Last year was the worst year in history for births in Newfoundland and Labrador

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There’s more evidence that Newfoundland and Labrador’s demographic challenges may only be getting worse, and it can be found on the maternity wards, in the funeral homes, and at the airports and ferry terminals.

Last year marked a new low point for births in recorded history, with just over 4,000 newborns being delivered, according to preliminary numbers from the provincial government.

That’s about 900 fewer than the number of deaths.

And there appears to be another uptick in migration to other provinces, with a net loss of 3,000 people to Ontario, Alberta and Nova Scotia in 2017-18, according to Statistics Canada estimates. 

Four years ago, Newfoundland and Labrador recorded a small net gain of 134 people from those provinces.

It’s the continuation of a troubling pattern that began in the mid-1960s, when it was common for more than 15,000 children to be born each year, and the population was thriving.

And it’s one with wide-ranging consequences for everything from health and education service delivery to labour availability and the very existence of dozens of rural and isolated settlements.

This chart shows the pattern of increasing immigration to Newfoundland and Labrador. The numbers for 2018 do not include the months of November and December. (Source: Citizenship and Immigration Canada)

« What we have to do is learn how to adapt in this new reality and make the most of what we have, » said Robert Greenwood of Memorial University’s Harris Centre, which has been studying the province’s population patterns.

Mini brain drain

While efforts to increase immigration are showing results, today’s reality is a shrinking and aging population driven by emigration to other provinces, double-digit unemployment, and more and more women of child-bearing age deciding to have fewer or no children.

And those who are having children are waiting until they are much older than their own mothers and grandmothers were.

« It’s not surprising, » said Cathy Walsh  while spending time with her one-year-old grandchild, Jianne, at a play group in St. John’s recently.

[Women] are getting higher educated. They spend more time doing things before they settle down. So the odds of having more children are slim.– Cathy Walsh

« [Women] are getting higher educated. They spend more time doing things before they settle down. So the odds of having more children are slim. »

Enrolment at Memorial University supports Walsh’s point. 

Of the 14,242 full-time students enrolled at MUN in 2017, more than 8,000 — nearly 57 per cent — were female, and this is not a new trend.

And Walsh’s story is a familiar one: She is from a family of six children, and she raised three of her own. She has only one grandchild, and she’s not expecting any more.

Children have fun at a Daybreak play group at Bishop Abraham Elementary in St. John’s. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

« I think it will be a serious situation at some point, » she said. « The fact people are living longer. And if we’re not having enough people to take care of everybody … I think that goes to show we need more people coming into the province if we’re not going to have as many births. »

2018 2017 2016 2015 2014
Deaths 4,921 5,136 5,008 5,225 4,991
Births 4,002 4,125 4,490 4,496 4,616

Source: ServiceNL

As for that apparent spike in outmigration, a vast majority are young, highly educated and skilled, says MUN geography professor Alvin Simms.

Simms calls it a miniature brain drain.

« They’re very much in demand elsewhere, » said Simms, referring in particular to the growing shipbuilding sector in neighbouring Nova Scotia.

The trend shows a stable or increasing population on the northeast Avalon Peninsula — driven largely by migration from other regions of the province — and in most parts of Labrador, but declines everywhere else.

St. John’s resident Lisa Young, with her son, Gage, is a young mother to three children, which is not common in an era of declining fertility rates. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

The current population is just over 528,000. But various scenarios compiled by the provincial government projects the population could shrink to anywhere from a best-case scenario of 523,415 to a worst-case scenario of 492,000 by 2036. And every scenario shows a dramatic increase in the province’s median age.

Situation reversed

In 1996, four years after the disastrous closure of the northern cod fishery, Newfoundland and Labrador was Canada’s youngest province, with a median age of 34.1. By 2015, with young people leaving at a steady clip, the situation reversed, and the most easterly province is now the oldest, with a median age of 45 years, according to Statistics Canada.

A shrinking fertility rate is an international phenomenon, and Newfoundland and Labrador’s rate is among the lowest in the country, with 1.42 children per woman as of 2016. That’s well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

And the fertility rate plummets even more in small communities, with researchers saying anywhere from 100 to 120 small communities are now beyond the point of no return because the educated youth are not staying in rural Newfoundland.

