10/19/2011 12:12 EDT | Updated 12/18/2011 05:12 EST

Young Families Called 'A Squeezed Generation'


A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia says governments should be putting more money toward helping new families and less to seniors.

The study found that although Canada’s economy has doubled in size since 1976, that additional prosperity is not being seen for the generation raising young kids, quite the opposite.

It found that the standard of living for B.C. families with young kids has declined substantially.

But retirees are now much better off than they used to be, said Paul Kershaw, a professor of public policy at UBC.

"We need to turn our attention to the generation raising young kids,” Kershaw told CBC News Tuesday. “They need new mom and dad benefits, so moms and dads alike, including the self-employed, can share time at home with their kids until they're at least 18 months.

“Thereafter, we need $10-a-day child care and we need new commitments to flex time that currently ignore the family."

Kershaw said that only about five per cent of seniors across the country are poor, compared to 30 per cent three decades ago.

Intergenerational tension

He said recent elections across the country have focused on helping seniors, when they should have keyed in on families.

Baby-boomers, now in their pre-retirement years, are benefitting from comparatively high wages and skyrocketing real estate prices, he said.

"If we really want to make sure the family remains at the heart of Canadian values, then we have to start talking about serious policy innovation and substantial reallocation of resources," Kershaw said.

Occupy Wall Street movements have recently spread around the globe denouncing corporate fat cats and the widening gap between haves and have-nots.

Kershaw said the protests show people care about economic parity. But they're forgetting that "intergenerational tension" also plays a role.

"We have a generation that's squeezed," he said.