Intergenerational Injustice in Canadian Public Finance
Social spending contributes more to population health than medical spending, but new research shows government investments in older generations have been prioritized, while younger Canadians keep falling further behind.

Why did we write this report?

Like many countries, Canada has an aging population. While we have a duty to ensure our aging parents and grandparents have a dignified, healthy, and financially secure retirement, there is a parallel duty to ensure their children and grandchildren can thrive. But how have governments adapted their budgets to fulfil
both responsibilities?

The findings are troubling. They reveal Canadian governments have not committed to intergenerational justice in their budget decisions over the past four decades: older generations were prioritized, as younger Canadians fell further and further behind.

There are serious risks that upcoming federal and provincial budgets will worsen the problem. All levels of government are more likely to overlook intergenerational unfairness if we don’t provide data to inform our elected officials.

We need governments to budget for all ages, and report on revenue and spending trends.

Key Takeaways

  • Governments collected an extra $11 billion in taxes as of 2016 compared to 1976, but spent an additional $36 billion on medical care for Canadians age 65+, leaving a $25 billion tax-collection gap. The shortfall was covered by spending ~$19 billion less on programs for younger Canadians, and by growing government debts.

  • Young adults are expected to pay 22-62 per cent more in taxes for medical care and old age security for today’s aging population, in comparison with taxes paid for medical care by today's aging population when they were young.

  • Young Canadians now inherit nearly $14,000 more per person in government debt than did today’s aging population.

How you can use this report:

  • Share the report with your elected officials: if they understand the problem, they’ll be more willing to address it.

  • Share the report with your friends: if they understand the problem, they’ll be more willing to vote in elections, engage in the issue, and open dialogue with peers.

  • Share the report with your aging family members: because they believe in fairness, too, and always want what’s best for you.


Paul Kershaw
Dr. Paul Kershaw is a Professor in the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, and the Founder of Generation Squeeze.
Intergenerational Injustice in Canadian Public Finance (how younger Canadians keep falling behind) via @GenSqueeze
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