals that reflect the flavour of Latin America.

Dalhousie is using more money to pay less teachers


Dalhousie is the largest university in Halifax, and it pays its professors correspondingly. According to the most recent public sector compensation disclosures, Dalhousie employs 834 members of faculty and 171 administration staff who receive more than $100,000 in annual compensation, making 1005 such staff overall.

“Nova Scotians expect government to be transparent and maintain a high standard of clarity and consistency in reporting,” said Michelle Stevens, Communications Advisor to the Nova Scotia Department of Finance and Treasury Board, in an emailed statement.

“The purpose of the public sector compensation disclosure is to enhance accountability and transparency in the use of public funds. Government requires public sector bodies to report compensation of $100,000 or more, paid to persons during the fiscal year.” she added.

Those numbers are up from the 2012/2013 academic year, when Dalhousie paid 830 staff $100,000 or more. The next biggest university in Halifax, Saint Mary’s University, had only 183 professors and 27 administrators making that same amount or more this year, for a total of 210 staff.


Dalhousie is proud to have such a large list of employees who are thusly compensated.

“People are the cornerstone of Dalhousie University, performing and supporting the institutions’ key areas of teaching, research and service,” said Janet Bryson, Senior Communications Advisor at Dalhousie, in an emailed statement. “It is important to attract and keep dedicated and talented people. This means providing competitive salaries that not only reflects their contributions to the university, but also compares well with other universities.”

In 2016/2017, the total salaries for employees on the public sector compensation disclosure list amounted to over $140 million, with almost $120 million of that going to faculty members. Based on Dalhousie’s registration of 16,574 full time students at the beginning of the academic year, that amounts to $8,645 dollars per full-time student spent on paying salaries of employees making $100,000 per year or more.

In addition, Dalhousie has 16.5 students for every employee making that much money, and 19.9 students per faculty member in that pay grade. The ratio of faculty members to administrators at Dalhousie was 4.7:1, and the amount of money going to those top earning staff members was almost exactly 50% of the total budgets for academics and administration. That 50% is compared to less than 45% in 2012/2013, meaning Dalhousie is using more money to pay less staff.

So, how do these numbers stack up to other schools in Halifax?

It all depends on what you’re looking for. Bryson noted that Dalhousie has a reputation to maintain.

“Being the only U15 leading research university in Atlantic Canada, we often need to recruit for researchers, faculty and staff across North America and internationally, and we have to stay competitive,” she said in her statement.

From that point of view, it makes sense that Dalhousie pays more for top-dollar talent. Saint Mary’s University has almost 35 students per highly-compensated faculty member, while fellow Halifax universities Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and Mount Saint Vincent University have 30 and 26 students per faculty member in that pay bracket, respectively. The University of King’s College, another Halifax university, does not break down its public sector compensation disclosure by employee type. As a U15 University, Dalhousie has by far the highest ratio of top teachers to full-time students.

But what does Dalhousie sacrifice by paying so much for these staff members? The school has 834 professors who make $100,000, and 999 professors in total. Saint Mary’s, on the other hand, has 183 professors making $100,000 and 558 full-time and part time faculty. Based on their enrolment of full-time students, that means Dalhousie has about 16.5 students for every professor, while Saint Mary’s has just over 11 students per professor. By paying its good professors more, Dalhousie isn’t able to provide its students with as many teachers per capita as a school like Saint Mary’s.

Now, these statistics aren’t necessarily good or bad in a vacuum. As Bryson said, Dalhousie prides itself on being the only U15 university in the region. Being a top Canadian university means ponying up for the best professors. Many students at Dalhousie know that they will never receive the same kind of attention that their counterparts at smaller universities do. Even so, it’s important that they know exactly what they’re getting when they go to Dal.

Mandarin speakers in Halifax


by Lu Xu on imovie using Rawshorter and Befunky.

With apartment buildings springing up in the city, Halifax has had 3.5 times more of Mandarin speakers residing in the HRM. International migration is the key driver of population growth in Canada according to the newest census.

Immigrant languages are more commonly spoken in Canada’s large census metropolitan areas. The term “Immigrant languages” refers to languages (other than English and French – the national official languages) whose existence in Canada is originally due to immigration after English and French colonization.

The number of people who speak languages from Asian countries is on the rise as they are recent sources of immigration.

This short video looks at the newest census results and presents the trend of Mandarin speakers in both the national level as well as in Halifax.

All the information is adjusted after the alteration of the previous mistakes.

