Guest blog by Mark McGuire and Chris Ritsma, Co-Chairs of the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee.
Mayor Rick Goldring’s Millennial Advisory Committee met for their March meeting at Burlington City Hall. The committee welcomed Burlington’s Member of Provincial Parliament, Hon. Eleanor McMahon who is also Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport.
The March meeting discussed Burlington’s place within the Province of Ontario, the vision of Burlington’s Member of Provincial Parliament, and what the provincial government is doing to facilitate engagement with millennials.
Minister McMahon began the discussion by laying a foundation for understanding her role as Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, and Sport, which has three federal cabinet minister counterparts. Minister McMahon discussed how Ontario is leading North America in film, and briefly touched on the strength of Ontario’s strong culture, tourism and sport industries. All of this is relevant for Burlington, a mid-size city growing in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, due to the ease of access for Burlington residents to seek opportunities in either market of Toronto or Hamilton, while also being able to focus on growing their own local culture.
Minister McMahon shed light on Ontario’s strengths that have helped the province to achieve the status of leading the G7, which is significant because Ontario is a sub-national jurisdiction, called a province, within the G7 member state Canada. Reasons for Ontario’s success can be attributed to the province’s great skilled and experienced workforce, a robust tax system, the safety and stability of Ontario and health care initiatives. Minister McMahon mentioned that 27 US states hold Ontario as their No. 1 trading partner.
Minister McMahon discussed Ontario’s commitment to infrastructure, a $160 billion investment. The need to modernize Ontario’s infrastructure has been a result of growing cities, with 40 per cent fewer people driving today in Ontario bringing about a need for change to make communities more walkable, bike friendly and improve transit opportunities so that individuals are not limited to just the car.
Bicycling is the cheapest investment for infrastructure. Ontario’s Cap-and-Trade funds to the Green Bank of an estimated $150-$250 million will be invested in improving transit and cycling infrastructure around Ontario. To emphasize the need for modern infrastructure, Minister McMahon contrasted the statistics of Canadian’s biking to school in 1971, where 81 per cent of Canadians claimed they biked to school and social events. Today less than 10 per cent of Canadians claim to bike.
During a question period with Minister McMahon, demographics of Ontario was brought up in regards to Ontario’s rapidly aging residents. Currently, health care is the largest portion of Ontario’s GDP expenditure. In-home care, purpose-built housing units, and other strategies were discussed by the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee as potential area of interest.
It is important to emphasize the significance of aging to all residents. Millennials, a group of youths under 40 and over 18 years of age today, will be seeking retirement in the decades to come. Similarly, today Burlington is the oldest city in the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area demographically. How the province and municipalities strive to meet the challenges will determine the lasting effects on the generations presently entering the workforce and being trained for the economy of tomorrow. Mentorship, continual education and knowledge capture are current ways undertaken to mitigate the loss of knowledge and experience as older citizens exit the workforce and pursue their retirement.
Members of the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee also asked Minister McMahon about the new OSAP program that allows eligible students from low-income families to attend post-secondary for free. With a large number of jobs potentially being replaced by automation, the committee was curious as to whether the new OSAP would extend to mature and older millennial students looking to retrain for a changing job market.
Minister McMahon confirmed mature students could be eligible, and explained that students in households that make less than $50,000 annually will be eligible for this program. Additionally Minister McMahon mentioned that as of September 2017 there will be 210,000 students across Ontario entering post-secondary who will leave with no student debt because of this program.
After the discussion with Minister McMahon, the Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee reviewed a grassroots survey that the Affordable Housing Subcommittee has been working on. The committee debated the some of the non-critical questions, and agreed upon a revised draft of 20 essential questions that they can distribute year over year to get data that can help understand the lifestyle situation of millennials. Millennials in the survey have been defined based on the demographic of people born from 1981 to 1998. The other demographics are “younger than” and “older than” to best gather information on the core demographic they are attempting to represent while extrapolating on demographics younger and older.
The Mayor’s Millennial Advisory concluded the evening with plans for the of the upcoming Inspire Burlington event on Wednesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens David Braley and Nancy Gordon Rock Garden, 1185 York Blvd.
The April meeting will take place on Thursday, April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Community Room 2 at Haber Recreation Centre, 3040 Tim Dobbie Drive. This meeting is a year-end workshop for the committee. Details of the upcoming Inspire Burlington event in April will also be discussed. Looking to attend the Inspire event? Reserve your seat today at https://inspire-burlington-millennials.eventbrite.com/
The Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee was created to develop initiatives and provide input on how to keep and attract residents aged 18 to 35 in Burlington. It will also concentrate on creating opportunities to engage millennials with their community. All meetings are open to the public, especially millennial-aged residents. Meeting attendees are encouraged to bike, bus or walk.
For more information about the committee, contact the Office of the Mayor at firstname.lastname@example.org.