Platform Analysis: Intergenerational Budgeting
Gen Squeeze's analysis of the 2019 federal election platforms as they relate to intergenerational budgeting
This analysis is current as of October 15, 2019 and doesn't reflect announcements made since then. Expect a final update before general voting day.


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Table of Contents

 

Introduction


This election, Generation Squeeze is undertaking a rigorous assessment of federal party platforms and commitments on four key issues: housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and generational fairness in public finance.

Our mission: to help voters better understand how far each party's platform goes towards actually solving big problems facing young people today.

Instead of simply listing party promises, our assessment attempts to make meaning of those promises, individually and in aggregate, by:

  • Publishing a comprehensive, evidence-based policy framework for addressing each issue, beginning with a clearly stated goal

  • Translating each framework into a set of key criteria

  • Assessing the degree to which each major party’s platform addresses the key criteria. The resulting analysis includes:

    • Criteria table and scoreswhere party platforms and commitments are given a score based on the extent to which they meet the stated criteria
    • Detailed commentary that explains how a score was assigned, as well as the assessed strengths and weaknesses of each commitment.

For the 2019 federal election, Gen Squeeze is focusing our analysis on the four major parties who began the race with at least one MP who was elected as a representative of that party, and who are running a national slate of candidates. This includes the Conservative Party, the Green Party, the Liberal Party, and the New Democratic Party. 

Gen Squeeze does not aim to tell you who to vote for, or to portray any party in an inherently favourable or unfavourable light.

Read more about our detailed methodology here.

Intergenerational Budgeting Policy Framework


The following framework for intergenerational justice in public finance has been developed in the Generation Squeeze Lab at the University of British Columbia, with support from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant titled “Budgeting for all generations.”  The framework has been peer-reviewed, and published in the journal Intergenerational Justice Review. Scholarship that contributed to the development of this framework was recognized by the BC Confederation of University Faculty Associations when it selected Dr. Kershaw for its distinguished academic honour of “Academic of the Year” in 2016. Learn more about our framework design here.   

Gen Squeeze Intergenerational Budgeting Framework:


Scores


We've translated our intergenerational budgeting framework into 9 key criteria. Parties are assigned up to one point for their platform's response to each, as outlined in the following table. The full scoring methodology is described below. 

Note for mobile/smartphone device users: The table below may not display properly on your smartphone screen. If the table appears to be cut-off, please return to this page on a desktop/laptop computer. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Criteria used to assess party platforms

Party scores

  CPC  GP  LPC  NDP 
CLEAR GOALS AND PRINCIPLES        

Commits to budgeting fairly for young and old alike, by acknowledging the importance of advancing "intergenerational equity" in public finance (because we're all in this together). At its core this means adapting to the needs of different age groups in public finance much as we do in our own families: when a child or elder in our own family needs our help, we act urgently to address it; when there are choices to make about family finances we try to make those choices in ways that fairly assess each member's ability to contribute, that don't unfairly burden some family members over others, and that set the entire family up for prosperity over the long-term.
0 0 0 0
         
INVEST FAIRLY        
Action to keep age spending ratios fair, specifically the ratio of social spending on Canadians 65+ to those under 45, estimated by adding together all spending on old age security, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, and medical care for seniors and comparing it to the total spending on childcare, parental leave, postsecondary and family income supports for younger Canadians. We recommend that a fair benchmark is for spending on younger Canadians to increase at least half as fast as spending on aging Canadians (over the last four decades, Canadian governments have increased social spending for retirees 4 times faster than for Canadians under 45, even though younger Canadians earnings have remained stagnant and costs for things like housing have dramatically increased).*  0 1 0 0
*Since this criterion poses a specific ratio, we are evaluating platforms in terms of whether they do, or don’t meet the criterion. No half points are given.        
         
RAISE REVENUE FAIRLY 
       
Action to rebalance taxes on income vs. housing wealth, by which we specifically mean a reduction in income taxes and an increase in housing wealth taxes (of some kind) to acknowledge the massive increase in wealth that has been accumulated by many home owning households.  Much of this wealth has been accumulated due to a "lottery of timing" related to how our age influenced when we entered the housing market. 
-1 0.5 0 0.5
Action to ensure that if pharmacare proceeds, it is paid for in ways that are fair, meaning the revenue plan should be designed to not unfairly burden young Canadians, who are already shouldering an increasing tax burden from escalating medical care costs associated with the aging population, amid trends toward lower tax rates which erode government revenue left over to address key social priorities for younger Canadians like child care, postsecondary, housing, and fighting climate change, etc. 0 -0.5 0 -0.5
         
