Year in Review 2015: The Top 10 Business Stories

Airbnb house trashers used fake credit cards to fuel party

#10 Airbnb got its fair share of good and bad press this year. In May, a Calgary couple arrived home to find that their house, which they’d rented to strangers on Airbnb, had been used for a drug-fuelled orgy. Bummer. In October the house-sharing platform announced it would be rolling out a new level of insurance for hosts. It’s adequate timing, given that Quebec and Ontario are rounding out the process to officially regulate Airbnb.

Tim Hortons

#9 Despite giving employees the impression they shouldn’t worry, the newly Burger King-owned Tim Hortons began the year with a stack of pink slips. The company maintained that the 350 layoffs, predominantly at headquarters and regional offices, were within commitments made to Industry Canada when the initial takeover took place, to keep a certain number of jobs at the franchised levels for five years.

Photo illustration of logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone over a reserved lane for taxis in a street in Madrid

#8 Despite widespread contempt, Uber continued its plans of domination in Canada. While Edmonton taxi drivers protested in light of city council plans to impose a vehicle-for-hire bylaw the Insurance Board of Canada pushed some provinces to allow ride-sharing coverage. In Toronto, council asked city staff to develop new rules to include ridesharing amongst taxi bylaws signaling a collective realization that ejecting Uber from Canada is a sisyphean task.

McDonald's Responds to Burger King's McWhopper Proposal

#7 File under: PR stunt gone wrong. In late August, Burger King waved a white napkin to nemesis McDonald’s via an open-letter-style-ad, asking the brand to join them in a nod to Peace day by combining efforts to create a McWhopper. McDonald’s clever, albeit ruthlessly belittling response included gems like: “We love the intention but think our two brands could do something bigger to make a difference” and “let’s acknowledge that between us there is simply a friendly business competition and certainly not the unequaled circumstances of the real pain and suffering of war.”

Amanda Lang's new show
#6 In January, media critic Jesse Brown released an exposé that CBC’s chief business correspondent and host of The Exchange Amanda Lang tried to squash a story by colleague and investigative reporter Kathy Tomlinson about RBC replacing Canadian workers with temporary foreign workers. Lang, who had taken paid speaking gigs from RBC allegedly tried to discredit the story about the scandal. In March, a CBC review board concluded that she’d met journalistic standards but by October, Lang announced she was leaving CBC for another role.
Future Shop is no more

#4 In March, Best Buy-owned Future Shop shuttered 66 of the Canadian tech staples stores and converted another 65 to Best Buys. In addition to effectively erasing the chain from the minds of gadget-fetishizing Canadians, the move eliminated an estimated 500 full-time and 1,000 part-time jobs. But it seems to be business as usual in the evolving (read: struggling) retail landscape. Last year U.S. retail giant Target, Sony Canada, Boutique Jacob Inc. and Mexx all shut their doors.

A worker affixes a road sign to the intersection of Bay Street and Adelaide Street in the financial sector of Toronto
#3 Another non-surprise: the Toronto Stock Exchange, a key barometer of the country’s economy was also one of the top searched items of 2015. With the Canadian economy slipping into a recession the first half of the year, the TSX’s S&P/TSX composite index is forecast to end the year in the red, its first loss since 2011. Oil and gas companies, which account for about a fifth of the index, have slipped 25 per cent and mining stocks have lost half their value. (Reuters)
A Canadian dollar coin, commonly known as the "Loonie", is pictured in this illustration picture taken in Toronto

#1 The Canadian dollar’s appearance as one of the highest searched items in the financial category this year is hardly shocking. We wish we could say it carried the drama of the Jays series but the truth is, since the price of crude oil fell sharply in 2014, the dollar followed, shimmying to lows not seen since 2004. At the start of 2015, the Loonie was worth US$0.86 and as of mid-November it’s been hanging around the US$0.74 mark. The main culprit? Oil prices. But there’s and upside – it gives us wiggle-room to improve.


The year proved to be more of an ellipsis at the end of 2014’s “to be continued” with economic indicators like the Loonie and the TSX following momentum from the previous year and brands like Target, Future Shop heading out the door while the next generation’s Airbnb and Uber continued to push their way in. We take a look at the year’s top searches in the finance realm. -- By Andrew Seale