Pitting Generation Against Generation in Canada

Xavier Ovando of Montreal uses a two-plunger ear protection to protect his hearing during a Montreal protest march. Maybe more Canadians should join him.

Xavier Ovando of Montreal uses a two-plunger ear protection to protect his hearing during a Montreal protest march. Maybe more Canadians should join him.

We in Canada are not prone to protest. On the contrary we Canadians are more pacifists, and some say worse, that we have no backbone. Maybe the current economic recession will help change our attitudes. Our young people are getting slaughtered when they leave school, and what should they do? Be passive and simply accept it? No, this cannot do. It was interesting to me when average Canadians started taking up the cause of Quebec students, who are protesting tuition fee increases. Do they belie a more significant rot in our society? Should we average Canadians in the rest of Canada join?

Make no mistake that Quebec students enjoy the least expensive tuition fees in all of Canada, and the current tuition fee hikes are laughable in other provinces. Still, irregardless of the actual amount of the hike, if students across Canada cannot afford any hikes, the actual amount of the increase is immaterial. Maybe thinking about only the amount of tuition costs and the proposed increase is really not the point of the protest.

Let us summarize the process of modern post-secondary education: You spend upwards of $8,000/yr for 4 years, or $30-40,000 for the experience of a Bachelor’s degree, graduate with a high debt load, then find you cannot get work and start your life. You languish in poverty and cannot make end’s meet. Your elders call you lazy and tell you to get a job, but when you apply to for a job that is relevant to your education, you are not hired. This repeats and is also true for your former classmates.

I can understand the frustration of these new grads. Those that have graduated before them have had job and career opportunities that are currently unavailable to new grads. How can they not feel slighted? Maybe more students outside of Quebec should look at the above flawed chain of events and realize the inequality they have or will step into.

The economic and career squeeze is not limited to new grads though. If you are someone without current employment, the job search can be brutal. As a recruiter I hear this in the voices of some of the people I speak. Yes, they are hopeful and put on a brave face, and I raise this issue as discretely as I can, but I am careful to not dash their hopes. Even in an economic downturn, there is no good reason to rub joblessness into someone’s face; This is just evil. But I ramble.

I really do not completely understand the protest of Quebec university students, but I see far reaching implications of the economic and employment squeeze we are experiencing in Canada, and particularly in Toronto. I remember a successful business owner stating that “To be personally successful, my community also needs to be successful”. This is certainly not the case here in Toronto today.

Unemployment puts a great stress on people, which can easily lead to depression and mental illness. Is this what we want for a generation of young Canadians, and our kids?

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