Today's discussion:

Baby boomers have won the generational war. Was it worth young Canadians’ future?

In their wake, boomers have set policy traps that have systematically kneecapped future generations' prospects, leaving behind a country of systems littered with economic landmines and lower living standards. To suggest millennials' expectations are anywhere near the entitlement boomers have exercised is to ignore a battlefield shaped by the older generation's self-interest.

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Bruce Westmoreland

Trudeau and Singh are not boomers, yet they are setting the policies of today. I did not vote for either.

16th April 2024 at 7:34 am
Bob North

The pensions were funded by workers and employers. They’re not a “benefit.”

16th April 2024 at 7:59 am

The article doesn’t say so, but the $96 billion by 2028 is for OAS/GIS (and related spousal allowances), not CPP. OAS is not pre-funded at all. It’s essentially a welfare program, and not a well-targeted one.

16th April 2024 at 9:10 am

And the government had about 65 years to prepare for the surge in new OAS beneficiaries.

16th April 2024 at 10:03 am

Perhaps more to the point, there is sufficient funds in CPP to give all of us a significant raise. Perhaps not the rise MPs gave themselves every year, but enough to make the equivalent of EI payments without endangering the fund. In fact there is so much money there, that various pirates are looking to make CPP invest in dubious infrastructure projects. Without our consent.

16th April 2024 at 6:51 pm

The previous government tried to plan ahead by increasing the eligibility age. Planning ahead doesn’t fundamentally change the math that someone either has to pay more or get less, and it’s not obvious that boomers would have accepted either.

16th April 2024 at 10:17 am

Unwise and ill thought out spending on the supposed climate “catastrophe” has caused some of this mess. You can’t blame the Boomers for killing fossil fuels with no reasonable alternatives. Nor can you blame the Boomers for the unreasonable surge in immigration. Hopefully Poilievre can undo some of the harm that Trudeau has caused and set Canada on a more hopeful future.

16th April 2024 at 7:52 am
Deborah Ketchabaw

Are you kidding. We baby boomers worked are asses off and our government is the worst thing that ever happened to our young people. Blame the baby boomers is ridiculous. Our pensions have nothing to do with the government we paid in and our employers paid in the government sends us the cheques.

16th April 2024 at 8:35 am
Paul Attics

— Annually, over $80 billion is drained just to cover the interest on government debt —

IF this debt was incurred for a visibly longer term growing economy it could be justified. Sure, some was incurred to ward-off the calamity of mass unemployment due to pandemic mitigations, but too much patch-work voter-pandering spending, inefficiency, “leakage”, weak governance, and intergovernmental dueling has us on a downward spiral of standard-of-living. The young people are already living it.
The warnings lights are blinking, the alarms are sounding, but are Canadian citizens looking far enough ahead?

16th April 2024 at 8:01 am
Gord Edwards

Hard Times Create Strong Men,
Strong Men Create Good Times,
Good Times Create Weak Men,
Weak Men Create Hard Times

We are in the fourth part of this cycle. The question is – as this is driven primarily by an internal dynamic of policy decisions and not wars, does our society have the ability to restart the cycle?

16th April 2024 at 9:42 am
Dauna Crooks

Eric, while I appreciate your perspective there are things you left out. Boomers have paid through taxes during 45 years of employment toward pension benefits. Governments used that money as they chose, not by the will of those you call Boomers.
We started work after getting degrees at about $6000 per annum. By continuing to gain degrees and staying in the workforce we earned a respectable wage. We were able to buy first a townhouse and as children came along a larger house providing room and a settled community for them. Our children have done the same.
Regarding your claims of aged burdening the health care , we were a generation that had good food, knew the value of exercise, planned for retirement. We do not use health resources needlessly but I expect that if you checked the excessive use of health resources would be less than the previous .
We began to act to reduce waste and resources as climate change became evident in the 70’s. Yes we have cars but if you look at who is buying EVs it is predominately older folks.
So Eric, before you blather on blaming boomers for the state of the nation think about what you say. It is the boomer generation who are still housing millennials and providing them money.
Entitled people expect the world to continue to prop them up and those without a broad outlook blame what they know.

