Research Themes

Overall, our research is focused on the concept of generational equity, and can be divided into researching the problem (generational inequities in Canada today) and developing solutions.

The Problem

On an ongoing basis, we ask:

  • How do government investments in older generations of Canadians compare to investments in younger generations?

  • What are the results of these investment levels? How do they relate to changes in demographic, social, economic and environmental circumstances facing young and old alike? In other words, what is the current "State of the Squeeze" in Canada, and are governments adapting appropriately?

  • What are the intergenerational consequences of current fiscal, infrastructure and environmental assets and debts?

Solutions

On the solutions-side, we’re focusing on ten themes:

5 Themes to Reduce the Time and Money Squeeze

All Canadians should have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families.

Younger Canadians are being squeezed for time and money in the areas of housing, school, work and family, which all together make it harder to save for retirement. Individuals are doing a lot to adapt to tough circumstances, but public policy needs to adapt as well. To reduce the time and money squeeze, we’d like to continually find reasonable ways for policy to:

  • Rein in costs (both tuition and housing prices are double what they were a generation ago, and because child care – necessary for parents to work – can cost more than university tuition);

  • Make it easier to find good jobs (because while market forces, and our own determination and life choices greatly affect our ability to find good work, so too does government policy in a host of areas including education and training, business development, domestic and international trade, etc.)

  • Boost household incomes (Because younger generations cope with lower wages and skyrocketing costs by working more, but still require time away from paid work, like after the birth of a child, training for a job, or when we retire);

  • Free up time to spend with family (because often we try to adapt to rising costs and lower wages by taking on even more work or by going back to school, which leaves less time to start a family or spend time with the family we have); and,

  • Make it easier to save for retirement (because on top of rising costs and lower wages, younger Canadians are less likely to find jobs with generous pensions; and there’s no guarantee we’ll experience the rapid growth and compound interest enjoyed by previous generations).

5 Themes to Ensure a Prosperous Future for All Generations

It's our duty to leave future generations at least as much as we inherited.

On top of the time and money squeeze, younger Canadians are facing the prospect of ever-larger generational debts stemming from environmental damage, depleted resources and inefficient use of public funds. To ensure a prosperous future for all generations, we will pursue policy change that will:

  • Give a better start to Canada’s children (because even though science shows that our early years have lasting, profound influences over our lives, Canada ranks near the bottom of OECD countries for investments in early childhood development)

  • Use non-renewable resources better (because once they’re gone, they’re gone)

  • Ensure we don’t use renewable resources faster than earth's systems can renew them (because younger Canadians should have as much access to things like clean water, good soil, wood and wild fish as previous generations).
     
  • Ensure we don’t dump wastes faster than earth's systems can safely absorb them (because sometimes the damage is irreversible or the cleanup more expensive than our children can afford)

  • Use taxpayers’ money better* (because over the last 30 years, although our economy has nearly doubled in size, younger Canadians are facing a public debt that has nearly tripled, environmental debts that are spiraling out of control, and a decreased overall standard of living. Clearly governments could be using our wealth more wisely). 


*Our final research theme focuses on how to pay for Gen Squeeze policy solutions.  We have started researching the pros and cons of policy adaptations that reallocate existing spending, reverse inefficient tax cuts, and/or generate new revenue.  Options we explore include:

  • Containing the growth of public medical care spending in order to reallocate funds to our policy recommendations that promote the social determinants of health

  • Putting a price on pollution

  • Reducing subsidies for industries

  • Adapting the age of retirement

  • Saving government money by preventing school failure, crime and avoidable injury and illness

  • Revisiting tax loopholes, a small percentage of recent tax cuts, or taxes on wealth (eg. homes worth more than $1.5 million and cars over $50,000)

  • Legalizing and taxing marijuana as some US states now do

We look forward to a lively debate about these options to pay for a better generational deal.  However, we won’t let disagreement about the merits of these options distract attention from a fundamental problem with the status quo.  Too often governments of all political stripes claim the cupboard is bare for younger generations while they are still finding billions for others, including the aging parents and grandparents we love.  For example, governments today combine to spend $58 billion annually more on the population age 65+ than in 1976, while governments have cut more than $15 billion annually from spending on families with children, grade school and postsecondary (all figures adjusted for inflation by measuring %GDP).  We don’t know any aging parents and grandparents who want investments in their health and well-being to come at the expense of adapting for their kids and grandchildren.  So it’s time to consider at least some of the options above – because the only other option is to leave younger generations squeezed for time, money, services and by a deteriorating environment. 


Research Themes
Research Themes
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