A task force can tackle the root cause of our affordability, housing, medical care, and climate crises
Generation Squeeze is calling on Ottawa to create a Generational Fairness Task Force to restore Canada’s fading promise for younger and future generations. Politicians from all parties are already talking about the challenges faced by younger Canadians, and the risk that they will be worse off than the generations which preceded them.
A federal Generational Fairness Task Force is the way to turn these shared concerns into concrete action. We’ll never be able to fix today’s affordability, housing, medical care, and climate crises without understanding and resolving the intergenerational tensions at their core.
Skeptical? Here are five impacts this task force will make on our highest levels of government:
1. Put a generational fairness lens on all government decisions
There’s no ‘silver bullet’ to resolve the intergenerational tensions at the heart of housing unaffordability, growing public debt, or extreme weather. Coordinated action across a range of policy levers is needed – and that requires bringing a generational lens to Cabinet and Treasury tables where key decisions are made. This structural change is what a Generational Fairness Task Force will offer, shifting the way in which governments set priorities and allocate budgets writ large. We know it’s doable, because it builds on what Canada is already doing to address issues like sexism, heterosexism, racism, and colonialism.
2. Expose and counter the harmful legacy of past policy decisions
The fact that hard work doesn’t pay off today the way it did for previous generations has less to do with decisions made by younger people than their treatment by older ones as a result of past policies. For several decades, governments have let the present down with short-sighted, harmful decisions. This harm wasn’t intentional, yet we failed to change course once the risks became clear and predictable. The Task Force will clean up these past policy messes, and make sure new policies support people of all ages to thrive, today and for generations to come.
3. Bring longer-term thinking into politics
Four-year electoral cycles motivate governments (and voters) to focus on short term wins, and gloss over what these wins might cost generations to come. The principles of stewardship and planning that define generational fairness require a longer-term view. Just as generations care for one another within families and strive to create a better future for their kids and grandkids, the Task Force will require the same intergenerational solidarity and long-term planning from governments.
4. Move us past the blame game and focus on real solutions
Regardless of who is in power, opposition parties often blame all problems on the current government – overlooking that many contemporary challenges reflect the decisions of past administrations. This blame game creates two problems. First, it creates cynicism among voters, inclining more of us to lose hope that governments can be a source for solutions. Second, by distracting from the root causes of problems, is directs attention away from where many solutions lie. Gen Squeeze has a decade-long track record identifying clear and comprehensive solutions, some of which we’ve already achieved, and some that we must continue to champion. A Generational Fairness Task Force will shine a light on these readily available actions, and hold Canadians and their governments accountable for implementing them.
5. Deliver credible intergenerational analyses
Championing a Generational Fairness Task Force isn’t our first foray into changing the way governments operate. In 2019, we worked with Ottawa to secure the first-ever intergenerational analysis in a Canadian federal budget. That was a critical milestone, but sadly it hasn’t proven enough to prompt fairer investment in young and old alike – largely because of the flawed way Ottawa applies the lens. That’s a key reason why our climate, housing, and fiscal policies still fail to live up to the intergenerational Golden Rule: to treat other generations as you’d want your own to be treated. A Generational Fairness Task Force will remedy this flaw, and deliver credible data and analysis as the foundation for good public policy.
We hope you’ll join us in calling for a Task Force on Generational Fairness.
Andrea Long is Senior Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization for Gen Squeeze. She has more than 20 years of experience in policy analysis, research and knowledge mobilization on health and social issues, including housing and homelessness, poverty, social determinants of health, and health in all policies.