Canadians – and their governments – spend a lot of time and money trying to promote and sustain wellbeing for all. Elections are key moments to make meaning of these efforts. When priorities and investments for each party are condensed into election platforms, we have an opportunity to broadly assess how – and for whom – wellbeing is being advanced.
Gen Squeeze is committed to the principle that wellbeing requires promoting generational fairness. That's why we put together this gameplan for fairer generational spending in Canada's budgets to promote wellbeing, from the early years onwards.
But how do you know if the actions to which parties are committing in their platforms really align with the gameplan, to move us towards wellbeing budgets for all generations in Canada?
Gen Squeeze can help!
Our Voter’s Guide makes meaning of party promises by assessing the degree to which each platform advances the evidence-based actions needed for fair generational budgeting. Then we share the results of these analyses with you, in summary scorecards, and in detailed commentary. Gen Squeeze doesn’t tell you who to vote for – but we do want to give you the information you need to vote informed. Success for Gen Squeeze is that all parties have equally strong approaches to budgeting for wellbeing for all generations.
All parties fail to invest fairly for young and old alike
The four national parties ignore evidence about how best to promote well-being for all generations – with the result being that all parties don’t invest fairly in young and old alike.
Most parties promise to accelerate spending for Canadians age 65+ – and to do so about five times faster than for Canadians under age 45 (the generations in their prime child rearing years). This disparity stands out in the Conservative platform – they will increase spending on older Canadians 12 times faster than spending on younger Canadians. The party's decision to cut billions in child care spending from Liberal Budget commitments is the primary reason why Conservatives will invest less urgently in younger Canadians than the other parties.
All parties ignore key public health evidence
All parties fail to invest in illness prevention, particularly for younger Canadians. Significant new health expenditures prioritize investing in medical care, to treat people after they fall ill. The evidence confirms that this is both more costly, and less effective.
The parties consistently ignore research showing that government spending on social programs (e.g., poverty reduction, housing, child care, etc.) has a stronger association with life expectancy and fewer years of lost life than does public investment in medical care.
All parties pass the buck when it comes to paying for what we want
None of the parties promise to raise revenue fairly between generations. The platforms invite older Canadians to expect more spending on medical care, retirement income, and long-term care – but not to expect to have to pay for many of these improvements.
Parties fail to acknowledge that when we started medical care and retirement income programs decades ago, there were 7 workers for every senior. Now there are fewer than 4 workers. This means that today’s retirees did pay taxes for medical care and Old Age Security throughout their working lives – but not at levels that anticipated their own usage of these program in retirement. If we don’t re-design revenue strategies to address this concern, many of the bills for new medical and retirement income spending will continue to be kicked down the road, for the kids and grandkids of today’s seniors.
We are already seeing the result. No party promises to balance government books – even 4 years from now, when we don’t expect to be in a recession! The parties don’t appear to be concerned about the prospect of heaping more debt on to younger Canadians, despite the fact that government debts were already 3 times larger for Canadians under age 45 before the pandemic started – compared to when today’s aging population started out as young adults.
Even though all parties anticipate deficits for many years to come, it’s not because we will be making transformational investments to fight climate change, or address housing unaffordability – issues that are squeezing younger generations. Instead, forecasted deficits are consistently similar in size to the increased investment parties propose for old age security and medical care for the aging population.
Why do political parties think they can only win older votes if they don’t ask older Canadians (who have more wealth than any other age group) to pay a fair share for the improved services and benefits they want?
There are a couple of intergenerational bright spots. Three of four parties propose putting a high enough price on pollution to help younger Canadians and future generations have a fighting chance to fend off the worst that climate change has in store. Three of four parties also propose to invest enough to make $10 a day child care a reality.
When it comes to promoting wellbeing via government budgets that work for all generations, here is how the platforms compare overall:
- The Liberals are stuck at the starting line
- The Greens take us one step in the wrong direction
- The NDP takes us three steps in the wrong direction
- The Conservatives take four steps in the wrong direction
It’s clear that we need to tell all of our political leaders to redesign their budgets to ensure that they promote wellbeing for all generations. This means urgently investing for young and old alike – and expecting young and old alike to help pay for these investments in a realistic way – so that we can all leave as much behind as we inherited.
Canada will only turn this around if young and old alike band together in support of intergenerational solidarity, and in support of budgets that promote wellbeing for all generations, from the early years onwards. So let this be the last election where parties judge they can get away with platforms that undermine intergenerational fairness. #GenFairnessNow