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Half of Canadians have too few local psychiatrists, or none at all. How can we mend the mental-health gap? – The Globe and Mail

January 18th, 2020

Illustration by Domenic Macri

Data research by Matt Lundy • Graphics by Matt Lundy and Murat Yükselir


In London, Ont., a 20-year-old man waits a year to see a psychiatrist after he is hospitalized for suicidal behaviour.

In Prince Edward Island, even the most serious patients on the provincial triage list are told in November they will wait at least six months to see a psychiatrist.

When the only staff psychiatrist at Lake of the Woods District Hospital in Kenora, Ont. decides to move, the community is left begging for help from Thunder Bay, 500 kilometres away, where psychiatrists there already scramble to cover an area roughly the size of France.

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Across the country, Canadians tell similar stories of too few psychiatrists in places with too many patients in the queue. The results of the critical shortage: jam-packed emergency departments, long wait lists, stressed-out families, and burned-out doctors.

According to a Globe and Mail analysis, half of all Canadians live in parts of the country where the number of psychiatrists fall below the ratio recommended by a panel of experts with the Canadian Psychiatric Association; 2.3-million Canadians live in areas with no permanent psychiatrists at all.

The psychiatrists Canada does have are getting old fast. Half of the profession is over the age of 55 – making it one of the greyest medical specialties – and there aren’t enough young doctors filling the ranks to replace them.

The wear and tear is showing. In January, 2019, for instance, in Sydney, N.S., the head of psychiatry at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital quit to protest the unfair workload burdening his colleagues. For a month last spring, McMaster University withdrew its residents from the emergency department at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, citing safety concerns and a lack of supervision due to overcrowding.

Meanwhile, the crowd keeps growing. More people are seeking help, as public awareness campaigns and corporate workplace-wellness initiatives reduce the stigma around mental illness. Self-reported anxiety and depression among youth continue to rise. Hospitalizations for mental illness have increased, and the rate of patients admitted involuntarily has risen. Wait times have grown, and the longer people wait, the sicker they often become, only to require more time-consuming and expensive care when they finally get help. The demand for psychiatrists will only increase.

The Ontario Psychiatrist Association raised the alarm last year, publishing a position paper that made the case for a series of fixes to the lack of access to psychiatrists.

The paper recommended creating more residency spots in psychiatry, and giving medical students more exposure to the specialty. It pushed for paying psychiatrists better, especially those who work in rural areas, or who treat underserved populations – noting that psychiatry remains one of the lowest-paid specialties in the public health care system.

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But research suggests that pay incentives, on their own, don’t always change the way doctors practice. And training more psychiatrists is a long term solution – one that takes nearly a decade, from start to finish. (Psychiatrists are medical doctors, who can bill the public system for talk therapy, as well as dispense medication, unlike others treating mental illness, such as psychologists and psychotherapists.)

What the OPA report didn’t address is the larger shift that mental health experts – including many frustrated psychiatrists – argue needs to happen, one that reimagines the role of the modern psychiatrist, especially how and where they work.

Should psychiatrists be able to bill the public health care system for long-term talk therapy to treat patients with more moderate symptoms of depression and anxiety, when so many complex, chronic patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and other severe conditions can’t find specialist care? Should they work in solo practice, and choose who they see, when emergency departments are clogged, and research shows that team-based care is more cost-effective?

It’s a contentious debate – a battle between tradition and change, between what a public system needs and how the doctors want to practice.

“We have a long and cherished history that allows health professionals to do more or less what they want, in terms of who they see and the interventions they provide,” says psychiatrist Philip Klassen, the vice-president of medical services at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences in Whitby, Ont. This can’t continue, he suggests. “At first blush, you can say we lack resources. But I think the first order of business is to ask, what are we doing with our resources?”


Number of psychiatrists per 100,000 population, by census division

BRITISH COLUMBIA

There are no psychiatrists based in

grey areas

Broad regions of northern Alberta have no permanent psychiatrists

SASKATCHEWAN

Among the provinces, Saskatchewan has the second-lowest supply of psychiatrists (adjusted for population)

Kingston, Ont., has the highest population-adjusted supply of psychiatrists in the country

Thunder Bay

Toronto isn’t lacking for psychiatrists, but surrounding cities are

Quebec has the highest number of child psychiatrists

NEW BRUNSWICK

Fredericton

PEI is rapidly growing, but its psychiatric resources remain limited

Charlottetown

NOVA SCOTIA

NEWFOUNDLAND

AND LABRADOR

St. John’s

TERRITORIES

There is not a single psychiatrist based in Nunavut

Yellowknife

Whitehorse

Note: Maps are not to scale.

GRAPHIC BY MURAT YÜKSELIR, RESEARCH BY MATT LUNDY / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GLOBE ANALYSIS OF DATA FROM EACH PROVINCE AND TERRITORY’S COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS; 2016 CENSUS

Number of psychiatrists per 100,000 population, by census division

BRITISH COLUMBIA

There are no psychiatrists based in

grey areas

Broad regions of northern Alberta have no permanent psychiatrists

SASKATCHEWAN

Among the provinces, Saskatchewan has the second-lowest supply of psychiatrists (adjusted for population)

Kingston, Ont., has the highest population-adjusted supply of psychiatrists in the country

Thunder Bay

Toronto isn’t lacking for psychiatrists, but surrounding cities are

Quebec has the highest number of child psychiatrists

NEW BRUNSWICK

Fredericton

PEI is rapidly growing, but its psychiatric resources remain limited

Charlottetown

NOVA SCOTIA

NEWFOUNDLAND

AND LABRADOR

St. John’s

TERRITORIES

There is not a single psychiatrist based in Nunavut

Yellowknife

Whitehorse

Note: Maps are not to scale.

GRAPHIC BY MURAT YÜKSELIR, RESEARCH BY MATT LUNDY / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GLOBE ANALYSIS OF DATA FROM EACH PROVINCE AND TERRITORY’S COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS; 2016 CENSUS

Number of psychiatrists per 100,000 population, by census division

BRITISH

COLUMBIA

There are no psychiatrists based in

grey areas

Broad regions of northern Alberta have no permanent psychiatrists

SASKATCHEWAN

Among the provinces, Saskatchewan has the second-lowest supply of psychiatrists (adjusted for population)

Kingston, Ont., has the highest population-adjusted supply of psychiatrists in the country

Thunder Bay

Toronto isn’t lacking for psychiatrists, but surrounding cities are

NEW BRUNSWICK

Quebec has the highest number of child psychiatrists

Fredericton

PEI is rapidly growing, but its psychiatric resources remain limited

Charlottetown

NOVA SCOTIA

NEWFOUNDLAND

AND LABRADOR

St. John’s

TERRITORIES

There is not a single psychiatrist based in Nunavut

Yellowknife

Whitehorse

Note: Maps are not to scale.