Meanwhile, the steady growth in Canada’s population can be attributed to an influx of immigrants, primarily to larger centres such as Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal.

But the chances of reversing Newfoundland and Labrador’s population struggles through immigration are slim, says Greenwood.

« These kind of long-term trends are cultural, and they are worldwide, and it’s kind of like climate change, » he said, explaining that the best option is to try to mitigate the challenges that accompany population decline.

Premier Dwight Ball’s Liberal government has set ambitious new targets for immigration, and statistics show a record 1,305 new permanent residents in Newfoundland and Labrador during the first 10 months of 2018.

But this number is still far short of the losses through interprovincial migration and natural population decline, and large numbers of immigrants eventually leave the province.

Despite the population decline, Rob Greenwood, executive director of Memorial University’s Harris Centre, is optimistic about Newfoundland and Labrador’s future. (Eddy Kennedy/CBC)

Experts like Greenwood say good governance, intelligent use of the province’s abundant natural resources, high-quality education and an innovative, productive economy that makes better use of digitization and automation are the answers. 

He’s optimistic, in fact, about the province’s future.

We got to do what we can on immigration. We got to do what we can on family-friendly policies. But we absolutely have to learn to do more with fewer people.– Rob Greenwood

‘We have to stop equating development with population growth. We have to start thinking about how do we make the most with the population we have, » said Greenwood.

« We got to do what we can on immigration. We got to do what we can on family-friendly policies. But we absolutely have to learn to do more with fewer people. »

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Newfoundland woman opens her heart — and her home — to cancer patients

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Last January, Laura Elliott took the first steps of the toughest journey of her life.

The native of South Brook, N.L., now living in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., was diagnosed with breast cancer and started down a long road of surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy.

Two weeks later, she got more bad news. Her mom, Judy Jackson, called to say she had cancer too.

« It was pretty difficult for myself and my mom and our whole family, » she said. « As we couldn’t be there in person, we had to be supportive over the phone and FaceTime. To have one person go through it in a family, then have two go through it at the same time, it was pretty difficult. »

Laura Elliott underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2018. (Submitted by Laura Elliott)

The one positive in their experience, she says, was the fact they were going through the treatments together and were able to support each other.

« I was about two or three weeks ahead of her. Every appointment, every surgery, just pretty much all of our treatments, we were talking back and forth every day, » she said.

The journey wasn’t exactly the same for the two women, though.

Elliott had only a half-hour drive to receive her radiation therapy in Alberta. Jackson had to travel five hours from South Brook in central Newfoundland to St. John’s for hers.

Judy Jackson of South Brook came to St. John’s for cancer treatment. (Submitted by Laura Elliott)

She was fortunate to have a brother in the city with whom she could stay for free.

She found lots of others, however, who didn’t have it so well.

« We did some research, and there’s a lack of accommodations for people that are dealing with cancer, » Elliott said. « People staying in expensive hotels, and then gas and food on top of that. I’m sure it would have been a nightmare. »

That’s why she and her family decided they needed to do something to help.

On the walls of the Elliotts’ guest room, cancer patients will find inspirational messages. (Submitted by Laura Elliott)

« Dealing with cancer is stressful for any family, » she said. « Me and my husband decided we should take the burden off other families and open up one of the rooms in our home to cancer patients to relieve the stress of finding accommodations, and the cost of accommodations. They’re not cheap. »

They fixed up a room and registered their availability with cancer charities. After attracting a lot of attention on social media, they’re expecting their first patient any day now.

Elliott hopes the people who stay with her family can benefit from more than just a bed.

The Elliotts have prepared a guest room for visiting cancer patients. (Submitted by Laura Elliott)

« To be there for somebody else, to help them through their journey to add a positive vibe to their life, is what brings happiness to us. »

She says all the support she and her mom received through their own cancer journey, from many different sources, has encouraged and inspired them. And she believes it helped their healing.

« My mom is doing very well. She’ll start her reconstructive surgery this year, » she said. « I still have maybe one more surgery to go through. I had some difficulty with my first surgery I had back in April. We’re both cancer-free right now. »

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Most of Newfoundland digs out from overnight storm, more blizzard conditions coming

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Winds blew strong and snow fell hard overnight for most of eastern and central Newfoundland, with some places still under a blizzard warning on Wednesday morning.

