The Effects of Food Shortages in Canada

Canada is dealing with a number of problems regarding gas prices, a dysfunctional supply chain, and lumber prices, but the topics of food prices and food shortages are living in the minds of Canadians day in and day out. Canada’s annual rate inflation reached record high numbers last month, with statistics Canada showing no sign of costs flattening due to the disruption in Canada’s supply chain. In August, consumer prices were up 4.1%, however by September, consumer prices reached 4.4%. Statistics Canada is estimating the consumer price of goods could reach 4.8% by the end of the year if the supply chain entering Canada isn’t taken care of.

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The cycle of panic buying to constant food shortages shows in the prices. Food prices rose 3.9% this year alone compared to what it was in August at 2.7%

Prices for dairy products, meat products, and grains rose significantly during the pandemic reaching all time highs in September. Fresh vegetables were the only food to reduce in price this year. Pork, fresh seafood, and chicken have all increased dramatically in price. Prices for Bacon jumped 20% since 2015. Oils and edible fats rose 18.5% since January 2009. Consumers are looking for alternative and cheaper means to put food on the table, including buying from farmers/farmers markets, buying non-perishables, and buying food only when it’s on sale.

The hardest hit group, suffering the most loss are young adults. Many young people living on their own or with a loved one are struggling to pay the countless expenses on their plate. Many young adults are having to temporarily move back in with relatives to afford the cost of living in the Greater Vancouver area. “Saving where you can will be the biggest help along with budgeting your earnings.” is what one lady exclaimed when asked what action people can take to stay afloat. Consumers must transition from normalcy to a more frugal lifestyle for the time being.

The Implementation of Vaccine Passports in Ski Resorts

Winter is upon us and that means snow, and what better way to enjoy the weather than with a trip up to the mountains for some skiing and snowboarding. Mountains across B.C. are opening up to the public with early snow falls in the forecast. However there is a catch. To many this may not come as a surprise but it is notable nonetheless, the majority of skiing and snowboarding resorts will be asking their patrons for proof of vaccination. When you get to the resort or entrance to the slopes, employees will be asking to see your vaccine passport along with a piece of identification.

Pexels / Pixabay

The process is similar to when you go to a restaurant or movie theatre. Masks are required on the mountain in specific areas including dining areas or gondolas. Grouse and Revelstoke Mountain Resort require you to wear a mask during the lift up the mountain. Social distancing will be implemented at all resorts during ski lift lineups and on the ski lifts themselves. Two is the magic number, cutting the max capacity in half to ensure safe travel. These restrictions will inevitably slow down skiers and snowboarders from getting back up the mountain, but a little precaution can go a long way.

The proof of vaccination rule isn’t in effect yet for some resorts, but will be enforced by the end of the month. Grouse Mountain, and Whistler Blackcomb are asking for proof of vaccination on the 8th of November, while Revelstoke will put the ruling in effect on the 27th. Kids under 12 do not need a vaccine passport to enter the resort and ride the slopes. Stay safe out there and hit the slopes.

Deadly Concert in Texas Deters Show Goers in Vancouver

On Friday night, what was supposed to be a night to remember turned into a disaster when 8 people died and 11 were injured at a concert in Houston, Texas. The multi-Grammy award winning performer, Travis Scott, kicked off his long awaited AstroWorld Tour that night with over 100,000 people in attendance. From the get go, trouble was brewing when the crowd started surging back and forth knocking over concert goers. Attendees doubled the venue’s capacity, overwhelming staff and security hired for the show. Dehydration amongst patrons became extremely apparent half way through the show when people started passing out. Lack of oxygen, and exhaustion also played a big factor in the crowds’ wellbeing. Once patrons fell, many were trampled by the ever-growing, constant moving crowd.

Pexels / Pixabay

People attending the show as young as 14 years old died and were seriously injured from a combination of the factors listed. However a larger danger, creeping in plain sight, took the lives of three innocent show goers on Friday. A man wielding a needle full of what is suspected to be fentanyl, started injecting people with the highly toxic drug, including a security guard helping those who had passed out. Thankfully medical staff were able to administer Narcan

Due to this whole fiasco, concert goers preparing for a fun time in their city are second guessing the safety of their events. Playboi Carti, a famous rapper from Atlanta is performing at the PNE Amphitheatre on November 15th. Some people attending are unsure how safe the venue will be compared to the Texas concert. One person is coming prepared, saying they’d bring water if allowed, but would gladly buy water at the venue to stay hydrated. Periodic breaks, and fresh air are also precautions concert goers are planning on taking to ensure a safe but fun experience.

