Hard Truths Podcast

Generation Squeeze's Hard Truths podcast explores why our generational system is broken and how we can make Canada work fairly for all generations.
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Latest episode

Talking constructively about climate change

May 28, 2023

While working on our Voters Guide for the Alberta election this month, we've found the province's political parties have been worrisomely quiet about climate change, even in the midst of unprecedented wildfires. That left us wondering: why's it so dang hard to talk about climate change? So for this episode, we invited Amber Bennett, a Calgary-based communications strategist, to reflect on her experience discussing climate change with Albertans. She offers some surprising insights and guidance for all Canadians wanting to have more meaningful, productive conversations about complex, controversial problems like climate change (and generational unfairness). These conversations can sometimes be painfully hard to have, but simply talking about climate is a critical way to tackle the climate crisis.

Has talking about climate change ever made you run screaming for the hills? Or maybe you've found your own ways to cross conversational divides? We'd love to hear about it! Share your experiences and tactics with us. And as we start our second season of Hard Truths, we'd also welcome any feedback you have about our show. 

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Anything we care about can become a climate conversation

"Climate's super polarized here still. There are very well-funded groups who have worked very hard to make it toxic. But that's not to say that climate doesn't connect to everything we care about. So we can have a conversation about anything really and it can be a climate change conversation. So whether that's about affordability, or if that's about future job opportunities or health or inflation or protection of nature. There's lots of different kind of entry points into those conversations." -- Amber Bennett

Restoring trust through stories

"I believe that if we can tell stories where things worked and where they are working and then draw connections to people's lives, that that helps to address the kind of defensiveness that we are all collectively holding around, 'We are going to hell in a hand basket. Governments are not stepping up and acting quickly enough to protect us and have our best interests in mind.' So that's where you kind of get apathy. If it doesn't feel like it's gonna make a difference, then why bother? But if we can tell stories where it has made a difference, this has been effective. I think that those nuggets help to break through the defensiveness that we have and help us open up with a sense of trust." -- Amber Bennett

Get real about climate and connect it to what we love

"I think as moms and grandmothers and as parents, we need to get real about the fact that we are never, ever going back. Not in our generation or our children or their children. We are locked in for centuries of this. And so I think that that will help when we're faced with decisions -- be it on costs or investment or priorities -- that will help us make choices that are more reflective of where we're really at. And I believe that women and parents and mothers have a very big capacity to have that kind of conversation... We need to get real, and connect it to the things that we love. And that kind of love is what is gonna pull us through the hard conversation and into the motivation to do things differently." -- Amber Bennett

All episodes

Economist Kevin Milligan joins us to dig into the Hard Truth about medical budgets. Older Canadians didn’t pay enough in taxes during their working lives to cover the medical care they now use. That means a smaller pool of younger taxpayers are footing the bill for boomers’ ballooning medical needs. Our aging population's medical and long-term-care needs are expected to grow another 50% over the next seven years. All Canadians benefit from a robust medical system, so how can we pay for it in a way that's more fair to all generations?

"Whatever problems we have now, they're just growing tremendously...Economists, social scientists, academics, regular folks out there -- they kind of know that the population is aging, but I don't think they know how much that's going to matter over the next 10 years." -- Kevin Milligan

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This episode features a discussion about our government relations work ⁠— specifically about the week we spent in Ottawa directed towards winning a 2023 federal budget that works for all generations. 

Yesterday (February 20) was Family Day, so we thought we'd bring you a family-themed discussion. This episode of Gen Squeeze's Hard Truths podcast features an interview with freelance labour journalist Emma Arkell. We chat about Emma's recent feature for Chatelaine on the child care staffing crisis. Low wages, poor working conditions, lack of opportunities for career advancement, feeling disrespected — these are among the issues that are leading child care workers to leave the sector in high numbers. This, in turn, is putting the promise of $10-a-day child care in jeopardy.

