The days leading up to a federal budget are a feeding frenzy of op-eds, public statements and other interventions aimed at convincing the government of the day to support the policy preferences of dozens of different groups and organizations.

This year has been no different, with everyone from oil and gas companies and clean energy advocates to labour and business groups stepping up to make their respective pitches. But there’s one group that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as it should: young people.

They are, after all, getting hosed on any number of fronts right now. That begins with housing, where massively overpriced markets in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver have recently been joined by increasingly unaffordable rental options across the country. And while rising interest rates have taken a bit of froth out of house prices, they’ve also made it far more difficult for new buyers to afford them in the first place.

This has any number of negative knock-on effects, from smaller family sizes and delayed saving for retirement to people being forced to leave places like Toronto and Vancouver for more affordable markets. As the recent net migration data shows, that’s already happening. And while there’s nothing wrong with living somewhere like Edmonton or Regina, there’s a certain unfairness in Canada’s biggest cities effectively pricing out an entire generation.

Then, of course, there’s climate change, where the federal government has simultaneously done more than any before it and not nearly enough for the governments that will come after. As the IPCC’s recent report showed, we’re not moving nearly fast enough to head off the worst potential outcomes from a rapidly warming planet that will be visited almost exclusively on young people and their children. Their anger over our collective indifference to the threat of climate change is both inevitable and understandable, and it’s only going to build with the passage of time.

Seniors, on the other hand — and yes, that means you now, baby boomers — continue to get help they probably don’t need. Old Age Security benefits are generous to a fault, with the full amount available to those with incomes as high as $81,000 and partial payouts still made to people making $130,000 a year. In the last budget, the federal government threw in a one-time $500 bonus for anyone over 75 who’s eligible for OAS because … well, why not?

Unlike the Canada Pension Plan, which is funded by both past and present contributions, Old Age Security is paid for by today’s taxpayers. “That means today’s retirees, when they were working, supported a much lower level of elderly benefits compared with today’s workers,” the Globe and Mail’s editorial board wrote in a recent op-ed. “And today’s retirees enjoyed much lower costs for education and housing compared with today’s younger people.”

In a recent video, Generation Squeeze founder Paul Kershaw put it even more directly. "Older Canadians are getting wealthier and have more financial security, but they're not paying fully for the services that they want to use, which leaves less leftover for those who follow, like their kids or grandchildren."

So why do young people continue to get the short end of the budgetary stick, while politicians bend over backwards to accommodate older voters? Because for all the strengths of our democratic system, and there are many, it does an incredibly poor job of rewarding long-term decision-making and the people it would benefit most.

The federal government's latest budget includes a litany of new spending and priorities. Young people, once again, are going to get the short end of the stick. @maxfawcett writes for @NatObserver

That’s because any policy that takes more than four years to show results is a leap of political faith on the part of the government implementing it — one they’re rarely rewarded for taking. As a result, for all the good talk we hear about taking care of the future and the generations to come, our elected officials almost never govern in ways that actually do that.

This hypocrisy extends across the political spectrum. Conservatives will happily invoke the interests of future generations when it comes to deficit and debt reduction, while progressives tend to focus more on the environmental and social debts we might be saddling them with. But when faced with a choice between near-term political interests and the long-term prosperity of their kids and grandkids, both conservatives and progressives tend to implement policies almost always privilege the former.

There’s no better demonstration of this than the impotent response to Canada’s ever-rising housing prices. Politicians of almost all stripes, be they progressive or conservative, are utterly petrified to do anything that would meaningfully reduce housing prices, whether that’s eliminating the capital gains exemption on primary residences or restricting access to mortgage insurance and other demand-side measures. The political math, after all, is simple — frustrated young renters might vote against them, but pissed-off homeowners absolutely will. And given the relative size advantage that homeowners have, making them angry is a guaranteed form of political suicide.

Instead, today’s budget will focus more on near-term priorities and policies that can help the government get re-elected. Many of them will be laudable, and most will help Canadians in some form or another. But when it comes to the longer-term interests of today's young people, and especially tomorrow's, nobody should be getting their hopes up. If nothing else, they should be used to that by now.

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And another reason why politicians of all political stripes tend to push short-term policies that benefit older vs younger voters is that older cohorts are more likely to show up and vote. Not voting has its consequences as those of us in Ontario are finding out the hard way.

