Photo: Alexandre Claude
This text is part of a special booklet.
In 2030, one-in-four canadians will be 65 or older. The aging of the population leads to many changes in demographic, economic, and social. Quebec is ripe for a wide-ranging discussion between generations, and it is running.
For the past few years, the issues of solidarity and fairness between the generations emerge as political issues inevitable in Quebec.
The sociodemographic context particular with which we compose makes this social challenge all the more important. The aging of the population, the arrival of the baby-boomers to retirement, the progression of the life expectancy and the low birth rate are all factors that make this complex situation, but especially worthy of our collective interest.
The challenges to quebec society
This specific situation poses many challenges to quebec society, and this, in several respects. There are those related to the environments and to the quality of life, including land use planning, public spaces, social diversity, the vitality of the regions, mobility, housing and climate change.
There are also those related to employment and retirement, among others the labour market, working conditions and benefits, the relation to work — which differs from one generation to the other, the workforce, knowledge transfer, transformation of jobs, retirement and the financial security that is associated with it.
Services and policies public also pose challenges of solidarity and fairness between generations, as we think about the funding of health and education — which are the two portfolios, the most important of the government of Quebec — and other social programs, public finance, and social inequalities.
Finally, there are the challenges related to democracy and citizen participation, including in relation to the sharing of power between the generations and their influence on the public debate.
In this context, how to ensure intergenerational equity ? How the five generations that coexist currently in Quebec will they be able to build together solidarity and find ways to respond to the challenges posed by a Quebec aging ?
The sociodemographic context particular Quebec
Statistics Canada divides quebec society in five distinct generations. The parents of the baby boomers (those born between 1919 and 1945), baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1965), generation X (persons born between 1966 and 1971), generation Y (people born between 1972 and 1992) and the generation Z (born between 1993 and now) form the Quebec of today.
The generation of millénariaux (millennials), a concept the united states of america regularly used for marketing purposes, is not chosen officially by Statistics Canada. It refers to young people born between 1982 and 2004. The millénariaux quebec would be from generations Y and Z.
The marked increase in the birth rate experienced by Quebec from 1946 to 1965 is at the origin of what has been called a posteriori the baby boom. This high rate of growth of births has had an important influence on the sociodemographic background of Quebec.
The Institut de la statistique du Québec estimated that by 2030, the share of persons over 65 years of age in Quebec is expected to be one of the highest among OECD countries !
The weight of the baby-boomers
The dominance of the baby-boomer generation in Quebec has delayed the aging of the population in boosting the proportion of persons under the age of 19 years, and then those from 20 to 64 years of age. This aging, however, is accelerating, then as the baby boomers reach, the past few years, the age of 65 years. The Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) estimates that by 2030 the share of persons over 65 years of age in Quebec is expected to be one of the highest among countries of the Organisation for economic cooperation and development (OECD) !
Quebec is ripe for a wide-ranging discussion between generations
It is in this context that the Institut du Nouveau Monde (INM) launched in the fall of 2017, the public Conversation on solidarity and equity between generations, a consultative process which aims to raise the concerns of the citizens, to debate and propose solutions on the issues of intergenerational.
Although there are sources of disagreement between the generations in Quebec, several points of convergence remain. A survey of Lightweight–Institute of the New World led to the summer of 2017 reveals that, for all the generations, the priority in Quebec is the improvement of the access to a family doctor and shorter wait times in the emergency room. The majority of Quebecers believe that the government must make investment in public services a priority.
Quebecers perceive, however, inequities. For example, more than 60 % of Quebecers of all ages, perceive an inequity in the way in which quebec society responds to the needs of the different generations. In addition, the majority of the citizens surveyed consider that the austerity measures put in place by the provincial government do not affect all generations in a fair manner.
The collective challenges that are cited by Quebecers of all generations, and not necessarily for the same reasons are named, show that intergenerational dialogue is desirable.
A broad public conversation is running
The invitation is therefore issued to youth, families, seniors and organizations to discuss, over the next two years, issues of solidarity and equity between generations.
Too many good ideas have not yet been heard. Too many good examples of solidarity between generations will remain unknown to the population and need to be put in before. Too many challenges of intergenerational equity must be overcome.
And above all, places and opportunities for dialogue between people of different generations must be created in order to demystify some of the prejudices and taboos with regard to the ageing of the population and to combat ageism.
It is time to put to use the citizens ‘ power to define a social project based on solidarity, fair and inclusive for Quebec, which will allow a better cohabitation between generations.
For more information and to participate in the dialogue : an nmi.qc.ca/intergenerationnel
* This text is an abridged version of “The key to 15 – Generations,” published in The state of Quebec in 2018.