By the SqueezeTO team
As younger Canadians finish school, begin careers, and start homes and families, we are squeezed by lower wages, higher costs, less time and a deteriorating environment, even though Canada’s economy produces more wealth than ever before.
While governments use this wealth to adapt policy for others, including our aging population, they continue down a path that leaves less for younger generations. It’s time to engage all generations in a productive conversation about how to build a better generational deal that works for all. Below we provide some tips, facts and ideas for how to start that conversation.
Before the meal: Gather the facts
The Generation Squeeze campaign brings people together to build a powerful organization to speak for younger Canada. Not because there is any need to work against the interests of our parents and grandparents, but because we can’t build a better generational deal before we build equal political clout.
The squeeze tightens when starting a family. Families can lose up to $15k in household income after their baby is born, even with parental leave benefits. Plus, child care services are hard to find and often cost more than university.
There’s a generational spending gap in Canada. Governments spend around $45k annually per retiree compared to $12k per person under age 45.
Canadians barely reduced CO2 emissions per person since 1976, so generation squeeze and their children are inheriting the cost of environmental change.
In 1976, on average, Canadians age 25-34 worked 5 years to save a 20% down payment on their home. Today it takes 10 years.
Today, younger Canadians work and study more to have less. Their earnings have dropped by 11% since 1976, even though they are twice as likely to have post-secondary education.
While the economy doubled since 1976, average wealth for Canadians aged 25-34 fell 41%. At the same time, average wealth grew 176% for those aged 55-64.
Source: “15 Fast Facts about Gen Squeeze.” More info at http://gensqueeze.ca/resources/. If you want to come equipped with a 3 minute video summarizing the facts, check out http://bit.ly/whatisgensqueeze
The appetizer: How to begin the conversation
Try one of these opening lines…
“Lately, I’ve seen a lot of news articles talking about generational differences. I’ve been thinking more about some of the issues facing people under 45, and I wanted to know what you think.”
“I recently learned about this campaign called Gen Squeeze that is trying to create more public dialogue in Canada about generational equity. They talk about how younger generations are getting squeezed for time, money and services.”
“I think younger generations today are having a harder time than they are given credit for. Did you know that...”
The main course: Keeping the conversation on track
Having a conversation about the generation squeeze doesn’t have to be hard. Here are some tips for keeping the conversation productive:
- Focus on how things are different today: the global economy doesn’t feel so certain, unemployment is high, people have to get more education, both parents have to work to support a family, child care is expensive, climate change is a real threat and challenges our lifestyle, etc.
- Talk about your friends and other young people you know. Be specific; tell stories; talk about friends who had to move back home after graduating, or who are underemployed. Talk about friends who have delayed having children or decided not to for financial reasons.
- Avoid a food fight - it’s about dialogue, not blame. We need older generations to understand our perspective, even if they don’t agree with us. If people do draw on generational stereotypes to make their point, just direct them back to the facts, and the experiences of you and your peers.
Some questions to ask family members from older generations:
- What were some of the things you and your peers struggled with when you were my age?
- How much did you have to pay for a down payment on your first home? How long did it take you to save for that?
- How do you think things are different for young people today than when you were my age?
- What do you think some solutions are? How could government and civil society help reduce the squeeze?
Brendon Goodmurphy, Ashleigh Dalton, Gabe Sawhney and Nico Koenig designed the Turkey Talk idea as part of their organizing in Toronto. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks to local leadership like theirs in cities and towns across the country, Generation Squeeze is building political clout to reduce the time and money squeeze on younger Canadians, and to promote a prosperous future for all generations.
For more information about the campaign, visit http://gensqueeze.ca. Our political clout grows with the size and diversity of the network we build together. Join us now to help reduce the squeeze.