Brendon helped launch the Generation Squeeze campaign in Toronto with three other young organizers in 2014. He is an urban planner by training, and currently works in public policy.
Talk to any young person under 45 in Canada today, and they will most likely have a story to share about how they are feeling squeezed in today’s economy.
In fact, things look remarkably different today than when our parents were younger. Here are some of the ways that younger generations are being squeezed.
Housing costs – Average housing prices in Ontario have skyrocketed from about $215,000 in 1976 to more than $400,000 in 2013 (after adjusting for inflation), but full-time earnings for the typical 25-34 year old dropped by around $2,000 a year. Many young people are questioning if they’ll ever own a home; but average rents have also increased.
Precarious work – Many young people are working temporary, part-time jobs with no security or benefits. Others are underemployed or unemployed and feel pressured to take one of the estimated 300,000 unpaid internships in Ontario to boost their resume. The real youth unemployment rate in Ontario is 22.3%, which includes those who don't want to be working part-time, and those who stopped searching altogether.
Tuition debt – More than two-thirds of Canadians ages 25-34 have post-secondary degrees, compared to 30 percent a generation ago. And students pay more for this privilege. Compared to 1976, Ontario undergrad tuition costs have increased by $4,824/year, after adjusting for inflation. That’s almost $20,000 more for a typical four-year degree.
Time with family – Despite the fact that the share of women (aged 25-44) in the labour force has increased from 59 percent in 1976 to 80 percent today, household incomes have barely budged in that same period – up only 8 percent for the typical young couple. The result: young families are working a lot more for not much return, leaving less time to spend at home with the kids.
Child care – The generation raising young families today must find ways to pay for child care, which often costs more than university tuition, if they can even find a space. The average cost of child care for an infant in Ontario is $1,152/month, which is often equivalent to another rent or mortgage payment each month.
Environmental debt – Today’s youth are going to have to shoulder the crushing environmental debts that we are accruing as governments continue to fail to address important issues like climate change. The International Energy Association has consistently ranked Canada as one of the worst per capita polluters of carbon dioxide since 1976.
These issues are taking a toll on older generations too as youth are forced to move back home or find themselves unable to care for their aging parents.
We should be working as a community, province and country to mitigate the squeeze on younger generations. But we’re not. Governments spend just $12,000 on benefits and services per Canadian under 45, compared to nearly $45,000 for every retiree.
Will young Ontarians be squeezed out of the budget?
The Ontario government is set to release its 2014 budget on May 1st. Will the budget do anything to ease the squeeze on young people in this province?
When I asked my friends and colleagues, they were skeptical. Like so many younger people they feel disconnected from what’s happening over at Queen’s Park and many have stopped paying attention.
The problem is that the more we ignore our governments, the more they’ve gotten used to ignoring us. This has left many of us believing that our experiences aren’t legitimate policy concerns.
Share your stories – how are you being squeezed?
But there is something we can do. Generation Squeeze is a national campaign that’s building a powerful voice to represent the needs of younger generations in Canada.
Leading up to the release of the Ontario budget, Gen Squeeze wants to start a province-wide conversation about the ways younger generations are feeling squeezed. So, share your story – how are you feeling squeezed?
- Tell us which issues are affecting you most in the comments section below.
- Share this post on Facebook.
- Tweet @GenSqueeze, and tell us how you think the Ontario budget could ease the squeeze on younger people #ONpoli #easethesqueeze
You can also help Generation Squeeze build a voice for younger generations by signing up at www.gensqueeze.ca.