At St. John’s International Airport, most flights are cancelled or delayed, after 22 cm of snow fell overnight. Gander reported 24 cm overnight as high winds caused heavy drifting.

On the Avalon Peninsula, police are warning drivers to stay off the Trans-Canada Highway, saying visibility is near zero.

All government offices in St John’s and Mount Pearl are closed for the morning, with a further update coming at 11 a.m.

There will be a break in the inclement weather for a period on Wednesday morning, before a second storm system sweeps through bringing more snow with it.

In central, the second storm is expected to bring an additional 15-35 cm of snow as winds gust to 130 km/hr.

For St. John’s and vicinity, another 10 cm is expected to fall before Thursday morning, with winds gusting to 110 km/hr.

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Olympic medallist Katelyn Osmond to receive Order of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Figure skating champion Kaetlyn Osmond will be receiving the highest honour in her home province – the Order of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Osmond left Marystown, N.L., for Edmonton at a young age, but her province and hometown continue to cheer for her, even re-naming the local arena after her in 2014.

READ: Fans and skaters welcome Olympic medallist Kaetlyn Osmond back to Edmonton

She and artist Christopher Pratt were among 10 people named today as recipients of the order, granted for “excellence and achievement” to former and current residents of the province.

They will be inducted at a Jan. 29 ceremony.

The Olympic bronze medallist and world figure skating champion was greeted with a parade when she visited Marystown in April, meeting with young skaters and performing at the arena.

WATCH: Olympic medallist Kaetlyn Osmond arrives back in Edmonton






Dominic Lundrigan was arena manager when Osmond first laced up her skates as a kid and he recalled an enthusiastic young athlete who always pushed herself to skate faster and jump higher.

Lundrigan called Osmond the “pride and pleasure” of the small town and said her visits always lift local residents’ spirits.

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Afroman was gonna come to Newfoundland, but then he got high

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Afroman has a simple, albeit expected, reason for cancelling a sold-out New Year’s Eve performance in Corner Brook, N.L., three days before the show was to take place.

« I was gonna check Canadian plane tickets, but then I got high, » he sang in a video posted to Facebook on Saturday.

The Los Angeles-based artist, who earned a Grammy nomination for his hit single Because I Got High, waited until this week to price plane tickets to Newfoundland, and realized it cost about the same amount he was set to be paid for the show.

As a result, he bailed on the show on Dec. 28, leaving bar owner Dave Young scrambling to refund money to eager ticket holders.

« Everything will be refunded. There’s not one person who won’t get their money back, » Young told CBC News.

Young said it could take a few days, as Afroman — real name Joseph Foreman — has to transfer the money he was paid before the show back to Young, and U.S. to Canadian transfers take time.

Owner disappointed, but makeup show in the works

The concert was set to be the first big event for Young at The Studio, a bar he purchased in the fall.

« Bringing him here to this bar, it would have been really good because it would have put us really on the map hard, » Young said. « Having a celebrity walk through your door to do shows, that’s kind of a big thing. And of course, not having him show up now is kind of a kick in the teeth. »

In his video, Afroman said they are working to put together a make-up show at The Studio for mid-January, while he’s already in Canada for a brief tour. Young said he’s hopeful they can pull it together.

The Studio was formerly known as Starlings, but changed hands in the fall. (The Studio/Facebook)

Young said some people are mad about their New Year’s plans being axed, but he believes the rapper is genuine in his remorse for making a mistake.

« He’s very apologetic about it. He’s very sorry. »

Young said he expects a make-up date will be announced in the coming days.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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Class action over video lottery terminals gets green light in Newfoundland

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An intriguing court case that alleges Crown-owned video lottery terminals are inherently deceptive and violate the Criminal Code has reached a critical milestone in Newfoundland and Labrador.

And the outcome of the case could have implications for VLT gaming across Canada.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has cleared the way for a class-action lawsuit to go ahead, rejecting arguments for dismissal from the Atlantic Lottery Corp., which operates in all four Atlantic provinces.