16th April 2024 at 9:39 am
Peter Morgan

A very timely article but a silly title. Click-bait, right? Boomers never knowingly fought a generational war. They are the beneficiaries of an unusually prosperous seventy years of peace and economic growth, unlikely to be repeated as we confront limits to how much we can exploit our natural environment to increase wealth and benefit from technological improvements that lessen the need for meaningful work. This and globalization which sent many jobs overseas. Yes, boomers could/should have been thinking more for a rainy day, but when you grow up with wealth it’s hard to believe it will ever end. That’s human nature, isn’t it? This isn’t to say younger people don’t have serious, legitimate complaints about the world left to them, but to blame their parents for living longer, being able to retire and needing health care seems misanthropic rather than productive. Doesn’t everyone want this? What would be productive would be for new leaders to figure out how we can live with less while providing more housing, better health care and cheaper education. I’m one boomer who would gladly pay extra taxes to fund this, and I think most would if they knew their money was going to these necessary improvements.

16th April 2024 at 7:49 am
Paull Attics

Spot on.
The people with the power inevitably, naturally, and usually without ill-intent, use that power to accrue just a little more, over and over again over time.
Systems (nations, municipalities, families, companies, unions, religions, etc.) need to guard against this inevitability with strong and transparent governance.

16th April 2024 at 8:27 am

This reasoning might be true if young people’s problem was that wages have declined. The reasons why merely-stagnating wages have led to declining standards of living for young people have absolutely been to boomers’ benefit, and (while they may not have intended it) much of their prosperity is extractive. It’s not that boomers had good luck and millennials had bad luck, but that boomers good luck is younger generations bad luck.

And, it’s interesting to talk about “blaming their parents for needing healthcare” as if it self-evident that the only way for boomers (who are the wealthiest generation of seniors ever) to get healthcare is to leave the bill for others.

16th April 2024 at 9:00 am
Greg Jackson

What you are all complaining about is the result of decades of creeping socialism in Canada. Canadians have become dependent on government for everything and they expect that government will solve all their problems. The result is a massive increase in the size and cost of government. It started in the early ’70’s and has continued at an accelerating pace since then. You drag up the issue of health care. When I started my career, we paid for OHIP. As a child, my father paid for all of our health care out of pocket or from private insurance. Socialists like Tommy Douglas aren’t boomers. This started before boomers held the levers of power. Socialized “universal” health care is but one example. However, I daresay that many boomers would welcome the opportunity to pay their own way at private clinics, rather than die waiting for “free” health care.
Another myth is the necessity of getting a university degree in order to get a good job in today’s world. The trades offer far and away better career prospects than say, a fine arts degree. At one time, you had to be young and fit to work in the construction trades. Now, due to mechanization, much of the physical component is gone. There is no reason why anyone can’t work in the trades, except for the perception, ingrained in them by teachers, parents and peers, that the trades are for dummies.
Another barrier to success is the risk/reward dynamic for entrepreneurs in Canada. By nature most Canadians are risk averse. This is evident by the number of Canadians who work for various levels of government rather than the private sector. When I finished school, if you took a job in government, you were trading security for the opportunity to make more money. Now that has been inverted. Government employees make more, have better benefits, and retire earlier than those who work in the private sector, yet it is the private sector that creates the wealth to pay for the bloated public sector. When the current socialists came to power, one of the first things they did was brand small business owners as crooks who don’t pay their fair share. Do you blame the boomers for electing the current government? The youth vote brought the Liberals to power. Under this government, the deficit has grown by more than all previous government deficits combined. Don’t blame boomers for that.
The current government’s spending spree drove inflation to generational highs, resulting in interest rates climbing to their current heights. Their immigration policies drove the housing shortage, driving up prices. Those two factors alone are why homes that people could afford five years ago are now out of reach. It should be noted that the current government is made up almost entirely of Gen X and millennials. Take responsibility for your own screw-ups.

16th April 2024 at 10:56 am

The biggest increase in spending under the liberals has been on seniors, and spending on people under 45 (per capita) has actually increased slower than economic growth for decades. Most of this was baked-in as the population aged with no program changes, but yes, Liberal government increases to OAS and GIS and rolling back eligibility changes made it worse.

Younger voters have sometimes voted against their economic interests, partially because no party had much to offer them. Don’t be surprised when ‘taking responsibility’ doesn’t look how you had hoped when younger generations start playing to win.

16th April 2024 at 12:21 pm
Michael B

The author was not around in the 70s during the previous trudeau’s disastrous reign. Inflation averaged 9% per year. The prime rate began at 6% and rose to 11% in 1974. The fuel crisis arrived in 1979. Adjusted for inflation deficits were the highest recorded until justin took over, with public debts rising accordingly.
I remember peeling a pile of price stickers off a can of tomato juice in the local IGA during one of those years. The can had no dust on it, so had been stocked recently. There were 8 price increases after that can went on the shelf.
The cause of the younger generation’s misfortunes originates in the 1970s and has been exacerbated by opening our markets to China and others while offshoring our manufacturing industries. With that went the better paying jobs. You used to be able to buy a bicycle, kitchen appliance or power tool made in Canada.
We boomers never voted for nor approved of any of this. It’s not a coincidence that younger generations are suffering now under another trudeau.

