Daphne Bramham: Millennials have the means, if not the will, to alter politics and reshape public policies

The next federal election will be held on Monday, Oct. 21.

No group is better positioned than millennials to dramatically reshape politics and parties’ election platforms in what promises to be a desperate and chaotic federal election in October.

Yes, them. Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are frequently described as lazy, self-centred, unfocused and lacking in basic life and workplace skills. They have been blamed for “killing” everything from bar soap to credit cards to Hooters to golf to dating to car ownership.

These much-maligned “kids” are also potentially the biggest voting bloc, accounting for 35 per cent of eligible voters. Yet right now, they are almost voiceless in parliament and legislatures, and nowhere are they so remarkably unrepresented as in British Columbia.

It’s important to acknowledge the less-remarked-upon things that have shaped this generation. They are better educated than previous generations, which has saddled them with debt that piled up because of higher tuition costs.

Many have had trouble finding jobs because they graduated during a global recession and a period of stagnant wages. They’re making do by living with parents longer and delaying having children. Those with jobs work harder than previous generations because most families need two incomes to keep roofs over their heads and food on the table.

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Not since the return of Second World War veterans have young Canadians faced such a difficult housing market. Affordable rental housing is scarce, and home ownership is mostly beyond their reach, even for two working professionals.

Necessity has downsized dreams of home ownership to high-rise apartments from single-family houses with yards. Even then, home ownership often depends on having access to the Bank of Mom and Dad and/or Childcare by Grandma and Grandpa.

When the oldest millennials were born, the average house price was about six times the annual average salary, or just under $204,000 in 2016 dollars, according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. By 2016, the national average price was nearly $507,000, or 14.8 times average annual wages. In Metro Vancouver, the average house costs $1.4 million.

More than any generation since the advent of Old Age Security and the Canada Pension Plan, the…

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