READ: Nova Scotia in tax fight with federal government over lottery terminals on reserves

“VLTs are inherently deceptive, inherently addictive and inherently dangerous when used as intended,” says a statement of claim filed in 2012. The lawsuit was certified as a class action in early 2017.

Among other things, it alleges VLTs should be considered illegal because they don’t fit the Criminal Code definitions for slot machines, fair games of chance or lottery schemes.

More importantly, the plaintiffs allege VLTs more closely resemble a gambling card game known as three-card monte, which at first glance appears to be a straight-forward test of tracking one of three cards as they are moved about.

The lawsuit argues the sleight-of-hand tricks used in this con game are not unlike the manipulative electronic programming VLTs use to create “cognitive distortions” about the perception of winning.

Toronto-based lawyer Kirk Baert, who represents plaintiffs Douglas Babstock and Fred Small, said the appeal court accepted that as a potential legal argument.

“The point of having this provision in the Criminal Code … was to prevent people from being deceived by charlatans and tricksters who use sleight-of-hand to make people lose their money,” Baert said in an interview.

“Our point is that technology has evolved, and this is just the same thing – but it’s being done through a machine instead of a human being at a table or at a carnival.”

WATCH: AG report puts spotlight on gambling awareness agency






None of the allegations has been proven in court.

The Atlantic Lottery Corp. has insisted the highly regulated electronic games are decided only by chance.

In its ruling last week, the appeal court effectively rejected the plaintiffs’ claims that the use of VLTs violate the federal Competition Act and a British law from 1710 known as the Statute of Anne, which was aimed at preventing deceitful gaming but fell into disuse.

The corporation has yet to say whether it will seek an appeal before the Supreme Court of Canada.

Aside from Babstock and Small, who are both retirees, those included in the class action are as many as 30,000 people in Newfoundland and Labrador who paid the lottery corporation to gamble on VLT games any time after April 2006.

The lawsuit is seeking damages equal to the alleged unlawful gain obtained by the corporation through VLT revenue.

As well, the plaintiffs are seeking an injunction that would bar the corporation from using VLTs, based on the assertion that the terminals do not constitute a permitted lottery under federal law.

If the lawsuit is successful, similar claims could be filed across Canada.

READ MORE: NS gambling revenues jump 2 years after prevention program cancelled

Citing a third-party study, the lawsuit says the odds of winning the $500 maximum prize from a VLT in Newfoundland and Labrador are roughly 270,000 to 1, which would mean a long-term player would likely lose about $30,000 before hitting the jackpot.

The statement of claim goes on to allege VLTs employ what is called “subliminal priming” to induce players to hyper-focus “and to create a dangerous dissociative mental state, wherein players cannot make rational decisions to continue to play or not.”

The goal is to leave players “mesmerized,” in the same way those duped by the three-card monte ruse can hardly believe their eyes, Baert said.

“It’s predetermined that you will lose,” he said. “The more you play, the more you lose.”

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‘Living the Newfoundland dream’ for 8 years, St. John’s trainer must now leave the country

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Like so many other Newfoundlanders, Machel Rayner had to leave the province for work.

It was September and the personal trainer had accomplished a goal of his own: he received permanent residency in Newfoundland and Labrador, the province he’s called home for eight years.

However, there was one more thing he had to do.

Rayner needed to find a good paying job. One that could support him, his two younger siblings, and his mother back in his home country of Jamaica.

But that one move — temporarily relocating to Halifax for work — put him at odds with the rules of the Newfoundland and Labrador government immigration program, which insisted that he stay put inside the province. The expulsion threw his life. and the lives of his family, into flux. 

« I was distraught. I was weak in the knees, » Rayner, 31, said in an interview Wednesday.

« I cried at the airport. I … feel as if I let everyone down. »

Love of Newfoundland

Nearly a decade ago, while working at a Sandals resort in Jamaica, Rayner was approached by a couple from Newfoundland who sold their province as a place where the charismatic Rayner could live and thrive.

Intrigued, he applied to do his undergrad at Memorial University and was accepted.

Machel Rayner, seen in a CBC story from 2011, was known for his singing and dancing when he worked at Tim Hortons in the Aquarena in St. John’s. (CBC)

The province upheld all his expectations, he said.