Ground Travel to the United States is Back

Over a year after the borders closed in March of 2020 the Canadian, U.S. borders are reopening for all essential and non-essential ground travel. This comes at the perfect time for families living on opposite sides looking to get together for the holidays, but reuniting with your friends and family will come with a hefty price. Although Canadian citizens have free reign to cross the border, the COVID-19 tests are deterring people from making the commitment to travel abroad. Additionally, the rising prices of gas, food, and shelter on both sides of the border are playing major factors into the hesitancy travelers are experiencing.

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To travel across into the U.S. Canadian residents are expected to submit a COVID-19 test within 72 hours of travelling confirming the traveler isn’t sick. These tests can cost a single person $150 to $200. On top of these expenses, a tank of gas will run you $80 to $100 one way. The trip back is worse, averaging around $500 per person to get a COVID-19 test to return to the country. If you factor in conversion rate and other expenses, the cheapest trips across the border will cost you upwards of $1,500 per person. Compared to an average trip before the pandemic, the trip is definitely not worth the money and effort. 

The uproar of unhappy Canadians has caught the attention of the chief public health officer of Canada, Theresa Tam. In a statement she made Friday, she brought to light the concerns of the exorbitant prices of a single COVID-19 test, detailing she believes it’s unfair to Canadians to pay such a high price for something that was once very affordable. Tam is in the process of deciding whether or not the COVID-19 test will become redundant, when Christmas time approaches.

Attempted Robberies and Theft Hit a Local Burnaby Liquor Store

The past few months have been rough for a local business in Burnaby after a succession of attempted robberies and theft left the store owners with thousands of dollars in damages and limited ways to combat the burglars. The Hop & Vine liquor store on Burnwood drive is no stranger to having eccentric people come in and out of their doors. The Hop & Vine is connected to a pub creating a hotspot for college students, blue collar workers, and sports fans. However The Hop has attracted some new, unwanted attention as of recent.

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Last month During the early hours of the morning, a man was caught on camera kicking the back door of the store. His kicking broke the lock holding the door exposing the freezer door inside. The man quickly shuffled 6 or so boxes of wine and spirits to his car and drove off. The boxes of liquor were estimated to cost upwards of $3,000. Damages done to the door and the interior of the store cost the owners around $500 to repair. The alarm was set off and authorities were notified of the break in, but the burglar has yet to have been caught. Nara Kim, the co-owner of the Hop & Vine said she was quite upset, exclaiming she couldn’t believe the length the man went to, to steal the alcohol.

More recently, a man tried stealing bottles of wine through the locked gate at the front entrance of the store. The man reached through the bars with a trash grabber, lifting the bottles off the shelf, but inevitably dropped around 5 bottles on the floor before being escorted out of the building. Thankfully pub staff working at the time heard the clashing of bottles hitting the floor and investigated the sound.

The owners aren’t discouraged in the slightest, rebuilding and renovating the Hop & Vine with strong doors, locks, security cameras, and a better alarm system. Kim communicates with staff and the other owner on a regular basis to ensure everything is going to plan. She is taking every precaution to guarantee a safe work environment from here on out.

The Drug Epidemic Sweeping Across Canada is Raising Major Concerns

In the past decade, Canada has seen a surge in drug abuse and overdoses the likes of which we have never seen before. Opioids, methamphetamines, and fentanyl have become a common occurrence within inner city and lower income areas. East Vancouver to Thunder Bay, drugs have taken over a society of once lively people. 17 Canadians everyday were hospitalized for opioid overdoses .The rate of opioid overdoses in men between 25 and 44 increased 30% between 2016 to 2017 and only seems to keep growing as federal and provincial governments scramble to contain the problem. 

Alberta has reached a griming realization regarding the drug abuse taking place in their province. Alberta has reached a record high of deadly drug overdoses, claiming the lives of four Albertans everyday. Since May of 2020 the drug problem in Alberta has been on a steady incline, with an increase of overdose deaths by 45%. Since then more than 100 Albertans have died each month. The data shows that the deaths are coming from all demographics. Men, women, children, teenagers, and elders are all at a severe risk of overdose. Data from Global News says the people most at risk are men ages 35 to 39, making up three-quarters of overdose fatalities. Critical opinions coming from opposing parties directed towards The United Conservative Party (UCP) are fast to remind them there are programs and life-saving solutions that could be implemented into Alberta’s Provincial government. Doctors on the frontlines of the overdose crisis are criticizing the UCP for botching the efforts to combat overdoses. 