  • Emma Arkell on Twitter: @EmmaArkell7
  • Have thoughts about our discussion that you'd like to share with us? Send us a voice message

Canadians are rightfully proud of our publicly-funded medical care system. Our national self-image is closely associated with the idea that treatment of illness is a social responsibility. In this podcast episode, we make the case that prevention of illness should also be regarded as a social responsibility. Unless we can prioritize illness prevention, it's very likely that our medical care system will continue to be plagued by large patient loads, long wait times, and demoralized doctors and nurses.

The evidence makes clear that social determinants are more important for health and wellbeing than spending on medical care. In other words, without access to decent homes, adequate child care, good incomes, and a clean environment, our medical care system will never be able to prevent people from dying early.

That's why, along with a number of partners, Gen Squeeze has launched the Get Well Canada initiative. Our health care system will "get well" — and we along with it — when we start investing where health begins: the places we live, work, and grow. Find out more about GWC at https://www.getwellcanada.ca/.

Have thoughts about our discussion that you'd like to share with us? You can send us a voice message here: https://www.speakpipe.com/GenSqueeze


This episode features a discussion about hope — about why we think it's worth it to struggle to change things for the better (even though it can sometimes seem otherwise). About our guest: Kareem Kudus is a member of Generation Squeeze's board of directors and a contributor to our research.

In this episode, we chat about the social media influencer Andrew Tate and make the case that his popularity is partly a symptom of our broken intergenerational system. People like Tate are able to highlight the very real challenges that young men face and channel their frustrations in a toxic, anti-social direction. 

We start by asking why Tate attracts an audience much larger than organizations like Gen Squeeze — and we explore a range of other themes, including misogyny,  intergenerational technological divides, and populism.

A listener recently sent us a message: "Time to take the gloves off. Stop the kumbaya and love B.S. Time for boomers to pay." So in this episode, Angie Chan and Paul Kershaw explore what we should be asking older Canadians to do in our fight for generational fairness, and how we can have hard conversations about generational injustice with older family members and friends, without just making them feel guilty or defensive. They also tackle a deeper question that many changemakers wrestle with: will love or anger throw the knock-out punch?

Doug Ford's Ontario government recently announced that parts of the province's Greenbelt would be opened up for development of homes. In this episode of the Hard Truth's podcast, we chat about why that's not a good idea — and why, more generally, we shouldn't be trying to solve our wallet problems by neglecting our climate problems.

In this episode, we chat about the work Gen Squeeze does in advising various levels and institutions in government. We discuss recent examples of this work, the reasons we think it's important, as well as the ways in which those who follow us can support us in doing it better.

We continue the 10th anniversary discussion we began in the previous episode — chatting about we've been up to, some of the lessons we've learned along the way, and what we're looking forward to in the next 10 years as we work to preserve the sacred (a healthy home, a healthy childhood, and a healthy planet).

We registered gensqueeze.ca as our website in November 2012, which we're considering our birthday. So this episode features a look back at the origins of Gen Squeeze, how we've changed and developed over the years, and where we find ourselves today. 

Paul Kershaw chats with Kareem Kudus and Molly Harris about a housing report they co-authored for Gen Squeeze. While home prices have stalled and even declined somewhat, they are still at harmful levels. So what more, aside from interest rate hikes, can be done to address the issue? 

Check out the report: "Celebrating Stalling Prices for Canadian Homes: Why Canadians Need Statistics Canada to Improve Measurement of Housing Inflation in the Consumer Price Index." 

In this episode, we chat about the results of a poll that Gen Squeeze commissioned earlier this year. Among other things, the poll found that the majority of Canadians support a modest surtax for those who live in homes worth more than $1 million. We chat about the implications of the poll's findings, why we need to start closing the home ownership tax shelter, and lots else. 

You can download full poll results here.

Former Green Party leader (and current Green Party leadership contestant!) MP Elizabeth May chats with Paul Kershaw about taking our #GenFairnessChampions pledge, the increasing polarization in Canadian society and politics, the importance of addressing the climate crisis, and a whole lot more.


