Middle-income Canadians are facing social and economic stresses at various stages of the life cycle. Many youth are struggling to find a solid footing in the new labour market. Young adults are delaying forming families. Displaced long-term older workers are suffering significant and persistent income losses. And many middle-income Canadians are facing problems building adequate retirement incomes.
These stresses are not unique to Canada. Across the OECD, powerful forces are at work. Technological change is altering the labour market, hollowing out the middle; wage and salary growth for low and middle-income earners is tepid; and inequality is on the rise. While the effects of these trends have been sharper in other countries like the United States, Canada is not immune.
The Queen's 2014 International Social Policy Institute seeks to examine the economic and social trends affecting the middle class in Canada and other Western economies; assess the impacts on income, opportunity and resilience; and explore the robustness of current public polices in the areas of income, labour market, learning and social policy. As is the tradition of the Queen's Social Policy Institute, the perspectives of both Canadian and international experts will be brought to bear on these critical issues.
The Institute will seek to answer the following questions: What are the critical stresses facing middle income Canadians? Can we ensure equal life chances in the 21st century? What are the sources of resilience for individuals and families? Do we have a public policy tool kit that is fit for contemporary purposes?
Queen's University School of Policy Studies gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration, Ontario
Ministry of Community and Social Service, Ontario
Ministry of Finance, Ontario
Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Ontario
Ministry of Training, Colleges and University, Ontario