INVEST MORE IN PREVENTING ILLNESS        
Action to increase spending on illness prevention faster than spending on medical care, because health doesn't start with medical care.  It starts where we are born, grow, live, work and age -- conditions that are shaped by our earnings relative to major costs like housing and child care, and by a sustainable climate.  Money spent on illness prevention yields far more return than money spent on treating people once they're already ill (a.k.a. using medical care).  This means we should be increasing spending on prevention faster than we do on medical care. 0.5 1 0.5 0.5
         
LEAVE FEWER DEBTS        
Action to stop growing per capita debt on young people (Canadians <45), outside of a recession, because the amount of government debt left for each Canadian under 45 today is three times higher than it was when today's Baby Boomers started out as young adults.  -1 1 -1 -1
Action to ensure a high enough price on pollution, by which we specifically mean carbon pollution, because the escalating climate crisis - currently being handed down from one generation to the next - represents arguably the largest debt in the entire history of humankind. And the most recent science shows we have just ~11 years left to avoid irreversibly locking in this debt, assuming the associated tipping points haven't already been passed. By "high enough" we mean a carbon price that increases at least $10/tonne per year and surpasses $50/tonne (noting some estimates suggest an eventual minimum of $100-$150/tonne).  -1 1 0.5 0.5
         
MONITOR AGE PATTERNS IN PUBLIC FINANCE
       
Action to report on age trends annually, meaning commitments to uphold and improve the current federal government approach to monitoring the age distribution and intergenerational impacts of annual budgets. 0 0 0.5 0
Action to assign a government point person to help ensure younger Canadians' needs are addressed as urgently as other groups come budget time, in the form of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary specifically tasked with advancing intergenerational equity in public finance.  0 0 0.5 0
         
TOTAL SCORE (out of a possible 9) -2.5 4.0 1.0 0
Weighted to a total score out of 10 (to more easily compare to other issue areas) -2.8 4.4 1.1 0


Scoring Methodology 


For each key criteria, parties receive a score that ranges from +1.0 to -1.0, assessed as follows:

Assessment Points
No discernible commitments 0
Commitments are somewhat capable of achieving the goal 0.5
Commitments are capable of achieving the goal 1.0
Commitments somewhat undermine progress towards the goal -0.5
Commitments undermine progress towards the goal -1.0


This five-point method was chosen because (a) it’s relatively simple, (b) it's capable of distinguishing between narrow/shallow responses and comprehensive responses to each criteria, especially the criteria that relate to broad policy categories, and (c) it allows us to subtract points where the evidence suggests a particular policy or group of policies put forward by a party is likely to exacerbate the problem/take us further away from the goal.

You can learn more by reading our detailed methodology. 

Detailed Commentary 


Here's a more comprehensive explanation of why Gen Squeeze assigned the scores we did, and the strengths and weaknesses of individual policy proposals.

For each section, we generally begin our commentary with the party we see as having the strongest platform on that criteria and then move to parties we see as having the weakest platform or the least to say.   

Criteria 1: Do the platforms demonstrate a commitment to budgeting fairly for young and old alike?


By acknowledging the importance of advancing "intergenerational equity" in public finance (because we're all in this together). At its core this means adapting to the needs of different age groups in public finance much as we do in our own families: when a child or elder in our own family needs our help, we act urgently to address it; when there are choices to make about family finances we try to make those choices in ways that fairly assess each member's ability to contribute, that don't unfairly burden some family members over others, and that set the entire family up for prosperity over the long-term.


We interpreted party announcements narrowly for this criterion by searching for commitments to “intergenerational equity,” “intergenerational fairness,” etc. as it relates to federal government revenue generation and public spending.  So far, we don’t see evidence that any party has adopted this guiding principle explicitly, and we don’t allocate a point to any party for this criterion at this time. We hope this may change over the course of the campaign.

Criteria 2: Do the platforms include action to keep age spending ratios fair?

 

Specifically the ratio of social spending on Canadians 65+ to those under 45, estimated by adding together all spending on old age security, the guaranteed income supplement for seniors, and medical care for seniors and comparing it to the total spending on childcare, parental leave, postsecondary and family income supports for younger Canadians. We recommend that a fair benchmark is for spending on younger Canadians to increase at least half as fast as spending on aging Canadians (over the last four decades, Canadian governments have increased social spending for retirees 4 times faster than for Canadians under 45, even though younger Canadians earnings have remained stagnant and costs for things like housing have dramatically increased). Since this criterion poses a specific ratio, we are evaluating platforms in terms of whether they do, or don’t meet the criterion. No half points are given.