“We know that we have a very toxic drug supply on the streets right now and so they need to do drug testing, they need to make sure that there is a safe supply. And they need to be expanding supervised consumption sites.” 

– Lori Sigurdson, NDP, Former Alberta Minister of Labour

Sigurdson added the UCP needs to expand supervised consumption sites in Alberta. Cities such as Vancouver have implemented supervised consumption sites to create a safer environment for drug users and ensure drugs don’t contain fentanyl.

Pixabay / stevepb

Doctor Bonnie Larson, a Calgary family physician, spoke out against the UCP’s lack of measures taken to stop drug overdoses. Larson suggests decriminalizing drugs for the public. By decriminalizing drugs the government can regulate the use of drugs and ensure they don’t contain poisonous chemicals. Underground markets for opioids wouldn’t be able to survive with the supervised drug consumption.

“Not just overdose prevention, but getting at the core of stigma — which is criminalization of drug use. We need to talk about this, at least have conversations about this.”

Doctor Bonnie Larson, Calgary Family Physician

Alberta isn’t the only province fighting to keep opioids out of vulnerable hangs. B.C. is also suffering a drug crisis. 2017 data from Global News shows Vancouver is leading the country in opioid poisoning hospitalizations. Kelowna is also a hot zone. The hospitalization opioid overdose rate in Kelowna is 52.8 per 100,000 when adjusting for age. Victoria, Abbotsford and Mission are also getting struck with abnormal numbers of overdoses making B.C. the leading province of opioid overdose and hospitalizations.

Recently the RCMP are uncovering a large drug trafficking operation, infiltrating the lower mainland. Investigations are still taking place. Officers are still following leads, but are attributing the flood of drugs into the lower mainland to gang conflicts. Following an RCMP investigation into the drug-trafficking network, police raided three homes, one in the 12600 block of 97 Avenue, another in the 11700 block of 96A Avenue, and another in the 13400 block of Central Avenue. The RCMP seized a variety of items including 2.5 kilograms of fentanyl, 500 grams of cocaine, 250 grams of bulk benzodiazepines, several kilograms of buffing agents and paraphernalia for mixing, cutting and packaging drugs. Cellphones, ammunition, and around $14,000 in cash were confiscated by officers during the raids.

A statement put out by Sgt. Glenn Leeson with Surrey RCMP’s drug unit recalled the events that took place on Oct. 3rd.

“This drug seizure is significant as not only has it disrupted a drug trafficking network with ties to the Lower Mainland Gang Conflict, there are now 25,000 potentially fatal doses of fentanyl off our streets.”

Sgt. Glenn Leeson, Surrey RCMP’s drug unit

Pixabay / rebcenter-moscow

The war against drugs in the lower mainland started even earlier. Late September, Surrey RCMP busted a Clayton Heights home and seized 29 kilograms of magic mushrooms from a clandestine grow-op. Officers started their investigation Sept. 6 when a carbon monoxide alarm was set off at a private residence in the 700 block on 196th street. 

Officers were able to obtain a search warrant allowing Surrey RCMP and Clandestine Lab Enforcement and Response (CLEAR) Team to conduct a 2-day investigation inside the house. One woman was arrested along with the seizing of 11kg of dried psilocybin, a potent psychedelic found most commonly in magic mushrooms and 18 kg of wet magic mushroom. Surrey RCMP believe 6,200 doses worth of magic mushrooms were confiscated.

“There are risks when consuming illegal substances such as Psilocybin Mushrooms as they are not regulated so the potency and effects can vary significantly.”

– Sgt. John Murray, Surrey RCMP Drug Unit

Sgt. John Murray added that any use of magic mushrooms or psychedelic substance is still extremely illegal in the lower mainland and across B.C.

The unregulated market of opioids, fentanyl and other solicited drugs are taking hold of Canadians nationwide. Provincial governments are trying their best, implementing new ways to combat the ever growing force of drug abuse. For many it feels as if the governments on a provincial scale are either throwing everything at the problem and seeing what sticks while others are turning a blind eye to those who are in desperate need of care. Many are debating whether the federal government needs to step in and call a state of emergency to get more eyes on the situation.  But all in all “too little too late” is the phrase many are using to describe what horrors are being brought upon major population areas.

