Paul Kershaw, a Pitt Meadows resident and UBC associate professor, spoke at forum called ‘Through The Eyes of Langley’s Children: A Conduit for Change.’ The forum was held Nov. 2 at the Township of Langley Civic Facility. Troy Landreville Langley Times

B.C.’s ‘Generation Squeeze’ feeling pinch of high cost of living, says UBC prof

Paul Kershaw spoke in Langley Township about high costs of housing, childcare

B.C.’s economic system needs a serious overhaul.

That’s according to Paul Kershaw, a Pitt Meadows resident and UBC associate professor who opened a forum at the Langley Township Civic Facility by talking about ‘Generation Squeeze’ and the economic pitfalls facing today’s young adults.

“B.C. has the worst performing economy in Canada for younger generations,” Kershaw said following his presentation on Thursday, Nov. 2.

“Earnings are down and home prices have gone up so much that as a result, it takes years more to cover the cost of living.”

If you want to understand how Langley is doing for young children, we need to look at how the economy is performing for the generation raising them,” Kershaw said.

“And right now, the economy is failing those younger generations because it’s not allowing hard work to pay off like it used to, and that then squeezes (young people) for time, and it squeezes them for services like child care, which is hard to find and costs more than another mortgage-sized payment.”

Young adults are also squeezed for money as well as government and environmental debt, Kershaw noted: “That is a big domino effect that’s created by an economy that’s failing the younger demographic.”

The Langley Early Years Centre, in partnership with and funded by the Ministry of Children and Family Development, hosted the forum called “Through The Eyes of Langley’s Children: A Conduit for Change.”

The forum was the first in a three-part cross-sectoral professional development training for professionals.

The purpose is to bring an awareness of the state of B.C.’s youngest children and facilitate conversation in order to build support and partnerships among agencies and municipalities.

“It is our belief and hope that this session and the initial conversations that follow, will increase our knowledge base and shared understanding so that we may provide meaningful impact and elicit positive change within our communities to best meet the needs of our children and families moving forward,” said Langley Early Years Centre co-ordinator Alicia Stark, leading up to the forum.

Kershaw painted a grim picture.

“In Metro Vancouver, when my mom was my age, it took her five to six years to save a 20 per cent down payment on an average price home,” Kershaw said. “Now, in Metro Vancouver, it takes 27 years. That is a massive deterioration in the standard of living for young adults who happen to be in their prime child-bearing and rearing years.”

Kershaw said there are a range of solutions. One of the most important of which is to first acknowledge that the economy will fail younger people as long as society tolerates home prices leaving earnings behind.

So how do we commit to the principle of homes-first philosophy?

“Homes-first reminds us that the primary purpose of the real estate market is the efficient supply of suitable homes that are in reach of what typical people earn,” Kershaw said.

“If you can make a return on your housing investment, that’s fabulous but it now needs to be a secondary consideration with first keeping home prices within reach.”

Kershaw believes adopting that principle would spark a series of policy changes, including a surge in housing supply that would create competition in the market and in turn would cool prices.

“Let’s restrict harmful demand where people are purchasing homes and leaving them empty or just renting them out to vacationers rather than people who work or study here,” Kershaw said.

He also suggested reducing income taxes, and compensating for that by taxing real estate wealth differently “so we can raise money fairly for medical care and other things.”

Finally, Kershaw said, now’s the time to curb monthly child care fees, so they aren’t the equivalent of another mortgage payment.

“If we can do those kinds of things, we’d better position young adults to deal with the new reality of high home prices,” Kershaw said.

Don’t be fooled by B.C.’s boast that it has fastest-growing Gross Domestic Product in the country, Kershaw warned.

“What makes our economy grow faster than any other province is that real estate is bigger in our province than anywhere else, and that would be OK if we had lots of jobs in real estate, but we don’t.

“As a result, our economy is growing based on the following strategy: let’s raise the cost of living without creating enough jobs that keep earnings in pace. That’s a bad model for economic growth.”

Other guest speakers on Nov. 2 included Joanne Schroeder and John Stark.

Schroeder is the executive director of Comox Valley Child Development and the recent recipient of the Max Bell Foundation Policy Fellowship Association hosted by the Human early Learning Partnership.

Stark is the acting manager of planning with the City of New Westminster.

Just Posted

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fact-check pipe dream

We deserve more transparency now that Trans Mountain is in public hands, says letter writer

Eight displaced after fire last night in Nanaimo’s south end

Nanaimo Fire Rescue responds to fires on Strickland Street and old Jolly Miner pub

‘A really kind person:’ Parksville’s Nick Major remembered by instructor

Outpouring of support in the days following death of young man after infection from rabies

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Housing and opioid crises the real threats

Letter writer shocked that someone could blame vulnerable citizens for Nanaimo’s tarnished image

Nanaimo baseball stadium lighting project costs increasing by $350,000

Finance committee recommends LED lights at Serauxmen Stadium

Sailpast on Wheels Parade recognizes driving forces of Nanaimo bathtub race

Margaret Johnson and Bill McGuire honoured at 2019 event

World’s fastest bathtub racer to be determined this weekend in Nanaimo

Great International World Championship Bathtub Race caps full weekend of downtown events

Nanaimo-Opoly will let board game players deal Harbour City properties

Victoria’s Outset Media and Walmart Canada partner on local edition of popular game

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

Researchers found performance on key areas varies by province and territory

Six inducted into BC Hockey Hall of Fame

The 26th ceremony in Penticton welcomed powerful figures both from on and off the ice

Recall: Certain Pacific oysters may pose threat of paralytic shellfish poisoning

Consumers urged to either return affected packages or throw them out

RCMP investigate two shootings in the Lower Mainland

Incidents happened in Surrey, with a victim being treated at Langley Memorial Hospital

CRA program to help poor file taxes yields noticeable bump in people helped

Extra money allows volunteer-driven clinics to operate year-round

Most Read