Mind you, I don't really buy the whole old vs. young thing that I see getting sold a lot. It's just another example of trying to divide the (non-rich) public so they don't notice who's picking both their pockets. The people making young people's lives miserable are largely the same people looting pension funds and squirreling away their money in the Caiman Islands so they don't have to pay taxes. Or buying laws so they don't have to pay taxes.

This country is perfectly well wealthy enough to let both young and old live with dignity. Just, not at the same time as having ever-increasing numbers of billionaires. Tax corporations and the rich, make with some redistribution, use that money to build cheap homes, extend medicare, re-string the social safety net, and the supposed conflict between the needs of the young and the old would melt away. Oh, yes, also use some of that money to pay the young to care for the old. In public care, not private-for-profit death traps.

Yep. And they're making life miserable for a lot of boomers, too.

Ageism is just another instalment of identity politics' divide-and-conquer strategy.
Plenty of "us seniors" couldn't buy a house till we were in our 40s ... and many who did lost them to high mortgage interest rates, that went up to nearly 20% at one point. In the meantime, we lived in basement apartments and bed-sitters, didn't go on vacations, at out and indulged in entertainments rarely -- and most of the time had second or even third part-time jobs in addition to the day jobs. And at that it took 15 years to save enough for a downpayment.

It's always the poorest who get the sh*t end of the stick, much as the middle class complains.

I have great sympathy for renters, generally ... but it has to be realized that rent is driven by "investor" landlords. It's not caused by seniors wanting to stay put in their neighbourhoods, where they know the stores and the neighbours, etc., and at least partly because they're (justifiably) terrified of "long-term care 'homes'."

There'll be no laws enacted by anyone, at any level of government, that will intervene in housing prices, because so many councillors, MPPs (MLAs) and MPs are also "investor landlords." Each new tranche bumps rent up a few decibels -- and where properties are rent-controlled bump up the rent by 40% because they know they can get that much rent from someone.

In Toronto, the majority of homes that come on the market are purchased by investors.
This was inevitable, from the beginning of deregulation of the real estate market (whether residential or commercial), and getting rid of the Foreign Investment Review and taxes.
(I worked in law offices when that happened, before the current generation of young parents were even born. having worked in pretty much every sector of law but bankruptcy, was exposed to a whole lot that went under the radar for most young people at the time.)

Did you know there's a hefty grant available to landlord-purchasers?

It's not an entire generation that's "done the nasties." It's always been the well-heeled, from the earliest age I could notice. Sometimes the well-heeled when I was very young were indeed "self-made," to the extent that they didn't get their start with government money -- although labor wasn't paid what it was worth, it was a living wage at the living standards of the day.

But the rural/urban divide was opposite what it is today: with 80% of the population living in rural, mostly agricultural areas, and the rest in cities in the southern parts of the country. Immigrants were mainly looking for land to farm, not investment properties and passports for their as-yet-unborn children.

All of those things have contributed to where we're at today. When neo-con and neo-liberal governments decide to stop investing in people, and instead to invest in industry, it's pretty easy to be "going down for the third time" without anyone noticing.

And it's far from being a problem only in Canada. There's a documentary on TVO called "Push" which talks about how people are pushed out of cities by wealthy investors, ex pats and tourists seeking residential vacation rentals.

This just seems like political suicide for the Liberals. The unfortunate part is Pierre Poilievre is feeding this generation with disinformation to grab the votes through his rhetoric and abuse of social media. Since this generation appears incapable of fact checking anything, they will vote for the conservatives and get screwed again. The "free dumbers" are a classic case of another group that are incapable of fact checking anything. We also see Pierre using these folks to garner votes, but has ZERO interest in them or any thought of listening to their concerns.

They just need to take a look at Ontario's Doug Ford (conservative), who uses social media propaganda, to discourage voters from even coming out and voting. Now Doug ford is screwing over Ontarians by destroying healthcare, cutting funding to OHIP, education, Long Term Care and whatever else Ontarians enjoy. The younger generation, through their lack of interest in voting, will just continue to get screwed over and only have themselves to blame.

Well, themselves and the social media propaganda to discourage voting that you yourself mentioned, surely.