GRAPHIC BY MURAT YÜKSELIR, RESEARCH BY MATT LUNDY / THE GLOBE AND MAIL, SOURCE: GLOBE ANALYSIS OF DATA FROM EACH PROVINCE AND TERRITORY’S COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS AND SURGEONS; 2016 CENSUS


Psychiatrists, like almost all medical specialists, are concentrated in Canada’s biggest cities, leaving smaller communities, and more northern parts of the country with few to none. This makes it harder for those places to recruit new doctors, who will have to work long hours on call, and leaves an already wobbly system especially vulnerable to a single departure, work leave or retirement.

The problem is especially acute in the North, where many communities rely heavily on dedicated substitute psychiatrists willing to work short stints or rotations in underserved areas. But care still depends on a limited pool of doctors, and often means drawing from places with their own access issues.

A 2010 position paper by the Canadian Psychiatric Association recommended that the standard ratio for full-time licensed psychiatrists should be one for every 6,548 people – with the caveat that the number does not account for geography or higher needs of the population.

But it’s not only small towns that fail to come near this ratio. Brampton, Ont., one of the fastest-growing – and youngest – municipalities in the country, has about one psychiatrist for every 24,000 people, one of the worst ratios in Ontario. By comparison, Toronto, just 40 kilometres away, has a ratio of one psychiatrist for every 2,754 people.

But even in Toronto, Montreal and Greater Vancouver — where more than one-third of Canada’s psychiatrists are based — access is fitful.

On a recent afternoon, a family doctor in Vancouver consulted Pathways, an online list of specialists who have volunteered that they’re available to see new patients; only one psychiatrist was accepting referrals in the clinic’s catchment area without any diagnostic restrictions. Even then, the wait was two to four months. Many family doctors say they rely on personal connections and word-of-mouth to find psychiatrists, or just give up.

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Rita McCracken, shown in 2015, is an assistant professor in family medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Andru McCracken/Handout/The Canadian Press

“Honestly, we don’t even bother [looking] anymore,” said Rita McCracken, a family doctor in East Vancouver and an assistant professor in family medicine at the University of British Columbia.

Recently, a psychiatrist in Vancouver retired, leaving about six patients at Dr. McCracken’s group practice with no referral to a new psychiatrist. These are patients, she says, who have complex disorders, often with substance abuse issues and suicidal behaviour, who have been previously hospitalized.

When one of her colleagues called the only psychiatrist accepting referrals on Pathways, Dr. McCracken says he was told by the receptionist, “we don’t take complicated patients.”

Yet these are precisely the kind of patients who need a specialist to get better, she says. Otherwise, the options are limited. Her team will try to manage by “checking in” with the patient more often or by sending them to an emergency department. Sending them to the hospital may result in a new prescription, she says, but no follow-up care to make sure it works. And while psychotherapy might be helpful in some cases, access to publicly funded therapy is limited, and most of Dr. McCracken’s patients can’t afford to pay for it.

Across the country, psychiatrists in private office-based practices bill the public system for their services, but can treat who they choose with few limitations – a practice that contributes to the most difficult patients often having the longest waits.

Dr. Lena Palaniyappan, a psychiatrist in London, Ont., and professor at Western University, says that there are a number of community-based psychiatrists in the city who have built up their roster of patients until “they have enough to keep running the mill, so to speak.” Then, as far as the system is concerned, their practice is closed to new business.

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“This cannot happen,” he says. “More people are seeking help, and we need to have a system that incentivizes seeing more patients, rather than seeing the same patient again and again.”


When Renata Villela became a psychiatrist, she opened the practice she’d always wanted: a solo office in Thornhill, Ont., providing specialized long-term psychotherapy. On average, she sees patients for two years, sometimes once a week. They are referred to her by family doctors or other psychiatrists; on rare occasions, they walk in off the street. For patients who don’t want to make the trip to her office, she sees them by video in their homes.

For most Canadians trying to get help for a mental health problem, receiving this kind of personal care would be like winning the lottery, and just as unlikely.

Dr. Villela’s type of practice is mostly exclusive to Canada’s big cities, and most common in Toronto. Small-volume practices account for more than one-third of psychiatrists in Toronto and Ottawa, the two cities where the province’s psychiatrists cluster in bulk. Dr. Villela and psychiatrists with practices like hers say they are keeping people out of hospital, where those patients would cost the system more. That may be true, but there is no way of knowing: Psychiatrists don’t have to demonstrate that the people they’re treating are benefiting from intensive psychiatric care, or even that they require it in the first place. Meanwhile, research suggests that many patients do just as well with shorter-term therapies that cost the system less.

Paul Kurdyak is an emergency department psychiatrist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

This issue – too much care for those who may not need it, and too little for those who do – would be a good place to start fixing the system, according to Paul Kurdyak, an emergency department psychiatrist at Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

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A series of studies that Dr. Kurdyak has co-authored, primarily using a database of Ontario health statistics, found that, in Toronto and Ottawa, 40 per cent of full-time clinicians saw fewer than 100 patients a year. (Ten per cent saw fewer than 40 patients.) Additionally, the patients seen by those smaller-volume psychiatrists were more likely to live in higher-income neighborhoods, and less likely to have been previously hospitalized for psychiatric issues. When some psychiatrists suggested to Dr. Kurdyak that this practice style would be eliminated as aging psychiatrists retired, he went back to the data. The trend persisted even with younger psychiatrists, a 2017 paper reported – in fact, “there had been little change in practice patterns despite an increasing awareness of substantial unmet need for psychiatrist services.”

A February, 2019, paper found that nearly one in three Ontario psychiatrist sees fewer than two new outpatients a month. The patients they do see, the study concluded, also tend to be wealthier and healthier than those seen by psychiatrists with much larger practices. An upcoming study by Dr. Kurdyak, which has been accepted for publication and is based on more recent data, suggests that the trend continues.

Perhaps this wouldn’t be a problem if everybody was getting timely psychiatric care. The system could support different modes of practice. But a study published last year found that 40 per cent of Ontario youth discharged after an emergency department visit for their first psychotic episode received no outpatient mental health care for 30 days – despite research showing that follow-up is a key factor in preventing re-hospitalization. A 2017 paper found that the majority of people treated in an Ontario emergency department after a suicide attempt were not seen by a psychiatrist within six months; two-thirds of those hospitalized didn’t see a psychiatrist one month after being discharged, even when the province offered a financial incentive to specialists to assess these patients quickly. The incentive, the study concluded, made little difference in the way psychiatrists practised.