A Breakdown: The Collapse of The Global Supply Chain

For those of you still processing last year and can’t believe Halloween is right around the corner, it might be worrying to think that Christmas and the year 2022 is only a couple months away. For anyone thinking about doing your last minute Christmas shopping on amazon or at the mall, may not be informed on the collapse of the supply chain coming into Canada. The repercussions of the collapse has led to a country-wide shortage of supplies, and skyrocketing prices for food, gas, and big ticket appliances. Sadly the situation is unfolding at a rate faster than the recovery efforts to get it under control, leaving store shelves empty. Many are holding out from buying while others are stocking up, unsure whether prices will drop anytime soon.

Looking at this situation from an outside perspective will most definitely put you on edge, so to better understand the Canadian supply chain we must take a deep look into how our food, electronics, appliances, etc. get to the store shelves.

Taking you back to the middle of the 2020 pandemic, during the breakout of COVID-19, many if not all Canadians were stuck inside with nothing to do. Closures of restaurants, stores, and other services were simultaneously closed, with the exception of essential services. People instead spend their money on tools, workout equipment, cooking appliances, and other manufactured items. Many scared Canadians panic bought food, and essentials, uncertain to what extent the lockdown would last. The shift from buying services to manufactured goods took place on a global scale, putting manufacturers in a tight spot. 

Pixabay / mkaylani

Exports from China alone contributed to 28.7% of the world’s exports of manufactured goods. This accounted for nearly $4 trillion of China’s overall economic output in 2019. Exports from all of Asia went up 15% within 2 years since the start of 2019. Now with the flood of manufactured goods, boats are being halted at harbours, sitting at sea. The diminished workforce severely damaged by the pandemic isn’t able to operate at full capacity slowing down deliveries. In short, there are too many goods and not enough workers.

Shortages of workers isn’t the only thing slowing down the supply chain. Shipping containers are in short supply attributing to the ever growing global traffic jam. Containers packed full of  exported goods from Asia were promptly sent over to Europe and North America during the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Moving ahead just a couple months, these same steel containers lay on the harbours and docks empty with no possible way of getting them back to Asia. While Asia sent over goods across seas, countries such as our own were still in the process of implementing strict COVID-19 restrictions, meaning sailors were out of a job for the foreseeable future, cancelling most return trips of the containers. The lack of communication between countries and the stubbornness of others, broke the balance of imports and exports. The pile up of containers has caused a butterfly effect, creating disorganization, loss of product, and crowding in the harbours, stopping ships from dropping off their load. 

Truck drivers, mail distributors, and other workers that contribute to the supply chain have lost incentive to continue work in their previous fields. Prices for food and gas have jumped, leaving many questioning whether it’s worth the effort. Wages since 2017 have been stagnant while cost of living has increased about 9% according to Statistics Canada. Blue collar workers aren’t willing to spend more money than what they bring in. People are still relying on government cheques and funding programs. Vaccine mandates are still getting backlash from an alarmingly high rate of workers in Canada. Vaccine mandates requiring those working must be fully vaccinated have been attributed to hesitancy in the workforce. Many feel the vaccine mandates encroach on their freedoms while others do not have the resources to get the vaccine. All in all there is a disconnect between government and workers creating a stalemate where no one can come out on top.

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Strapped with time, people working aboard the ships are frantically trying to combat the overcrowding of containers and the constant exports from Asia and neighbouring countries. However this rushed approach comes with its down sides. On Oct 27th, 40 containers were dropped into the ocean near Cape Scott in B.C. The cargo carrier caught on fire when a handful of containers caught on fire while entering north Vancouver Island. The ship was carrying over 52,000kg of a highly flammable chemical called potassium amyl xanthate. Investigators attribute the cause of the fire, but do not know for certain what had ignited the chemicals. Goods such as appliances, food, and even the steel containers themselves are washing up on shores around Vancouver. Gillian Oliver, the advanced planning unit leader with the coast guard put out a press statement encouraging people who see containers and waste floating up on shore to report your sightings to the coast guard or local law enforcement. The coast guard has contained the fire, but smoke on the ship is still prevalent. Officials say the smoke could be coming from within containers carrying tires. 

There are many key points in the supply chain that are accredited to the worldwide backup of manufactured goods. From truck driver shortages, to crowded docks, and rising costs, the supply chain is broken in many sections. These problems may seem quite removed from your life as a consumer of these goods but you play an important role in all of this. As a consumer you dictate the demand of products. Producers of these products must react to the demand of consumers and supply them with the appropriate amount of goods. At this point we as consumers need to slow down the supply of products, by deliberately considering what products we need. We must prioritize our needs over our wants. Or just maybe, just maybe, save your money.

