New Post has been published on Generation Squeeze
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/slides/2332/
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/alberta-budget-2014/
Alberta is the Next Government to Budget for Generations that Organize
As younger Canadians finish school, begin careers and start homes and families, we are squeezed by lower wages, higher costs, less time and a deteriorating environment – even though our economy produces more wealth than ever before.
While governments use this wealth to adapt policy for others, including our aging population, they continue down a path that leaves little left over for younger generations. For example, the Alberta government will table its 2014 budget this week. Fundamentals from its previous budgets mean we can expect approximately an extra $844 million in annual spending for the 11 per cent of the population age 65-plus, compared to $523 million for the 63 per cent of the population under age 45. (See the Gen Squeeze Press Release for the Alberta budget). This Alberta pattern mimics BC, which last month announced an extra $1.2 billion annually for its retirees, with no significant increase for the population under 45; along with Ottawa which budgeted an extra $11 billion annually for those over age 65, and less than one-fifth of this for younger generations.
Nobody wants government budgets to protect spending on seniors at the expense of investing in their kids and grandchildren. Unfortunately, governments will continue this trade-off until we build a powerful organization that speaks up for Younger Canada.
We are inspired to build such an organization by the Canadian Association of Retired Persons (CARP). CARP is on a “march to a million” members because it knows that research about healthy aging yields more influence over policy when it is accompanied by political clout. It builds clout by bringing like-minded people together who are attracted in part by the promise to keep money in their pocket.
We’re glad CARP exists to speak up for our retired parents and grandparents. But our retired parents wonder who stands up for younger generations?
That’s why thousands from coast to coast and of all ages are joining Generation Squeeze to speak up for those in their mid-40s and younger. We are motivated by a vision for Canada that works for all generations. One where all Canadians have the chance to live up to their potential, enough time and money to enjoy life, and work together to leave our country and planet better off than we found it.
We pursue this vision in the market by looking for like-minded companies that can save younger Canadians time and money with member discounts on products and services, just as CARP negotiates discounts for seniors.
In politics, we are disenchanted by scandals surrounding Rob Ford and the Senate. But we know we can change politics from the outside if we have enough people power. Especially in ridings with historically close elections, it will take just a fraction of our allies to make the difference between winning and losing political races.
Then political parties on the right, left and centre will have new incentives to adapt policy for Gen Squeeze as they currently do for retirees, finding reasonable ways to:
- Rein in costs because tuition and housing prices are double what they were a generation ago, and because child care can cost more than university tuition;
- 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.
We can pursue these adaptations while safeguarding medical care and retirement income for our aging population; and do so in ways that use natural resources no faster than the earth can sustain them for next generations.
While we do, we’ll change for the better. We’ll feel better equipped to provide for our family and ourselves. We’ll have newfound confidence in our ability to influence our elected officials. We’ll be focused on achieving real prosperity rather than growth for growth’s sake. And we’ll feel less isolated, because we are able to spend more time with family and friends, and possibly less on stuff.
Paul Kershaw is a UBC Professor, and Founder of Generation Squeeze (gensqueeze.ca)
Eric Swanson is Gen Squeeze’s Director of Public Engagement.
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/slides/gensqueeze-hits-the-streets/
Gensqueeze hits the streets
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/budget-2014-older-count-more-than-younger/
Budget 2014: Older Count More than Younger
Federal Budget 2014 will show that the Government of Canada is growing annual spending on retirees by approximately $12 billion since it was elected – nearly six times more than spending increases for Canadians under age 45.
Chances are, Canadians won’t hear about this generational inequity in the budget speech, or even from the media covering it. What we will hear about is what’s ‘new’ – the latest mini tax credit, promises of income splitting in the future, and small spending commitments totaled up over several years to dazzle us with numbers that sound big. This means many will sweat the small stuff, and ignore what is happening with the fundamentals like Old Age Security, Health Care and EI that really drive how Ottawa uses our tax dollars.
We don’t need Minister Flaherty’s Budget speech to know these fundamentals – they’re already in previous budgets. This may risk making them seem ‘less newsworthy’, but in fact such a view is akin to missing the forest for the trees. The spending trends reflected in the fundamentals of Budget 2014 shine a light on a troubling pattern. The Federal government is continuing to prioritize our aging population over adapting to new problems facing younger Canada.
Here’s what we know about how the federal government plans to spend $132 billion in 2016/17:
- Elderly Benefits like Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement will rise to around $49 billion a year, up $8 billion from 2011/12 after adjusting for inflation.
- The Canada Health Transfer will rise to $36 billion a year, up $4 billion. Nearly half of medical care spending goes to the 15 per cent of Canadians over age 65.
- Employment Insurance for the working age population will stay relatively static at around $20 billion a year.
- Benefits for families with children will fall to around $13.7 billion a year, a drop of around 4% per person under age 45.
- The Canada Social Transfer, which represents federal contributions to education and social services, will stay relatively static around $13 billion a year.
These budget fundamentals illuminate major contributions by Ottawa to what the Generation Squeeze campaign calls Canada’s generational spending gap (http://bit.ly/genspendinggap). All levels of Canadian government combine to spend around $45,000 per retiree each year, compared to approximately $12,000 per person under age 45.
The high level of spending per retiree is not the problem. The Canada Public Pension Plan, Old Age Security and Medical Care have successfully reduced the economic pressures facing millions of seniors today compared to the past. Now poverty is lower for seniors than any other age group, which is a policy success of which we should be proud.
The problem is that Ottawa adds nearly $12 billion in new annual spending to maintain the $45,000 allocated per person over 65 as more Canadians retire, while going on to say we can’t afford to address new challenges facing younger generations.
While today’s high housing prices mean more wealth for those who bought homes decades ago, they are bad for their kids and grandchildren. High home prices squeeze generations under age 45 with crushing debt, which they must pay with wages that have fallen thousands of dollars a year compared to a generation ago, and in jobs that rarely contribute pensions.
Canadians under 45 can’t work their way out of this time and money squeeze without giving up something fundamental. They are increasingly forced to choose between coping with the squeeze by studying and working more at the expense of having the family they want. Or they have the family they want, but at the expense of coping with the squeeze by patching together a financial foundation that depends on more time in the labour market.
Given that younger Canadians are squeezed by lower wages, higher costs, less time and a deteriorating environment, spending just $12,000 on benefits and services per person under age 45 is out of balance with allocating around $45,000 per person over 65. It’s time for Canada to restock the cupboard with resources for younger generations, or to explain why spending on younger citizens is so much less important than spending on retirees.
Paul Kershaw is a Policy Professor at the University of BC and Founder of Generation Squeeze (gensqueeze.ca), a campaign that is building a Canada that works for ALL generations.
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/slides/from-the-echo-blog-ladies-are-we-still-squeezed-out-of-the-boardroom/
From the Echo Blog: Ladies, are we still Squeezed out of the Boardroom?
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/slides/from-the-echo-blog-privacy-is-soooo-20th-century/
From the Echo Blog: Privacy is soooo 20th century
New Post has been published on http://gensqueeze.ca/slides/from-the-blog-vice-media-as-the-future-of-journalism/
From the blog: Vice Media as the Future of Journalism
My hat goes off to all hard-working parents, past and present. They raise kids with love, joy, sacrifice and frustration. My parents did.
Still, the facts show that families raising young kids today are squeezed for time, income and services to a degree that is more constraining than a generation ago. Surprisingly, the Fraser Institute alleged otherwise last week, claiming “It’s never been easier, financially, to raise children in Canada.”
There are millions of parents who wish the Institute were right. So do many young people who delay starting families.