“I would like our profession to have as much autonomy and flexibility as possible,” says Dr. Kurdyak. “But the choices being enacted now are at the expense of patient access.”

One idea he floats would be a central registry that could steer patients to psychiatrists. Quebec has recently experimented with regional centralized registries — an ambitious undertaking that has been hindered by staffing shortages and too few options for patients with mild symptoms who may only need brief counselling, according to Karine Igartua, the president of the Quebec Psychiatric Association. Plus, she said, it is not mandatory for psychiatrists to participate.

Providing specialist care to as many high-needs patients as possible in the most cost-effective way should be the ultimate goal, says Dr. Kurdyak, who argues that psychiatrists should become part of a collaborative care team in which they can provide both rapid consults and follow-up care, ideally supported by psychiatric nurses, psychologists and social workers. In the ideal system he envisions, there would be more public funding for therapy and patient progress would be measured, so treatment could be adjusted, based on need.

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He argues that a team-based system like this would not only get patients in cities to the right level of care more quickly, it would also help ease the burden on overworked psychiatrists in smaller locations. To improve access to psychiatrists, build a better system around them.


‘I would like our profession to have as much autonomy and flexibility as possible,’ Dr. Kurdyak says. ‘But the choices being enacted now are at the expense of patient access.’

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail


Introducing innovation isn’t always easy, as Bill MacEwan, the former head of psychiatry at Vancouver’s St Paul’s Hospital, learned the hard way. A few years ago, Dr. MacEwan teamed up with another psychiatrist, Ron Remick, to begin treating patients in groups as part of the outpatient mental health services at St. Paul’s. In 2016, the new clinic completed 15,000 patient visits, according to the pair’s presentation at the Canadian Psychiatric Association’s annual conference this fall. By comparison, in 2014, the hospital-based outpatient clinic had 400 patient visits, Dr. MacEwan says, and operated with a budget three times larger.

Wait times for patients went down. Patients were seen regularly by a specialist, but after an initial one-on-one assessment, they saw the psychiatrist in group visits as needed.

In a group setting, other patients could also offer their own insights – coping with symptoms, what lifestyle changes have worked for them – with the psychiatrists providing the medical expertise. Psychiatrists at the new clinic also practised measurement-based care, in which patient progress was tracked electronically, helping clinicians to spot when treatment is working.

In a small-scale study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry in 2014, 99 patients at Dr. Remick’s clinic were surveyed. They had all participated in group sessions – on average about five – for roughly a year. On average, the patients rated care in the group sessions as very good to excellent. Although one third said they would rather receive individual care, another 38 per cent said they preferred the group appointment, and 30 per cent said they had no preference.

Group medical visits would seem to be a natural fit for a specialty with a long history of group therapy, but only a handful of psychiatrists are practising this way across the country. Billing for it can be complicated, providing it isn’t financially incentivized, and residents usually aren’t trained in it. But proponents say these types of innovations need to be considered to improve access.

For instance, at the Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, Ont., group sessions led by psychiatric nurses are now being used to educate new patients about mental illness, and to collect patient information so psychiatrists can move more quickly to treatment options during appointments.

Despite the success in Vancouver, the partnership with St. Paul’s didn’t last. A key reason, says Dr. MacEwan, is that psychiatrists resisted practising in a new way. Seeing one patient at a time, he says, is far easier than seeing seven, especially if it means changing the way you’ve practiced for decades. “It is hard work, plain and simple,” Dr. MacEwan says. Two years later, the program was cancelled.

Dr. MacEwan gives this weary assessment of his own specialty: “Cardiologists are all about ‘that was last year, what are we doing this year.’ Psychiatrists are all about, ‘well, if I have been doing this for 30 years, and it’s always been good, why am I changing?’ ” But the status quo, he says, is unsustainable.

“It just isn’t the way we can deal with the masses of patients in the future.”


Cape Breton psychiatrist Yvonne Libbus is shown in Halifax after an unofficial recruiting meeting with recent psychiatry graduates at a friend’s home. At the hospital where she works in Sydney, N.S., she has a caseload of 300 patients, plus people waiting at an emergency department.

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail


In Sydney, N.S., psychiatrist Yvonne Libbus tries to squeeze more patients into her day at the the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, even though she already has a caseload of 300, not counting people waiting in the emergency department, and the demands of a 46-bed inpatient ward. Today, there are four staff psychiatrists at the hospital; a few years ago, she says, there were 15.

Dr. Libbus isn’t going anywhere, but she thinks about it. Doctors in smaller communities and rural areas often earn less than their urban peers, whose salaries can be boosted by being attached to a university – a situation the province of Nova Scotia recently attempted to remedy with a $30,000 bonus for rural psychiatrists. But even with a pay bump, going to a small hospital that promises long on-call hours, little peer support and few resources, as well as the danger of aggressive patients in an understaffed emergency department, is often less enticing than taking a job in a big-city hospital or hanging their own shingle in a wealthier neighborhood.

Psychiatry is already one of the lowest paying medical specialties, in Canada. In part, this is because provincial fee scales tend to pay more for procedures than consultations, even though many medical procedures have been made easier and faster by technological advances.

On top of this, psychiatry still suffers from a stigma among doctors, as a less prestigious specialty. One Toronto psychiatric resident interviewed by The Globe described being actively discouraged from wasting her talent by pursuing the field.

Requiring medical students to do stints in rural locations is one solution. For instance, Ozotu Abu, a psychiatrist in Smithers, B.C. and one of three psychiatrists managing a large swath of northern British Columbia, came over from Ireland; after serving part of her residency in her native country in small towns, she sought the same experience in Canada. The Northern Ontario School of Medicine, with campuses in Sudbury and Thunder Bay, is also credited with training more physicians more likely to work in smaller communities after graduating because they come from or did their training in those types of places.

Given that most psychiatrists will stay in urban settings, provinces are working to expand telepsychiatry to improve care, both for patients who can receive consultations via video and family doctors who can dial in for advice. Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, for example, recently implemented a program that allows family doctors anywhere in the province to consult, on the phone, with psychiatrists at the hospital.

Psychiatrists also point to the need for service to cross provincial lines, to fill gaps in care across the country. Nachiketa Sinha, a psychiatrist in Moncton, N.B., says he has long-term patients, who, having moved west to work or study, book appointments when they are home to visit family. Living in Alberta, they can’t find a psychiatrist, but Dr. Sinha, who is not licensed to practise there, can’t even write them a new prescription to fill at the pharmacy if they run out of medication.

