Cut it out: Why are women’s haircuts so expensive?

Stylists from around Halifax explain why women’s haircuts cost more than men’s.

UPDATE: Information in the graph was corrected on Feb. 1, 2016

Chatter and music fill the air. The soft snick of scissors mixes with the sound of blow dryers and spray bottles. Tufts of hair are trampled underfoot as stylists dart to and fro. Shannon Bower squeezes her eyes shut as her stylist pushes her bangs onto her face. She is sitting in the Stanhope and Company hair studio, receiving a new haircut that will cost her $28 more than the haircut of the man sitting beside her.

This is not an uncommon occurrence. Not just for Bower, and not just at the Stanhope and Company studio. Nearly every hair salon in Halifax prices women’s haircuts significantly above men’s haircuts. A typical men’s wash and cut costs about $30, while a women’s wash and cut costs about $50.

Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women's haircuts and the cost of men's haircuts.
Graph depicting the difference between the cost of women’s haircuts and the cost of men’s haircuts. CORRECTION: The numbers above for Thumpers Salon are incorrect. They should be $52 for women and $43 for men. (Graph by Leah Woolley)

This begs the question: Why?

Haircut statistics

Women’s cuts are generally booked for 45 minutes to an hour, while men’s haircuts are usually only booked for half an hour. If clients are being charged for time, this would explain the higher prices for women. But it still leaves us wondering why all women’s haircuts take longer than men’s.

Another possible reason for pricing disparity could be how much product is used in women’s cuts compared to men’s cuts. Several hair stylists say that generally both men’s and women’s haircuts require the same amount of product.

One patron suggested that men’s haircuts are cheaper because men get their hair cut more often. According to many stylists, people with short hair tend to get haircuts about every four to six weeks, while people with longer hairstyles tend to get haircuts every eight to 12 weeks.

But not all men have short hair, and not all women have long hair. Our question remains: Why do women’s haircuts cost more than men’s haircuts?

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Quantity vs. quality

It all comes down to how much hair you have, and how long it takes your stylist to cut it.

“We’re providing a service, so the deciding factor is really time,” says Jenn Greene, a stylist at Kara’s Urban Day Spa.

Jill Ernest, a fellow stylist from Bowtique Hair and Makeup, agrees.

Ernest says that women’s hair usually takes longer to cut, but if a man comes in with long hair she will usually charge him the women’s rate. “It’s the difference between a 20-30 minute service to a 40-60 minute service.”

Local student Tora Oliphant is sitting in the next chair over, receiving her monthly trim. “As a kid, my haircut would cost twice as much as my brothers’, but I would also spend twice as long in the chair,” she says.

Ernest’s co-worker, Teresa Fisher, says sometimes men’s cuts can take just as long as women’s. “Some men are just as picky, if not pickier, than women. You wouldn’t believe it, but it’s true.”

Stylist Angelina Bistekos at the Casa Dante Hair Studio says that even if women have short hair, the cuts still typically take longer than men’s.

“Women’s are a little more expensive just because there is more work put into it than men’s cuts. There is work that goes into men’s cuts, but women get a hair styling, a blow dry, and in my experience lots of product gets used. Women are also more likely to want extra services, whereas men are kind of more easygoing,” says Bistekos.

At Stanhope and Company hair studio, Redmon Giovanni is cutting Shannon Bower’s hair. He says “for a women’s short haircut, I charge them the men’s price, but I don’t always charge men more for a longer haircut.” He says that even with long hair, men’s cuts are still generally more basic than women’s.

Fisher explains how “prices do vary depending on the skill level of the stylist. There is demand on time, experience, and for specific things they’ve studied over the years.”

Greene and Giovanni agree. “We pay money to go to classes and learn new techniques, and we go to hair shows to see what’s new. We invest a lot into what we do,” Greene says.

Giovanni says the technique that he’s using to cut Bower’s hair took him about 10 years to learn. “I think you pay for the experience of the stylist as well as the time you spend in the chair,” he says.

Stacey Turpin, an employee at Vitality Medi-Spa, points out that a women’s short haircut may be considered a men’s cut, just based on the amount of work that has to be done. She says most stylists make a judgment call when they see a client, and can charge them the women’s or men’s rate depending on which best suits their cut.

Ernest says she considers all aspects of the haircut when deciding on a price, not just the gender or hair length of her client.

 

Greene does it too. “Sometimes I’ll lower my price, depending on what I’ve done,” she says, as she sorts through a box of new hair products that have just come in.

Is it fair?

Greene thinks so. “The people who do this because it’s their passion tend to charge a bit more, because they know their value,” she says.

Ernest says it often depends on who’s running the place. “We have the benefit of being locally owned, so we can take our own prices into consideration. Some places have to stick to prices set out for them,” she says.

Some places, like Casa Dante, have their own set standard prices, but “it also depends on the stylist, because everybody kind of mixes it up and makes their own prices for their own clients,” says Bistekos.

Giovanni says, “It’s fair if you charge by time, but if you charge by the haircut then it’s not. I always charge by the time. Time and technique should be the determining factors of price.”

Students talk stress management during exam season

Looming deadlines, final exams a source of stress for Halifax’s students.

Exam season has arrived at Canadian universities and colleges, prompting students across the country to take to Twitter to express their frustrations.

John Camardese, a chemistry study coach at Dalhousie University, says exam stress is often linked to past exam performances and lack of preparation.

“The key is to be well prepared and to start early so you can comfortably cover the required material for the exams,” he said.

With final exams and the stress that comes with them still the norm in Canada, one can’t help but wonder: how stressed out are students about exams, and what can be done to minimize those stress levels?

Majority are ‘very’ stressed

Students were asked via Facebook and Twitter how stressed they are about exams. Of the 10 that responded over the past week, six said they were “very” stressed about finals, while none of them said they are “not at all” stressed.

When asked what they do to help relieve stress, most of them said they find exercise, non-academic reading and watching television to be great stress relievers.