Liberal Party: The Liberal platform will not receive a point for this criterion.  In the 2019 Liberal budget (p. 289) annual spending on Old Age Security (OAS) will increase $17.3 billion as of 2023/24 compared to 2018/19 (from $53.3 billion to $70.6 billion). During the first part of the campaign, the Liberals have also promised to increase OAS spending by another $2.56 billion annually as of 2023/24. In addition, the 2019 budget plans for health spending to increase by $8.0 billion (from $38.6 billion to $46.6 billion) – half of which goes to Canadians over age 65, who represent less than 20% of the population. The Liberal party has since promised to grow health spending by an additional $1.75 billion/year in 2023/24 beyond the plan announced in the most recent federal budget. We presume roughly half of this new spending will be allocated to Canadians age 65+, in keeping with the current age distribution of medical spending.  

By contrast, the 2019 budget did not accelerate child care investments compared to previous budgets, and Liberal promises about child care during the campaign would so far add $535 million by 2023/24. The 2019 budget will increase family income support via the Canada Child Benefit by $2.2 billion. Parental leave spending inched up $8 million in the 2019 budget, and the campaign promises will add another $1.2 billion (spread across E.I and the Canada Child Benefit). The enhancement to the first-time home buyers plan announced during the election estimates that government costs can be accounted for “within the existing profit of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation”. Support for postsecondary students will rise $687 million according to the 2019 budget, and the party has promised another $1.03 billion in its platform (p.  81).

These investments earmarked for younger Canadians add up to around $6 billion by 2023/24, and they are small in value by comparison with budget increases of around $25 billion forecasted for the aging population. Since 6/25 = 24%, not the 50% called for by this criterion, the Liberal platform receives no point at this time.  

NDP: The NDP will not meet this criterion.  As discussed above in regards to the Liberal Party, the 2019 federal budget already plans for old age security (OAS) to grow $17.3 billion in annual spending by 2023/24 – far faster than other spending areas – and the NDP promise (p. 5) to grow it by another half billion dollars. The NDP platform also promises (p. 4) to invest $11.4 billion in pharmacare, and another $833 million on dental care, on top of the $8 billion increase already planned for the Canada Health Transfer as of 2023/24. While the party clearly signals an intention for pharmacare and dental investments to fill in gaps in medical coverage that will benefit younger Canadians who are precariously employed with limited access to extended health coverage, Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) data reveal that public medical investments disproportionately benefit older Canadians because frailty and illness is more common later in our lives.  Guided by CIHI data, we assume that approximately 45% of medical spending is consumed by Canadians age 65+, compared to 30% for those under the age of 45.  For more information, see this academic study, although we concede that more specific data about the age distribution of new spending on pharmacare and dental care would be useful. In light of currently available information, we estimate that new government investment in the population age 65+ by 2023/24 will be around $27 billion higher under an NDP government.

By contrast, the NDP commitment (p. 3) to child care will be $4 billion in 2023/24. The relief the NDP intend to provide by eliminating interest payments on Canada student loans represents an investment (p. 3) of $542 million in 2023/24, which will augment the $687 planned in the 2019 budget; and the NDP will also invest (p. 3) $531 million to transform some existing loan programs into grants for post-secondary students.  These investments are small by comparison with with OAS and medical increases for the aging population. The same can be said for the expansion to parental leave benefits proposed by the NDP for which we are waiting on clearer cost information. The discussion of a “basic income” in the NDP platform refers to a pilot, which is a modest investment of $25 million in 2023/24, and there is no discussion of the age-related distribution implications of this pilot. For these reasons, the NDP platform currently receives no point for this criterion, because the increase in aggregate spending on Canadians under age 45 is not approaching half of the additional $27 billion in new spending proposed for those age 65 and older, given the information we currently have available.

Conservative Party: Like the other parties, the Conservative platform begins with the existing 2019 budget, and signals ways in which it would change the current plan. As discussed above, the 2019 federal budget already plans for old age security (OAS) to grow $17.3 billion in annual spending by 2023/24 – far faster than other spending areas – whereas spending on child care, parental leave and income supports for families with children are much more modest. So far there is no information from the Conservative party that its platform would disrupt this age distribution in any significant way. It has announced a $603 million increase to spending on seniors by increasing the age credit that shelters income from taxation for those over age 65+. By comparison, the party has promised a children’s fitness tax credit that will deliver $242 million to families with kids, and a children’s art tax credit that will deliver another $56 million to younger Canadians. These promised budget allocations would reinforce the 2019 federal budget that grows expenditures on seniors significantly faster than on younger Canadians under age 45. For these reasons, we assign no point for this criterion at this time. 