Great points, I hadn't considered how unreasonable the Old Age Security was, it should be revised to benefit only those who need it. Young people, and anyone who values fairness and a strong social contract, should be much more vocal about this and make it a bigger issue. The housing issue, and so many other issues, have become so bad that I have found myself questioning whether or not I even want to be a part of Canada anymore, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. If young people leave, avoid having children, and generally lose their faith in the social contract, what will become of the country? Who's going to pay for that Old Age Security? Who's going to work. The federal government is trying to attract a lot of immigrants, and it makes sense that they are, but what if people around the world think better of it? They come to Canada only to be taxed heavily and have to pay an enormous amount of what's left to enrich landlords. Maybe they could get a better deal somewhere else.

The larger component of social security has all income but OAS taxed back against it, including CPP.
The threshhold for OAS reduction was $30K not very long ago: at about the median income. Now it's at the 95th %-ile.
If it were delivered entirely only to "the needy," it'd be gone quickly. Just like if public healthcare were only for those who couldn't afford better coverage. Indeed, that's part of what's been happening: that, and putting the medical associations in charge of deciding costs. They never go down, even when they take up less of doctors' time, and so you have the spectacle of doctors taking in multi-millions of OHIP dollars annually, while people can't find doctors at all because no industry wants to fund medical education, and many students who can afford to finance an undergrad degree can't afford a professional education.
Of the people I know, all their kids who have left the country have gone to where they can get higher incomes than here ... partly because their new homes give them better incomes with the same education, and lower taxes ... and those are the very countries that treat poor people even worse than we do. If you can imagine that. Or where the cost of living is so low that they can afford servants who are grateful to have any income at all -- and that's because of the very high rates of very deep poverty.

"Then, of course, there’s climate change, where the federal government has simultaneously done more than any before it and not nearly enough for the governments that will come after."

The Trudeau Liberals have done more on climate than any government before it, which is to say just about nothing. The faintest of praise.

"Not nearly enough" fails to capture the Liberals' climate record.
- Buying and building a new oilsands export pipeline (Trans Mtn expansion) at huge loss to taxpayers.
- Approving new LNG projects in B.C. (The latest approval, for Cedar LNG, came down in mid-March.)
- Approving new offshore oil projects on the East Coast (Bay du Nord).
- No credible plan for net-zero by 2050. The Liberals' climate plan for the O&G sector — Canada's largest and fastest growing source of emissions — places big bets on fake climate solutions: taxpayer-funded white elephants like carbon capture, SMRs, and blue hydrogen that are costly, inefficient, don't exist yet, or don't work.
- Canada's federal and provincial govts shield large industrial emitters from significant carbon costs [so they can remain competitive in global markets. Canada's energy giants have no incentive to shift into renewables and every reason not to.
- Subsidies: The Liberals continue to funnel billions of public dollars to the massively profitable, largely foreign-owned O&G industry. Ottawa's commitment to end only "inefficient" fossil fuel subsidies rings hollow.
"Canada leads G20 in financing fossil fuels, lags in renewables funding, report says" (CP, Oct 28, 2021)

The Observer's Barry Saxifrage has tracked "climate pollution changes from 1990 to 2020 in G7 and EU nations".
"Nearly all our peers in this group have reduced their emissions. Not Canada. We are one of the few climate rogues — still polluting more."
Barry Saxifrage: "Canada's fossil-fuelled sprint away from climate safety"

Canada's climate plan is based on fossil fuel expansion. Canada's idea is to "green" its fossil fuels at the upstream end, not get off them. Incoherent climate policy designed to fail.
When the IPCC issued its latest report, then-Environment Minister "Wilkinson reaffirmed Canada's commitment to phasing out fossil fuels and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but said achieving that target will require money generated by fossil fuels."
"Ottawa says it must maximize revenue from the Trans Mountain pipeline to fight climate change" (CBC, 2021)
The Trudeau Liberals market this debacle under the guise of "climate leadership".

Former Liberal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna: "We cannot allow companies to claim they are on the path to net zero if they are investing in new fossil-fuel infrastructure, if their absolute emissions are not decreasing, if they are only reporting on part of their emissions or if they are lobbying to undermine climate policy."
Governments, likewise.

UN Secretary General António Guterres (April 2022): "[The latest IPCC report] is a file of shame, cataloguing the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world." (2022)
"Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another."
"Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic."
"But high-emitting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye; they are adding fuel to the flames."
"Investing in new fossil fuels infrastructure is moral and economic madness."

Guterres: "We cannot afford slow movers, fake movers, or any form of greenwashing."