“A good stress reliever is lots of exercise,” said University of King’s College student Sam Krueger. “Any chance to get some is fantastic.”

However, it isn’t just exams and final papers that have students stressed out. According to Dalhousie student Michael Kamras, there’s also an added pressure on students to stay healthy over this important period of time.

“There’s a lot of stress to make sure that you’re keeping healthy, which is really difficult to do considering the high stress levels,” he said.

Students: support services losing effectiveness

Universities do provide support services for exam-stressed students, but many are only available for a short period of time. Dalhousie, for example, brings therapy dogs to their school during exam periods to allow students to take a break from their studies.

In addition, universities like Saint Mary’s and Dalhousie provide on-campus counselling services, but according to the Facebook and Twitter respondents, most people who sought counselling to manage their stress were told the wait to see someone would likely be months.

What’s worse is many students often don’t know their schools offer counselling services and workshops.

“I’m sure there are services offered, but I’m not too aware of them,” Krueger said.

“I think there could be a bit more reaching out by the university for students to take advantage of what they’re offering,” Kamras said.

Requests for comment on this story from counsellors at both universities were either not returned or referred to other campus support services for information, but information on managing stress can be found on their website.

Watch the video below to learn more about how stressed out Halifax students are at this time of the year and what they are doing to try and manage that stress.

In a recent development, the National Post reported last week universities in Alberta and Ontario are considering giving less weight to exams or eventually eliminating them altogether because of the popular belief that “high-stress exams give a false picture of a student’s abilities.”

Until Canadian universities and colleges decide to do away with the final exam once and for all, students will have to continue finding ways to manage exam-related stress.

Visit this website, provided by Dalhousie’s Student Academic Success Services for more information on exam preparation and time management.

And for more information on stress and how it can be managed, check out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s website, which features tips as well as links to community support services.

Summer on a patio: Employment advice from a bar manager

Brad Harris, general manager at the Lower Deck, addresses concerns and gives advice on securing a summer job in the food and beverage industry.

“Now is the time to apply,” says Brad Harris, general manager of the Lower Deck in Halifax.

With the winter semester coming to an end and exam season well under way, students are frantically trying to lock down a summer job.

The four months of summer are a limited but good opportunity for students to gain valuable work experience, and, more importantly, earn money to help pay for the continually rising tuition fees. But competition can be stiff, and according to Statistics Canada, tens of thousands of students descend on the job market at the same time every year.

“If I post for a server slash bartender [on a job listing], on average I will get about 100 resumes by the next day,” says Harris.

The employment rate for students during the academic year hovers between 35 to 40 per cent of all postsecondary students, while the summer employment rate for full-time students consistently averages around 70 per cent.

According to statistics, female students are far more likely than males to obtain a summer job, in part because of better job opportunities in the retail, accommodation and food service sectors, where females are more likely to work.

The restaurant and bar scene is an active part of the community in Halifax, and the food and beverage industry provides jobs for hundreds of students and locals every summer.

An industry ‘like no other’

Harris says the food and beverage industry is “one like no other.”

Job requirements include late hours of work, long shifts and customer-service scenarios that differ extremely from any other job a student typically has. Members of the industry say it’s more of a lifestyle than just a job, and many servers use the hashtag #serverproblems or #serverlife to describe common struggles other servers can relate to.

https://twitter.com/princesssyaya/status/582074869392621568

A deeper issue

Despite the jokes, the service industry has been largely criticized for stereotypical and even misogynistic tendencies. Historically a female occupation, the industry has come a long way in shifting its policies to create a safer and more accessible work environment for all students, but a 2010 census data conducted by Service Canada shows that almost 76 per cent of the positions in this occupation are still held by women. No data is available for non-binary students in the industry.

Hannah Wilson, a female university student and recent employee at the Alehouse located in downtown Halifax, has “strong opinions” on this particular issue.

Wilson got offered her job while out drinking one night with friends at the Alehouse.

“Experience is not the biggest of their concern,” says Wilson. “It is mostly just young, attractive girls they want working there.”

This issue, which Wilson calls “the culture of looking appealing” in the service industry, has appeared in more than just a few restaurants and bars in Halifax.

Collin Kelly, a male student who worked as a busboy at one of Halifax’s major clubs last summer, noticed this issue as well. Kelly wishes his place of employment to remain unnamed.

“Women were definitely hired and promoted much quicker than males, especially if they were good looking,” says Kelly. “And I think that’s the case at most bars.”

But not all restaurants or bars in the city endorse these stereotypes. Harris has been the general manager of the Lower Deck for four years and has been in the industry for longer than 20, and he says that primarily his hiring will always be “experience based.”

The only exception to Harris’s rule is always whether or not potential employees will get along and work well with his core staff.

“I’ve hired the ‘super server,’ the one that looks absolutely amazing on paper. But those individuals more often than not have too much confidence in their service and abilities… They come in and start ruffling the feathers of my core staff, and that generally doesn’t go over well,” says Harris.

Harris says he first conducts an informal interview to see how the potential candidate will fit with his other staff. New employees that will get along with and respect their coworkers will, in turn, receive coaching from more experienced staff and produce a more efficient team overall.

Harris says he hires hardworking and approachable, personable individuals above everything else.

Getting hired in Halifax

Halifax has the luxury of being situated right on the coast, which not only gives the summer months a vibrant patio-season culture, but means one thing that is especially crucial to the food and beverage industry: tourists.

Halifax sees about 1.8 million overnight visitors every year, and more than half of them visit during the summer months, according to the Nova Scotia Tourism Agency.

Harris says the Lower Deck increases its staff by 30 to 40 per cent during the summer months in order to support the city’s booming tourism industry. When the patio opens the restaurant’s capacity increases by another 260 people.

Harris typically starts his hiring process at the beginning of spring, and he likes to have his final staff sorted by May 1 in preparation to open the patio for the May long weekend. So if you’re an experienced server and sticking around for the summer, it’s time to start applying.