Green Party: The Green Party platform is the most difficult to assess, including for the Parliamentary Budget Office, because the Green platform reflects the greatest departure from our current public finance plan. The proposed departures may mean that the Green party achieves greater intergenerational fairness when proposing new spending than the other parties. For example, we know that the Green party (pp. 4-6) is planning to spend $4 billion more on child care as of 2023/24, and the party is proposing free postsecondary, which will cost $9.5 billion more in 2023/24. These expenditures add $13.5 billion to the 2019 budget plan, which would already increase spending on child care, parental leave, family income support and post secondary by around $2.3 billion. The result is a Green platform that would add $15.8 billion in new spending to key policy areas for younger generations by the end of a first term in office.  (In addition, the proposed guaranteed livable income may disrupt the current age distribution trends in public finance; but it is impossible to assess the age implications of this proposal given the limited information that is provided).  

By contrast, the party’s promise (p. 7) to invest $4.5 billion in CPP payments by 2023/24 would add to the $17.3 billion increase already projected for the old age security system (OAS) in the 2019 budget. In addition, the Green party promises (p. 5) to make a net investment of $14 billion to add pharmacare into our single-payer system of medical care as of 2023/24, along with another $2.1 billion to accelerate the Canada Health Transfer, $1.8 billion in dental care, and $1 billion for mental health.  This funding comes on top of the $8 billion increase already planned for the Canada Health Transfer in that year.  Since 45% of medical investments are used by the 20% of the population that is age 65+, we assume the Green party will invest approximately $12 billion (.45*(14+2.1+1.8+1+8) more annually on medical care for the aging population by the end of a full term in office.  This brings the total increase in spending on retirement security and medical care for Canadians age 65+ to $33.8 billion.  

$15.8 billion in spending on younger Canadians is 47% of the $33.8 billion allocated to older Canadians -- in line with our criterion that spending on priority policies for younger Canadians should grow "half" as fast as spending on retirement income security and medical care for those age 65+.  We therefore award a point for this criterion.

Criteria 3: Do the platforms include action to rebalance taxes on income vs. housing wealth?

 

By which we specifically mean a reduction in income taxes and an increase in housing wealth taxes (of some kind) to acknowledge the massive increase in wealth that has been accumulated by many home owning households.  Much of this wealth has been accumulated due to a "lottery of timing" related to how our age influenced when we entered the housing market.


NDP: The NDP platform currently does not mention that many home owners have acquired wealth via escalating home prices, and that such wealth goes largely untaxed when the home is a principal residence. This is a significant omission. The NDP platform (p. 44) does, however, propose to increase the share of capital gains that count for income tax purposes from 50% to 75% -- the rate of inclusion that Canada had in 2000. Among other things, this change would subject capital gains earned from the sale of secondary and vacation residences to higher levels of taxation. In addition, the NDP platform will raise the top marginal income tax rate charged to Canadians earning over $210,000 annually from 33% to 35% (ibid). This will subject some capital gains earned from the sale of secondary or vacation homes to higher rates of taxation, if those gains push the taxpayer’s income into the highest income category for a given year of taxation. Finally, the NDP platform promises a new one percent wealth tax on wealth that Canadians hold over $20 million (ibid.), although it is not clear if they plan for the value of principal residences to count towards the calculation of a resident’s assets.  For these reasons, we assign the platform half a point for this criterion on the grounds it is proposing modest, incremental changes to rebalance the tax treatment of earnings and housing wealth.

Green Party: The Green platform (p. 32) promises to “establish an arms-length Federal Tax Commission to analyze the tax system for fairness and accessibility, based on the principle of progressive taxation." While it is unclear whether the terms of reference for this Commission would include taxation of wealth, and the place of home equity in one’s ability to contribute to public goods and services, we ascribe the platform half a point for this criterion because such a Commission could provide an excellent forum through which to identify, and set in motion, a broader tax shift to rebalance the tax treatment of earnings and housing wealth.

Liberal Party: The Liberal platform continues to ignore a major elephant in the room – that skyrocketing home prices over the last while have made many regular Canadians much wealthier, while often harming many younger Canadians by pushing home prices (as renters or owners) beyond typical local earnings. So far, the Liberal platform makes little mention of promising a tax shift that would reduce income taxes on middle and lower earners, and compensate by increasing taxes on high value homes. This is interesting, because it is out of step with the Liberal rhetoric, which suggests that those with considerable wealth should be expected to contribute a little more.  It’s unclear why the party does not apply this logic to homeowners who are millionaires as a result of their home values.  For these reasons, we do not assign the Liberal platform a point for this criterion. 