At this point there is no clear solution to fix the supply chain. The damage done is too severe to undo what we’ve already done.

“I think probably at some point halfway through 2022, we’re going to see some resolution.”

Laurie Tannous, special advisor to the Cross-border Institute, University of Windsor

Three Affordable Christmas Gift for the Holidays

You may or may not have heard of the recent collapse of the supply chain. If you aren’t aware, the world is experiencing a global traffic jam of goods coming from Asia into North America, Europe, and other neighbouring countries. Prices for products are climbing and goods are taking longer to get to the store shelves and your front porch. If you haven’t started Christmas shopping yet, you should have started weeks ago. At this point in time, if you were to order an item from any online store, it is projected that you would receive that package in the new year. Don’t fret though, alternatives to the usual Christmas gifts you get off of Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart aren’t as far of a stretch as you’d think, but some may take a little more effort than just clicking a few buttons.

My family has slowly moved from caring about quantity over quality to quality over quantity. The past couple years my family has toned down on the festivities of Christmas. The effort for us to set up decorations and dress up was too stressful for all of us to handle. This will be the first year we won’t be putting up the tree. Don’t get my family and I mistaken, we love Christmas as much as the next gingerbread house making, Christmas caroling, winter wonderland enthusiast, but that type of celebration does not mesh with the type of lifestyle we are accustomed to. On Christmas day we have a big breakfast, then everyone gets one or two presents. After that we do as we please for the rest of the day till dinner time. Everyone takes part in making dinner. We believe the day should be spent with family so we make room to do that.

Pixabay / JillWellington

The list of gifts I have compiled are easy to obtain, cost effective, and embody the spirit of Christmas. Since you’ve been stuck inside with your family for so long, you should know what they like. Right? However gift giving shouldn’t be judged solely on the monetary value the gift holds but instead by what emotional weight it holds. I can’t deny receiving a car or a new game for Christmas is a great feeling, but for some that isn’t realistic. To commercialize your holiday experience blocks you from enjoying the full extent of Christmas.

My first gift suggestion to all those looking to give an affordable but meaningful gift to a loved one is a photo album. A collection of memories one could say. It could be a specific moment in time you want to capture, or a book capturing that person’s life. I like the thought of a photo album because of the strong nostalgic feeling it can give to the person receiving it. 

Last Christmas my Dad, my brother, and I gave my Mom a photo album filled with pictures of her when she was growing up. We took photos from her parents photo album and scanned them onto photo paper, pasting them and decorating them into a book. She was so delighted to see the pictures of herself that she hadn’t seen in years. We also labeled the photos with the date and location of the picture. It was a great experience learning more about my Mom. It’s sometimes difficult for people to open up about what their life was like as a teenager or young adult with no incentive to. The process of making the photo album and then giving it to that person opens up a door to great conversations and stories. I found that I related to my Mom more than I expected after she told my brother and I stories related to the pictures. I definitely recommend making a photo album. It shows that a little effort can go a long way.

Pixabay / Pexels

The Second gift I would suggest to anyone who wants to impress their loved ones but also hit them right in the heart strings is a visual memory bank. This past year my grandparents played a big part in getting my family through lockdown. Making food, calling us almost daily to check to see how we were doing, and much more. They were the backbone of our family during a scary and depressing time. My cousins decided to repay them with a mini video story detailing how much they meant to us and telling the story of their marriage. My cousins had us all over for dinner on my grandparents anniversary to show the video. It was a very emotional moment for the whole family. I realized in my family we never told one another how much we mean to each other. This video hit the nail on the head and set the mood for the rest of the night. It was the most lively dinner we had to date, laughing and connecting with each other. Although this gift wasn’t given during Christmas, it would undoubtedly fit perfectly as one. 

This last gift is so simple but brings so much joy to the ones you give it to. Food and snacks have become the staple to any good gift among my friends and family. Every year my brother and I give each other a couple snacks and favourite foods. It’s surprising how excited he gets when he looks inside his stocking to find it full of food. My friends and I hold a secret Santa draw every year and snacks are always on the table for eligible gifts. No one is disappointed to find out their secret Santa got them food for Christmas.

Hopefully by now you are planning on following one of my gift ideas or creating your own. There are plenty of more gift ideas, you just have to put in a little more effort. Don’t limit yourself to what is advertised to you on the screens of your devices. Overall the holidays are for spending time with loved ones and showing your appreciation for all they do. Gifts are just the icing on the cake.