Many restaurants in the city that have a large patio and draw a younger crowd, like the Lower Deck, typically hire students as the majority of their staff for the summer months.

“A lot of university students don’t work during the school year, so when the summer comes around they are more than happy to work full-time plus and make as much money as they can, which is great for me,” says Harris.

But older restaurants, such as Split Crow and The Old Triangle, tend to have a smaller turnover in the summer and tend to employ more mature servers all year round. So the key to being a successful server and obtaining a solid restaurant or bar job in Halifax is knowing where to apply.

The catch of the industry is that it is hard to break into if you don’t have any experience. Many wonder how someone can gain experience if no one will ever give them the chance.

In the industry, Harris says these people are referred to as “green servers.” It is not common for a green server to get hired and do well, so the best way for someone wishing to break into the industry is to start off as a hostess or a food runner. If they do well then managers will slowly integrate them into serving.

Harris says he sometimes takes a risk because he feels like he has a duty to pay it back.

“Someone gave me a shot once, awhile ago, so I feel like I should do that as well,” says Harris.

 

All in all, anyone who has ever worked in the industry will give you the same piece of advice: you need to work for it.

“I was one of the few at my job who was given full time hours,” says Kelly. “If you want to get full-time in this city you need to be a hard worker.”

Wilson says that the job is a lot of work in a short period of time.

“The only way to really learn is to do,” she says.

Harris agrees, stating those that work hard and show an absolute interest to learn and improve will be the ones rewarded with more hours, better hours and even a promotion.

Tax tips for students

A chartered accountant and the Canadian Revenue Agency offer tips for students on how to tackle their taxes this season.

Tax season is upon us, and for many this is a stressful time of year. Students are finishing up classes for the semester and are getting ready to take exams. Unfortunately for students, tax season waits for no one. The deadline for individuals filing a tax return this year is April 30.

Many students don’t file their own tax return, with some handing things over to their parents and others to the professionals. But for the eager and strong-hearted who want to tackle this alone, here are a few tips.

What you need

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) As a student filing a tax return, you will need to provide certain documents, such as a T4 slip. These slips show employment income and payroll deductions.

It is important to keep all documentation when filing for a tax return for at least six years. Your return may be selected for review, therefore you should keep an organized file of all of your documents.

You will need to have information on all of your income.

According to CRA the most common types of student income are:

  • Employment income
  • Tips and occasional earnings
  • Scholarships, fellowships, bursaries, and study grants (some of these may be excluded)

Michael Casey, a chartered accountant and chartered business valuator in Halifax, says “students should make sure they check carefully to see if scholarships are tax exempt because most are.”

Casey says students need to claim their tuition and book expenses. In order to claim your tuition, education and textbook amounts, you need to receive your T2202A form. This is usually available online. If you have not received this you will need to contact your school.

For textbooks, full-time students can claim $65 a month and part-time students can claim $20 a month.

Some things eligible tuition fees do not include are:

  • Social activities
  • Medical expenses
  • Transportation and parking

As stated by CRA, one important thing to remember is courses taken as academic upgrading in order to attend certain university or college programs, may not be claimed towards the tuition tax credit because they are not considered a part of post-secondary education.

Once you have calculated the amount you will need to reduce your own tax owing, if there is any remaining amount, you may choose to transfer it to a parent of grandparent.  You can transfer an amount equal to $5,000 minus the amount you used to reduce your own tax payable. All the student needs to do is sign the tax certificate and provide a copy to the recipient.

Casey says you can earn up to about $10,000 tax free, but you should still file.

“The T4 income, such as wages, earns you the potential for a future RRSP deduction when you begin to work and earn the big bucks,” he says.

“If you are 19, you will get the HST rebate which is received 4 times a year tax free. If you don’t file, you are out of luck.”

Pollyanna’s Entertainment ‘finds the beauty in every woman’

Pollyanna’s Entertainment provides a male entertainment service to women in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

It’s Saturday night.

A chorus of excited shrieks and “holy shit’s” bounce off the walls glowing yellow in my dimly lit living room. Several young women sit in a circle, squeezing each other’s knees and covering their nervous smiles with fingers painted the colour of night and crimson. I hit the play button and The Black Eyed Peas’ Pump It blasts from a set of speakers on the table.

A box containing the board game Twister and an unopened can of whipped cream sit in the corner of the room.

The table in the centre of the room has been pushed aside to make space. We’re half-hypnotized with anticipation as we stare at each other wide-eyed, thrilled with nervous excitement.

Enter Damon.

Barefoot, he walks into the room wearing black pants and what looks like a bulletproof vest. A plastic grenade dangles off his chest. A black ball cap with SWAT printed on it sits low on his head, hiding his face.

He walks inside the circle of women. His eyes move slowly as he lifts his gaze to one of my friends sitting on the couch.

He closes the curtains with a flick of the wrist.

Damon is silent as he sways his hips onto my friend’s lap. He gently wraps his fingers around her wrists and slowly moves his hands into hers. Her cheeks turn a dark pink. He takes her hand and guides it to the middle of his chest. Every woman in the room is blushing.

This is the last time we see Damon fully clothed.

Damon's personal business card. (Photo: Sydney Jones)
Damon’s personal business card. (Photo: Sydney Jones)

Damon’s debut

I found Damon a few weeks ago through an ad titled “Male Entertainment for Ladies” posted on Kijiji, an advertisement website open to the public. He told me that Damon is not his real name, but is what he goes by with clients.

I contacted the owner of the business through the site, and instead of setting me up with a traditional interview, she offered to send Damon to my apartment for a performance.

About a year ago, the businesswoman behind Pollyanna’s Entertainment noticed Damon in a Nova Scotia bar and asked him if he would be interested in a job as a male entertainer. After agreeing to an interview and performing a dance routine, Damon was hired.

