Gen Squeeze grew out of a basic but important observation: Young people are facing some of the biggest pressures of any generation before them. And we need a voice on the issues and decisions that impact us.
Here are four big moments in 2020 where Gen Squeeze, with the help of our supporters, put younger generations out front:
Younger people have been slammed by the economic fallout from Covid-19. When the pandemic hit high gear in the spring, Gen Squeeze received thousands of messages from people describing their struggles, as well as their hopes for a #BetterThanNormal recovery. Your ideas helped us respond to the pandemic in 3 important ways:
- They guided our rapid response advocacy around eviction bans, rent freezes and mortgage deferrals. (Nearly every province and territory put these in place.)
- As people scrambled to pay rent, Gen Squeeze created a set of shareable resources connecting people to income supports and other resources for surviving the pandemic downturn.
- Your recovery ideas helped shape our submissions to federal and provincial governments on their Covid-19 recovery plans.
What’s next? The 2021 federal budget will show us whether the government is committed to an economic recovery and future that lifts up younger people, now and for the long-term.
Housing for all by 2030
Even in a pandemic, home prices in Canada are hitting historic highs. If that isn’t a signal that housing affordability is still out of control in Canada, we don’t know what is! That’s why we took the following action this year:
- Fresh Gen Squeeze research shone a light on the fact that BC remains one of the worst economies in Canada when it comes to earning enough to cover one of the biggest costs of living – housing.
- We kicked off a campaign to get governments (beginning in BC) to commit to a clear goal of ensuring everyone can afford a good home by 2030, whether renting or owning. During BC’s snap election this fall, one of the three major parties running made the 2030 goal part of their platform!
Why is having a goal like this so important right now? Because even though governments across Canada have taken some action on housing, costs in many places are still getting worse. Committing to the 2030 goal would set governments up to create targets and plans aimed at achieving true housing affordability – and let us hold them accountable to it.
What’s next? The push is now on to get BC’s new government, and others across the country, to adopt this goal in 2021.
Defending climate action at the top court
Constitutional law isn’t top of mind for many Canadians. But curtailing climate change in order to put the brakes on another public health crisis is. That’s why Gen Squeeze’s intervention in a major Supreme Court hearing on climate action was such a big deal this fall.
- We led a coalition of youth and health-focused organizations to court to defend Canada’s national standards on carbon emissions (i.e. the federal carbon tax).
- Our submission brought the voices of young people to Canada’s top judges, arguing that governments need to protect younger and future generations from the impacts of the climate crisis.
Before Covid-19 was a (the) thing, we started the year with a campaign to ensure the federal budget included five key policies to help young people, and Canadians of all ages. It was backed by:
- New research from the Gen Squeeze lab at UBC showing governments have increased per person spending on retirees 4 times faster than on younger Canadians over the past 40+ years.
Nearly 1,500 people sent letters to the finance minister using our tool, calling on the federal government to include 5 key measures for young people in their 2020 budget: a national vacant homes tax, a rental housing preservation program, a national system of universal child care, new legally-binding climate targets (which the federal government just proposed) and better tracking of age trends in public finance.
- Gen Squeeze amped that momentum by going to Ottawa and lobbying decision makers directly.
But just before that budget was about to drop, Covid-19 landed instead, blowing up Canada’s fiscal landscape.
What’s next? We’ll be advocating again for a 2021 federal budget that supports all generations equally, as it also helps them recover from Covid-19.
What else is simmering...
Sometimes the work we do behind the scenes is as important as the stuff we make noise about. Here are two other projects we kicked off in 2020 that we think are essential to making life better for younger, and all, generations.
Making Airbnb work
Short term rentals like Airbnb are awesome for travellers. But in places where housing is costly and hard to come by, each new STR means a potential lost home and worsening affordability.
That’s why Gen Squeeze, with support from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Real Estate Foundation of BC, LandlordBC, Vancouver Foundation and Granicus, developed a step-by-step guide for municipalities on how they can manage the explosive growth in STRs Canada has seen over the last several years.
Housing for homes, not investments
Working with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we’re currently convening some of this country’s top experts to explore what kinds of policies we could use to disentangle households from expectations or dependencies on high and rising home values (because high and rising home values = bad news for affordability).