Ontario Voter's Guide Methodology

Table of Contents


This election, Generation Squeeze is undertaking a rigorous analysis of provincial party platforms on our four key issues of housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations.

Our mission: to help voters better understand how far each party's platform is along the journey to actually solving these big problems facing Ontarians, and how these problems help prop up a broken generational system.

We'll be straight with you, this kind of analysis is really tough. It's tricky to distill a wide range of promises into some sense of the overall strength of parties' plans.  Plus, the timelines are tight, the issues are complex, and the parties don't always make it easy to figure out where they stand or what they mean – especially when they put out announcements every day that risk making our analyses outdated. 

It may be tough… but it’s not impossible!  To that end, we've done our best to craft a rigorous, meaningful, evidence-informed, and non-partisan approach. Our policy positions on housing affordability, climate change, family affordability, and wellbeing budgeting for all generations should come through loud and clear.  

We don't make recommendations about who to vote for because you may or may not agree with our positions or analysis, and because we don't presume to tell you what you should care most about. Ultimately, we know that younger Ontarians (and older Ontarians who love them and want to leave a proud legacy) build additional power to influence politics the more they vote – no matter for which party those votes are cast. 

We have a genuine desire for ALL parties to improve the scores they receive according to our evidence-based evaluation system, because all Ontarians will benefit from better policies to address housing and family affordability, climate change and wellbeing budgeting. We welcome parties to refine their promises during the campaign, and we will revise our evaluations accordingly. 

We have a long-term vision of a Canada that works for all generations, from the early years onwards. To achieve and maintain that vision, we need to bridge ideological and political divides in our governments and our society, to find common ground among diverse people and perspectives. That’s why our research and advocacy activities are designed to help all political parties and levels of government in the design of policy capable of achieving our vision. 

Success for Gen Squeeze is that all parties have equally strong platforms to promote generational fairness, improving wellbeing from the early years onwards.  

We are open to critique of our platform analyses.  Please contact Gen Squeeze directly if you have concerns that platform commitments have not been evaluated properly according to the criteria we articulate.  We are willing to adapt our evaluations, consistent with the evidence.

Basic Approach to Platform Analysis

Instead of simply listing party promises, our assessment attempts to make meaning of those promises, individually and in aggregate. We do this by:

  1. Publishing comprehensive, evidence-based frameworks that encompass the commitments and actions required to solve big intergenerational problems. Each framework begins with a clearly stated goal for each of our four key issues, as well as key principles that support the achievement of this goal.
  2. Translating each framework into a set of key criteria.  Criteria include the goal and principles, as well as the range of other specific policy actions required to advance the goal.
  3. Assessing the degree to which each major party’s platform addresses the criteria. To share the results of our assessment, we prepare and share the following:
    • Detailed written commentary – to help explain what we perceive to be the strengths and weaknesses of each stated policy, capturing as much nuance as time and capacity allows.
    • Summary score tables – while detailed commentary is the best method to capture nuance, we also distill our conclusions into a summary format to more quickly equip voters with the critical information they need (especially for those who may not have hours to read and digest our detailed commentary).
    • Scorecards – based on the detailed analysis and summary score tables, we produce scorecards to visually represent the distance each party must travel in order to achieve the goal for each issue

For the Ontario election, we focus our analysis on the three parties that elect representatives to fill the majority of the seats in the provincial legislature: the Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party, and the Liberal Party.  We also include parties that elected at least one MPP who ran in the last election under the banner of that party.  This means that our analysis includes the Ontario Green Party.  We do not include parties with no representatives elected specifically as members of that party.

Methodology for Assigning Scores to Platform Commitments

Gen Squeeze’s detailed ‘game plans’ to achieve housing affordability, family affordability, climate change, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations are the foundation for our platform analyses.  The policy actions presented in each game plan are the criteria against which the commitments of political parties are assessed. 