16th April 2024 at 12:04 pm

During Trudeau sr’s last term in office in the early 1980s my mortage rate was 19%. And others had it worse, a friend paid 21%. People quickly forget how devestating a Trudeau can be.

16th April 2024 at 1:15 pm
Michael B

Those excessive interest rates came during Mulroney’s term when the central bank set out to kill the high inflation caused by trudeau’s spending. The period lasted 18 months during which inflation rates declined significantly as did associated interest rates. Some people were forced to sell their homes, most survived like me.
Our Bank of Canada was, as it is now, a creature of the federal gov’t.

16th April 2024 at 4:39 pm

No, this was 1982 and Mulroney came in in 1984.

16th April 2024 at 7:25 pm

Let’s talk about the facts:

1) When analyzing spending per person, government investment has grown faster for those age 65+. Governments increased annual per person spending for seniors 4.2 times faster since 1976 than for those under the age of 45

2) Since 1976, spending per person age 65+ grew 6% faster than economic growth. By contrast, spending per person under age 45 grew 29% slower than economic growth, or $1,052 less per person under age 45.

3) Young adults are expected to pay 22-62 per cent more in taxes for medical care and old age security for today’s aging population, in comparison with taxes paid for medical care by today’s aging population when they were young.

4) Young Canadians now inherit larger public debts. Government debt has grown from $15,000 per person under 45 in 1976 to over $44,000 today.

So no, Boomers did not contribute as much as they are getting out of the system. Is it their fault? No. They paid what they were asked to pay. However, the level of entitlements given to Boomers is absurd. In addition to being house rich, they receive a slew of benefits and handouts including OAS (where you receive the full benefit with up to $81k in annual income), universal drug benefits in Ontario, the Age credit (which you receive up to $92k in annual income), pension income splitting, pension income tax credit, and the list goes on.

Half of all new government spending in last year’s budget from 2023-2028 is straight up entitlements to seniors. Not to mention the swell in healthcare spending, which is disproportionately utilized by seniors.

But it’s the younger generation that’s entitled…

16th April 2024 at 8:30 am

There more baby boomers and everyone gets a personal deduction.

16th April 2024 at 8:39 am

The age credit is specifically for 65+ – it’s an automatic benefit which is on top of the basic personal exemption

16th April 2024 at 8:59 am

I’d argue the housing plan is not just imperfect, but an example of young Canadians being sold continued decline and extra costs as a favour. The new middle class: being able to afford to rent an apartment. The infill housing provinces are being arm-twisted to allow is generally more expensive to build than similar greenfield housing, although it certainly might allow housing that some find desirable due to location. Even the assertion in the housing plan that it’s “easier to build where infrastructure already exists” glosses over that the plan is effectively to accommodate population growth by eating through excess capacity (which leaves less margin later), rather than by building enough infrastructure. If infrastructure upgrades are needed, it’s not usually cheaper to have to do that in built-up areas. Dense infill housing is largely an additional cost being sold as a benefit, paid for in units that shrink until they become ‘affordable’. It’s also, conveniently, the only way to get lower prices per-unit while maintaining or increasing the prices of existing houses. The other elephant in the room is that the trade-offs induced by the need to build fast are largely costs of population growth that will widen the base of the pyramid, and that much of the push towards small units is about needing to meet emissions targets while per-capita progress is being undone by growth.

Housing is one thing where I’d honestly place a fair bit of blame on millennials ourselves. I see from many an admirable willingness to adapt to challenges left for us in environmental terms, but also a bit of an austerity mindset where we are not asking for evidence about when and where lowered expectations will even be effective let alone the least-painful way to achieve what is needed. The received wisdom that density will pay off in a major reduction in car use has not been shown to be strongly true in North American cities, for example. Similarly, essentially all of the benefits of dense housing in terms of at-home energy use come from smaller units rather than density itself, which raises questions about whether people wanting to start families would find small detached homes more livable. Even the idea that dense cities are more efficient in terms of municipal spending (and therefore economizing on long-term costs) doesn’t really track with actual per-capita spending, where some costs decrease with density and others increase. The right balance in many cases is far from obvious, but I do think we need to value our sacrifices enough to not accept soundbite justifications. And… we maybe even need to expect others are making their share of sacrifices.

