Meeting: age trends in public finance
As a voice for young Canadians we regularly suit up and advocate on your behalf. This week we met with Liberal MPs to discuss intergenerational trends in public finance.

We just met with Liberal Members of Parliament Bryan May (MP for Cambridge), Joël Lightbound (Parliamentary Secretary for Finance and MP for Louis-Hébert), and Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (MP for Beaches-East York) to discuss our call for senior levels of government to begin showing how public budgets break down by age:


Why we met with these MPs

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.

The European Union now provides member countries with analyses of intergenerational trends in public finance every three years.

Currently, no senior level of government in Canada provides public finance data broken down by age.

Generation Squeeze is recommending the Canadian government begin reporting age trends in public finance starting in 2019. [1] 

The Gen Squeeze Lab, led by Dr. Paul Kershaw at the University of BC, has shared a peer-reviewed methodology for the Government of Canada to adapt for this purpose.

Key facts  

We shared our own findings showing that since 1976:

  1. Governments increased per capita spending for seniors 4.2 times faster than for those under the age of 45

  2. Public finance requires younger Canadians to contribute 22-62 per cent more in income taxes for the elderly now by comparison with 1976

  3. The contemporary aging population has a greater ability to pay than cohorts immediately before and after them (specifically, those who have benefited from skyrocketing real estate wealth)

  4. Younger generations are inheriting larger government and environmental debts

Against this backdrop, the 2018 federal budget projects a $16.1 billion annual increase in spending on OAS as of 2022, by comparison with a $540 million increase in spending on child care, $330 million increase in spending on parental leave, and $1-2 billion in spending on housing.

In other words, there's a lot of work to do to ensure greater intergenerational fairness in public finance, and it begins with ensuring our representatives have regular access to the data

Progress from the meeting 

  • This summer Gen Squeeze will make a pre-budget submission asking the federal government to begin reporting the age distribution in spending and revenue collection

  • We explored options to incorporate this kind of analysis within the "+" component of the government's current commitment to Gender Based Analysis+ (GBA+)

  • We put in motion plans to brief additional officials and representatives this fall, which we'll synch up with our planned lobbying trip involving Gen Squeeze volunteers from across the country!

Worried that showing how public spending breaks down by age risks pitting generations against each other? If so please read this (we're all in this together)!  

[1] We're recommending that reporting compare today to 1976, when today’s aging population started out as young adults.  

Title image — from left to right: MP Bryan May, Gen Squeeze's Dr. Paul Kershaw, and MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith.

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.
Suiting up for you: we met this week with MPs @beynate @_BryanMay @JoelLightbound to discuss how to better analyze how public budgets break down by age via @GenSqueeze #cdnpoli
Meeting: age trends in public finance
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