Paul Kershaw and Andrea Long interview Caroline Lee, a researcher with the Canadian Climate Institute (CCI). They chat about 'Damage Control: Reducing the costs of climate impacts in Canada" — a report recently published by the CCI. You can access the full report here: https://climateinstitute.ca/reports/damage-control/

This Halloween edition of the Hard Truths podcast features a discussion about government budgets. Mary Shelley's classic novel 'Frankenstein' serves as a backdrop, but we don't just make lazy references to the book—e.g. "Boo! Government budgets are scary just like Frankenstein's monster." No, ours is a deeper engagement. We use some of themes in the book to help illustrate what budgets are, why they're important, and why we should seek to intervene in their creation.

Find out more about our budget analysis work here: https://www.gensqueeze.ca/budget_analyses

In this episode of the Hard Truths podcast, co-hosts Umair Muhammad and Angie Chan chat with Paul Kershaw about the campaign Gen Squeeze recently launched to have elected officials pledge to be #GenFairnessChampions. We discuss what the purpose of the campaign is, why an intergenerational lens would benefit our politics, as well as about the short-term tactics and the long-term strategy Gen Squeeze hopes will help to create a political culture in which generational fairness is taken seriously.

Learn more about the #GenFairnessChampions campaign (and about the elected officials who've already taken the pledge)

The kind of intergenerational framing and language that Generation Squeeze champions is increasingly making its way into the mainstream of Canadian political discourse. We've chatted in the past about Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland saying that the housing crisis is a form of "intergenerational injustice." In this episode, we talk about the kind of intergenerational analysis the new leader of the official opposition, Pierre Poilievre, has been using. We think it's great that the kind of framing we've helped to pioneer is becoming more common, but we're also wary that it's not always accompanied by the kind of nuance we would hope for.

To really fix a problem, we need to know the truth about what's caused it. But some truths hurt -- like telling our older family members that the costs of housing and raising a family skyrocketed and our climate deteriorated on their generation's watch. When we point this out, older people often ask, "Are you saying I did something wrong?" They played by the rules of their day -- paid their taxes, worked hard, provided for their families. But those rules were rigged against younger and future generations. The systems that benefited our parents and grandparents are now harming their kids and grandkids. Yet older people did not individually, knowingly do anything wrong. Why implicate them in the damage?

Young and old alike need to be onboard with fixing a systemic problem like generational unfairness. How do we point out what's broken without making older generations feel guilty? How can we inspire them to feel a shared responsibility for being part of the solution? These are some questions hosts Paul Kershaw and Angie Chan wrestle with in this messier, more challenging episode, as they reflect on how Generation Squeeze has evolved and explore what it means to be good intergenerational stewards. 

We always end episodes inviting feedback, but this time we really mean it. We would love to hear from listeners about the questions, problems and ideas we explore in this episode. Please reach out to us at info [at] gensqueeze [dot] ca or through our social channels. 

In this episode Gen Squeeze's Umair Muhammad and Paul Kershaw chat about the problem of campus affordability—an issue that is increasingly in the headlines, as some students are forced to rely on food banks and homeless shelters to get by. While the issue of campus affordability has many dimensions, the root of it has to do with the housing crisis that is affecting Canadian society more broadly. The discussion focuses in particular on the University of British Columbia and the potential steps institutions like it can take to help address housing unaffordability.


In this episode of Gen Squeeze's Hard Truths podcast Paul Kershaw chats with Bill Robson, President and CEO of the CD Howe Institute. They talk about interegenerational unfairness embedded in Canadian federal and provincial budgets. The existing fiscal reality is that older generations disproportionately benefit from government spending while younger future generations are left holding the bill. Paul and Bill talk about how we got into this situation and how we might find a way out. 

The $10aDay child care campaign's success is a huge victory for Canadian families and a reminder that change can happen. Hosts Paul Kershaw and Angie Chan interview child care advocate Lynell Anderson about the campaign's history, why it was so successful, and what work still remains to create an affordable national child care system. 

Learn more:

Gen Squeeze's Paul Kershaw sits down to chat with DT Cochrane, lead economist with Canadians for Tax Fairness (C4TF). Their discussion ranges from the personal to the technocratic—including some reflections on DT's complicated relationship with the field of economics, the work C4TF is doing to close tax loopholes that benefit the wealthy few while leaving us all collectively poorer, and the inherently failure-prone terrain of policy-making. 

