Aging populace, rapid growth will put pressure on services

The changing population of the Greater Toronto Area, as outlined in a Statistics Canada census report widely covered in Toronto media, will put new strains on social services in the region, according to two York experts.

  • A front-page story in the Toronto Star July 18 focused on Brampton, which bucks the national trend towards aging communities and has the GTA’s youngest median age. "Brampton has become a point of entry for South Asian immigrants who don’t stop first in Toronto; they come straight to Brampton with its entry-level housing and low-paying jobs in the big-box stores," said Roger Keil, director of The City Institute at York University and a Faculty of Environmental Studies professor. "But many of these communities are not prepared to deal with the social problems of growth; they have no infrastructure or services like those that have been long established in Toronto."
  • With more boomers settled in Toronto suburbs, there will need to be a greater emphasis on seniors’ services in those regions, said Valerie Preston, a geography professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, in a story in The Globe and Mail July 18. "It’s not just things like nursing homes we have to think about; it’s a wide range of services, if people are going to be more active when they age," she said. If the experience of aging changes – the new 60 is not the 60 of days yore, Preston says – then services will have to adapt. "In terms of what the impact is, there’s a lot of uncertainty."
  • Statistics Canada projects that within a decade seniors could outnumber children younger than age 15, noted The Toronto Sun July 18. "Seniors today are healthier than ever and living longer, so in terms of health care we need to be cautious and look carefully at how people are aging and we will need different services than the current population of that age," Preston told the Sun.

"Services for seniors are very uneven. We may need to look at services in geographic areas as to what we need and where it’s located," she said. "Places like downtown Toronto, Etobicoke and Scarborough may be different compared to York [Region], which we know doesn’t have enough services."

Pump price dips below $1

A welcome dip in gasoline prices has motorists in the Greater Toronto area filling their tanks, but the price break may not last for long, oil industry observers say, according to the Toronto Star July. Price wars among neighbouring gas stations may also help keep prices low for a time, but observers say that prices are not fluctuating much during the day – a sign that supplies are still tight.

"We’re still in a situation where we don’t have any daily price cycles," said Bernie Wolfe, director of the international MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University. In a typical cycle, gas prices are highest at midnight, decline for the morning rush hour and then continue to fall throughout the day. Drivers who fill up in the evening tend to get the lowest prices. "(Gas stations) are not doing that at the moment. Supplies are still tight. By not discounting during the day, they have fattened their bottom lines," Wolfe said.

Fixing Canada’s pot laws  

Ottawa needs to fix long-standing loopholes and inconsistencies in Canada’s marijuana laws to help the justice system contend with a surge of court cases resulting from the Conservative government’s new zeal for enforcement, legal experts say, according to a Canadian Press report July 18. Those familiar with the intricacies of the law say it remains vulnerable to the argument that Canada’s medicinal marijuana program renders it unconstitutional. "Every time a judge calls into question our marijuana laws, it undercuts the legitimacy of the law," said Alan Young, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and veteran of the long-standing debate about marijuana, its medicinal benefits and decriminalizing its possession.

Securities enforcement lacks teeth, say experts

Canada’s securities law enforcement system has failed in three years to bring any major cases to trial – including that of Conrad Black – and needs significant improvements before it will carry any weight, legal experts say, according to a Canadian Press report July 18.

In the past few years, Canada has poured $120 million into an RCMP securities enforcement project with nine teams across the country. But it won’t be successful, critics say, unless it follows five recommendations from a widely-cited recent report co-authored by former Supreme Court Justice Peter Cory, now chancellor of York University, and Marilyn Pilkington, a professor at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. Cory and Pilkington said the RCMP Integrated Market Enforcement Teams, which also include civilian financial experts, have so far not accomplished much.

Tactical matches lie ahead at World Cup

With their dazzling skills it’s easy to overlook that Argentina has conceded just one goal in the Under-20 World Cup, said the Toronto Star July 18. Pretty impressive, right? Except their Chilean opponents tomorrow have allowed one less through all five matches.

"This particular tournament, there’s been some parity there," said Paul James, York University’s director of soccer and an analyst for GOL TV. "Somebody like Austria that’s well organized, very disciplined in their approach, they’re physically well prepared and have really good team chemistry.”

Durie’s dream comes true

Here’s the line on Andre Durie‘s CFL career so far: One touchdown, one paralyzed leg overcome, one seemingly impossible dream fulfilled, wrote the Toronto Star July 18. He’s touched the ball only twice as an Argonaut and likely won’t get his hands on it again this Saturday when, if he suits up at all, he’ll be in a special teams role when Toronto plays at Calgary.

But the Mississauga native’s determination has authored an inspirational story that even he once believed could never happen. When Durie, inserted as a running back late in Toronto’s win over the Stampeders last week, scampered 33 yards for a touchdown it was a moment that, as he put it, "seemed like a dream that I’d never be in."

And, really, how could the 25-year-old ever have allowed his imagination to tease in that way? Sure, maybe it seemed like a realistic fantasy when he was a star running back at York University, setting school records with his explosive speed and breathtaking moves. Even a shot at the NFL might have been within his grasp. But not after his knee was ripped apart in 2005 on a play that left his left leg paralyzed for a year.  

While Durie’s story is heartwarming, coach Mike Clemons said the team has to exercise caution with a player who has come a long way in a short time. It appears Jamel White and Jeff Johnson (BA Spec. Hons. ’02) will be the starters in the backfield Saturday.

  • The Argos are dealing with a worsening injury situation at running back where Jamel White (concussion) and John Avery (knee) are questionable, wrote the National Post July 18. Duties could fall to one of two York University products – Jeff Johnson or Andre Durie.

Three, two, one – commence bragging

It took John Criswick (MSc ’94) less than a week to make his decision. It was something he had always wanted to do, reported The Globe and Mail July 18. Never mind that it cost $200,000 to get there. He would go to space. "I like to have a little bit of risk and not be able to predict what’s going to happen," said the 43-year-old CEO of Magmic Games, an Ottawa-based company that publishes and develops games for cell phones and BlackBerrys. "It’s not just about the launch. A bunch of things are going to happen to me between now and then because of it."

Criswick is one of four Canadians who have signed up for Virgin Galactic’s trips to space, slated to start in late 2009 or early 2010. Worldwide, almost 200 people in 30 countries have signed up for the 2½-hour trip to the final frontier.

To finance his trip, Criswick will use the fortune he made in 1998 when Sun Microsystems bought his company, Beduin Communications, which designed software for consumer electronics. The Vancouver native worked as a software developer on a telescope that was eventually launched in 1991 aboard a US spacecraft. That research led to a master’s degree at York University. He tried out for the second Canadian astronaut competition but didn’t make it because, he jokes, "I didn’t have enough PhDs."