Why we need #GenFairnessChampions

Stay tuned for the launch of our #GenFairnessChampions pledge campaign on October 12!

We'll be inviting elected officials, policymakers, and grassroots activists to take the pledge committing to make Canada work more fairly for all generations.

Why does Canada need #GenFairnessChampions?

All generations have responsibilities to each other, and to the future. We must plan wisely to use the resources we share today to promote wellbeing for all, from the early years onwards. And we should steward those resources to preserve what’s sacred for those who followlike a good home, healthy childhood and stable climate. 

Anyone with kids or grandkids they love can appreciate these responsibilities. The reciprocity so many of us show in our familieswhere each member contributes in proportion to their needs and opportunitiesis a model for public policy that will make Canada work for all generations.

Problem is, we’re not living up to this model. The cost of this failure is largely borne by younger and future generations.

Hard work no longer pays off for young people the way it did for previous generations, thanks to declining wages and higher costs for things like education, housing, and child care. Bills are being left unpaid by older generations who are living longer and expecting more in retirement.  And we choose to invest the lion’s share of our shared resources in our aging population, crowding out spending on younger ages.

The result? Younger people are squeezed for money, time and services, while inheriting growing financial and climate debts. Older people are worried about the legacy they are leaving for the kids and grandkids they love. 

Our generational system is broken. Gen Squeeze is committed to working together with you to repair it. 

This work begins with recognizing and acknowledging the problemand then bringing the solutions Gen Squeeze has identified to the world of politics. Fixing systems is hard and slow work, because they are grounded in cultural myths and values that are hard to change.  But we’re in it for the long haul, and we hope you’ll join us

How are younger generations being squeezed?

Education: Younger generations are more educated today than in the past, but thanks to declining post-secondary investment, student debt has ballooned.

Jobs: Younger workers are more likely to be employed in precarious forms of work, versus the full-time, secure positions more often available to previous generations. Even for those with decent jobs, their hard work doesn’t pay off the way it used to, as average wages are declining.

Paying taxes: Working age taxpayers are underwriting the wellbeing of older Canadians far more now than in the past. The result is less money left over to invest in things that matter for younger generations – like child care, postsecondary, affordable housing, and climate change. 

Buying a home: Many younger people (and newcomers to Canada of any age) are locked out of the housing market by skyrocketing prices that have left earnings far behind.

Starting a family: Decisions about starting a family are squeezed between declining wages, runaway home prices, child care that costs as much as a rent or mortgage payment, inadequate parental leave, and insufficient work-life balance. This squeeze contributes to high rates of child vulnerability.

Climate change: To avoid the worst climate dangers, younger people must change where they work, what they eat, how they commute, how they holiday, and much, much more. Research confirms the enormous impact these pressures are having on the wellbeing of younger generations.

Rising government debt: Young people today inherit 3 times more government debt than did young adults in the late 1970s (even before pandemic spending). Governments have adapted to rising debts by cutting spending, notably on supports for younger Canadians.

How are older generations leaving a harmful legacy?

Housing wealth: Many older home owners have reaped big financial gains from rising home prices, thanks to the good fortune of buying into the market decades ago.  But the same rising prices that boost wealth for older demographics are crushing housing affordability for younger people.

Income security: The federal government spends big on income security for retirees, even though they are less likely to be poor than other age groups. We should be proud that we’re keeping seniors out of poverty – but also concerned that we’re not investing as urgently to prevent poverty for young families. 

Medical care: Our aging population means demand is growing to invest more in medical care. There’s good reason to make these investments – but even good investments must be paid for.  Older Canadians should contribute a fair share to the costs of services they want and use in retirement.

Spending across the life course: Governments invest far more in each senior than in each person under age 45. We will always need more support in our later years, but we should care equally about promoting the wellbeing of each age group, from the early years onwards.

Paying taxes: When today’s seniors were working, the taxes they paid did not fully cover the cost of the services they want and use in retirement – leaving working age taxpayers to underwrite the wellbeing of older Canadians to a far greater extent today than in the past.

Climate change:  Climate change adaptation is a burden resting primarily on younger and future generations, because of the failure of those before them to act urgently to shoulder some of the costs.

Government debt: Younger Canadians today inherit 3 times more government debt than young adults in the late 1970s (even before pandemic spending). New spending largely has gone to those age 65+, but political leaders are unwilling to ask older Canadians to help cover the costs.

 

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