Thursday April 24, 2014

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WTF? It’s time for a new movement

Knock on Wood

Statistics given at last month’s WTF? (Where’s the Future?) party and VOICE on the Coast annual general meeting have continually replayed in my mind the past two weeks.

Those aged 25 to 34 working full-time make 13 per cent less than the same people of the same age a generation ago, when taking into account the cost of inflation.

Those aged 35 to 44 make almost 25 per cent less.

I recently turned 35, which pushes me into the crappier category.

Testing the statistic given at WTF? by Dr. Paul Kershaw, one of Canada’s leading thinkers about family policy, I asked my Mom, who’s 67, what she made when she was my age.

Turns out she made almost exactly what I make now. The only difference is the cost of living 32 years ago was dramatically lower.

She paid about $700 a month for her mortgage back then, while I pay $950 for rent now, and I know that’s a good deal for a three-bedroom suite on the Sunshine Coast. A quick check in Coast Reporter classifieds shows that three-bedroom units in Sechelt run closer to the $1,400 mark generally.

Another big difference in the mom versus me scenario is that my mom owned her own home by the time she was 35. For me, that’s a dream that’s far from being realized.

Kershaw showed that between 1976 and today, average housing prices in B.C. have risen from $200,000 to now over $560,000.

In 1976, a 25 to 34 year old working full-time, making average wages, could save for a 20 per cent down payment on a home within five years. The B.C. average now for that age group is 15 years.

And if they want to have a child while trying to save for a house, that will put them back considerably.

“Even when young Canadians take advantage of our leave system and parents split time at home during the first year with their new baby, they will forego on average $15,000 after tax,” Kershaw said at the event.

That’s a few more years of saving.

As if the financial pressures weren’t enough, there’s also an added squeeze on time for those who have kids, because now, both parents generally have to work just to pay for the basics.

But wait, there’s more. Finding child care when going back to work to be able to afford those basics can be a struggle. B.C. is seriously lacking affordable licensed child care spaces and gets a dismal ranking when compared to the rest of the world.

“Canada stands out in the developed economic world as being the least generous country on the planet when it comes to investing in things like child care and kindergarten,” Kershaw noted.

So all this negative news has been swirling in my mind, and it’s making me mad, which I’m sure was the point of Kershaw’s talk.

He wants us “young” people to rally together and push the government for change in the next election.

He likened the WTF? event, that concluded with a dance party, to the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” movement of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which brought people together to party but also to talk about serious issues such as the Vietnam war, civil rights and gender equality. At those gatherings, huge movements were mobilized. I think it’s time for another movement that makes the world a little better for my generation, because we’re struggling.



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