Pollyanna’s Entertainment specializes in male entertainment for women and serves clients in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

“It encourages women to take control of their sexuality and be OK with being a sexual being,” says Polly, the woman who created the business. For reasons of privacy, she chooses not to use her real name and refers to herself as Polly instead.

“For men to have a strip club that they can go to is pretty commonplace,” she says, and explains that there is no place for women to go to have similar experiences.

The job isn’t for everyone

Damon is one of three male entertainers who work for Pollyanna’s Entertainment. In addition to being physically fit, confident, and having the ability to dance, Polly says one of the most important requirements of the job is “to be able to find the beauty in every single woman.”

“I don’t think everyone can pull this off,” says 26-year-old Damon, putting his everyday clothes back on after his performance in my living room.

“You can’t be self-conscious, have to be confident with your body, be social — that’s probably the biggest thing, aside from maintaining your physique and eating properly.”

Although being a male entertainer is a full-time physical commitment, the gig is only part time for Damon. Along with working a number of other jobs, he is also a full-time university student.

Polly says she likes to help young students because she understands the burden of student loans. “I have three degrees and I know how long it’s taken me to pay off.”

The male entertainers are paid around $100 an hour and are busiest during the spring and summer months, when there is high demand for events like pool parties and butler service.

Pollyanna's Entertainment does not allow photos or videos to be taken during a performance. (Photo: Sydney Jones)
Pollyanna’s Entertainment does not allow photos or videos to be taken during a performance. (Photo: Sydney Jones)

What clients should expect

Clients are given the opportunity to engage with the entertainers with games like ring toss, Twister and whipped cream body shots.

During the booking process, Polly says she asks the clients whether they prefer a “wild” or a “mild” party so the male entertainer can prepare himself accordingly.

“You’ve got to be able to have fun with it,” says Damon. “If you’re awkward, that makes them awkward, which comes back to you.”

Damon says it’s important to feel out the mood of the women in the room, and says he wants to make every woman feel comfortable with the experience.

“Halifax is much more conservative than I thought it was,” says Polly, adding she was surprised after launching her business that there wasn’t a larger market for this type of enterprise in Nova Scotia.

Polly says the job is part time for her and she has a lot of fun with it. She hopes it will encourage more women to feel comfortable with their sexuality.

“I’m hoping in the next five or 10 years that it’s not going to have such a dirty feel to it,” she says.

When daycare costs as much as a ‘fancy apartment’

A Halifax parent describes the financial burden of paying $42 a day for full-time daycare for her three-year-old son.

When Catherine Bryan’s three-year-old son wakes up in the morning, he stands by the baby gate at the top of the stairs and calls for her to come and get him. Together, they go through their morning routine — a trip to the potty, eating breakfast and getting dressed, before heading off to daycare.

Bryan, 35, is a PhD candidate and sessional instructor at Dalhousie University. She and her partner, a university professor, pay $42 a day for their son to attend daycare five days a week.

“It’s like renting him a fancy apartment,” says Bryan. “Between the mortgage, my tuition, and just regular bills and things of that nature, the extra [$940] a month is extremely challenging.”

She dreads storm days, because although she loves spending the extra time with her son, Bryan and her partner still have to pay their daycare on the days their son stays home. This is also true when he’s sick.

Snow and sick days can also cause them to lose work, so while they’re still paying for daycare, they’re also not making any money that day.

“The cost is infuriating,” Bryan says. “It makes me sick, every single month.”

Bryan found the first daycare her son attended to be a bit challenging. Their policy on sick kids, says Bryan, was inflexible. “Germs spread extremely quickly in daycare, but [they had] a very restrictive policy, where a child could be better and have a doctor’s note, but according to their assessment would still be sent home.”

During her son’s first three months in daycare, Bryan was in the Philippines doing research for her PhD. That meant that if and when her son was sick, her partner, the primary bread winner, was unable to go to work.

Now, her son attends a daycare with what she considers a more reasonable policy on illness. “They’ve been much more balanced in considering ‘what does an infectious child actually look like?’ versus a kid who just has a runny nose. Their noses run six months out of the year,” says Bryan. “You can’t just exclude them from childcare.”

Although it’s difficult to afford, daycare is an important part of their day-to-day life.

“Having daycare means that I can finish my studies. It means that my partner can work and it means that we can do both of those things without worrying about the well-being of our son,” she says.

Bryan feels that daycare is necessary for her son’s early development. “The daycare supplements the care that he gets from us with learning and different kinds of things that he wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to.” Socialization, she says, is a very important part of this.

Waitlists

Originally, Bryan hoped to have her son attend the daycare at Dalhousie. “I was probably two months pregnant when I called, and the waiting list was so long that they weren’t even adding anyone to it.”

When people find out they’re pregnant, she says, they start calling daycares and putting their names on lists immediately.

Bryan’s current daycare is “great.” She says it ended up being fortunate that she couldn’t get into the Dalhousie daycare because the centre her son is in now is much closer to home.

Fees

According to findingqualitycare.ca, a website run by the Childcare Resource and Research Unit and the Canadian Union of Postal Workers, these were the average full-time daycare rates in Nova Scotia in 2012:

  • For infants, it was $792 per month (based on the daily average of $36).
  • For toddlers, it was $704 per month (based on the daily average of $32).
  • For preschoolers it was $682 per month (based on the daily average of $31).

These averages were determined by multiplying the daily rates from 2012 by 22, the average number of days a child spends in full-time daycare per month.

Of the daycares listed in the Halifax daycare directory, only nine daycares had their current fees listed online. These nine daycares featured increased monthly averages from those listed in 2012.

  • For infants, the monthly rate is increased to $895.44, significantly higher than the average rate from 2012.
  • The monthly average for toddlers increased to $755.42.
  • The monthly average for pre-schoolers increased to $765.43.

Government subsidies and childcare benefits 

Bryan says the lack of support from the government can make you feel that “maybe you’re not a good mother because if you were a good mother then you wouldn’t need child care, you would take care of your child yourself.

