How Our Economy Fails Young People (Ontario)
The next provincial election in Ontario is fast-approaching. Since many citizens will cast their ballot for the party they believe will best steward the provincial economy, we wrote this report to showcase the performance of the Ontario economy relative to other provinces and over time.

Why we wrote this report


The next provincial election in Ontario is fast-approaching. Since many citizens will cast their ballot for the party they believe will best steward the provincial economy, we wrote this report to showcase the performance of the Ontario economy relative to other provinces and over time.

The results are clear and concerning. They show that Ontario, at the time of publication, had Canada's second worst economy for younger people (B.C. has the worst).  

Key takeaways

  • Gross domestic product (GDP) and employment indicators are insufficient metrics to evaluate the performance of the economy.

  • It's better to judge an economy by looking at whether it requires more, or less, work from citizens to cover major costs of living, and whether it is sustainable. By these measures, Ontario's economy is failing younger people. 

  • Ontario is the only province in Canada to report a decline in full-time earnings for the typical 25-34 year old since 2003. Full-time earnings have fallen $4,600 for the typical young adult in Ontario by comparison with when today’s aging population was young. 

  • Ontario is losing control of home prices. It took five years of full-time work to save a 20 per cent down-payment on an average-priced Ontario home in 1976-80. By 2003, it took eight years. At the time of publication, it takes 15 years on average.

  • When measured as a share of our economy, the Ontario provincial government debt is among the highest in the country, well above the average of all provinces combined. Ontario has the third highest per capita provincial debt level in the country – and that debt is left primarily to younger generations to pay.

  • Younger Ontarians are facing alarming amounts of personal debt. In addition to high home costs, young people’s personal debt is growing because postsecondary tuition increased more in Ontario than in any other province since 2003, and childcare now costs 50 per cent more than university tuition.

  • No province has reduced its carbon footprint more than Ontario since 1990, and most of those reductions have been achieved since 2003 under the current government. Nice! Still, the carbon footprint in Ontario remains around 10 times higher than what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change advises is the upper limit for sustainability in the coming decades.

  • 35,000 children enter the formal school system in Ontario each year vulnerable in ways that mean they are more likely to fail, go to jail and wind up sick as adults. Evidence suggests more than 20,000 of these cases could be avoided if governments were to adapt policy in ways that ease the time, money, service and environmental squeeze on the generations raising young children. 

 

Download the full report

About
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.
Ontario has Canada's second worst economy for young people, via @GenSqueeze
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