In a November, 2018 survey of the Canadian Medical Association’s general membership, 47 per cent of doctors said if such a national licence program existed, they would be “likely or very likely” to practise in a remote location, and 36 per cent said they would provide virtual support to patients in other provinces. (Those percentages were even higher for residents.)

In Kenora, after the hospital’s only psychiatrist left, efforts to recruit new ones to the northern Ontario region were slow to produce results. Getting help from Winnipeg, only two hours away, is complicated by provincial licensing rules. Psychiatrists in Thunder Bay, five hours away, were willing to pitch in, and the hospital was able to cover off the mental health unit with shifts by temporary doctors, called locums. But the loss of a veteran psychiatrist prompted a larger discussion among those handling mental health services in the meeting.

The result: a boundary line between the hospital service areas was eliminated, and a mental health team, which includes a doctor and social worker, was created that would assess patients arriving at any of the region’s hospitals, and triage them into the first available bed, wherever it was located in the region. The new process is designed to make better use of psychiatric resources so clinicians see the patients whose conditions require their expertise.

Ultimately, a system upgrade would make the psychiatrist’s job more efficient and more focused. As advocates for change such as Dr. Kurdyak suggest, that means moving out of solo practice and into spaces with other doctors and mental health professions, embracing technology to spread their clinical reach, and concentrating on the toughest cases they are best trained to handle.

The modern psychiatrist can’t be everywhere. So they should be where Canadians need them most.

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Notes on the data

The Globe and Mail conducted its analysis using 2019 data provided by each province and territory’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. The numbers include licensed psychiatrists by location, but not all of these may work full-time.

In cases where psychiatrists listed more than one workplace address – as many do – the first address was selected. In most cases, psychiatrists worked within one census region.

Quebec was the only province that refused to provide the names of psychiatrists, so there may be some double-counting in the province.

The map also only identifies psychiatrists in their permanent locations. Some psychiatrists travel to work in remote parts of the country, particularly the North, either occasionally or on a regular basis, but this is not reflected in the map due to data limitations. Nunavut, for instance, which has no permanent psychiatrists, is served entirely by a group of locum specialists.

As well, psychiatrists may move within the year to a different location. Where this was discovered, the data was updated by the Globe.

The map should be taken as an estimate based on an analysis of the best available data.


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Ontario ticket takes Friday night’s $50 million Lotto Max jackpot – CTV News

January 18th, 2020

TORONTO — A single winning ticket was sold in Ontario for the $50 million jackpot in Friday night’s Lotto Max draw.

The draw also offered two Maxmillion prizes of $1 million each, but neither were won.

The jackpot for the next Lotto max draw on Jan. 21 will be approximately $12 million.

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Weekend weather: Batten down the hatches, the snow is coming – Ottawa Citizen

January 18th, 2020

Total amount of snow could be between 15 to 20 centimetres across the region, before it slows down on Sunday morning.

A snowplow clears Beatrice Drive following a winter storm in Ottawa on February 13, 2019. Errol McGihon / Postmedia

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for Ottawa and the surrounding area. The snow should begin in the early afternoon Saturday and continue into Sunday.

Snow, heavy at times, will reach areas west of Ottawa near noon then spread east across remaining areas this afternoon. The total amount of snow could be between 15 to 20 centimetres across the region, before it slows down on Sunday morning.

Environment Canada warns, “rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow. Take frequent breaks and avoid strain when clearing snow.”

Saturday’s high temperature is expected to reach –13 C, but with a windchill that will make it feel like –24.

Gusting winds of 40 km/h will reduce visibility, particularly Saturday evening.

The snow should taper Sunday morning with an additional 2 cm of snow, making it a perfect day to enjoy all the snow and have some outdoor winter fun.

The National Capital Commission announced that it will open a 2.3 km stretch of the skateway starting at 8. a.m. Saturday between the Pretoria stairs and the Bank St. stairs. 

Just be sure to bundle up, because the will only reach high -9, winds of 20 km/h will have it feeling -16.  

Temperatures will dip down to an overnight low of – 19 C under clear skies.

Monday will be mainly sunny with a high of -11 C with clear skies continuing that night and a low of -20 C.

A mix of sun and clouds are in the outlook for Tuesday, with a high of -8 C and low of -10 C.

Wednesday and Thursday are looking like a mixture of sun and cloud and highs around -3 C.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

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Blizzard conditions in Newfoundland, prompt state of emergency in St. John’s

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Newfoundland and Labrador reeling in the wake of monster blizzard – CTV News

January 18th, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — States of emergency, as well as blizzard and storm surge warnings, remained in effect in parts of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador early this morning.

The intense snowfall that buried St. John’s and many other communities bringing them to a standstill on Friday slowed overnight, and according to Environment Canada was expected to end later this morning.

But with more than 70 centimetres of new snow on the ground in some areas, and strong winds still piling up drifts and creating white out conditions, roads were likely to remain treacherous.

There have also been widespread power outages. Overnight Newfoundland Power said its crews were working to restore electricity for about 21,000 customers.

The City of St. John’s, as well as several nearby communities, declared states of emergency late Friday morning, ordering businesses closed and all non-emergency vehicles off the roads.

A statement issued by the City of St. John’s this morning says the state of emergency “will remain in effect until further notice.”

At the peak of the storm, which some described as being like a blizzard in a hurricane, even snowplows were pulled off roads due to near zero visibility conditions. However, plowing operations in St. John’s resumed overnight.

Air traffic in the region was also shut down yesterday, and all but a handful of flights at St. John’s International Airport remained cancelled this morning.

Municipal officials have advised residents of St. John’s to prepare emergency kits with enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours.

Authorities have also been urging residents to keep in contact with elderly neighbours and to continuously stay in touch with people if travelling in case of an emergency.

Digging out from the monster storm is likely to take several days, if not longer, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tweeted that the federal government stands ready to help Newfoundland and Labrador “if needed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020.

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Newfoundland reeling in wake of monster blizzard that buried St. John’s – CTV News

January 18th, 2020

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Environment Canada has ended a blizzard warning for the St. John’s, N.L., area this morning but a state of emergency and storm surge warning remain in effect following a monster storm that buried the city.

The intense snowfall that brought St. John’s and many other communities to a standstill on Friday slowed overnight and according to Environment Canada was expected to end later this morning.

Blizzard and storm surge warnings remain in effect in other areas of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador including Bonavista Peninsula, Bonavista North, and Bay of Exploits.

But with more than 70 centimetres of new snow on the ground in some areas, and strong winds piling up drifts and creating white out conditions, roads were likely to remain treacherous.

There have also been widespread power outages. Overnight Newfoundland Power said its crews were working to restore electricity for about 21,000 customers.