“As a mother, or a parent more generally, you never feel good about the decision [to put your child in daycare] because you’re not supported in that decision,” she says.

According to the provincial Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, daycare subsidies are dependent on family income, finances and social need.

These subsidies are provided to families with children 12 years of age or younger who are applying for full-time care at a licensed childcare facility.

Unfortunately, Bryan and her partner are not eligible for a subsidy. “We fall in this weird in-between space where we don’t have no money because my partner is a prof, so there is money coming in, but we certainly don’t have a lot of money.”

However, she says, she has friends who have been able to have a child and still attend school, largely due to such subsidies.

In Canada, there is also the Universal Child Care Benefit. Families receive $100 a month per child under the age of six. This benefit is taxable and can be applied for immediately after the birth of a child. If you have a child under the age of six and do not receive it, it is likely because your family income is too high.

There is also the Nova Scotia child benefit for families with a low to modest income who are raising a child under the age of 18. They receive:

  • $52.08 per month for the first child.
  • $68.75 per month for the second child.
  • $75.00 per month for any additional children.

This money could, however, bump families into a new tax bracket and cost them more in taxes or provide them with less of a rebate, so at the end of the year, regardless of the benefit, they end up with less money in their pocket than they had before.

It isn’t enough, says Bryan. “It does nothing. Nothing.”

What does it take to run a daycare?

There are a number of regulations that must be met for a daycare to be licensed. In a full-day daycare they must maintain a ratio of:

  • One staff member for every four infants (three to 18 months old).
  • One staff member for every six toddlers (18 months to three years old).
  • One staff member for every eight preschoolers (three to five years old).

To meet these staff-to-children ratios, a staff member must be at least 16 years old.

Daycares are also required to ensure that every child in attendance is provided with a meal at regular meal times throughout the day, as well as snacks if a child attends before or after regular meal times.

An example cost breakdown for staffing and operating a daycare at 90 per cent occupancy with 53 children in total (from infant to school age) and 10 staff members looks like this:

  • Eight Early Childhood Education (ECE) staff members have a projected salary at $28, 517 with $2,852 in benefits. This comes to a total of $$250,950 a year.
  • One ECE Director has a projected salary of $45,905 with $4,590 in benefits. This comes to $50,495 a year.
  • One cook/housekeeper has a projected salary of $24,620 with $2,496. This comes to a total cost of $27,116 a year.
  • The total cost of all ten staff members comes to $328,561 a year.
  • Additional operating costs (such as: rent, food, insurance, heat, light, program supplies) are estimated at $100,000 a year.

In total, this comes to $428,561 a year to run this facility at a 90 per cent occupancy rate.

In order for a daycare to break even with these rates, it costs $34.50 a day (or $759 a month) per child. However, typically daycare rates do not apply universally to each age group. It is important to understand that enrolling infants in daycare will likely cost more than enrolling toddlers or preschoolers, as infants require more intensive care.

Excess of summer sublets leaves out-of-town students paying the bills

Students like Tanis Smither, who are on their way out of town for the summer, are having problems finding tenants to sublet their apartments.

Several universities bring more than 17,000 off-campus students to the Halifax area each fall, making this a “student city.” But the population of Halifax changes drastically from mid-April until the end of August, when many students pack their bags to return to their hometowns. Although many of these students live on-campus in residence, a great number rent apartments and rooms from local landlords or homeowners.

When the winter term ends in April, these students are often signed to yearlong contracts and obligated to pay rent for the summer months, even when they don’t plan on staying in Halifax. This creates a problem: there are many more people leaving than arriving, and summer sublets become plentiful, not to mention cheaper than usual.

Tanis Smither is a second-year contemporary studies student at the University of King’s College. She is having trouble finding someone to rent her Halifax apartment for the summer, when she’ll be returning to her native Toronto.

“I started looking mid-February. I put a couple initial ads out just to see what happened, and I didn’t get a lot of responses back,” says Smither.

Smither’s apartment on Pepperell Street is close to downtown and several amenities and is only a five-minute walk from Dalhousie’s main campus.

Many students have resorted to what Dalhousie Off-Campus Housing supervisor Sherri Slate calls “rent incentives,” or small discounts and add-ins for subletters.

“Those rental incentives may be that they’ll charge, let’s say $400 a month, and they don’t have to pay heat and hot water, or cable and Internet are included, or they may offer actual rent discounts. The more of those incentives that are included, the quicker the place is rented,” Slate says.

Smither has decided her $530 rent per month is negotiable. Her apartment includes utilities and comes furnished. Several of her nine other roommates are also looking for subletters and have had similar problems. Smither says she is getting desperate.

“Hopefully, it’s a student because I’m sure they would fit with the demographic of the house better, but at this point if anybody in the world wants to sublet my apartment it would be fantastic, I’d be open to it,” says Smither.

Smither says several people have inquired about or even come to look at her place, but they have all found other apartments in the end. She has begun to advertise the room online, on websites like Kijiji and Craigslist, through Facebook groups, and EasyRoommate.com.

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Several students are advertising by hanging posters around Dalhousie’s campus. (Photo: Victoria Walton)

The Dalhousie Off-Campus Living website uses a third-party service, Places4Students, to help students find housing opportunities. Dalhousie’s is free, and Smither says she would use other private services if not for the fees.

“The only reason I haven’t been considering them is because I can’t afford it, I just can’t on my student budget,” she says.

Yasch Neufeld is a rental manager and co-founder of SubletSeeker.com, a similar housing service specifically targeting student sublets. The Halifax startup launched last year and Neufeld says they are seeing even more business in 2015.

“A lot of people, especially at the time you’re looking for subletters, you end up being busy with exams or sometimes you just get unlucky,” Neufeld says, “so we offer a premium service as well where we’ll actually do the work for you.”

SubletSeeker will do everything from photographing your apartment and listing it online, to finding people who are interested and performing reference checks. The fee to use these services is a commission, usually between five to ten percent of the cost of rent. SubletSeeker also has a free section for anyone to use to advertise independently.

