A growing number of younger Canadians are struggling with student debt loads, low wages and unemployment. For them, the Canadian dream of buying a house and starting a family is out of reach. For the first time, this next generation is not expected to do as well financially as their parents.
“The thing I remember about my last days in Bosnia is the bomb bursts and gunfire,” Tanya said.
She was 14 when she fled with her parents to Canada.
In Bosnia, Tanya’s parents were doctors. Not here. But they arrived grateful for the work they were able to find and for the promise their new home offered their daughter.
Like many of her generation, however, Tanya is struggling to find meaningful work.
When she graduated from university, she was told she would have better luck if she got her Master’s Degree.
“When I finished my Master’s, I was told I’d be more employable with a PhD. So I got my doctorate.”
But she is no closer to finding work that pays enough to cover what she and her family spent on her education.
And she is far from alone.
What’s the cost of leaving our next generation behind?
A growing proportion of Canadian seniors and those approaching retirement age are filing for insolvency, and the trend shows no sign of slowing down.
John used to walk past homeless men sleeping on the street while out with friends in downtown Toronto. He often thought: “There, but for the grace of God, go I.”
But he lost his job as an IT manager and it was hard to find anything close to what he’d been paid. Then his EI ran out. And then his savings.
2000 resumes later, he hasn’t found anything and is starting to doubt he ever will. He is 63.
“I live at 1/3 of the poverty line. Everything in my life is precarious and all of my time is spent figuring out how to make ends meet.”
He rents a room and gets many of his meals from a social agency. He has been robbed of everything he owned twice.
John thinks we need to be investing in creating better, more secure jobs. And it’s time to make the minimum wage a living wage. People aren’t able to save for rainy days or extended joblessness.
“Sometimes I think if I could just get enough to get me up to the poverty level, I could do more to lift myself out. But every minute of every day is spent figuring out how to survive.”
“I think a lot of older people are precarious enough that a set back or two could put them over the edge. Trouble is, once you’ve gone over, it’s almost impossible to get back up. But not for a lack of trying.”