The City of St. John’s, as well as several nearby communities, declared states of emergency late Friday morning, ordering businesses closed and all non-emergency vehicles off the roads.

A statement issued by the City of St. John’s this morning says the state of emergency “will remain in effect until further notice.”

At the peak of the storm, which some described as being like a blizzard in a hurricane, even snowplows were pulled off roads due to near zero visibility conditions. However, plowing operations in St. John’s resumed overnight.

Air traffic in the region was also shut down yesterday, and all but a handful of flights at St. John’s International Airport remained cancelled this morning.

Municipal officials have advised residents of St. John’s to prepare emergency kits with enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours.

Authorities have also been urging residents to keep in contact with elderly neighbours and to continuously stay in touch with people if travelling in case of an emergency.

Digging out from the monster storm is likely to take several days, if not longer, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tweeted that the federal government stands ready to help Newfoundland and Labrador “if needed.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 18, 2020.

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Record-smashing blizzard holds eastern Newfoundland in grip – CBC.ca

January 18th, 2020

Much of eastern Newfoundland remained in the grip of a stunning blizzard Saturday morning, although wickedly high winds that had racked the island were subsiding. 

Officials pleaded with residents to stay inside and off roads, which were so dangerous that even government plows could not cope with a record-setting onslaught. 

The blizzard brought 76.2 centimetres of snow to St. John’s International Airport, although other areas — including in the city itself — reported more. The 69 centimetres that fell by late Friday beat a record for a one-day snowfall that had stood since February 1894. 

Blizzard warnings remained in place at 5 p.m. NT for the Avalon Peninsula, although they were lifted for the Burin Peninsula. 

A state of emergency remains in effect in St. John’s and in numerous other municipalities. The order means that businesses must close, and vehicles must stay off roads. 

Some snowplows are back on the roads after being taken off for safety reasons in the height of the storm, but they have a massive task ahead of them.

A storm surge warning also remains in effect for the northeast coast of Newfoundland, which covers scores of coastal communities. 

All flights in and out of St. John’s International Airport are cancelled.

Cars in downtown St. John’s appear submerged amid a blizzard that swept across eastern Newfoundland Friday and early Saturday. (stephmarietee/Twitter)

John Norman, the mayor of Bonavista, said strong waves managed to reach the third floor of his home around 11 p.m.

“I assumed being one of those residents being close to the water I’d hear something … but to hear it go over your roof and rain down over your roof, it’s quite something,” he said.

“It seemed like a hurricane, with snow.”

Norman said residents must stay inside, despite the snow tapering off.

“There is no way for us to rescue someone if they go out … There is just no way to launch a search party right now.” 

A pedestrian walks through heavy snow in St. John’s on Friday as blizzard conditions worsened. A state of emergency remains in effect in the region. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

‘Roofs blowing off houses’

Dean Foley, platoon chief for the St. John’s Regional Fire Department, said crews required a snowplow escort to respond to each call it could handle. Snowblowers were also used in some cases. 

“We’re getting roofs blowing off houses, people trapped in their cars — an assortment of everything, I’ll say,” said Foley. 

High winds and proximity to the ocean meant that sea salt was leading to dangerous situations with pole fires. “The salt is gathering on the poles, and sparking up some fires on the poles,” he said. 

Snowplows with the Department of Transportation and Works received more than 100 requests for help as of Friday evening.

Private snowplow operator Shawn Roche has been attempting to clear commercial lots since Friday morning.

Snow drifts reach half-way up two-storey homes in St. John’s centre. (Mike Rossiter/CBC)

He said it took 35 minutes to go a single kilometre.

“I wouldn’t even looking at venturing out until at least tonight, maybe tomorrow,” Roche said. “I looked at the on ramp to Peacekeepers Way and a plow when through it. The plow got stuck and I’m stuck in behind him.” 

Roche said the snow is unlike anything he has seen in many years, and suspects it will take a long time to clear up the snow.

“To put a cow path through, it will take all day.”

157 km/hr wind gusts

CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said wind gusts in St. John’s were estimated to have hit 157 km/h at peak. She said estimates were being used because instruments may have stopped recording data. 

Before dawn, wind gusts had subsided, but were still over 100 km/h. Brauweiler said winds will continue to fall during the day. 

About 16,000 Newfoundland Power customers were without power through the night. 

Power has been knocked out in pockets from St. John’s to Grand Falls-Windsor, including all of Bell Island, large swaths of the capital city and neighbouring towns.

“Severe weather conditions and impassable roads currently preventing our crews from safely accessing storm-related outage areas,” a Newfoundland Power advisory said Saturday morning

Firefighters asked people in the historic neighbourhood of the Battery in St. John’s around 8 p.m. Friday to evacuate after an avalanche of snow smashed into a home, sending heavy snow through the building. An update is expected later today.

Man still missing in storm

As the storm continues, a family in a rural area in Conception Bay is searching for their missing son. Josh Wall, 26, left his Roaches Line home to walk to a friend’s house at 12:30 p.m. on Friday, and has not been heard from since. 

He later told his parents he was going to visit a friend in Marysvale, and decided to leave on foot around 12:30 p.m. after he couldn’t get a taxi.

A few hours later, Wayne Wall tried calling his son on his cellphone, but it went straight to voicemail. He later learned that Josh Wall sent his location via his cellphone to his friend in Marysvale, with a note saying he was lost and his phone’s battery was about to run out of power.

Snow plow operator Shawn Roche attempted to get on the highway, but got stuck behind a Transportation and Works snow plow. (Shawn Roche.Facebook)

His last known location was on a backcountry path through the wilderness, and Wayne Wall said his son is not familiar with the area.

Josh Wall was wearing a heavy winter jacket and a warm hat, mittens and boots. But it’s not believed he was wearing snow pants.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador 

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Sanders vs. Warren: This Week in the 2020 Race – The New York Times

January 18th, 2020

With less than three weeks to go before the Iowa caucuses, tensions escalated between two of the leading Democratic candidates and were on display on national television at a debate in Iowa.

We’ll catch you up on this and other moments you may have missed from a very busy week.

For almost a year, Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts had a tacit nonaggression pact. But not anymore.

The trouble started last weekend with the publication of a script that volunteers on the Sanders campaign had been using, telling voters that Ms. Warren appealed to “highly educated, more affluent people” and brought “no new bases” to the party. Then, on Monday, Ms. Warren said that Mr. Sanders had told her in a private meeting in December 2018 that he did not believe a woman could win the presidency — a claim Mr. Sanders vehemently denied.