Although there are no guarantees, Neufeld says his service has already set up about 10 renters with apartments this season. Neufeld suggests students “get as much information on who you’re subletting to as possible,” to prevent them backing out or not paying rent.

“Call previous landlords of anyone who’s looking to sublet, collect a security deposit, and get them to sign the sublease right away. Those three things will generally lock somebody in,” Neufeld says.

Slate warns that landlords still have the final say on anyone looking to sublet, and that the sublease agreements must be the same as the original lease.

Slate’s Off-Campus Housing office caters to students seeking general housing resources, everything from legal advice to moving companies to listing rentals. She thinks it’s important these resources are available. “All of our faculty, student or staff are entitled to post an ad for free once every year,” says Slate.

Slate and Neufeld agree there is an excess of sublets in the summer months, and that not everyone can find someone to take over their lease.

Although frustrated, Smither realizes she might not find a tenant. “There’s not really much I can do, my hands are kind of tied because I signed a contract,” she says.

Smither plans to live rent-free at home in Toronto and work full time so she can afford to pay rent and save for tuition next year.

“I guess it’s not going to be the end of the world if I don’t find a subletter, it’s just going to set me back a couple thousand dollars.”

Women in science and technology celebrated at Big Dream screening

“I think it’s important that people send out the message that this is something girls can do too.”

A documentary screening last weekend provided a space for women to share their experiences and to encourage more women to pursue careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

On Saturday afternoon, a documentary called Big Dream brought out a crowd that nearly filled the 120-seat auditorium in Dalhousie University’s computer science building. The documentary is about seven women across the globe who are pursuing careers in STEM.

The screening was hosted by WISEatlantic, Mount Saint Vincent University, Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences and Dalhousie’s Faculty of Computer Science.

The event was an oddity in the technology community because women made up at least half the crowd. Usually there’s only three or four women at technology events, says Emily Boucher, who directs research and marketing at Digital Nova Scotia.

Women are drastically underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). For example, during the 2013-14 school year in Nova Scotia, only 22 per cent of architecture and engineering students were women. Similarly, only 27 per cent of students in mathematics, computer science and information sciences were women, according to the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

Lack of role models

Nur Zincir-Heywood, a computer science professor at Dalhousie, says that a reason women are so underrepresented is that there aren’t many women role models in STEM fields.

“This is where the misunderstanding starts because if there’s no role models, [women] don’t know exactly what to expect, what’s going to happen, or what it looks like,” says Zincir-Heywood.

“[Women] shouldn’t feel shy to go, talk, and ask. And we, the women in the STEM fields, should do our part and be accessible so both sides can find each other. We can take it from there.”

The importance of early development

Zincir-Heywood says that one of the biggest obstacles is that often women don’t view entering STEM as an option because there aren’t many corresponding subjects in junior high or high school.

Early engagement with STEM subjects is a huge factor in attracting women to these areas. A WISEatlantic survey from 2014 found that junior high students in STEM activities were 2.7 times more likely to consider a STEM career.

The WISEatlantic survey explores the career interests of junior high students.
The WISEatlantic survey compares the career interests of girls and boys in junior high (Courtesy of WISEaltantic).

Susana Somerton is a Grade 7 student who came to the documentary screening event. She is interested in technology and has attended robotics camps.

“At the camps I’ve gone to, I’ve been maybe one of three girls out of a 20-person camp so I think it’s important that people send out the message that this is something girls can do too,” says Somerton.

Dalhousie students also spoke about how their early exposure to science and technology led them to pursue degrees in STEM.

Mimi Cahill, a forth-year informatics student, recalled going to workshops about technology when she was eight years old. These workshops sparked her interest in entering the technology field a decade later.

“I think that was partially because I had such a good experience when I was young and told, ‘You can do this. Try it.’ It was an inclusive environment and then I decided that I’m going to do this, I can do this,” says Cahill.

Cahill says that people need to know that they don’t need a solid background in computers and technology before they begin their degree. She bought her first laptop the first week of university classes.

“Don’t expect that you need any prior knowledge. You can start fresh, like me, and you’ll be fine. You don’t need to know anything before, just a little math,” Cahill says.

 

Discouragement

Women spoke of discouragement as another barrier in STEM.

Susan Grandy is a software engineer for an American company but is based in Nova Scotia. She graduated from Dalhousie’s computer science program in 2010. Since then, her work has brought her to Seattle and India.

“Something someone said to me, which made me discouraged and lose my confidence, was that girls didn’t think the same way and therefore I wouldn’t make it through. What I’ve come to realize is that we have something unique to offer. We may not think identically but that’s actually a good thing,” says Grandy.

To the future

Grandy encourages women entering STEM to be persistent.

“All I can say is keep going because there were times when I thought I couldn’t do it  but there’s tutors and other things. The resources are there and I found the profs would help you whenever you needed help and just keep going,” Grandy says.

Brittany Kelly is the vice-president of Dalhousie’s Women in Technology Society (WiTS). She is in her last year of the computer science program at Dalhousie. She encourages women to look beyond the stereotypes of STEM.

“There’s a lot of opportunities to go and talk to people, go to conferences, and really get involved. There’s all sort of societies and a lot of the people in the different fields are very welcoming and everyone just wants to see everyone else succeed,” says Kelly.

Coping with seasonal affective disorder this winter

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a less severe depression, when the change of season and light exposure influence people’s moods and energy.

This winter in Halifax has been one of the worst the city has seen in years. Winter has been tougher this year with the multiple severe storms that have been called worse than White Juan in 2004.

More people have been stuck inside and have had to deal with snow and ice making it harder to move around the city.

It is understandable that Haligonians would be feeling a little under the weather due to the circumstances that they have been facing.

But what is the difference between being under the weather and having seasonal affective disorder?

What is seasonal affective disorder?

 Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that happens during a season, usually winter, and lasts until the end of that particular season.