The Trudeau Liberals are not merely kicking a can down the road, but filling barrels with explosives.
The Liberals have hamstrung and tied the hands of future governments to reduce Canada's emissions.
"Not nearly enough" is more like sabotage.

Fawcett is correct. Climate change represents a massive transfer of wealth from future generations to this one. Stealing from our grandchildren.
That is what Canadians enable when they vote for either of Canada's two mainstream parties. Voting Liberal because the Conservatives would be even worse is the cheapest of rationalizations. No consolation to your grandchildren.
Climate criminals committing climate crimes.

What grandchildren. I know more than one grandparent-in-waiting who's been informed there will be none, because governments, banks and insurance companies are betting against a livable future for the masses.
And the billionnaires? They're building attack-proof, self-sustaining bunkers, and wondering how they can ensure that para-military "protectors" they plan to retain for their underground communities, won't mutiny.
One consultant suggested they might consider treating well all the people who might eventually become those "protectors." Apparently they didn't even pause for a quick intake of breath.

It's not a transfer of wealth. It's a transfer of responsibility that is completely unreasonable, irrational and worse. Don't forget that a whole lot of old people who were neglected in heat-waves and during the not-yet-over plague and that the "savings" from their pensions and healthcare have been redistributed up the income ladder.

And guess what? None of them were wealthy enough to be building bunkers, buying islands, or planning to live on space stations.

Neoliberalism 101 is in effect by both progressives and conservatives. John A. comments below hit the nail on the head.
Whereas the Federal Liberals are progressive, AB, SK, MB, ON are arch neoliberal Conservatives. AB Premier Smith is a declared libertarian which if you don't what the term means, look it up.
Reaganomics and Thatcherism are neoliberalism extraordinaire! Privatize everything, governments are evil, business needs lower taxes while you get higher taxes and fees. Medicare and Public Education should be privatized. Regulations! Throw them out! They impede capitalism. Unions! Same thing, they look after the working stiff, but are an additional cost to businesses. Look at the anti union legislation in Alberta.
Misinfo by the Conservatives in Canada is rampant. All the issues , except the Bank of Canada Governor, are in provincial jurisdiction, so polarization, populism and post-truths are laid out as a solution. So much for democracy ! What can Poilievre actually achieve? Inequality is increasing in Canada and any world country with high levels of Inequality like the USA&UK finds themselves in trouble. Are we Canadians able to stop that happening here? We are making no effort to invest in the long term as Max indicated. A big problem.
Senior pension prior to COVID19 were the largest federal expense, 50 billion.
As a lower income senior I have also wondered why seniors with incomes over $100,000 and assets in millions get this benefit.

David Krieger wrote: "Neoliberalism 101 is in effect by both progressives and conservatives.
"Whereas the Federal Liberals are progressive, AB, SK, MB, ON are arch neoliberal Conservatives. AB Premier Smith is a declared libertarian which if you don't what the term means, look it up."

Does not matter what your policies are on the social safety net, feminism, LGBTQ, child poverty, farm labor, GSAs, childcare, etc. Climate disaster threatens society in its entirety. Women, children, and the poor are the most vulnerable to climate change impacts. If you're not progressive on climate, you're not progressive.
Petro-progressivism à la Trudeau or Notley is an oxymoron.

As with everything Danielle Smith says, you should take her claim to be a libertarian with a grain of salt.
Her pet project RStar is a $20 B giveaway to O&G companies to clean up old wells, as they are already legally obligated to do. Corporate welfare, blatant subsidies, taxpayer-funded cleanup, and propping up industries and markets when they fail — that's neoliberalism, not libertarianism.
Governnment intervention in the market is a clear violation of libertarianism. Privatizing the profits and socializing the costs is anathema to the free market.

Trudeau, Kenney, Smith, Notley, Horgan... What do petro-progressives and petro-conservatives have in common? Neoliberalism. Massive intervention in the economy. Funnelling billions of public dollars into industry, corporations, and shareholders' pockets. A massive transfer of wealth at the expense of the ordinary Canadians and working people they claim to defend.

