Looking back at 2023

As 2023 wraps up, we decided to pause and take stock of the headway we've made this year. Here are five highlights that leave us feeling proud, grateful and inspired to keep marching down the long, slow, winding road to a Canada that works for all generations:

Federal leaders sang from our songbook

Canadian party leaders

This was the first year we’ve heard party leaders of all ideological stripes acknowledge the intergenerational tensions driving Canada’s housing, climate, medical and affordability crises.

"House pricing cannot continue to go up," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in September. “The promise of Canada...says that every generation gets to benefit from the hard work of the previous generation and succeed even more. Well for too many people, that promise of Canada seems under threat.”

For many years, we’ve shouted from the rooftops that to restore affordability for all, housing prices must stall, so that earnings can catch up. The prime minister affirming this goal – and putting Canada's fading intergenerational promise at the heart of the housing affordability crisis – was a game-changing highlight of not just this year, but Gen Squeeze’s entire history. As our founder, Dr. Paul Kershaw, wrote in The Globe & Mail:

“Rarely, if ever, has a senior politician in Canada been courageous enough to affirm that home prices need to stall if we truly care about affordability. Provincial and federal leaders from all parties have tended to avoid this position – all while lamenting how surging prices lock more young people out of ownership, and into precarious housing. By disrupting this political pattern, the Prime Minister signals a clarity of purpose for change in our housing system that has not existed in my lifetime. Housing should be for homes first, and investments second.” 

The Prime Minister then echoed that last line in November, acknowledging the role of investor demand in driving up home prices.

Across the aisle, Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has embraced our take on the housing crisis in his diagnosis and validation of the grief young people are feeling. Now we need him to get on board with our comprehensive solutions, rather than stopping at peddling silver bullets.

Other party leaders tackled generational unfairness head on on the House floor and our Hard Truths podcast. NDP leader Jagmeet Singh underscored the greater economic challenges and wealth inequality faced by today’s younger people compared to previous generations. Green party leader Elizabeth May offered a similar take on our podcast last year, and in a recent House debate, she amplified our calls to break Canada’s addiction to rising home prices.  

Next year, we’ll be pushing party leaders even harder to back up these words with actions, such as launching a federal Generational Fairness Task Force.

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Our glasses became more fashionable

View through intergenerational glasses

Beyond our influence in the political sphere, more journalists and editorial voices have been scrutinizing Canada’s biggest problems through an intergenerational lens

The Globe & Mail editorial board kicked off its 2023 federal budget coverage with a story straight from the Gen Squeeze wheelhouse. Canada’s National Observer published our Alberta election analyses and several fantastic columns by Max Fawcett, a stellar podcast guest and columnist who sports generational fairness glasses more than any other Canadian journalist. Steve Paikin brought Paul onto The Agenda for our longest, most in-depth media interview about how baby boomers haven’t lived within their means. And in The Walrus, Michelle Cyca asked homeowners to accept "the Awkward Truth: They're Rich." This is a truth we highlighted in our report on Canada's home ownership tax shelter and Paul's Globe & Mail column inviting homeowners to put their wealth to work.

The more generational unfairness gets talked about in the media, the more people will recognize the intergenerational rift threatening our country's prosperity and promise. That's why shaping public dialogue is an important part of our work. It's how we win over hearts and minds to disrupt the deep-rooted assumptions and policies that created this rift in the first place. 

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We attended meetings

Federal Liberal Cabinet retreat and BC Premier with Cabinet

This eye-numbing headline is why so much of our work stays hidden “behind the curtain.” But some meetings we attended this year were front-page news for our little team.

In particular, Dr. Paul Kershaw was invited to present at the federal cabinet retreat and to brief all members of the BC cabinet. We welcomed these opportunities to share our insights and policy solutions with decision makers.

These meetings showcased the effectiveness of our policy-change strategy: bring the right data and solutions to the right ears at the right tables. That's how we shape government priorities and budgets to achieve long-lasting systemic change. 

That’s also why our supporters are so critical to Gen Squeeze’s success. The more people we have behind us, the more loudly we can amplify our collective voices in the halls of power. We need a mighty megaphone to persuade political leaders to act bravely and disrupt the status quo.

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Our choir grew and joined global voices

Community call - policy chickens coming home to roost

One of Gen Squeeze's oldest hymns for younger Canadians is: “You’re not alone. This isn’t your fault. Something bigger is going wrong.” This year we’ve felt less alone than ever before, heartened by displays of intergenerational and international solidarity

An unprecedented number of older Canadians joined our choir, proving that the symptoms of generational unfairness aren’t just a youth issue. We’ve been thrilled to share a few of these voices on our new Substack, which we launched this summer to create a place for like-minded advocates to come together. For example, Mary called out several ageist policies and Terry articulated how the “growth pays for growth” mentality unfairly burdens younger and future generations. 

Our inaugural Community Call was also filled with faces of all ages concerned about how past policy chickens are coming home to roost. The Community Call was one way we marked the first global Intergenerational Fairness Day, which we launched with an international coalition. On Hard Truths, Wales Future Generations Commissioner and Tom Walker from Australia’s Think Forward highlighted how Canada’s problems are far from unique. It’s clear from these voices (and others to come) that the global movement for generational fairness is gaining momentum.

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We spread the secret to good health

Tommy Douglas: "“Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal of Medicare must be to keep people well rather than just patching them up when they get sick.”

Improving the wellbeing of all generations is why Gen Squeeze gets out of bed in the morning. We took a big step this year to advance that goal and honour the wisdom of Tommy Douglas, the father of Canada’s public medical care system.

In February — as provincial and federal governments haggled over a $200-billion investment in medical care — we launched the Get Well Canada alliance to call on elected leaders to better balance how they invest in wellbeing. Health science shows that Canadians ‘Get Well’ when we invest in safe and affordable homes, living wages, quality child care and schools, and a healthy environment, even more urgently than we invest in medical care. Last month, CCPA's The Monitor featured our Get Well Canada alliance and laid out the case for growing social spending as an investment in health. If any of this paragraph raised your eyebrows, The Monitor articles are a great primer on the building blocks of a healthy society.

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