(Note, the one minor exception may be the Liberal proposal to tax empty homes owned by non-Canadians, which is projected to raise $256 million as of 2023/24.  Since the motivation behind this proposal is not to reduce intergenerational inequities, we don't judge that it merits a partial point for promoting generational fairness in public finance.  We have already awarded the Liberal platform a partial point for this tax measure when assessing how its platform commitments promote the goal that all Canadians can afford a good home by 2030).

Conservative Party: The Conservative platform formally rejects the idea that the Canada Revenue Agency should collect information about the capital gains earned from the sale of principal residences on the grounds that the collection of such data makes it easier for a government to tax those gains in the future – a tax policy to which the party is opposed. We therefore subtract a point for this criterion given the party rejects factoring housing wealth into measurements of residents’ ability to contribute to public goods and services, even when this could facilitate corresponding reductions to other taxes to improve the fairness of the tax system, and/or raise revenue to invest in young and old alike.

Criteria 4: Do the platforms include action to ensure that if pharmacare proceeds, it is paid for in ways that are fair?

 

Meaning the revenue plan should be designed to not unfairly burden young Canadians, who are already shouldering an increasing tax burden from escalating medical care costs associated with the aging population, amid trends toward lower tax rates which erode government revenue left over to address key social priorities for younger Canadians like child care, postsecondary, housing, and fighting climate change, etc.


NDP: While the NDP budgets (p. 4) $11.4 billion in annual spending for pharmacare upon its election, its platform makes no mention of this design criterion for a strong pharmacare system. As a result, we subtract half a point for this criterion. Failure to address this revenue generation issue by the time voting day approaches may result in our subtracting a full point from the NDP platform, because there is a serious risk that its current plan will result in today’s aging population unintentionally passing on large bills for their pharmaceuticals to children and grandchildren.

Green Party: The Green platform (p. 56) also commits explicitly to universal pharmacare at a net cost of $14 billion annually as of 2023/24 (p. 5).  Currently, its platform does not mention the need to design a revenue plan to protect against the risk that members of today's aging population have not had a chance to pre-pay into the pharmacare program in the same way they have pre-paid for CPP benefits. As a result, we subtract a half point for this criterion. Failure to address this revenue generation issue by the time voting day approaches may result in our subtracting a point from the Green platform, because there is a serious risk that its current plan will result in today’s aging population unintentionally passing on large bills for their pharmaceuticals to children and grandchildren.

Liberal Party: The Liberal platform promises incremental steps toward implementing a national pharmacare program – growing annual investments by some undefined portion of its promised additional medical care spending, which it indicates will reach $1.75 billion/year as of 2023/24. By comparison, research shows that a national pharmacare plan will cost closer to $10 billion annually. So far, the Liberal platform does not make any mention of the need to design pharmacare so that its revenue is collected fairly between generations in response to the fact that today’s retirees will not have had a chance to pre-pay into a pharmacare plan in the same way that they pre-paid into the Canada Public Pension plan for the retirement benefits on which they now wish to draw. Since it does not yet commit enough spending to make universal pharmacare a reality, no points are assigned or deducted at this stage. 

Conservative Party: The Conservative Party has not indicated that moving toward universal pharmacare coverage is a priority for it in the same way as other parties. As a result, this criterion may be moot for the Conservative platform. No point is assigned.

 

Criteria 5: Do the platforms include action to increase spending on illness prevention faster than spending on medical care?

 

Because health doesn't start with medical care.  It starts where we are born, grow, live, work and age -- conditions that are shaped by our earnings relative to major costs like housing and child care, and by a sustainable climate.  Money spent on illness prevention yields far more return than money spent on treating people once they're already ill (a.k.a. using medical care).  This means we should be increasing spending on prevention faster than we do on medical care.


Liberal Party:  As discussed in terms of Criterion #2, Liberal election promises in combination with the 2019 federal budget will result in annual spending on child care, parental leave, postsecondary, family income support and housing growing by around $6 billion as of 2023/24. By contrast, the Canada Health Transfer will increase annual spending on medical care by $8 billion in 2023/24, according to the 2019 federal budget (p. 289); and the Liberal party plans to grow that annual investment by another $1.75 billion according to promises made during this election.  

However, the projected increase for the old age security (OAS) system changes the outcome. The 2019 budget (p. 289) shows it is planned to increase $17.3 billion – more than double the medical investment on its own. Plus, the Liberal platform promises to increase OAS spending by another $2.56 billion annually as of 2023/24 beyond what was already planned in the 2019 federal budget.  