The disagreement came to a head on Tuesday. During the debate in Iowa, the two senators had a brief, relatively cordial exchange in which Mr. Sanders again denied making the remark and Ms. Warren pivoted to a broader point about women’s “electability.” But afterward, as the candidates were mingling onstage, Ms. Warren confronted Mr. Sanders directly.

Late on Wednesday, an audio recording revealed what she had said: “I think you called me a liar on national TV.” Mr. Sanders responded that they should talk about it another time, and then said that it was Ms. Warren who had called him a liar.

While that conflict between Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren dominated much of the outside discussion, the debate itself — the seventh of the race — focused on many other things.

It was the smallest debate yet, with six candidates: Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., former Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind., Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and the former hedge fund executive Tom Steyer. Among the major topics of discussion were foreign affairs, President Trump’s trade policy, climate change and — once again — health care.

Mr. Trump’s dealings with Iran, including his decision to order the killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, were the focus of the first part of the debate. All of the candidates onstage agreed that Mr. Trump had mishandled the situation, but as our colleague David E. Sanger wrote, they were more vague about their own diplomatic approaches and under what circumstances they would use military force.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey ended his presidential campaign on Monday. “I got in this race to win,” he told supporters, “and I’ve always said I wouldn’t continue if there was no longer a path to victory.”

Mr. Booker had pitched himself as a positive, unifying candidate — a posture that did not resonate with the Democratic base. Recent polls showed him between 1 and 3 percent, and he did not qualify for the last two debates.

His departure leaves only one black candidate in the race: Deval Patrick, who entered very late and is struggling to reach even 1 percent in polls.

The Senate opened an impeachment trial on Thursday for just the third time in United States history. For daily updates, you can sign up for a newsletter from our colleagues in Washington.

The start of the trial meant that the four senators in the Democratic race — Ms. Klobuchar, Mr. Sanders, Ms. Warren and Michael Bennet of Colorado — were forced to leave the campaign trail less than three weeks before the Iowa caucuses.

  • While the senators have not dwelled publicly on the trial’s campaign-related implications — Ms. Warren has said repeatedly that some things are more important than politics — there is no denying the timing is bad. Our colleague Stephanie Saul checked in on how they’re framing their absence from Iowa.

Ms. Warren released a plan on Tuesday to cancel student loan debt by executive action. Essentially, this is an extension of the student debt proposal she released months ago — a more aggressive way of enacting the same policy, which would cancel up to $50,000 in debt for about 95 percent of borrowers.

She argues that existing laws give the Education Department the authority to cancel federal loans as well as to issue them, and released a letter from lawyers at Harvard Law School’s Legal Services Center that supported her interpretation. Ms. Warren said she would instruct her education secretary to begin canceling debt on her first day in office, and “to amend any regulations or policy positions necessary to get there.”

The proposal “will require clearing a lot of red tape,” she wrote. “But let’s be clear: Our government has cleared far bigger hurdles to meet the needs of big businesses when they came looking for bailouts, tax giveaways and other concessions.”

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Why Iran plane disaster protests mark most serious test yet – BBC News

January 18th, 2020
Iranian protester confronts policeman in Tehran (11/01/20)Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many have been angered by the government’s actions over the plane crash

The latest anti-government demonstrations sweeping Iran arguably pose the most serious challenge to the administration of any in its 40-year history.

In recent years, Iran has seen two major surges of opposition – in 2017 (late December) and 2019 (October and November). Both were fuelled by poor economic situations and sharp hikes in fuel prices that hurt the lower middle class and poorer families the most.

This time, demonstrations broke out after the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) admitted it had shot down a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 176 passengers and crew on-board after three days of strong denial.

Unlike the 2017 and 2019 protests, and those of 2009 which were triggered by disputed presidential elections, this week’s demonstrations started off from universities and spread quickly across many cities around the country.

The initial story by the officials in Tehran was that the plane crashed as a result of engine failure. Iran’s aviation authorities even claimed it was impossible that the plane could have been targeted by anti-aircraft missiles.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFootage shows missile strike on Ukrainian plane in Iran

The official version had too many flaws and emerging evidence also suggested otherwise. Videos that Iranian citizens had filmed and shared on social media showed a missile hitting the aeroplane right before it crashed. Later CCTV footage emerged from nearby security cameras that showed the plane was actually shot twice, which explained why the pilot lost contact with the airport minutes before the crash.

Although foreign leaders implied the plane had most probably been downed by missiles rather than engine failure, it was the IRGC’s delayed confession that sparked the subsequent demonstrations.

On Friday – a day or two after the Islamic Republic held official burial ceremonies for some of the victims – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led the weekly prayers in Tehran.

The last time he did so was eight years ago, after most of the region was engulfed by the Arab Spring. On this occasion, he devoted most of his prayer speech to his top general, Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike, and to Iran’s retaliatory missile attack on a US base in Iraq.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The killing of Iran’s top commander brought many Iranians out in a show of solidarity

He mentioned the plane crash and paid condolences to the families of the victims but he did not apologise nor place responsibility on the IRGC, which reports directly to him.

Ayatollah Khamenei said there were ambiguities in how the plane had crashed and thanked the IRGC for the explanations it had provided in recent days after accepting responsibility.

Cracks on the inside

The crowds that took to the streets this week, unlike in previous demonstrations, were formed mostly of middle and upper-middle classes whose anger was mainly driven by what they saw as humiliating incompetence that killed so many innocent civilians – mostly Iranian dual nationals – followed by a series of bizarre lies and made-up excuses that officials had produced about the cause of the crash.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionProtests outside Amir Kabir university, calling for resignations and accusing officials of lying

In years and months gone by, the Islamic Republic has been able to quash unrest by blaming the country’s poor economic performance on US sanctions, and by using excessive force that left many killed or injured. The establishment has also been successful in unifying its ranks and filling the gaps between them against the demonstrators, but this time cracks have started to appear on the inside.

The leader’s speech did not provide many answers to what has angered the people. The government has distanced itself from any responsibility for the plane crash.

President Hassan Rouhani has called for a full investigation and says those responsible will face retribution. There could actually be an opportunity for him here, with the IRGC, a powerful rival for his authority, in trouble.

But he and his government are not in the clear either. President Rouhani’s government stood by the IRGC, until it finally accepted responsibility.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionIranian students refuse to walk over US and Israeli flags

His government repeated the false claim that engine failure was the reason for the crash. His government and himself as the head of Iran’s National Security Council are also under heavy criticism for not closing down airports during the hours after Iran fired missiles in response to the killing of Soleimani.

For demonstrators on the streets, though, it does not really seem to matter which officials say what anymore – their demands have gone beyond the ranks of the establishment and they are directly asking for the leader himself to resign.

Now the question is whether this event can bring demonstrators who were angered by the economic situation and those who are incensed by the administration’s lies about such a tragic event closer together.

