Trudeau Budget Targets Generational Fairness with Housing, Tax Measures

The 2024 Canadian federal budget aims to address generational fairness, with measures to improve housing affordability, childcare, and healthcare for younger Canadians, but experts question if it's enough to retain their support.

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Sakchi Khandelwal
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Trudeau Budget Targets Generational Fairness with Housing, Tax Measures

Trudeau Budget Targets Generational Fairness with Housing, Tax Measures

In the 2024 Canadian federal budget, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a series of measures aimed at addressing generational fairness, as economists argue that younger Canadians, particularly Millennials and Gen Z, face greater economic challenges than their parents and grandparents due to decades-long trends in housing affordability, income, and government spending.

The budget, focused on a quest for generational fairness, includes billions in spending on housing and a new capital gains tax on the wealthy as part of the government's strategy to win back younger voters.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland says the federal government needs to lead on issues like housing, and she is optimistic that premiers will cooperate despite some initial pushback.

Key measures in the budget include building more homes to increase housing supply and affordability through initiatives like the Public Lands for Homes Plan and the Canada Rental Protection Fund, helping make life more affordable for Canadians with programs such as $10-a-day child care, dental care for uninsured Canadians, and the first phase of universal pharmacare, and growing the economy in a shared way by increasing investment, enhancing productivity, and encouraging innovation to create well-paying jobs and support entrepreneurs and innovators.

Why this matters: The economic trends that have skewed the balance of power between generations were decades in the making, and experts say one budget won't be enough to restore that balance. The government's focus on issues of affordability, especially housing, shows that both the Liberals and the Conservatives see them as key to winning over disaffected younger and first-time voters.

The budget also proposes changes to the capital gains tax, which Freeland says will ensure that the wealthy pay their "fair share." However, some critics are concerned that the changes could have a negative impact on investment and innovation in Canada. The government has implemented measures to support small and medium-sized businesses, such as tax cuts and initiatives to encourage women to enter the workforce.

Former Liberal deputy prime minister John Manley doubts that the major spending geared at a millennial and Gen Z audience will be enough to keep Trudeau in power once election time rolls around. Increasingly, young voters are turning to Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, with recent polling suggesting the Conservatives are leading the Liberals among the demographic.

Trudeau acknowledged the challenges young adults face with rental costs and homeownership during a visit to the University of Victoria, where he announced a $2.6 billion package that targets scholarships, student grants, and housing subsidies, particularly in expensive areas like Victoria. The budget also extends an increase in full-time Canada student scholarships and interest-free Canada student loans.

While the government claims the budget will maintain the lowest deficit and net debt to GDP ratios in the G7, delivering on its commitment to strengthen and expand the middle class, especially for younger Canadians, former Conservative deputy leader Lisa Raitt emphasizes the importance of addressing the housing crisis to retain young people and attract investment. Despite Trudeau's efforts to introduce measures appealing to millennials and Gen Z, there are concerns that his appeal to these demographics may be a "tough sell" for Canadians seeking a change in the political status quo

Key Takeaways

  • 2024 Canadian budget aims to address generational fairness
  • Measures include housing supply boost, $10/day childcare, universal pharmacare
  • Capital gains tax on wealthy to ensure "fair share" payment
  • Conservatives leading Liberals among millennial and Gen Z voters
  • Budget maintains low deficit and debt, but appeal to youth may be "tough sell"