It is clear that the Liberal plan is to increase social spending for seniors faster than medical spending. But the Liberal party doesn’t prioritize spending on the social determinants of health for younger Canadians with the same level of urgency. As a result, we allocate half a point for this criterion when evaluating the Liberal platform.

NDP: The NDP promise (p. 4) $11.4 billion in annual spending on pharmacare, $833 million for dental care, $800 million for a plan to improve home care, long-term care and wait times, along with $25 million for a national autism strategy. These investments will come on top of the $8 billion annual increase in the Canada Health Transfer projected in the 2019 budget (p. 289) for the year 2023/24

By contrast, the NDP platform promises (p. 19) $4 billion for child care 2023/24. The NDP is not clear what the cost of its changes to maternity and parental leave will be, but the investment will be relatively modest because its proposed changes to leave benefit levels are not very large. It promises (p. 3) $4.3 billion in investments for housing. The NDP’s initial efforts to reduce postsecondary costs will focus on eliminating interest payments on federal student loans, which will be $542 million in 2023/24; and transforming some loans into grants, which will cost $531.  Both of these are a fraction of the increase to pharmacare.

Given these indicators in the NDP platform, it is clear that the party prioritizes spending more on illness treatment than it does to health promotion when it comes to programs for younger Canadians. These platform decisions are out of step with research about how best to promote population health. That research shows that health doesn’t begin with medical care. It begins where we are born, grow, live, work and age – conditions that are shaped by spending on parental leave, child care, housing, education, income supports, etc.  

As is the case with the other platforms, the NDP prioritize retirement income support at levels that rival, or exceed, its medical spending proposals. For example, the NDP plans (p. 64) to add $500 million more than the $17.3 billion annual increase to OAS that is already planned as of 2023/24. This income support spending for seniors will likely to surpass NDP medical spending for older Canadians. Accordingly, we allocate the NDP half a point for this criterion.

Conservative Party: The analysis of the Liberal party on this criterion pertains also to the Conservative platform. The Conservative party plans (p. 93) to add another $525 million in annual health spending on top of the 2019 budget plan (p. 289) which forecasts the Canada Health Transfer to grow $8 billion in annual spending by 2023/24 – faster than new cumulative spending on child care, parental leave, education, family income support, housing, etc. for younger Canadians. The Conservatives have not yet indicated that they would dramatically change the current fiscal plan to grow old age security at a pace that is twice as fast as the Canada Health Transfer. For these reasons, as with the Liberal party, we allocate the Conservatives half a point for this criterion because it will grow social spending faster than medical spending for seniors. It doesn’t earn the other half of the available point, because the party doesn’t propose to do the same for younger Canadians.

Green Party: The Green party plans (p. 5) to increase spending on medical care by nearly $19 billion more in 2023/24, in addition to the $8 billion increase already planned for the Canada Health Transfer in that year by the 2019 budget (p. 289).  As a result, the Green party will grow spending on illness treatment by approximately $27 billion/year by the end of a first term in office. 

As discussed in Criterion #2, the Green platform plans to increase spending on child care, family income supports and postsecondary by $15.8 billion. The party plans (pp. 6-7) to increase housing investments by $1.5 billion, plus some portion of another $9.2 billion it earmarks for "housing and other municipal infrastructure."  These preventative investments in the social determinants of health, which are priority areas for younger Canadians, add to $26.5 billion -- a figure that is in line with Green investments in illness-treatment via medical care. Since the Greens propose to invest another $21.8 billion for retirement income, as discussed in Criterion 2, their plan reveals that they invest in preventative spending on the social determinants of health at a considerably faster rate than illness treatment, and spread this social spending relatively evenly between younger and older age groups. For this reason, we award a full point for this criterion.  It is also worth noting that the guaranteed livable income that the Greens propose will further enhance social spending; but there is currently insufficient information to consider the impact of this budget proposal on the Green plan to invest in prevention and health promotion relative to illness treatment. 

Criteria 6: Outside of recessions, do the platforms include action to stop growing per capita debt on young people (Canadians <45)?

 

Because the amount of government debt left for each Canadian under 45 today is three times higher than it was when today's Baby Boomers started out as young adults. 


Liberal Party: The Liberal party has run operating deficits over its first mandate – and did so even though the economy was not in a recession. The 2019 budget (p. 19) projects there will still be a $9.8 billion deficit in 2023/24; and the Liberal platform (p. 79) promises larger deficits still, including $21 billion in 2023/24, which is double what it projected in the 2019 budget earlier this year.

