The top stories and trends that defined the past decade in Canada

"The last decade in Canada has been one of seismic social changes. We've changed how we talk about gender, global politics, drugs and what it means to be a Canadian.

Here's how the discourse has evolved around several topics that define this country and the people who live here:

OPIOIDS

The addiction epidemic started with the over-prescribing of opioids near the start of the decade and worsened with a supply of synthetic street drugs like carfentanil and fentanyl, which only need tiny amounts to trigger a deadly overdose.

"The opioid crisis is without a doubt the single biggest public health crisis of our generation," said Benjamin Perrin, the author of "Overdose: Heartbreak and Hope in Canada's Opioid Crisis," a book set to be released next year about the epidemic.

Recent figures from the Public Health Agency of Canada show nearly 14,000 people have been killed by opioids since 2016, and Perrin said approximately one person dies from an overdose every two hours.

In an interview with The Canadian Press earlier this month, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau vowed to do more to combat the crisis, including creating more supervised consumption sites and giving doctors more authority to prescribe alternatives to street drugs.

However, he said that decriminalizing all drugs isn't the 'panacea' to the crisis.

REAL ESTATE



Home prices have more than doubled since the start of the decade, outpacing income by a large margin and putting home ownership out of reach for many young people in two of Canada's biggest cities, says John Pasalis, president of real estate site Realosophy.

Back in 2010, Pasalis estimates housing prices in Toronto were about five times more than average yearly income, whereas now they're roughly eight times more. He said the situation is similar in Vancouver.

"Today's generation of first-time buyers is battling with sky-high rents and a market that is a lot harder to get into than ten years ago," said Pasalis. "It's harder to save and it's harder to get into the market."

Market control measures from governments have had mixed impact. Pasalis said in Toronto, a mortgage stress test led more people to buy condos and vastly inflated their pricing. In Vancouver a foreign buyer's tax has softened the market, but prices there are still sky-high.

THE TORONTO RAPTORS

Madness appeared to spread across Canada over the Raptors' 2019 playoff run. When the Raptors started their finals series against the Golden State Warriors, thousands of people across the country crowded into dozens of outdoor screenings.

But it took much of the decade to build such fanfare — after all, in 2011 the Raptors finished with the second-worst season record in the Eastern Conference.

General Manager Masai Ujiri made gutsy moves towards building the team, firing head coach Dwane Casey and to sending DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio in a trade that got Toronto the superstar that is Kawhi Leonard.

The Raptors' feverish playoff following indicates that basketball is beginning to rival hockey as the nation's most popular sport, said Laurel Walzak, a sport media assistant professor at Ryerson University.

But the lasting memory will be of the Raptors' playoff run, and more than a million fans celebrating their championship in Toronto in June.

"I don't think this can ever be repeated in any sport moving forward. This was a true uniting of global fans and a true uniting of Canada," said Walzak."

Click here to read the full article by Salmaan Farooqui for the Canadian Press.

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