Image copyright Alamy

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Why Iran plane disaster protests mark most serious test yet – BBC News

January 18th, 2020
Iranian protester confronts policeman in Tehran (11/01/20)Image copyright AFP
Image caption Many have been angered by the government’s actions over the plane crash

The latest anti-government demonstrations sweeping Iran arguably pose the most serious challenge to the administration of any in its 40-year history.

In recent years, Iran has seen two major surges of opposition – in 2017 (late December) and 2019 (October and November). Both were fuelled by poor economic situations and sharp hikes in fuel prices that hurt the lower middle class and poorer families the most.

This time, demonstrations broke out after the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) admitted it had shot down a Ukraine International Airlines Boeing 737-800 with 176 passengers and crew on-board after three days of strong denial.

Unlike the 2017 and 2019 protests, and those of 2009 which were triggered by disputed presidential elections, this week’s demonstrations started off from universities and spread quickly across many cities around the country.

The initial story by the officials in Tehran was that the plane crashed as a result of engine failure. Iran’s aviation authorities even claimed it was impossible that the plane could have been targeted by anti-aircraft missiles.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFootage shows missile strike on Ukrainian plane in Iran

The official version had too many flaws and emerging evidence also suggested otherwise. Videos that Iranian citizens had filmed and shared on social media showed a missile hitting the aeroplane right before it crashed. Later CCTV footage emerged from nearby security cameras that showed the plane was actually shot twice, which explained why the pilot lost contact with the airport minutes before the crash.

Although foreign leaders implied the plane had most probably been downed by missiles rather than engine failure, it was the IRGC’s delayed confession that sparked the subsequent demonstrations.

On Friday – a day or two after the Islamic Republic held official burial ceremonies for some of the victims – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei led the weekly prayers in Tehran.

The last time he did so was eight years ago, after most of the region was engulfed by the Arab Spring. On this occasion, he devoted most of his prayer speech to his top general, Qasem Soleimani, who was killed by a US drone strike, and to Iran’s retaliatory missile attack on a US base in Iraq.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The killing of Iran’s top commander brought many Iranians out in a show of solidarity

He mentioned the plane crash and paid condolences to the families of the victims but he did not apologise nor place responsibility on the IRGC, which reports directly to him.

Ayatollah Khamenei said there were ambiguities in how the plane had crashed and thanked the IRGC for the explanations it had provided in recent days after accepting responsibility.

Cracks on the inside

The crowds that took to the streets this week, unlike in previous demonstrations, were formed mostly of middle and upper-middle classes whose anger was mainly driven by what they saw as humiliating incompetence that killed so many innocent civilians – mostly Iranian dual nationals – followed by a series of bizarre lies and made-up excuses that officials had produced about the cause of the crash.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionProtests outside Amir Kabir university, calling for resignations and accusing officials of lying

In years and months gone by, the Islamic Republic has been able to quash unrest by blaming the country’s poor economic performance on US sanctions, and by using excessive force that left many killed or injured. The establishment has also been successful in unifying its ranks and filling the gaps between them against the demonstrators, but this time cracks have started to appear on the inside.

The leader’s speech did not provide many answers to what has angered the people. The government has distanced itself from any responsibility for the plane crash.

President Hassan Rouhani has called for a full investigation and says those responsible will face retribution. There could actually be an opportunity for him here, with the IRGC, a powerful rival for his authority, in trouble.

But he and his government are not in the clear either. President Rouhani’s government stood by the IRGC, until it finally accepted responsibility.

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionIranian students refuse to walk over US and Israeli flags

His government repeated the false claim that engine failure was the reason for the crash. His government and himself as the head of Iran’s National Security Council are also under heavy criticism for not closing down airports during the hours after Iran fired missiles in response to the killing of Soleimani.

For demonstrators on the streets, though, it does not really seem to matter which officials say what anymore – their demands have gone beyond the ranks of the establishment and they are directly asking for the leader himself to resign.

Now the question is whether this event can bring demonstrators who were angered by the economic situation and those who are incensed by the administration’s lies about such a tragic event closer together.

Image copyright Alamy

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Harry and Meghan: A ‘polarizing’ announcement spawns endless speculation – CBC.ca

January 18th, 2020

Hello, royal watchers. This is your biweekly dose of royal news and analysis. Reading this online? Sign up here to get this delivered to your inbox every other Friday.


More than a week after Prince Harry and Meghan dropped their royal bombshell, speculation has in many ways only intensified about how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex will chart their own course outside the upper echelons of the Royal Family.

What will they do? How much of their time will actually be spent in Canada? Where will they live? Who will pay for their security? What sorts of immigration and taxation situations will arise around them?

“I think one of the reasons there is so much media coverage of Harry and Meghan’s decisions is because so many of the details have yet to be established,” said Carolyn Harris, a Toronto-based royal author and historian.

“In some ways, if the announcement had been delayed until some of these details had been finalized, then perhaps we’d be seeing less speculation.”

It’s an announcement that Harris describes as “very polarizing.”

In some corners, there has been sympathy for the couple over the critical coverage they have received in the British press. People remember Harry at the age of 12, mourning the death of his mother, Diana, “and understand his feelings regarding certain elements of the British press and why he’d want to get away from them,” Harris said.

Prince Harry is a step ahead as Prince Philip, left, Prince William, Earl Spencer and Prince Charles walk together behind the carriage carrying the casket of Diana, Princess of Wales, in London on its way to her funeral at Westminster Abbey on Sept. 6, 1997. (John Gaps III/The Associated Press)

Others may be looking at it from the perspective of Harry’s grandmother, Queen Elizabeth, and how there would have been the expectation that both Harry and his brother, William, would have been doing more and more public duties as time passed.

“It’s clear from the Queen’s announcement that she’d hoped he’d stay as a senior member of the Royal Family,” said Harris.

But that is not the path Harry and Meghan want to follow.

There is also much uncertainty about just how Harry and Meghan can achieve their stated goal of financial independence as they move to develop their own brand — particularly in the long term.

In the short term, however, the power of that brand is “quite a lot,” said Mark Borkowski, a British public relations expert. 

“How to maintain it is going to be difficult. They’re going to have to rely on a lot of friends to provide them with some of the stuff gratis — homes and whatever.”

Meghan sipped Tetley tea and spent more than an hour with shelter managers and front-line workers during a visit to a women’s shelter on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Jan. 14, 2020. (Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre/Facebook)

Security issues for them are mind-boggling, Borkowski said. 

“I’m sure they can raise a lot of money for charities. I’m sure the foundation could be powerful, but I don’t think it will give them the lifestyle money, and the further they get away … they lose that royal sheen.”