Approximately two to six per cent of Canadians will experience SAD in their life, according to Mood Disorders Association of Ontario.

 

The sidewalk conditions in Halifax (Photo: Samantha Calio)
The sidewalk conditions in Halifax (Photo: Samantha Calio)

“Seasonal affective disorder is related to light levels. In winter the days are shorter, people are more confined inside and they suffer from lack of light,” says Dr. Rachel Morehouse, a professor at Dalhousie University in the psychiatry department.

It can be seen as a type of hibernation response where people are more likely to sleep in longer and be less active, but they also have signs of depression, says Morehouse.

Seasonal affective disorder is not as severe as depression and it rarely becomes a pathological depression.

What are some signs and symptoms?

 Seasonal affective disorder deals with people’s moods. Most people will start feeling sad or grumpy and have a lack of interest in doing their usual activities.

“Most people get impatient when normally they are not like that, and they are not wanting to get out of bed or do activities, you just have to know yourself and identify a change,” says Morehouse.

It has been shown that women are more affected by this disorder than men, but anyone can become vulnerable to the disorder.

“Starting around October when days start to get shorter is when people can start feeling the affects of the disorder,” says Morehouse.

In most cases people will start feeling better in March when days are longer and there are signs of spring.

“This year it might be delayed because people will still be stuck inside with the snow, but I have not seen more cases because of the bad weather,” says Morehouse.

What are treatment options?

 “Treating it involves giving people more light or they can be given antidepressants,” says Morehouse.

There are two options for getting enough light; people can either go outside or be exposed to a light fixture that is around 5,000 to 10,000 lux for around 30 minutes per day in order to receive enough light.

“The best advice is to get out, get active and get light,” says Morehouse.

Road Salt: What it might mean for the Public Gardens

Halifax locals may be praying for salt covered streets in hopes of some much needed traction, but could more salt now mean less grass later?

Icy sidewalks have been causing challenges for everyone, as the only pathways to be seen are made of snow and ice, and if you chance a section of concrete, it’s probably covered in salt.

There may be longer term effects Halifax residents will need to take into account. What will all this salt mean for the Halifax Public Gardens?

With the enormous amounts of salt that has been dumped on our roads this year, after it all melts our public green spaces may be looking a little more brown than green this spring.

The Halifax Public Gardens, which is currently closed, is surrounded by a thoroughly salted and treacherous chunk of sidewalk. Although the walkways inside the park are not salted, the wind and melting water will spread the road salt into the enclosed space.

One of the city’s main methods of de-icing is salt-spray, which can travel up to 150 feet from the trucks dispensing it. The spray is a mix of salt and water, which creates a brine that is used instead of direct salt in some cases.

The salt can be damaging to lawns, because it soaks up the water and nutrients the lawn and plants need to survive, resulting in browning and potentially starving the plants.

Although the city has been experimenting with other methods of melting the ice, the salt and brine spray continues to be used in large amounts.

This may also cause browning of the needles on the coniferous trees inside the Victorian garden, as well as the lawn and plants.

The garden’s Victorian style features signature serpentine beds, deciduous and coniferous trees, and annual and perennial flowers. But the park has held more than just plants over the years.

The middle entrance on Spring Garden Road leads to the Horticultural Hall, a building erected in 1847, and in 1859 a rink was installed inside the grounds.

Although the 16 acres of land no longer hosts a rink, the land boasts 122 different species of trees as of 2008, many of which line the periphery of the gardens.

With snowfall warnings still in effect and a cold forecast continuing, it’s possible the late April opening date may be later than usual.

“The staff that will be responsible for removing the snow from the gardens are the same ones currently working on our streets and sidewalks,” said Tiffany Chase of the HRM Public Affairs Office.

Chase says the park “would not be a key priority at this time.”

Perhaps a break from shoveling is in order, and Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. Marjorie Willison will be presenting at the Friends of the Public Gardens’ Special General Meeting, highlighting how vegetables are featured in the Gardens.

What you should know before running in the winter

Five tips all runners, new or experienced, should follow before braving the cold and dangerous weather of the winter months.

 

While some Halifax citizens are complaining about the icy sidewalks, many runners maintain their physical activity despite sidewalk conditions.

For some runners, the winter months become daunting. They turn to crowded gyms and at home workouts in order to continue staying in shape during the winter. However, while snow and ice pose a threat to running outside, it is still possible to tackle those obstacles without changing your routine to fit the weather.

1. Running for beginners

According to Running Room, someone who is new to running should start slow. The first few times they go outside they should start by fast-walking. This allows for the new runner to build up their endurance.

Instead of going out and running as fast as you can for as long as you can, which could result in injury if the runner pushes themselves too far, it is much safer to start slow.

The best thing to do is to gradually increase the ratio of walking to running each time. It is best to start by walking for two minutes and running for one minute, then the next day, walk two minutes and run two minutes – always increasing the time and distance.

According to Andrew Moser, a student at the University of King’s College and avid runner all year around, joggers should also do specific exercises to increase the strength in your ankles.

Moser’s mother is a physiotherapist who taught him most of what he knows about muscles and how they help with running – especially on slippery and icy sidewalks.

“She would always talk about stabilizers, which are basically muscles that do the correcting for you when you are trying to balance [on the ice],” says Moser. “Already being a good runner helps, but you can start on the treadmill, or do simple balancing exercises like standing on one foot to strengthen your ankles.”

2. Thinking about tackling the ice?

After training to become a stronger runner and building up endurance, runners might be tempted to run outside all year around. However, before doing so, the runner must know a few tips for making sure they do not fall on the ice.

According to Moser, anyone who is planning to run during the winter months should:

  1. Pay attention to where you are running. If you see any shiny patches, chances are it is ice and you should slow down and shorten your stride.
  2. When turning corners, you should also slow down and shorten your stride so that you do not lose your balance.

According to Running Room runners may also feel soreness after running in the snow and ice. This is because your stabilizers are working harder to keep you from slipping.

