What do we want in the Ontario budget?

Generation Squeeze is a force for generational fairness.  We have generational fairness when each generation takes and contributes in proportion to its size, wealth and capacity.  We violate generational fairness when a single generation asks for more than it is willing to pay, and doesn’t preserve what’s sacred today for generations to come.

Budget 2022 is an opportunity to improve the health and wellbeing of all generations, from the early years onwards.  Generation Squeeze recommendations on priority actions to achieve this goal are summarized below.  Some require bold leadership and action - others point to easy steps to improve accountability.  All are pressing as Ontario seeks to build back better from the pandemic. 

Generation Squeeze will analyze Budget spending and impacts by age, and mobilize findings across our 37,000+ network.  With the provincial election upcoming in June, Budget analysis will inform our forthcoming Ontario Voters Guide and non-partisan party platform scorecards.  As our track record demonstrates, Generation Squeeze generates broad reach and impact from our election work, including widespread media coverage and influence on party platforms. 

Generation Squeeze welcomes opportunities to discuss our recommendations in more detail, and to collaborate with MPPs from all parties to make Ontario work for all generations.

Generation Squeeze 2022 Budget Recommendations

  1. Ontario is now the only jurisdiction without a deal in place to make sure child care no longer costs another mortgage-sized payment.  Budget 2022 should commit to and resource an agreement with the Government of Canada to create universal $10 a day child care in Ontario that sets $10 a day as the maximum fee for everyone, not just the average, with no fee for low-income households. We should apply the same logic to child care as public education and medical care – more affluent individuals are asked to pay more via taxes – not via higher fees at the door.   As we do, let’s be sure that all child care workers earn pay equity salaries, not parking-lot attendant wages.

  2. Budget 2022 should commit to the principle that restoring housing affordability for all requires home prices to stall so that earnings can catch up, because a home should be in reach of what hard work can earn.  To align policy with this principle, Budget 2022 should put a modest price on housing inequity via a small annual surtax on home value over $1 million. The surtax would apply only to the top 25% most valuable homes – it won’t cost 75% of Ontarians a penny more.  But it will help ratchet down the runaway home prices driving up wealth inequity and crushing affordability for younger generations, while raising $5 billion annually to invest in deeply affordable, energy-efficient rental and co-op homes.  To further scale up the supply of such homes, Budget 2022 should align the mandates of the Canada Infrastructure Bank with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. See this report for more information.

  3. Budget 2022 should intensify Ontario’s response to climate change, so that the level of action matches stated ambitions.  The Ontario government promised to match national climate change targets for 2030, but internal Environment Ministry estimates forecast that Ontario is likely to achieve only 20% of these commitments.  More urgent action is needed in the face of escalating climate costs and disruptions. Key actions include a credible plan to eliminate all fossil fuel subsidies. The timeline for this plan should align with the escalated federal ambition to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies by 2023, and reallocate the savings to scale up renewable energy and carbon drawdown through regenerative agriculture and other tools.  This action is necessary to reach net-zero goals, and mitigate growing climate risks that are already harming Ontario’s economy, infrastructure and communities.

  4. Budget 2022 should improve accountability for investing in wellbeing from the early years onwards by integrating the following three metrics. This recommendation requires almost no new spending – just better monitoring.


i.
Budget 2022 should report on the ratio between spending on key social investments relative to medical care spending because science shows that health does not begin with medical care.  It begins where Ontarians are born, grow, live, work and age.  As pandemic pressures accelerate demands for increased spending on illness treatment via the medical system, it is increasingly important to make clear that child care spending is health spending; improving housing affordability is health spending; poverty reduction, reconciliation, and climate change are all health spending, etc. Reporting on the social/medical spending ratio will help Ontario prioritize investing in well-being and prevention of illness with as much urgency as we invest in treating illness after the fact.

ii.Budget 2022 should include an accurate and meaningful assessment of spending by age.  Age-based spending data is necessary for analysis of whether aging Ontarians are contributing a fair share for the services they want and need, and whether we are leaving an irresponsible legacy of unpaid bills versus preserving what’s sacred for generations to come. See this study for more information.

Budget 2022 should call on Statistics Canada to remedy inaccurate reporting on inflation in home prices. Data that under-estimate inflation by failing to adequately account for the skyrocketing price of established homes risk sending the wrong signal to the Bank of Canada as it manages interest rates and monetary policy. While low interest rates have economic benefits, they also contribute to driving up home prices, as the lower cost of borrowing allows buyers to bid up prices.  This systemic problem erodes intergenerational fairness by reducing affordability for younger residents while growing wealth for (often older) home owners. See thisreport for more information.

Paul Kershaw
About
Dr. Paul Kershaw is a Professor in the University of British Columbia's School of Population and Public Health, and the Founder of Generation Squeeze.
What do we want in the Ontario budget?
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