16th April 2024 at 8:48 am
A. Chezzi

If voters think that life will be better under (I use under deliberately) a Poilievre government, they are in for a sad awakening and all the anger that they have pent up will explode in Poilievre’s face. Poilievre will not bring inflation down any faster than it is coming down now. He cannot axe world forces. Poilievre will not get houses built faster. His approach is punitive and inspires no optimism. Poilievre will cancel social programs which have a direct affect on the lives of all Canadians making life more expensive with higher day care costs, health costs. Poilievre will not force grocery chains to adhere to a code of ethics nor will he set any price controls. Poilievre will not make life easier for renters. He believes in the market economy. The young people whom he is attracting will learn the hard way that Poilievre’s slogans are simple and meaningless. They will learn that he believes in trickle down economy, where the wealthy get more and the division between the well to do and the rest gets wider. Poilievre is slick. He has a simple message which resonates but like all simple messages it is hollow.

16th April 2024 at 8:25 am
Keith Harrison

I read through all the slings and arrows until I got to the para where the young man expounded on climate change is real and has been known to be such since the ‘80’s.

This is where Boomers really failed everyone born after our generation.

We allowed a bunch of folks hoodwink so many of their righteous mission and create the nonsense of climate change. Millennials will accomplish nothing on the climate foolishness because none of us can afford the supposed cures. Note the $40B deficit being delivered this afternoon. This government has only delivered such news in every budget since 2016- so-called Millenial budgets.

The 1930’s were as hot as a forest fire, and yes there were many we just didn’t know about them as tv and satellites had yet to be invented. We Boomers had work a few decades to put a man on the moon and invent the internet.

The 1940’s were colder and snowier and you should have experienced the 50’s and ‘60’s if like cold.

Sure wish my generation could have been as advanced and as sharp as the Millenials.

Got your Tesla yet?

16th April 2024 at 3:28 pm
Philippa King

When my husband and I bought our first house, we lived on the main floor and rented the second floor to another couple and the third floor to two graduate students. We lived that way for 6 years because it was the only way we could afford a house. The vendor took back one mortgage to help us. Yes, things are a lot more expensive now, but many are earning a lot more money that we did at the time.

16th April 2024 at 3:09 pm

All liberal spending has been targeted at the voter with kids like pharmacare , dental care, school lunches, etc and not the aged. The only thing old people get is old age pension that has been solely funded through taxes which is less than $10,000.00 a year.

16th April 2024 at 2:47 pm
D. Gardiner

To blame the present generational downward spiral level of happiness on the Baby Boomers is simplistic. It leads the whole country into self-defeating paralysis. The Baby boomers suffered through their own generational crisis and managed to fix it to arrive at a comfortable state of being. If the younger generation feels slighted, it is up to them to find leaders who will help them reconstruct the economic landscape to solve their present problems.

16th April 2024 at 12:01 pm

“The signs of mounting regulatory capture can be seen in the growth of bureaucratic cottage industries that have buried real economic activity in process and paperwork. This environment has fortified existing monopolies and stifled competition, disproportionately benefiting an older generation ensconced in secure, protected sectors.” It’s easy to generalize but it strikes me that maybe the author’s own employment fits into this scenario…
Saying “It’s not my fault.” and blaming others is a pathetic way to solve a problem. Is the liberal government led by boomers? He was voted him in, twice, and now the boomers get the blame for the mess we are all in? Overall I just find these types of witch hunts to be so divisive and absolutely regressive. We don’t need more walls to hurtle, we need to consider all concerns and deal with it the best we can. There is never going to be perfect equality and sour grapes rather than a decent work ethic will always make us poorer.

16th April 2024 at 11:12 am
Kimberly Rogers

The future of our youth, at least here in Alberta, is now secure.

16th April 2024 at 8:13 am
Kim Morton

Many of us now semi retired boomers have protested the spendthrift ways of our predominately far left governments since we were young. I’m thinking that those that got us into this position, aside from the well paid politicians and party hacks have do much fiscal education that they truly believe that taking a cash advance on one credit card to pay the minimum payment on another one is not only sound fiscal management, but believe that the unspent portion of their CC limit is an asset.
If I was a young person today, I would be demanding that the assets of the political class that put us in this position be seized to pay down the debt.

16th April 2024 at 6:57 pm