3. Clothing

Moser thinks that there is a lot of value in getting athletic gear that is more expensive because it will last a few years, and you know what you are buying is good quality. He recognizes that not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on running gear, and suggests that anyone can buy leggings or sweat pants from Winners.

Moser also acknowledges that it is best for new runners who are not sure how much they will be running, or if they will stick with it, to look for cheaper versions of athletic clothing at places like Winners. As they become more committed, it can be justified to spend more money on longer lasting gear.

Running Room suggests that runners who will be running in the colder months cover up any exposed skin like: your neck, hands, faces and heads. You can do this with scarves, hats, gloves and ski-masks.

Running Room also suggests that, because days in the winter months are shorter and it gets dark much faster, a runner should make sure that they wear bright clothing or running gear with reflective stripes so that drivers will be able to see them in the dark.

4. Tips for running in the cold

According to Running Competitor, it is best to start off your run by running into the wind, then half way through the run you should switch it up and run with the wind at your back. Running Competitor explains that if you run with the wind at your back first, you will work up a sweat. Then when you change direction, the cold wind against your face will cause sweat to freeze.

Running Competitor also suggests that runners use Vaseline on any exposed skin that cannot be covered. Vaseline has waterproof and windproof properties that will protect your skin from frostbite

They also stress the importance on keeping hydrated during and after a run because you sweat just as much while running in the winter as you do in the warmer months – even if it does not feel that way.

Moser also suggests that any runner, experienced or new, should definitely take it easy on hills. Although the hills make for a great workout, they can become very dangerous during the winter months when they are covered in ice, snow or slush. He says that it is better to run slow and keep your balance, than to run fast and hurt yourself.

5. Alternatives

Moser says his girlfriend is starting to get into running as well, but she’s not experienced enough to go out and tackle the snow, ice and slush that covers the ground. Instead, during the winter months, she likes to go on Youtube and look up workout videos which are posted by fitness gurus.

Some alternatives to running in the winter are:

  1. Going to the gym
  2. Walking
  3. Yoga/ Hot Yoga
  4. Fitness classes
  5. Online workout videos

From the forest to the farmers’ market

Local artist Theresa Lee Capell, creator of Miss Foxine jewelry, crafts wearable art that has been recognized internationally.

They are jewels fit for a fairy — delicate beads, sparkly chains, tree bark and even butterfly wings. The Miss Foxine jewelry stand at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market will make you feel like you are in a fantasy world.

Theresa Lee Capell, the creator of Miss Foxine, stands smiling as shoppers pass by and admire her gorgeous handmade jewelry.

The 25-year-old NSCAD University graduate is inspired by the beauty of nature. As a child Capell would often venture into the woods at her home in Aylesford, N.S., collecting sticks and leaves to create jewelry herself.

“I used to go off into the woods and come back with pine cones and leaves and make them into crowns or jewelry or this little miniature dress form where I would pin the leaves and flowers to it and kind of daydream as a kid thinking ‘oh maybe fairies would wear this.’”

Capell has taken her daydreams and turned them into a reality. She makes her jewelry at her studio in her apartment in Lacewood.

Fairy tales and children’s stories also inspire Capell’s pieces. Her favourite one is Peter Pan.

“I love the idea of flying away into a different land where you can create your own world. That’s kind of the theme I try to put into my work to give it a Neverland kind of feel where the wearer can buy something and create their own story with it.”

Capell’s nature-inspired pieces, such as birch bark earrings, are made from materials she finds in the woods at her family home. She also digs through antique stores finding many unique baubles to turn into the centre point for a piece.

Capell also incorporates shells, pine cones, lavender, sea glass and butterfly wings into her work. Though fear not, Capell is not tearing the wings off of butterflies she finds.

“I have a friend who works at a conservatory and when the butterflies shed their wings naturally she will collect those and send them to me and I will send 20 per cent of the money made from those pieces back to the conservatory.”

Each piece is handmade by Capell. Depending on the complexity of the jewelry Capell will spend up to three hours on one piece, though her cheaper necklaces and earrings will take her under an hour.

Capell showcases her jewelry in antique picture frames and hangs delicate necklaces from tiny trees at her stand at the market every weekend.

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When Capell is not at the market she is working at her part-time job at Banana Republic at the Halifax Shopping Centre. She hopes that her jewelry business will one day be her full-time job.

Since starting at the market four years ago, Capell has gotten a lot closer to reaching that goal. Due to her strong presence on various social media outlets, an agent who works backstage at award shows invited her to fly to Hollywood and showcase her work at last year’s Golden Globes Awards.

“At first I couldn’t believe it,” says Capell, “I thought it was a scam but I got my brother to look at the email and research it and we found out it was legitimate so I messaged her back.”

She set up a booth, similar to her stand at the market, backstage at the Golden Globes where various celebrities would walk by and admire her work.

“The event was very high strung. Whenever a celebrity would come in you would feel very excited and a little shy.”

Capell says it was nerve wracking because if the celebrities wore her jewelry and told their friends about her work then she would be prompted on a much larger scale.

“They are pretty important people and they can tell people about my work through word of mouth and that was a really big thing for me,” says Capell. “Mary J. Blige was really nice, she especially loved my pieces with the butterfly wings. She loved the idea of it being so natural and just presenting the beauty that was already there.”

Since the event, sales have gone up quite a bit. Capell has a few designs in boutiques throughout Halifax and her sales on Etsy have gone up.

Capell wants to have a boutique of her own in Halifax and some day open a second one in Los Angeles. She recently began designing gowns and hopes to incorporate them into the Miss Foxine line.

“I’m just trying to figure out where to invest my money at the moment,” explains Capell. She has been offered to go back to L.A for more backstage events. Capell hopes to design more dresses before returning to Hollywood.

“I’m just taking it day by day right now,” says Capell.

Perhaps one day we will see her dresses walking down the red carpet capturing the same elegant and whimsical style that is in her jewelry.