I had to think on my feet as I have been doing since I was 19, sending them to school right through since Kindergarten. I have to find a way to keep providing for them– Machel Rayner

« Everyone here is friendly. They go out and beyond to make sure that I’m comfortable here, » he said.

« The university professors, they are as helpful as they possibly can and it’s always a first name basis, which is quite a bit difficult for me, » Rayner laughs. « Because back home it’s all sir and madam. »

Rayner’s contagious laughter, positive outlook, and big smile caught the attention of CBC cameras in 2011, while he was working behind the counter at Tim Hortons at the Aquarena in St. John’s.

Machel Rayner holds a photo of himself from his Memorial University convocation. It’s one of many items he is packing into storage as he leaves the province behind. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

He would sing and dance for customers to brighten their day.

After completing his degree in kinesiology at MUN, Rayner brought his positive outlook to the gym, where he sang and danced for clients looking to improve their physical fitness.

He was « living the Newfoundland dream, » taking chilly walks along the edge of the North Atlantic with his Newfoundland dog Jam Jam and giving a hearty nod and « whattaya at, b’y? » to anyone who passed by.

Cash-strapped in the city

But after his employer cut one of the fitness programs Rayner taught at a local gym, he suddenly found himself losing out on $10,000 a year — or about 25 per cent of his annual income.

« With that reduction in income, I was financially stifled. I couldn’t meet my bills with my regular livelihood and also take care of my diabetic mom back home, » Rayner said.

« So, I had to think on my feet as I have been doing since I was 19, sending them to school right through since kindergarten. I have to find a way to keep providing for them. »

Rayner had already saved enough money to bring his younger brother Shaquille, 23, to the province, where he’s currently studying to be an electrical engineer at the College of the North Atlantic.

Machel Rayner, 31, and his brother, Shaquille, 23, pose in front of an iceberg perched in the chilly North Atlantic ocean. (Submitted)

His youngest brother, who is 21, is set to arrive next year.

Rayner needed to find money to fulfil the wish he made his mother eight years earlier to get his little brothers to Canada.

« I wasn’t thinking. I was just thinking about how to provide for my family because if my income is cut, there’s a ripple effect on everyone else. »

He didn’t have any luck securing a higher paying job in Newfoundland, but Rayner did get an offer in Halifax.

« I was hesitant in going because Newfoundland is home, » Rayner said.

« This was a temporary move because my other brother is coming. I have to prepare for him and be here when he arrives. »

Axed from N.L. program

By leaving the province for work — albeit temporarily — Rayner said he was automatically removed from the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Nominee Program.

While it wouldn’t discuss the case, the Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour said that the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Immigration Agreement requires immigrants to live and work in this province as they pursue permanent residency.

The certificate is granted to people who have skills that the province can use to address specific economic development and labour market needs.

Federal immigration and refugee protection regulations require that people « must intend to reside » in the province which nominated them.

Machel Rayner is leaving behind his three-year-old Newfoundland dog named Jam Jam. (Submitted)

Without the program, Rayner either has to leave the country voluntarily within two weeks and start the process over again, or appeal — and run the risk of being banned from Canada for a minimum of one year.

The appeal hearing is too risky, Rayner said. Instead, he is leaving his younger brother, his fitness clients and dog behind.

« I never had a pet in my life, » he said. « I truly am going to miss my Newfoundland dog. She meant a whole lot to me. »

Packing 8 years of memories

If Rayner was told about the stipulation, it simply slipped his mind, he said, adding he originally applied for his residency three and a half years ago.

On Wednesday, Rayner and his brother Shaquille packed a small storage unit in St. John’s full of Rayner’s things. His framed diploma from Memorial University perched atop a pile of possessions collected over eight years.

Working two jobs and seven courses, Shaquille will shoulder the family financial burden — for now.

It was something I did wrong, by not reading the fine print.– Machel Rayner

« All my mom has been doing is praying that I don’t return [to Jamaica] and that there’s some sympathy, » Rayner said.

« But it will [end] up on my little brother now to continuously send $100 back home so they can eat for two weeks. »

It’s on me, Rayner says

In recent years the Newfoundland and Labrador government has put a big push on immigration.

With more citizens dying than being born, the population is dwindling and is in desperate need of a boost.

