2021 Voter's Guide Methodology

Table of Contents

Introduction

This election, Generation Squeeze is undertaking a rigorous analysis of federal party platforms on our four key issues of housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations.

Our mission: to help voters better understand how far each party's platform is along the journey to actually solving these big problems facing young people today.

We'll be straight with you, this kind of analysis is really tough. It's tricky to distill a wide range of promises into some sense of the overall strength of parties' plans.  Plus, the timelines are tight, the issues are complex, and the parties don't always make it easy to figure out where they stand or what they mean – especially when they put out announcements every day that risk making our analyses outdated. 

It may be tough… but it’s not impossible!  To that end, we've done our best to craft a rigorous, meaningful, evidence-informed, and non-partisan approach. Our policy positions on housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and wellbeing budgeting for all generations should come through loud and clear.  

We don't make recommendations about who to vote for because you may or may not agree with our positions or analysis, and because we don't presume to tell you what you should care most about. Ultimately, we know that younger Canadians, and those who love us, build additional power to influence politics the more we vote, no matter who we vote for. 

We have a genuine desire for ALL parties to improve the scores they receive according to our evidence-based evaluation system, because all Canadians will benefit from better policies to address housing and family affordability, climate change and wellbeing budgeting. We welcome parties to refine their promises during the campaign, and we will revise our evaluations accordingly. 

We have a long-term vision of a Canada that works for all generations, from the early years onwards. To achieve and maintain that vision, we need to bridge ideological and political divides in our governments and our society, to find common ground among diverse people and perspectives. That’s why our research and advocacy activities are designed to help all political parties and levels of government in the design of policy capable of achieving our vision.  Success for Gen Squeeze is that all parties have equally strong platforms to promote intergenerational fairness, improving Canada’s wellbeing from the early years onwards.  

We are open to critique of our platform analyses.  Please contact Gen Squeeze directly if you have concerns that platform commitments have not been evaluated properly according to the criteria we articulate.  We are willing to adapt our evaluations, consistent with the evidence.

Basic Approach to Platform Analysis

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

  1. Publishing comprehensive, evidence-based frameworks that we believe encompass the commitments and categories of actions required to solve big intergenerational problems that undermine young people’s wellbeing in Canada. Each framework begins with a clearly stated goal for each of our four key issues.

  2. Translating each framework into a set of key criteria.

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

    • Detailed written commentary – to help explain what we perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of each stated policy, capturing as much nuance as time and capacity allows.
    • Summary tables and scores – while detailed commentary is the best method to capture nuance, there is a need to distill our conclusions to equip voters with the critical information they need (especially for those who may not have hours to read and digest our detailed commentary).

For federal elections, we focus our analysis on the major parties that began the race with at least one MP elected as a representative of that party, and that are running a national slate of candidates: the Conservative Party, the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Green Party.  As of September 3, 2021 the Green Party has not released a platform document, so we are unable to include the party in our analyses.  If a Green platform is released in the coming weeks, we will do our best to update our analyses accordingly.

Methodology for Assigning Scores to Platform Commitments

Gen Squeeze’s detailed ‘game plans’ to achieve housing affordability, family affordability, climate change, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations are the foundation for our platform analyses.  The policy actions presented in each game plan are the criteria against which the commitments of political parties are assessed. 

For each of these key criteria, parties will 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


We chose this five-point method because:

  • It’s relatively simple

  • It's capable of distinguishing between narrow/shallow responses and comprehensive responses to each criteria

  • 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

The limitations of this method include:

  • The five point scale doesn't allow much splitting of hairs between similar promises expressed with different levels of implementation detail 

  • It does not award extra points for extra effort – a platform that "doubles-down" on action on any given criterion (i.e. goes beyond what would be required to earn a full point) won't be awarded extra points for that extra effort, though this would be acknowledged in the detailed commentary

  • The awarding of points inevitably involves a degree of informed subjectivity 

Our commitment to Non-Partisan Analysis

Gen Squeeze approaches all of our work – including our 2021 federal election activities – in the true spirit of non-partisanship.

Both the spirit and substance of our analysis is neutral/non-partisan.  No part is intended to portray any party, or any candidate, in favourable or unfavourable ways.  No part is intended to direct people to vote for or against any specific party or candidate. 

Our goal is to depict how party positions align with criteria we have selected based on current and trustworthy academic evidence about housing, family policy, climate change and wellbeing budgeting for all generations. Our findings may reveal that some parties align more, or less, with the evidence on certain issues. Pointing this out doesn't reveal partisanship. It reveals our commitment to report on alignment with evidence. 

Consistent with this goal, our 2021 federal election Voter’s Guide aims to:

  • Help all parties understand the strengths, weaknesses, or gaps in their current plans on housing and family affordability, climate change, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations

  • Help voters understand the strengths and weaknesses of individual policies for which parties are advocating

  • Help voters understand the overall strengths and weaknesses of each party’s plan on Gen Squeeze’s four key issues 

The strength or weakness of a policy proposal are evaluated in terms of the degree to which it can solve the associated problem. The aggregate score we assign to each party’s plan is a neutral assessment, based on how this plan aligns with the evidence of what actions are needed to create effective policies to solve big problems squeezing younger generations.  