You can learn more about C4TF by going to their website: https://www.taxfairness.ca/

Gen Squeeze's million-dollar-homeowner surtax proposal has garnered lots of responses. As one would expect, there's a fair bit of support for the proposal but also... some people are not all that enthusiastic about it. Who would've thought that asking people to pay a modest surtax on wealth they didn't do any work to create would get them so riled up?

In this episode, we take a look at and respond to a sampling of the emails we've gotten about the surtax proposal. Our favourite email is one accusing us of wanting to force those who own million-dollar homes to live in "a shack on a dead end road with no running water or electricity." How did they figure out that that's been our goal all along?!

If you haven't had a chance to learn about our housing surtax proposal, you can do that by reading about it in Maclean's magazine or listening to our recent podcast episode about it.

We've proposed a modest annual surtax on homes valued more than $1 millionas one strategy (among many) to tackle the housing crisis. The surtax could generate $5 billion per year to fund affordable non-profit housing. It would also disrupt a cultural problem that fuels the crisis: many everyday Canadians have benefitted from skyrocketing home values, creating wealth windfalls that are largely sheltered from taxation. Meanwhile those same rising values erode housing affordability for younger generations, whose earnings from work are fully taxed. Public opinion supports asking the country's wealthiest homeowners to chip in more to chip away at housing unaffordability, according to new polling data. In this episode, Paul Kershaw and Umair Muhammad chat about Paul's article on the housing surtax in Maclean's Magazine this month. 

"Canadians see how harmful this growing gap between home price and earnings has become for society. We have witnessed what it means to lock out literally generations of younger, talented, hardworking, well-educated folks from thinking that home ownership might be in their reach in cities across this country. And they're a bigger part of the electorate," Paul Kershaw says. "Public opinion is changing. Over 60% of Canadians from coast to coast to coast are actually supportive of the idea of putting a modest price on housing inequity." 

Dig deeper:

B.C.'s Speculation and Vacancy Tax successfully returned 20,000 vacant homes to the long-term rental market between 2018 and 2020, according to a report released this summer. Gen Squeeze founder Dr. Paul Kershaw interviews Jen St. Denis about her coverage of the empty homes tax and other solutions to the housing affordability crisis. "It takes a long time to get housing built, but we had all these units that were apparently just hiding under the couch cushions," said St. Denis, The Tyee's Downtown Eastside and "Hot, Hot Housing" reporter.
Learn more:

Inflation seems like big news lately, but runaway inflation has been around for decades when it comes to housing prices in Canada. Gen Squeeze volunteer Kareem Kudus joins Umair and Megan to connect the dots between housing unaffordability and inflation, in particular how mismeasuring housing inflation has contributed to soaring home prices. Since 2005, home prices have risen about 300 per cent on average across the country. But the housing component of the Consumer Price Index -- which we use to measure inflation in Canada -- has only gone up 60 per cent. "So it's completely disassociated from reality," Kareem explains. Fixing this faulty monetary policy will help make homes affordable for younger and future Canadians. 

Dig deeper:

Environmental economist Dave Sawyer and Gen Squeeze's Umair Muhammad and Megan Wilde discuss how Canada is cutting carbon emissions to fight climate change, one of the greatest intergenerational injustices of our time. Dave gives us the low down on the federal government's recent proposal to cap and cut carbon emissions from the oil and gas sector, Canada's largest and fastest-growing source of carbon emissions. He also explains the differences between cap-and-trade and carbon-pricing systems and how these strategies have worked across Canada. We then delve into Gen Squeeze's climate solutions framework and voter's guide platform analyses. And we learn what an environmental economist would do with a magic wand.

Dave Sawyer is a leading environmental economist with EnviroEconomics and contributor to Gen Squeeze's climate change work. He has held positions with Environment Canada, Canada's Commissioner of Environment and Sustainable Development, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, and Carleton's School of Public Policy.