For each of these key criteria, parties will receive a score that ranges from +1.0 to -1.0, assessed as follows:



 No discernible commitments


 Commitments are somewhat capable of achieving the goal


 Commitments are capable of achieving the goal


 Commitments somewhat undermine progress towards the goal


 Commitments undermine progress towards the goal


We chose this five-point method because:

  • It’s relatively simple
  • It's capable of distinguishing between symbolically important responses that lack substance, narrow or shallow responses, and comprehensive responses to each criteria
  • It allows us to subtract points where the evidence suggests a particular policy or group of policies put forward by a party is likely to exacerbate the problem or take us further away from the goal

The limitations of this method include:

  • The five point scale doesn't allow much splitting of hairs between similar promises expressed with different levels of implementation detail 
  • It does not award extra points for extra effort – a platform that "doubles-down" on action on any given criterion (i.e. goes beyond what would be required to earn a full point) won't be awarded extra points for that extra effort, though this would be acknowledged in the detailed commentary
  • It does not assess the likelihood of a party following through on its promises, or the party’s past track record on an issue
  • The awarding of points inevitably involves a degree of informed subjectivity 

Our commitment to Non-Partisan Analysis

Gen Squeeze approaches all of our work – including our 2022 Ontario provincial election activities – in the true spirit of non-partisanship.

Both the spirit and substance of our analysis is neutral/non-partisan.  No part is intended to portray any party, or any candidate, in favourable or unfavourable ways.  No part is intended to direct people to vote for or against any specific party or candidate. 

Our goal is to depict how party positions align with criteria we have selected based on current and trustworthy academic and other evidence about housing, family policy, climate change and wellbeing budgeting for all generations. Our findings may reveal that some parties align more, or less, with the evidence on certain issues. Pointing this out doesn't reveal partisanship. It reveals our commitment to report on alignment with evidence. 

Consistent with this goal, our 2022 Ontario election Voter’s Guide aims to:

  • Help all parties understand the strengths, weaknesses, or gaps in their current plans on housing and family affordability, climate change, and wellbeing budgets that work for all generations
  • Help voters understand the strengths and weaknesses of individual policies for which parties are advocating
  • Help voters understand the overall strengths and weaknesses of each party’s plan on Gen Squeeze’s four key issues 

The strength or weakness of a policy proposal are evaluated in terms of the degree to which it can solve the associated problem. The aggregate score we assign to each party’s plan is a neutral assessment, based on how this plan aligns with the evidence of what actions are needed to create effective policies to solve big problems squeezing younger generations.  

At any given time, the priorities and platforms of political parties or governments may be more or less aligned with, or responsive to, key Gen Squeeze issues. However, the degree of responsiveness or alignment in no way reflects an intention on our part to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, specific parties or candidates. We hope all party platforms will increasingly align with our evidence-based policy recommendations during this election, and thereafter.

At bottom, we aim to help voters go into the ballot box as informed as possible on our four key issues.  The frameworks and goals, key criteria, commentary and scores all reflect and distill many individual evidence-based policy positions of Generation Squeeze. Audiences should come away with a good sense of where we stand on the issues and how our positions compare to the positions of the major parties.  But our detailed commentary and scores are not intended to point voters in one direction or another, or portray individual parties or candidates in inherently favourable or unfavourable ways.  

Our commitment to Evidence-Based Analysis

We approach all of our work — including our 2022 Ontario provincial election activities — in the true spirit of openness, and evidence-based dialogue and decision-making.

Gen Squeeze’s research activities are coordinated by Dr. Paul Kershaw, who is an award-winning tenured Professor in the School of Population and Public Health at the University of British Columbia where he is the Director of the Masters of Public Health Program. Among other accolades, Dr. Kershaw was honoured as the "Academic of the Year" in 2016 by the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC in recognition of his outstanding scholarship about Generation Squeeze.

By virtue of Dr. Kershaw’s professional responsibilities, and Gen Squeeze’s own commitment to organizational credibility and rigour, our public policy positions are rooted in our understanding of the best available evidence. 

This means that from time to time, our positions and policy interpretations will change in response to new evidence, or because our understanding of existing evidence has been enhanced by a new perspective. 

No one person or organization ever has “the full picture,” which is why we admit our imperfect understanding, embrace nuance, and continually strive to identify and correct our own blind spots through collaboration. 

Political advertising during elections

Gen Squeeze planned to register as a third party issue advertiser with Elections Ontario for the 2022 Ontario provincial election.  Registration is required in order for us to use paid advertising to promote our Voters Guide and other election related work. 

Unfortunately, requirements under Ontario’s new Election Finances Act make it legally impossible for us to register.  We confirmed this by retaining our own lawyer, and seeking legal guidance on options for national organizations (like Gen Squeeze) which seek to build and support democratic engagement by informing voters with evidence-based analyses of key issues during election campaigns.