At any given time, the priorities and platforms of political parties or governments may be more or less aligned with, or responsive to, key Gen Squeeze issues. However, the degree of responsiveness or alignment in no way reflects an intention on our part to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, specific parties or candidates. We hope all party platforms will increasingly align with our evidence-based policy recommendations during this election, and thereafter.

At bottom, we aim to help voters go into the ballot box as informed as possible on our four key issues.  The frameworks and goals, key criteria, commentary and scores all reflect and distill many individual evidence-based policy positions of Generation Squeeze. Audiences should come away with a good sense of where we stand on the issues and how our positions compare to the positions of the major parties.  But our detailed commentary and scores are not intended to point voters in one direction or another, or portray individual parties or candidates in inherently favourable or unfavourable ways.  

Our commitment to Evidence-Based Analysis

We approach all of our work — including our 2021 federal election activities — in the true spirit of openness, and evidence-based dialogue and decision-making.

Gen Squeeze’s research activities are coordinated by Dr. Paul Kershaw, who is an award-winning tenured Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia where he is the Director of the Masters of Public Health Program. Among other accolades, Dr. Kershaw was honoured as the "Academic of the Year" in 2016 by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC in recognition of his outstanding scholarship about Generation Squeeze.

By virtue of Dr. Kershaw’s professional responsibilities, and Gen Squeeze’s own commitment to organizational credibility and rigour, our public policy positions are rooted in our understanding of the best available evidence. 

This means that from time to time, our positions and policy interpretations will change in response to new evidence, or because our understanding of existing evidence has been enhanced by a new perspective. 

No one person or organization ever has “the full picture,” which is why we admit our imperfect understanding, embrace nuance, and continually strive to identify and correct our own blind spots through collaboration. 

Registered Third Party with Elections Canada

Gen Squeeze has registered as a third party issue advertiser with Elections Canada for the 2021 federal election. This is necessary because our platform analysis will speak to issues with which candidates and parties may be associated, and because we are spending more than $500 on paid advertising to help distribute our analyses.

Evidence Sources for Solutions Frameworks

Housing Policy Framework

Our housing affordability policy framework was co-created with the Balanced Supply of Housing Academic/Community Partnership. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Housing & Mortgage Corporation. This partnership is a collaboration of academics and community experts (including Gen Squeeze) from across Canada, hosted at the University of British Columbia. We are part of Canada’s broader Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative

The starting place was a policy framework originally developed by Generation Squeeze, which is a member of the Balanced Supply of Housing Partnership. The initial framework was itself based on several years of housing research, advocacy, and multi-stakeholder dialogues led by Generation Squeeze, including: (i) our collaborative report "Housing Policy Framework and Policy Options for the 2019 Federal Election;" and (ii) the findings of Gen Squeeze's "Building Housing Common Ground" session and report.  The latter focus on areas of common ground identified by a range of stakeholders from across the housing system.

Through a series of twenty in-depth interviews conducted in 2020 with members and partners in the Balanced Supply of Housing Partnership, we gathered feedback and insights that were used to improve and upgrade the starting framework. The idea was not to create a perfect framework that enjoys 100% consensus, but to develop an increasingly strong “living” product that does a reasonable job of uniting different perspectives and areas of focus. The intention is to make regular improvements to the framework over time, incorporating more and more perspectives, and new information. It is anticipated the policy framework will be revisited annually
as part of the collaboration's team-building activities, and as a strategy to synthesize findings from the various research projects funded by the collaboration.

Family Policy Framework

The family affordability framework was developed based on research led at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), a research centre at the University of BC in which the Gen Squeeze Lab is located. HELP has served as an international knowledge hub about early child development, and its impact on life-long health. The architecture for the basic plan was first published by Kershaw (2005) in Carefair: rethinking the responsibilities and rights of citizenship; and Kershaw et al. (2009) “15 by 15:  A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Early Human Capital Investment in BC.” Over the years, the framework has been updated. Key elements now align directly with the work of the national Child Care Now movement and the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and its $10aDay plan.   The Coalition embraced the $10aday branding for a national child care recommendation which Gen Squeeze initiated in our Lab over a decade ago.  Along with Early Childhood Educators of BC, the Coalition has done an amazing job mobilizing British Columbians around a concrete plan to bring $10aday child care to life. Together, our complementary activities have had national influence, because the federal government has recently embraced the $10aday idea for its historic child care investment in the 2021 federal budget

Climate Policy Framework

Our climate policy game plan begins by adopting the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement (to limit climate change to 1.5°) and combines it with a simultaneous goal to increase the wellbeing of all Canadians through the transition to a clean economy. The framework then aggregates and adds to existing policy frameworks including the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the Generation Energy framework, the Re-energizing Canada pathways, the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, the report of Project Drawdown, and the 2021 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Information on the potential for renewable energy production in Canada can be found here for solar, and here for wind.

Wellbeing Budgets for All Generations Framework

This game plan 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 journals Intergenerational Justice Review, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health . 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.

2021 Voter's Guide Methodology
2021 Voter's Guide Methodology
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