Disabled people more likely to be poor, according to Statistics Canada


A new study from Statistics Canada found that people with a disability are more likely to live in poverty and nearly a quarter of disabled people in the country are low-income earners.

The report, which came out in August 2017 but is based on data from 2014, says that approximately a fifth of all Canadians reported having some type of disability, either mental or physical. Nine per cent of non-disabled people are low income earners, but over double (23 per cent) the number of disabled people live in poverty.

The study is based on data from the 2014 Longitudinal and International Study of Adults, which collects information on Canadians’ jobs, education, health, and family.

Warren Reed, an accessibility advocate in Halifax, said he agrees that poverty is an issue for people with disabilities, but said the conclusions of the study are misleading. He said someone’s disability itself is not the cause of poverty, rather, the cause is the barriers to employment they face because of being disabled. He said an example of this might be something physical preventing someone with a disability from working there, like a step up before entering a store or office.

“I really object to having my problem associated with the concept of poverty, it’s not my fault, it’s not my disability’s fault, it’s the fault of the system and its many, many components,” he said.

Reed is also the co-founder of the James McGregor Stewart Society, a Nova Scotia based organization that encourages the participation of disabled people in society. He said the real issue is that having a disability can make it much more difficult to get an education or find a job where you can work. He said there are issues for disabled people who want to take public transportation and the government-run accessible transit system.

“If you can’t get to a place because you live in the boondocks… then you can’t get a job and you’re kind of stuck in a low income state,” Reed said.

A Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission case from June 2017 dealt with the issue of disability accommodations in the workplace. Sandra Wakeham, a Nova Scotia Department of Environment employee, developed chronic pain as a result of being in two car accidents. She alleged that accommodations for her disability were not made by her employer, which made her pain worse. As a result of not being accommodated properly, she had to take time off work on short-term disability on a number of occasions. She was eventually left unable to work and without income.

Statistics Canada found that half of disabled people living alone are low-income earners, while only eight per cent of those who are married fall into that category. It also found the more severe someone’s disability is, the more likely they are to be poor. For the purpose of the study, “low income” was defined as someone living in a household where the income is under half the median Canadian family income, around $76,000.

The Nova Scotia provincial government recently introduced new accessibility legislation. Part of the purpose stated in the law itself is to remove barriers to employment for disabled people.

Gerry Post, the Department of Justice’s executive director of accessibility, said in an interview the law will help address the trend of disabled people living poverty, but it is still “early days.”

Post said the Nova Scotia Accessibility Act will help address the issue of disabled people and poverty. Photo Credit: Jean Laroche/CBC

“The issue is not that you have a disability,” he said. “It is a societal issue that people with a disability are not being accommodated by employers.”

Post said more people have to recognize issues with disability accommodations to lower the number of disabled people living in poverty.

“There’s attitude barriers, physical barriers, communication barriers, all sorts of barriers,” he said. “Once you remove those barriers you will lift those people out of poverty.”

Staying in the nest, 1 in 3 young adults still live with their parents in Canada


According to the latest data from Statistics Canada for 2016, more than one in three young adults in Canada aged between 20-34 are living with at least one parent. At 34.7%, this number of young adults has been rising steadily since 2001.

Why is it that more and more young adults are choosing to live with their parents instead of moving out on their own? Halifax-based family Brenda Kops and Daniel Whittaker have two daughters, Maddy and Claire. Maddy is currently living at home with her parents during her undergrad at Dalhousie, while Claire comes home in the summers while attending vet school at UPEI.

Mother Brenda Kops says Maddy’s decision to stay at home was due to a few different factors, saying “Her university is just one block away so it’s easy for transportation, it’s also easier financially for her to stay at home, and she would rather use that money to go travel and have different experiences.”

Brenda Kops on the various financial issues of moving out during university.

Kops herself left home at 15 years old, and notices that a lot more young adults are choosing to stay at home compared to when she was younger. “I think more people are coming home, either staying home or coming home after university, than they did in my day,” says Kops. “It make sense to have multigenerational families in one home.”

From the left, Claire, Brenda Kops, Maddy, and Daniel Whittaker. Courtesy: Brenda Kops.

Living at home can provide both financial and emotional support for aging children, as well as help prepare those who are attempting to save up to purchase a home in the future. According to The Canadian Real Estate Association, as of July 2017, the average price for a home in Halifax was $299,847 and for all of Canada $478,696.