The fact that our Voters Guide is non-partisan, does not promote or favour the positions of any one party, and is grounded in solid data and evidence from the Gen Squeeze community-university collaboration, has no bearing on the law preventing us from registering as an issue advertiser.  The bottom line is that we cannot boost the reach of our Ontario Voters Guide through paid advertising.  And the likely result is that fewer Ontario voters will be equipped with important information they need in the voting booth.

Because we strongly believe in the value of our Voters Guides and what they offer to voters across Canada, Gen Squeeze will continue this work – even if we cannot maximize its impact with advertising.  We will rely on earned media coverage of our platform assessment, our active presence on social media, and the reach of our network of supporters and allies, to get the word out about the important issues of generational fairness facing Ontario in this election.

Evidence Sources for Solutions Frameworks

Housing Policy Framework

Our housing affordability policy framework was co-created with the Balanced Supply of Housing Academic/Community Partnership. It is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the Canada Housing & Mortgage Corporation. This partnership is a collaboration of academics and community experts (including Gen Squeeze) from across Canada, hosted at the University of British Columbia. We are part of Canada’s broader Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative

The starting place was a policy framework originally developed by Generation Squeeze, which is a member of the Balanced Supply of Housing Partnership. The initial framework was itself based on several years of housing research, advocacy, and multi-stakeholder dialogues led by Generation Squeeze, including: (i) our collaborative report "Housing Policy Framework and Policy Options for the 2019 Federal Election;" and (ii) the findings of Gen Squeeze's "Building Housing Common Ground" session and report.  The latter focus on areas of common ground identified by a range of stakeholders from across the housing system.

Through a series of twenty in-depth interviews conducted in 2020 with members and partners in the Balanced Supply of Housing Partnership, we gathered feedback and insights that were used to improve and upgrade the starting framework. The idea was not to create a perfect framework that enjoys 100% consensus, but to develop an increasingly strong “living” product that does a reasonable job of uniting different perspectives and areas of focus. The intention is to make regular improvements to the framework over time, incorporating more and more perspectives, and new information. It is anticipated the policy framework will be revisited annually
as part of the collaboration's team-building activities, and as a strategy to synthesize findings from the various research projects funded by the collaboration.

Family Policy Framework

The family affordability framework was developed based on research led at the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), a research centre at the University of BC in which the Gen Squeeze Lab is located. HELP has served as an international knowledge hub about early child development, and its impact on life-long health. The architecture for the basic plan was first published by Kershaw (2005) in Carefair: rethinking the responsibilities and rights of citizenship; and Kershaw et al. (2009) “15 by 15:  A Comprehensive Policy Framework for Early Human Capital Investment in BC.” Over the years, the framework has been updated. Key elements now align directly with the work of the national Child Care Now movement and the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC and its $10aDay plan.   The Coalition embraced the $10aday branding for a national child care recommendation which Gen Squeeze initiated in our Lab over a decade ago.  Along with Early Childhood Educators of BC, the Coalition has done an amazing job mobilizing British Columbians around a concrete plan to bring $10aday child care to life. Together, our complementary activities have had national influence, because the federal government has recently embraced the $10aday idea for its historic child care investment in the 2021 federal budget

Climate Policy Framework

Our climate policy game plan begins by adopting the most ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement (to limit climate change to 1.5°) and combines it with a simultaneous goal to increase the wellbeing of all Canadians through the transition to a clean economy. The framework then aggregates and adds to existing policy frameworks including the Pan Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project, the Generation Energy framework, the Re-energizing Canada pathways, the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Finance, the recommendations of the Expert Panel on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience, the report of Project Drawdown, and the 2021 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Information on the potential for renewable energy production in Canada can be found here for solar, and here for wind.

Wellbeing Budgets for All Generations Framework

This game plan has been developed in the Generation Squeeze Lab at the University of British Columbia, with support from a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) grant titled “Budgeting for all generations.”  The framework has been peer-reviewed, and published in the journals Intergenerational Justice Review, and the Canadian Journal of Public Health . Scholarship that contributed to the development of this framework was recognized by the BC Confederation of University Faculty Associations when it selected Dr. Kershaw for its distinguished academic honour of “Academic of the Year” in 2016.


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