A provincial Liberal immigration action plan released last year indicated the province has a « roadmap » to welcoming 1,700 newcomers annually by 2022.

Machel Rayner had hoped to bring his mother to Newfoundland and Labrador with him and his two brothers. It’s a promise he still wants to keep. (Submitted)

Now, one of their long-time residents is leaving.

Rayner may have worked on the beach at a Sandals resort, but he grew up in one of Jamaica’s toughest neighbourhoods, Trench Town in the capital of Kingston.

He doesn’t know how long reapplying to come back to Newfoundland will take or if he’ll ever be allowed back, but remains his upbeat, optimistic self.

He’s not jaded by his experience. Nor does he blame the province.

« It was something I did wrong, by not reading the fine print. And I will just have to see what’s the best route to come back. »

The Department of Advanced Education, Skills and Labour did not accept CBC’s offer for an interview with the minister, citing privacy concerns over discussing specific cases.

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Missing Newfoundland police dog found in good spirits 

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A Royal Newfoundland Constabulary police dog has been found safe and sound this morning after he went missing Friday afternoon.

Police say Edge, a black German shepherd, went missing after he was deployed by his handler at around 4:30 p.m. to track down a wanted suspect in the Paradise area.

But they say he was found unharmed and “in good spirits” at 8:30 a.m. in the general area where he went missing.

Other members of the RNC police dog services and operational patrol services took part in the search.

Police say Edge will take Saturday off with his handler, who they expect “will be giving him extra treats and belly rubs today.”

The suspect the dog was chasing was arrested at around 3 a.m.

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Former B.C. resident says she can’t complete gender reassignment after move to Newfoundland

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A woman trying to complete her gender transition says she’s been set back « years » after moving from B.C. to Newfoundland.

Stacey Piercey, who moved to the island last year, had been approved for breast augmentation in B.C., but is unable to get that surgery in Newfoundland and Labrador, a province which has few policies around how gender transition-related surgeries are covered. 

Piercey worked as a business consultant in B.C. for years, and ran unsuccessfully for the B.C. Liberals in the 2017 provincial election. Later that year she decided to move back to Newfoundland to be with family.

She soon discovered that although she’d been approved for breast augmentation surgery in B.C., she’s unable to get that surgery in Newfoundland.

Piercey said her case highlights how a patchwork of provincial rules around which gender reassignment surgeries are covered and how they are approved can leave transgender people stuck in different phases of their transitions.

It’s not an equal standard of care across the country.– Shelley Piercey

« I was ready to transition and the province was ready with me, everything was just great. And then I came back to Newfoundland and now I just feel so far away from that surgery, » she said.

« I’ve gone back probably eight or nine years in my transition and I’m starting over again in a province where there aren’t a lot of procedures in place.

« It’s not an equal standard of care across this country. »

Lengthy approval process

Piercey had her first gender reassignment surgery in B.C. 

Then, after three-and-a-half years of seeing specialists, she was finally approved for breast augmentation. She had a letter from Medical Services Plan, B.C.’s public health care provider, confirming the province would cover the cost, and even had a surgeon in B.C. lined up before she moved to Newfoundland.

But once in Newfoundland and Labrador, she found that there was no mechanism through which the province would recognize that approval. She believes she may be the first person to have requested the surgery in that province.

« It should be as simple now as transferring that surgery to [Newfoundland and Labrador], where a surgeon should be able to perform it, because there are inter-provincial agreements, » she said.

« So I’m waiting to hear something, but it’s a smaller province and we don’t have the medical supports like other places. »

Piercey has met with deputies from Newfoundland and Labrador’s health ministry and the ministry of social services, but has not heard from them since those meetings.

It hurts because I know I’m losing time. I want to be in love, I want to have a family, I want to have a home, that’s important to me. But right now I’m stuck.– Stacey Piercey

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for Newfoundland and Labrador’s health ministry said breast augmentation is not currently available for funding under that province’s medical health plan, but a spokesperson said « work is underway » to make it eligible.

The province does cover the cost of some transition-related surgeries when the procedures are completed outside the province at a publicly funded health centre in Canada. 

To be eligible for surgery through Newfoundland and Labrador’s Medical Care Plan (MCP), a referral is required from the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, Gender Identity Clinic in Toronto, the statement said.