Maureen Millier, a mother of two children who have moved out into their own apartments in Halifax, says she wouldn’t be surprised to see them come to live with her again in a few years to save up as well. She says, “Kids are becoming more independent quickly, but then they move back. So they may find their independence in their early 20s, but it’s not uncommon to see them move back at 27 or 28 so they can save up to get a house.”

The smaller age group of 20-24 saw the largest percentage increase of those living at home with a parent, reaching 62.6% in 2016. Once young adults reach their 30s, this number drops dramatically to 13.5% of individuals 30-34 still living at home. However, this is still a 2% increase from 2001.

This map is from the Statistics Canada 2016 Census, which measures the growth of young adults aged 20-34 living with at least one parent in the Halifax-area census tracts from 2011-2016. The darker colours represent areas with the highest increase. The lighter areas, the lowest increase.

Analyst: Haley MacLean Source: Statistics Canada

One of the areas in Halifax that saw the greatest increase of young adults living at home since 2011 was Bedford. Hamzeh Hadad, a 24-year-old recent undergrad graduate who resides in Bedford with his parents, says the sole reason he chose to stay home was to save money. Hadad says, “It financially made sense to stay at home, which allowed me to do other things like travel for internships on my summers off.”

This multigenerational living arrangement is not just beneficial for the children. Numerous parents enjoy having their kids at home both during and after university for a number of reasons. Millier’s son Grant comes to live at home whenever he is not traveling, and she says she loves it when he does. “I thoroughly enjoy it because I have exposure to his friends and it keeps the livelihood in the house…It becomes more of a respectful relationship than a child and parent relationship,” says Millier.

So if you reside in Canada and have a child 20 years and older still living with you, know that you are not alone as this multigenerational living arrangement is becoming more and more common across the entire country.

Paramedics and PTSD


During summer season, Marie-Julie Cosenzo used to spend most of her days biking, running or playing at the park with her children. Since 2015, even a simple task like getting dressed is a burden for this mother of two.

Cosenzo who lives in Ottawa and practiced as a paramedic with the Coopérative des Paramédics de l’Outaouais for about 10 years was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in October 2015, after responding to a traumatic call.

More than 25 per cent of paramedics in Canada will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their careers. Credit photo: Courtesy of Marie-Julie Cosenzo

It was a dark and cold October night in Gatineau when Cosenzo and her partner got called to a scene where they found a 17 years-old boy died by suicide.

“I even remember the song that was playing in the ambulance when we got the call,” she says. “I had seen gruesome scenes before, but that one really affected me.”

Cosenzo is one of thousands of paramedics who are living with PTSD in Canada.

According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, a foundation that advocates better mental-health support for emergency service workers, more than 25 per cent of paramedics in Canada will be diagnosed with PTSD at some point in their careers, compared to 7 per cent of police officers.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness. It often involves exposure to trauma from single events that involve death or the threat of death or serious injury, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association. 

Cosenzo says there is still a lot of stigma around PTSD in the paramedics’ world, which could result in the number of diagnosis being lower than the number of people living with PTSD.

We often see ourselves as heroes, but in the end we are just like everyone else. Marie-Julie Cosenzo

Not only are paramedics more likely to develop this mental illness than other first responders, they are also most likely to die from suicide.

Photo from:

Since the beginning of 2017, 13 paramedics in Canada died from suicide, which were reportedly linked to their careers, compared to five police officers, according to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust.

Daily burden 

Paramedics are subjected to traumatic experiences on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day.

“The calls volume is always so high that there are no downtime and the level of stress keeps building up,” says Natalie Harris, a paramedic who worked with the County of Simcoe Paramedic Services for 12 years.

The demons of PTSD reached Harris after she entered a hotel room where two nearly decapitated women lay dead, and she had to care for their murderer who was suffering from self-inflicted knife wounds.

“I did not know what I would walk into and when I got there, the scene was so gruesome and I had no idea how to process it.”

Right after unloading the man at the hospital, her and her partner left for another call.

Both women say they have tried to suicide in the past couple of years.


PTSD affects both the person’s mental and physical health, ultimately affecting their loved ones.

“I feel like a boring mother,” says Cosenzo. “I can never go play at the park with my six year old son because I’m too scared to have a panic attack,” she adds.

As for Harris, she said her relationship fell apart once the effects of PTSD kicked in. She said she could not sleep well, would drink and has overdosed on drugs. “I had a plan to kill myself.”

Both women say the help given to paramedics once they have been diagnosed with PTSD is getting better, but there is still a lot of work to do.