"Libertarian views on the economy, where government plays an extremely limited role in the economy." (Investopedia)

"Neoliberalism is sometimes confused with libertarianism. However, neoliberals typically advocate for more government intervention in the economy and society than libertarianism. ... Neoliberals often do not oppose measures such as bailouts of major industries, which are anathema to libertarians." (Investopedia)

The list of fossil subsidies in Canada runs decades long and billions of dollars deep. Consecutive AB govts have thrown billions of dollars in subsidies at the industry. The giveaway party that never ends. Is any government more interventionist? Is any industry more dependent on subsidies, visible and invisible, than O&G?

Re: "Privatizing the profits and socializing the costs is anathema to the free market."
It strikes me that this is quintessential free market capitalism: "free" to make as much (free) money as possible in absolutely any way possible, damn the costs to others, even if it means letting corporate welfare pay for externalized costs.

We need to change the corporate charter so that no profits are paid (to CEOs, board directors or shareholders) until ALL (currently externalized) costs of their social (health) and environmental damage are internalized and have been paid for. We'd soon see corporations doing the right thing and innovating their way to zero carbon.

Classic libertarianism embraces the polluter-pay principle:

"The principle that the polluter should pay has long been a part of libertarian theory. In his 1962 classic, Man, Economy, and State, Murray Rothbard expressed it this way:
"'In so far as the outpouring of smoke by factories pollutes the air and damages the persons and property of others, it is an invasive act. . . . Air pollution is not an example of a defect in a system of absolute property rights, but of failure on the part of the government to preserve property rights.'"
"A person whose pollution harms another’s person or property should pay for the resulting harm.
"Why Libertarians should support a carbon tax"

Former climate denier at the "libertarian" Cato Institute Jerry Taylor advocates a revenue-neutral carbon tax, a market-based tool:
"Carbon pollution costs real people real money. It's just that the polluters aren't necessarily the ones bearing those costs. In a market that respects the property rights libertarians champion, that 'externality' needs to be priced in."

Kenney, Smith, Poilievre & Co. staunchly oppose carbon pricing.

At the time of Thatcherism and Reaganism, it was called neo-conservative. It's the same thing, and it used to be that the "political teams" each favored different industries. Now, not so much, since all of them contribute to the campaigns of any party they see as having a chance to form government.

At least the "new 'green' industries" will apparently have to pay good wages, and allow unionization in order to collect government largesse. I wouldn't be surprised if that was at the insistence of the NDP too, which has long been primarily a union party (even though they don't seem to have noticed that union membership by and large doesn't vote for them).

I empathize with younger people but many DO seem to live in an alternate world even more than is usual because that world is uniquely virtual and on-line. Which means being seen and heard and getting attention above all else it seems.
And there is this new term, "adulting" which seems to speak to a general aversion to "growing up," an important part of which is actually taking politics seriously as participants in our treasured democracy.
One of the most depressingly successful planks of conservative strategy and narrative is alienating more and more people from the whole thing by presenting as a bunch of used car salesmen fighting with each other all the time, with the accompanying notion that there's no difference between their "parties" either.
Journalists should be hammering home at every opportunity that only conservatives don't "believe" in climate change, so NO young people in their right mind should be even CONSIDERING aligning with them, and should also be focused on "getting out the vote" from their cohort.

I'm not sure where the writer gets the numbers, but certainly some of them are wrong. I'm a retired teacher, and though I live comfortably (albeit quite simply), my income is nowhere near $81,000, yet I do not qualify for the OAS supplement. That's fine, as I don't need it. But I hate for anyone to assume I'm getting public funds that I'm not. For the writer to take the 'old vs young' tone is cheap and hurtful. Income and resource inequality cuts across all age demographics in this country.

The "old vs young" thing should be treated the same way as any other hate-speech.
The "OAS supplement" is the GIS (welfare for old folks), while the writer was talking about the basic OAS itself: the roughly $675 a month one qualifies for at age 65, with no need of filing tax returns to keep it coming. To get the GIS requires filing a tax return each year.
The OAS is in addition to CPP and whatever workplace pensions an individual might have -- and investment income, or employment income after retirement age.
OAS can also now be postponed till age 70, for a greater monthly benefit, probably to encourage 65 yos to work 5 years longer. Meanwhile in France, people have been demonstrating in the streets for days and days, over moving the retirement age from 62 to 64.
There are also some small provincial top-ups, that are pretty much wiped out by any CPP at all. It's not very long since people who were self-employed could even *contribute* to CPP: which they can now do by paying both the employer and the employee share.

I actually ran the current numbers, as the last time I looked the threshold income for OAS reduction was $30K.