What ever happened to the ‘Age of Leisure’

Fifty years later, what happened? Our natural resources are worth more. Our country is much wealthier. Yet, people are working harder and longer and are not able to buy as much.

I came of age in the 1960s. In those days we completed the Trans-Canada Highway, and the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Columbia River and the Peace River Power Projects. We built the Deas Tunnel, the Oak Street Bridge, the Second Narrows Bridge, the Rosedale-Agassiz Bridge, and the floating bridge at Kelowna. We introduced universal hospital insurance, Medicare, and the Canada Pension Plan and signed the Bill of Rights and chose a new national flag. At the same time the governments balanced their budgets and paid off their debts. We were also experiencing the largest housing boom in our history. Workers were enjoying shorter working hours and longer annual leaves. Academics were starting to talk about an Age of Leisure and 20-hour work weeks.

Fifty years later, what happened? Our natural resources are worth more. Our country is much wealthier. Yet, people are working harder and longer and are not able to buy as much. Owning a house is beyond the reach of most workers, even rent takes up most of one’s salary! Our infrastructure is crumbling, we can’t afford health care and our pensions are under funded. How can it be that when we spent money we had lots and now we are short and we don’t have any?

Clifford Roulston