It is worth noting that the $5.6 billion annual reduction in income taxes that the Liberal party promises via its “middle class tax cut” is consistent with a decades long trend implemented by multiple political parties which has seen public budgets raise spending faster than we have raised revenue to pay for it. Notably, government revenue today in Canada is approximately $11 billion/year higher than it was in 1976 (when measured as a % of GDP). Over the same time period, spending on old age security and medical care for Canadians age 65+ has increased by approximately $43 billion/year. The result is less revenue left over to invest in policy areas that matter for younger Canadians by comparison with the past, along with larger deficits per person under age 45 (for more information, see this academic study). Another $5.6 billion annual cut to income taxes by growing the value of the “personal amount” on which we pay no taxes to $15,000/year risks reinforcing this trend, unless it corresponds with significant reductions to spending on programs like medical care and retirement income and/or is compensated for by substantial tax increases elsewhere. Such announcements are not evident in the Liberal platform so far. Thus, we deduct a full point. 

Conservative Party: The Conservative party would not balance the federal budget during his first term in office. Its platform promises (p. 94) a $23 billion deficit in its first year, which will fall to a $5 billion deficit by the end of the next term of office in 2023/24.  For this reason, we deduct a full point.

It is worth noting that the $5.9 billion annual reduction in income taxes that the Conservative party promises via its “universal tax cut” as of 2023/24 is consistent with a decades long trend implemented by multiple political parties which has seen public budgets raise spending faster than we have raised revenue to pay for it. Notably, government revenue today in Canada is approximately $11 billion/year higher than it was in 1976 (when measured as a % of GDP). Over the same time period, spending on old age security and medical care for Canadians age 65+ has increased by approximately $43 billion/year. The result is less revenue left over to invest in policy areas that matter for younger Canadians by comparison with the past, along with larger deficits per person under age 45 (for more information, see this academic study). A $6 billion annual cut to income taxes by reducing the tax rate on the lowest federal income bracket risks reinforcing this trend, unless it corresponds with significant reductions to spending on programs like medical care and retirement income and/or is compensated for by substantial tax increases elsewhere. Such announcements are not evident in the Conservative platform so far.   

NDP: The NDP would not balance the federal budget during the next term of office.  Its platform (p. 11) promises a $28 billion deficit in its first year in office. The party would run deficits throughout the entire next term in office, anticipating a deficit of $11.4 billion in 2023/24. For this reason, we deduct a full point for this criterion.

Green Party: The Green party was the first fully costed platform released during the election campaign.  However, it is also the platform for which there is the most uncertainty, because it proposes the greatest changes in public finance.  On one hand, the Green party is proposing (p. 2) $61.4 billion in annual spending increases as of 2023/24 on top of all increases already planned in the 2019 federal budget.  This would change current public finance decisions more dramatically than other party platforms. As a result, there are risks of ongoing, and perhaps larger, operational deficits in the Green platform by comparison with other parties -- especially since its proposal for a guaranteed livable income does not yet receive a budget estimate. On the other hand, the platform (pp. 32-33) is also proposing a fundamental reorganization of the federal tax system, guided by “an arm’s length Federal Tax Commission to analyze the tax system for fairness and accessibility, based on the principle of progressive taxation”. A transformation in the federal revenue generation system could offset the additional spending proposed by the Greens.  According to the Party, it will raise (p. 2) an additional $70.2 billion in annual revenue as of 2023/24 beyond what is projected in the 2019 federal budget.  Most of the Green spending and revenue plans have been reviewed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, although there currently seem to be omissions regarding the Green plan for a guaranteed livable income, and the Green proposal for a wealth tax (which it claims (p. 3) will raise $6.8 billion as of 2023/24).  By these numbers, the Green platform would balance federal spending by 2023/24, and it is the only party of the four examined in this study that proposes to do so. Accordingly, we award a full point for this criterion.

Criteria 7: Do the platforms include action to ensure a high enough price on pollution?

 

By which we specifically mean carbon pollution, because the escalating climate crisis - currently being handed down from one generation to the next - represents arguably the largest debt in the entire history of humankind. And the most recent science shows we have just ~11 years left to avoid irreversibly locking in this debt, assuming the associated tipping points haven't already been passed. By "high enough" we mean a carbon price that increases at least $10/tonne per year and surpasses $50/tonne (though some estimates suggest an eventual minimum of $100-$150/tonne). 