For Harris, the most significant outstanding question is what Harry and Meghan intend to do during their time in Canada.

“We’ve seen that Meghan’s undertaken some charitable work — she’s visited Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” Harris said, pointing to Meghan’s first public spotting since she returned to Canada after the announcement.

“Will we see them [doing] a regular round of charitable engagements, and taking on more Canadian patronages, or will these public appearances be exceptions in an otherwise more private life during their time here?”

Public interest in what they intend to do ties into the question of who will pay for their security, Harris said.

Will Harry and Meghan undertake public appearances while they are in Canada? Harry was front and centre during the Invictus Games in Toronto in September 2017. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press)

“If they do have some kind of a public role here, there might be more support for a public funding of their security compared to if they plan to live almost entirely privately here.”

However Harry and Meghan may hope to bolster their brand, there is a sense the past week has not been a stellar one for the brand of the House of Windsor.

“It has stirred so much negativity for the Royal Family, the royal brand,” said Borkowski.

The Royal Family, he said, has “managed to get over these things.” But getting over this one may not happen in the near future.

“I’m sure they’ll be looking around to create some sort of event or some sort of moment to put some excitement back, but I don’t see it in a hurry. I don’t see anything in a hurry.”

Putting down royal roots

The Prince’s Lodge rotunda on the Bedford Highway in Halifax was built by Prince Edward — the Duke of Kent — when he lived in Halifax in the 1790s. (CBC)

Wherever Harry and Meghan end up living while they are in Canada, they won’t be the first members of the Royal Family to put down roots on this side of the Atlantic Ocean — even temporarily.

The first royal resident of any significant duration arrived long before Canada’s Confederation. 

Prince Edward, the fourth son of King George III and the father of Queen Victoria, lived in and near Quebec City and in Halifax in the 1790s. 

But the experienced military man wasn’t thinking in terms of a permanent residency.

“He had an extended time here, but he always knew that time would come to an end even if he reached the rank of commander in chief of the British North American forces,” said Harris.

Still, there is the sense he enjoyed his time here.

“He found the social life was much more informal and he was able to appear in public with his mistress, Julie de St. Laurent,” said Harris.

“He found it to be quite a change when he returned to Britain and there were clear social barriers to Julie de St. Laurent being his partner in a public manner in the way she had been during his time in Canada, where she was clearly acting as a hostess.”

Edward, Prince of Wales, centre, helps with the roundup at the Bar U Ranch near High River, Alta., in September 1919. After his visit there, he bought his own ranch nearby. (National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)

More than a century later, another Prince Edward — the one who went on to become King Edward VIII before his abdication — bought a ranch in Alberta. And it seems he had a great fondness for the property he purchased south of Calgary in 1919, especially in the early years of his ownership.

“He wrote to his mother that this was real life and he started describing himself in his speeches as a westerner when he was in the West, and as a Canadian,” said Harris. “That was pioneering in many ways for a member of the Royal Family to describe themselves as a Canadian when they were in Canada.”

WATCH | Could Harry and Meghan make B.C. their home?

Mille Fleurs, a mansion in North Saanich, B.C., is believed to be where Prince Harry and Meghan vacationed and where the duchess is currently staying 0:35

Still, Edward’s ranch caused some worry back home with his father, King George V, Harris said. His concerns focused on the possibility that it might seem one dominion — Canada — was being singled out and Edward could face pressure to buy land elsewhere, such as a farm in the Australian outback or a house in South Africa.

A similar pressure might arise for Harry and Meghan, Harris suggested, “pressure not necessarily to purchase property, but to spend more time in other Commonwealth realms.”

What about the media?

The cameras were ready and waiting for Prince Harry and Meghan on the grounds of Kensington Palace after the announcement of their engagement on Nov. 27, 2017. (Toby Melville/Reuters)

Amid the speculation about the reasons behind Harry and Meghan’s decision to step back, much has been said about the coverage they have received in the British media, particularly from the tabloids.

Can living part-time in Canada really insulate them from that?

Not necessarily, or perhaps not completely, even if their media experience while they’ve been in Canada has been relatively tame in comparison. 

Harry and Meghan were front page news in the U.K. on Jan. 9, 2020, after announcing their plans to step back from their role as senior members of the Royal Family. (Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)

The British tabloid press has a unique history, said Borkowski. 

“It won’t take long for an ambitious freelance unit to be set up [in Canada] … feeding not just the British press but the international press. Someone’s going to make a lot of money from them moving to North America.”

Readers share their views

Several Royal Fascinator readers say they would welcome Harry, Meghan and Archie spending some time in Canada, but they don’t want taxpayers to foot the bill for their security. (Toby Melville/Getty Images)

Readers of The Royal Fascinator were eager to share a wide range of views on the events of the past week. Several were willing to welcome Harry and Meghan to Canada, but not to see their tax dollars pay for their security. 

Here is a brief selection of comments and edited excerpts from messages readers sent. 

“Although I can understand Harry and Meghan not wanting to live under old world rules, would the Canadian taxpayer really have to pay for their security? They are financially very well off. And as much as they seem to be a lovely young couple with an adorable baby boy, they should be paying for their own security. We have enough going on in Canada without having to pay for wealthy runaways who supposedly want anonymity!” — Pat King, Toronto.

“I do believe, being a royal fan/follower since I was a little girl, that Harry and Meg should be able to decide on their own how their lives should be lived and where. I understand the monarchy protocols, but Harry is so far down the line now that if he wants to gain financial independence with his wife and child, then so be it. One would hope that the monarchy will work out the plan that works well for all. Being a Canadian, I can’t help but be biased…. We would love to see them move here — the land of nice!” — Tina Forbes, Hamilton-Niagara area

“I am probably in the minority but it was wonderful not seeing Meghan and Harry for six weeks. When you put someone like Harry together with a strong, narcissistic personality like Meghan, it is a matter of time before the less strong person is dominated. Meghan comes from the liberal state of California who firmly believe their opinions are the only right ones…. If William was level-headed and sincere in his talk with Harry about rushing to marry Meghan and Harry went on a tirade of silence, shame on immature Harry. I firmly believe Meghan is the catalyst of the entire bad feelings, damaged brother relations, etc. Harry, William and Catherine made an awesome team.” —  Kathleen Norris

“I do hope they can have a wonderful life and continue their good work.” — Pam Harrison

Sign up here to have The Royal Fascinator newsletter land in your inbox every other Friday.

I’m always happy to hear from you. Send your ideas, comments, feedback and notes to royalfascinator@cbc.ca. Problems with the newsletter? Please let me know about any typos, errors or glitches.

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