‘Stuck’

But those options are of no help to Piercey, who is now fundraising to pay for the breast augmentation, which could cost between $5,000 and $10,000.

She said it is particularly frustrating because after years of progress, she now feels she’s taken a step backwards.

« It hurts because I know I’m losing time. I want to be in love, I want to have a family, I want to have a home, that’s important to me. But right now I’m stuck. »

With files from Zahra Premji

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First legal weed sold in Canada at Newfoundland shops

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The first legal recreational cannabis has officially been sold in Canada.

In Newfoundland and parts of Labrador, which has a separate timezone from the rest of Canada, midnight comes earlier, and people were ready and waiting for marijuana to be sold to them over the counter.

The first sales went to Ian Power and Nikki Rose, who lined up outside awaiting the opening of the Tweed retail location on Water Street in downtown St. John’s.

The lineup at the Tweed store started at around 8 p.m. NT, and steadily grew as the time ticked down to 12 a.m.

Ian Power lined up at 8 p.m. so he could « make history. »

« It’s been my dream to be the first person to buy the first legal gram of cannabis in Canada, and here I finally am, » Power said.

Ian Power says he hopes the stereotype of a ‘stupid stoner’ is gone in the near future, following the legalization of cannabis in Canada. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

« I’m elated. I’m so excited, I can’t stop smiling. I’m not cold. It’s freezing cold out, but I’m not cold. »

Tweed opened its doors just before midnight so customers could start filing in, amid a crowd of media, to line up to buy their first legal bud.

« When’s the last time you bought a gram and got a receipt for it? Never happened, » said Canopy CEO Bruce Linton to his first customers, Power and Rose, as they stood in the front of the line for sales to officially start.

« For me it just proves that Canadians are open to this, they’re ready for this. It’s not like, ‘Oh my God look at that sketchy character,' » Linton told CBC News after ringing in the first sale.

Linton added that at the company’s headquarters in Smith’s Falls, Ont., he was approached by a 102-year-old woman who was curious about cannabis products.

Canopy Growth CEO Bruce Linton says people just want to know about marijuana, and now they don’t need to be afraid to ask. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

« Everybody wants to understand it, » Linton said. « They don’t like ignoring it. »

Scrapping the stigma

Meanwhile, Power, who said he has advocated for cannabis users and patients for years, said he’s hopeful legalization will help eliminate what he calls stigma around the substance.

« I think the social stigma of the ‘stupid stoner’ or the criminal element for using cannabis, a benign substance, as my choice of medicine or recreation, I think that’s gonna change, » Power said.

« Cannabis is in all walks of life. People who are unemployed, to the lawyers and judges in the country, so why not? »

The line of people outside Tweed in downtown St. John’s grew leading up to midnight, when N.L. started legally selling recreational marijuana. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

Last week, the Newfoundland and Labrador government announced that as of 12:01 a.m., marijuana would be able to be sold.

The NLC, the Crown regulatory agency, then said retailers would be allowed to operate from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m., meaning there’s a two-hour window at the very start of Oct. 17 when marijuana can be purchased.

Canopy Growth, one Canada’s largest cannabis companies, officially opened its Tweed store at 11:30 p.m.

Linton nearly missed the first legal sale due to high winds Tuesday that delayed his flight, but he was able to land to be on hand to sell the country’s first legal weed.

There are a number of other retailers, like THC Distribution in Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s, just outside of St. John’s, where owners are also opening for midnight sales.

Owner Thomas H. Clarke says he’s « living the dream » opening a pot store at home, but worries that he might be out of product by Friday.

Thomas H. Clarke, right, sells his shop’s first legal marijuana to his father, Don. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

His first customer was his father, Don, while a crowd of about 100 people waited outside in line on a chilly and windy night to make their first legal purchases.

While the supply may be limited when sales start up, Clarke said there will be a wider selection available as time passes and more items hit the market.

Other shops also had lines outside their doors once midnight hit, with people scurrying to get in and make their legal purchases of marijuana before the mandatory closure at 2 a.m.

Each province sets its own marijuana regulations, including at what age people can purchase it, locations, quantity limits and smoking locations.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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