Green Party: The Green platform promises (pp. 18-19) to “maintain a broad-based, revenue neutral carbon fee on all sources of carbon dioxide pollution.  Revenues from the carbon fee would be returned to Canadians as a dividend.” The carbon price will be set at levels to be consistent with new legislation it would pass “requiring a 60 per cent cut in climate changing emissions below 2005 levels by 2030, reaching net zero in 2050”. We ascribe a full point for this criterion. 

Liberal Party: The Liberal party deserves credit for the bravery it has shown on this issue by moving forward with a federal backstop price on pollution.  Often, politicians follow where the electorate are already going. It is rarer that politicians lead where we need to go according to the best scientific evidence, when the electorate is divided about the urgency to act on the evidence.  The liberal plan to price pollution is an example of this rarer kind of leadership, and the party deserves credit for doing so.  The Liberals currently plan for carbon pollution to be priced eventually at $50/tonne. It is worth emphasizing that the Liberal party has designed the carbon pricing plan to reduce income taxes for people paying the price on pollution so that the majority of people save more income taxes than they pay in carbon prices. We allocate half a point to the Liberal platform for this criterion.  

Another half point is available if we learn over the campaign that the Liberal party plans to increase the carbon price beyond $50/tonne, because research suggests a price above $50 is ultimately required to contribute to the behavioural shifts and industry incentives required for Canada to decarbonize fast enough to meet the goal of preventing global temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. So far, we know that the Liberal party has committed to the goal of “net-zero emissions by 2050”. But it has not yet announced what, if any, implications this will have for its plan to price pollution. 

NDP: The NDP platform (p. 47) would retain the current federal pricing pollution legislation, which plans a price that will eventually reach $50/tonne, while providing income tax rebates that save most families more in income taxes than they incur in pollution payments. The NDP platform would also make pollution prices facing industries higher than those currently charged to big polluters under the Liberal plan. It is not clear if the NDP platform would commit to pollution pricing rising above $50, as research suggests is required to contribute to the behavioural shifts and industry incentives required for Canada to decarbonize fast enough to meet the goal of preventing global temperatures rising above 1.5 degrees Celsius. We therefore assign it a half point for this criterion.  

Conservative Party: We deduct a full point from the Conservative platform for this criterion. The party will scrap the current federal pricing pollution plan, and do not yet offer another strategy to price pollution. This is a fundamental problem when it comes to protecting the scarce resource that is our atmosphere’s ability to absorb carbon. Climate change caused by the depletion of this resource is identified by the World Health Organization as the greatest risk to human health in the 21st century.

Criteria 8: Do the platforms include action to report on trends annually?

 

Meaning commitments to uphold and improve the current federal government approach to monitoring the age distribution and intergenerational impacts of annual budgets.


Liberal Party: The federal Liberals responded directly to Gen Squeeze recommendations by making its 2019 federal budget the first (in a long time and potentially ever) to explore the age distribution of new public spending. This practice has been added formally to the Liberal commitment to Gender-Based Analysis-plus (GBA+). It is an important, and potentially ground-breaking, development in Canadian public finance. As we have described elsewhere, the age analysis in the 2019 budget is weak, and risks confusing the public about intergenerational trends in federal budgets. Accordingly, we give half a point for the Liberal commitment to report the age distribution of federal spending; and look forward to allocating the next half point after seeing evidence that it will execute the analysis with greater rigour in the future.  

Conservative Party: There is no information yet in Conservative platform announcements that speaks to this criterion.  We assign no point at this stage.

NDP: There is no information yet in NDP platform announcements that speaks to this criterion.  We assign no point at this stage.

Green Party: There is no information yet in the Green platform announcements that speaks to this criterion.  We assign no point at this stage.

Criteria 9: Do the platforms include action to assign a government point person?

 

To help ensure younger Canadians' needs are addressed as urgently as other groups come budget time, in the form of a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary specifically tasked with advancing intergenerational equity in public finance. 


Liberal Party:  The Liberal party appointed a new parliamentary secretary for finance responsible for examining the economy and federal policy from the perspective of young adults in time for its 2019 budget. While this position does not formally focus on intergenerational equity, it is a step in the right direction. So we award half a point for this criterion.

Conservative Party: There is no information yet in Conservative platform announcements that speaks to this criterion. We assign no point at this stage.

NDP: There is no information yet in NDP platform announcements that speaks to this criterion. We assign no point at this stage.

Green Party: There is no information yet in Green platform announcements that speaks to this criterion. We assign no point at this stage.

 

Intergenerational Spending Analysis
Platform Analysis: Intergenerational Budgeting
Check out Generation Squeeze. I just joined.
Voters Guide 2019
fedElxn'19 Voter's Guide