Sorry, Philip: Young Canadians’ unhappiness is older generations’ fault

1 min read
September 30, 2023
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Photo by Jaime Reimer on

Young Canadians’ struggles aren’t just the result of modern challenges or individual choices, as Philip Cross implies in the Financial Post; they’re rooted in decisions and policies shaped by older generations. This multi-faceted problem can only be resolved by recognizing it is caused by older generations’ choices that need to be reversed.

Housing and NIMBYism:

  • The big picture: Statistics Canada reports that 43% of 20 to 29-year-olds live with their parents due to unaffordable housing.
  • Between the lines: NIMBYism, primarily supported by older Canadians, has directly impacted housing policies. Their resistance to new developments prioritizes their property values over the younger generation’s housing needs.
  • Why it matters: It’s more than a housing crunch. It’s a manifestation of deliberate policy choices that sideline young homebuyers.

Surging Educational Fees:

  • The big picture: Young Canadians are facing educational fees that are exponentially higher than those their parents encountered.
  • Dig deeper: In the 1970s, provincial governments covered 75% of university degree costs. Due to reduced federal transfers in the 1990s, tuition fees tripled while government funding was halved.
  • Countermeasures: Some provinces like Ottawa introduced the Canada Education Savings Grant and the Canada Learning Bonds in 1998 and 2004, respectively, but they often fell short of compensating for the vast increases in tuition and seemed to be designed for upper-middle to upper-income Canadian families.
  • Why it matters: The rising cost of education and decreased government support is a deliberate policy choice that older Canadians supported, and this choice makes higher education an inaccessible luxury for many.

Decline in Job Quality:

  • The big picture: Despite similar youth unemployment rates between 1976 and 2015, the nature of jobs available to the youth has drastically changed.
  • Details: Less full-time work is available for those aged 17 to 24. This shift mirrors global trends where temporary and part-time positions have become more common since the mid-1980s.
  • Why it matters: The quality of a job is as essential as its availability. The surge in temporary roles and the decline in permanent ones deprive young Canadians of job security, benefits, and the potential for advancement. The decision-makers are, again, older Canadians in seats of economic power.

The bottom line:

This is just the tip of a long list of deliberate choices. Addressing young Canadians’ challenges means acknowledging older generations’ policy and economic decisions. Recognizing these foundational issues is the first step in creating a balanced and inclusive future.

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