Budget 2023 is an opportunity to promote generational fairness
BC has made important investments in generational fairness by committing to $10aday child care, curbing housing vacancy and speculation, and leading the way on carbon pricing. Generation Squeeze has been there to help create these policy victories.
The 2023 Budget is an opportunity for BC to continue to build towards greater generational fairness. Our recommendations on priority actions to achieve this goal are summarized below. Some require bold leadership – others point to easy steps to improve accountability. All are pressing as we seek to build back better from the pandemic, make life more affordable for British Columbians, and achieve our net-zero climate goals.
Generation Squeeze will analyze Budget spending and impacts by age, and mobilize findings across our 37,000+ network. We welcome opportunities to discuss our recommendations in more detail, and to collaborate with MLAs from all parties to make BC work for all generations.
Generation Squeeze 2023 Budget Recommendations
- Budget 2023 should commit to prompt implementation of the BC-Canada affordable child care agreement, including supporting caregivers to quickly transition their fee structures, to ease the growing financial squeeze for BC parents. In addition, Budget 2023 should commit to making $10 a day the maximum child care fee for everyone, not just the average, with no fee for low-income households. We should apply the same logic to child care as public education and medical care – more affluent individuals are asked to pay more via taxes – not via higher fees at the door. As we do, let’s be sure that all child care workers earn pay equity salaries, not parking-lot attendant wages.
- Budget 2023 should commit to the principle that restoring housing affordability for all requires home prices to stall so that earnings can catch up, because a home should be in reach of what hard work can earn. To align policy with this principle, Budget 2023 should put a modest price on housing inequity via a small annual surtax on the most expensive homes, a proposal supported by 73% of British Columbians according to recent polling. The surtax would apply only to homes valued at $1 million or more – it won’t cost 75% of British Columbians a penny more. But it will help ratchet down the runaway home prices driving up wealth inequity and crushing affordability for younger generations, while raising $5 billion annually to invest in deeply affordable, energy-efficient rental and co-op homes.
- Budget 2023 should demonstrate BC’s continued leadership on pricing pollution, especially since this has been identified as one of the five most critical policies needed to reach emissions reduction goals. In addition, Budget 2023 should incentivize carbon sequestration using nature-based solutions. This notably includes: (i) preventing further damage to old growth forests, wetlands and peatlands, given evidence of the enormous ecosystem and sequestration benefits they offer which cannot be meaningfully replaced once lost; and (ii) realizing the carbon drawdown potential of regenerative agricultural practices that increase soil carbon, and decrease reliance on water and fossil-fuel based inputs.
- Budget 2023 should improve accountability for investing in wellbeing from the early years onwards by integrating the following three metrics. This recommendation requires almost no new spending – just leadership on better monitoring.
- Budget 2023 should report on the ratio between spending on key social investments relative to medical care spending because science shows that health does not begin with medical care. It begins where British Columbians are born, grow, live, work and age. As pandemic pressures accelerate demands for more medical care spending, it is increasingly important to make clear that investments in things like housing, child care, climate change, reconciliation, and poverty reduction are necessary to create health. Reporting on the social:medical spending ratio will help BC prioritize investing in wellbeing and illness prevention with as much urgency as investing in treating illness after the fact. Budget 2023 should call on the Canadian Institute for Health Information to facilitate this reporting by using their data and expertise to track social spending, alongside spending on medical care.
- Budget 2023 should include an accurate and meaningful assessment of spending by age. Age-based spending data is necessary for analyzing whether aging British Columbians are contributing a fair share for the services they want and need; and whether we are leaving an irresponsible legacy of unpaid bills versus preserving what’s sacred for generations to come. See this study for more information.
- Budget 2023 should call on Statistics Canada to remedy inaccurate reporting on inflation in home prices. Data that under-estimate inflation by failing to adequately account for the skyrocketing price of established homes risk sending the wrong signal to the Bank of Canada as it manages interest rates and monetary policy. While low interest rates have economic benefits, they also contribute to driving up home prices, as the lower cost of borrowing allows buyers to bid up prices. This systemic problem erodes intergenerational fairness by reducing affordability for younger residents while growing wealth for established (often older) home owners. See this report for more information.