Dig deeper:

Gen Squeeze's podcast is called Hard Truths, because we know our research and ideas aren't always popular. Sometimes we even make people mad. In this episode Umair Muhammad talks with Dr. Paul Kershaw and Andrea Long about recent messages Gen Squeeze has received -- some angry, some not. We hope this discussion offers insights into the problems we tackle and our approach to solving them. We also want to learn from our mistakes and believe we can do our work better when we listen and respond to criticism. 

Fixing big systemic problems like generational unfairness requires a well-functioning democracy. This episode finds Angie Chan and Paul Kershaw having a bad day, as they grapple with democracy's seemingly grim prognosis after record-low voter turnout in Ontario. They also discuss how and why Generation Squeeze tackles systems change, the heroism of flexing even small democratic muscles, and what citizenship and solidarity really mean.

"Is it a sacrifice to ask people to leave at least as much as they inherited? Is it a sacrifice to ask people to steward what they thought was important, like a good childhood or good home or safe planet, and make sure that those things get left for those who follow? Is it a sacrifice to say, 'Hey, pay for what you want to use? And if you're actually doing relatively well, how about making an investment in the future?' ...I think people are hardwired to think that way in our families. So why can't we bring that to the world of politics? The answer is we can. But we do need to make democracy work better for all generations." -- Dr. Paul Kershaw


The new federal Affordability Plan promises to ease the painful effects of inflation. How fairly will these affordability measures work for younger and future generations? Umair Muhammad chats with Dr. Paul Kershaw and Andrea Long about what inflation and the Affordability Plan mean for wellbeing, housing prices, and family affordability.

Are you wondering what the heck just happened in Ontario's election? New co-host Umair Muhammad chats with Dr. Paul Kershaw and Andrea Long about why less than half of ON voters turned out and what voter apathy means for generational fairness in Canada. 

Learn more:

A generational bias in Canadian politics prioritizes seniors in government budgets, leaving younger generations fighting for table scraps. Generation Squeeze founder Dr. Paul Kershaw and host Angie Chan interview Sean Speer about the generational unfairness baked into Canada's budget pie and how it's harming younger and future generations: from unaffordable housing and a diminishing middle class, to not having as many children as parents want. Sean is editor-at-large at The Hub, the PPF Scotiabank Fellow at the Public Policy Forum, and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. He was previously a senior economic adviser to former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. 

Ready to learn more and take action?

It's springtime, when birds sing, flowers bloom and governments strut their stuff in budgets! Budgets shape all of the actions governments take, so if we want progress on housing, child care, climate change and generational fairness, it needs to be baked into our governments' budgets. In this recording of a recent live virtual event, Gen Squeeze founder Dr. Paul Kershaw goes beyond the flashy headlines to explain what the new federal budget really means for younger Canadians.

Check out our in-depth budget analysis of the federal, B.C. and Ontario budgets!

The myths that young Canadians are lazy and seniors are poor have real power in our lives and the world of politics. These myths fuel our broken generational system and distract us from solving today's most pressing problems. Join Dr. Paul Kershaw and Angie Chan on a myth-busting mission in Gen Squeeze's second Hard Truth. Challenging these assumptions will help make Canada work more fairly for all generations.

Ready to take action or learn more?

Unaffordable housing is a symptom of generational unfairness that most young Canadians know all too well. Across Canada, it’s a hard and obvious truth that our housing system is completely broken for those of us wanting to buy a home, settle in our communities, and achieve some financial security and autonomy. But for people who own homes, the housing system is actually working fabulously well, making them wealthier while they sleep. Gen Squeeze thinks Canada is culturally and politically addicted to high and rising home values. How can we break this dangerous housing addiction? This special bonus episode is a recording of a live virtual event on March 29 hosted by Gen Squeeze founder Dr. Paul Kershaw. 

Ready to take action?

Paul Kershaw and Angie Chan confront Gen Squeeze's first Hard Truth: Canada has a generational fairness problem. If you've never heard the term, you probably know the symptoms of this systemic disease: unaffordable housing and child care, low wages, climate change. Listen and learn what generational fairness means and why it matters so much to the lives of younger and future Canadians.

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