Task Force Campaign Report: Call in the tugboats!

We overshot the mark on the federal budget — now we need tugboats to keep the freighter of government on course

With the 2024 budget season now in the rear-view mirror, it’s a good time to take stock of what we achieved, and how it stacks up against what we wanted. 

We asked for a Task Force — but got something better

Many of you added your voices to our pre-budget ask for Ottawa to create a Generational Fairness Task Force with a mandate to resolve generational tensions in our public policies. This call was at the centre of our budget recommendations. In dozens of meetings with decision-makers, we worked hard to make a compelling case for its formation. 

What our persistent advocacy yielded instead, however, was an entire federal budget organized around the promise of Fairness For Every Generation. Talk about overshooting the mark! 

Few actions have potential to yield as much influence as naming generational fairness as a guiding principle for policy and investment priorities in a high-level document like the budget. And it’s clear that our work is behind this budget theme. Gen Squeeze language is used throughout to describe the systemic challenges facing younger Canadians.

The budget acknowledges that hard work isn’t paying off for younger Canadians today the way it did for previous generations. It speaks to the deck being stacked against younger Canadians, and calls out the imperative of paying for the Canada we want in true Gen Squeeze style: “Financing the investment we need through more debt would be unfair to young Canadians — we want them to inherit prosperity, not our unpaid bills” (p. 331).

This accomplishment is a testament to the determination of the generational fairness movement we’ve been creating together for over a decade. Now, we need to bring the same resolve to making sure Ottawa delivers on its promise, because fixing the generational tensions that crept into our economy and policies over decades requires more than what a single budget can deliver, as our budget analysis explained.

A road map for accountability

Now we're developing a plan to more deeply embed generational fairness as a core principle in government decisions. To start, we're calling for generational fairness point people to ensure the federal government follows through on its new commitments. These measures will secure accountability in the world of politics, in our parliamentary structures, and through external pressure and monitoring.

The freighter of government changes course slowly — whether or not we’re impatient for change. Just like the tugboats that nudge these cumbersome vessels into the right berth, these point people will keep prodding governments to build a Canada that works for all generations.

The channel is open, thanks to Budget 2024. Having the right tools to navigate turbulent currents will make sure that the promise of “Fairness For Every Generation” is realized. 

Here's what we're pushing the federal government to do next:

  • Appoint a Minister responsible for Fairness for Every Generation. Including generational fairness as part of the mandate given to a specific Minister secures a visible and influential champion at the Cabinet table. A dedicated Minister also ensures that generational fairness is included in annual departmental planning and reporting, creating obligations to document investments and results. Since the policy changes needed to address intergenerational tensions span different federal departments, ideally the designated Minister would sit within a cross-cutting department, like Finance or Treasury. 
  • Appoint a Commissioner for Generational Fairness. Similar to the model in place for the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development (CESD), Canada needs an arm’s length, independent Commissioner for generational fairness who reports directly to parliament, and isn’t subject to the vagaries of electoral politics. Like the CESD, the Commissioner could be created within the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, with a mandate to deliver non-partisan analysis and recommendations on the state of generational fairness in Canada, and governments’ efforts to achieve it. A Commissioner would push government towards longer-term thinking about policy and fiscal priorities, to ensure that we don’t just meet today’s needs by extracting too much from the shared resources on which future generations also must rely. 
  • Appoint an Advisory Body on Generational Fairness. Similar to the Net-Zero Advisory Body, this group will ensure governments benefit from the expertise of Canadians on intergenerational tensions and solutions. It will help clean up past policy messes, and make sure new policies support people of all ages to thrive. Operating independently of electoral politics, the Task Force would not be party partisan blame games, instead delivering credible intergenerational analyses to form the basis of policy and budget decisions.

As always, we need a loud choir calling for these point people to make our elected leaders respond. Join us and ask others to do the same, so we can grow our power enough to make generational fairness a guiding star for our country — today and for generations to come.

Join us


Andrea LongAndrea Long is Senior Director of Research and Knowledge Mobilization for Gen Squeeze. She has more than 20 years of experience in policy analysis, research and knowledge mobilization on health and social issues, including housing and homelessness, poverty, social determinants of health, and health in all policies.

Share this page:    
Connect with us