2017 Student Budget Consultation Results

March 20th, 2017 by Dan Allan

High school students to Finance Minister Morneau: Reduce debt and increase spending on education and the environment

Despite the federal government’s plan to run deficits, two-thirds (66 per cent) of Canadian high school students believe that debt reduction should be a key priority. Students also want to see more investments in environmental protection and post-secondary education.

Student Budget Consultation

For the fourth time, high school students from across Canada participated in the Student Budget Consultation, a national initiative aimed at engaging youth in the federal government pre-budget consultation process. The project was coordinated by CIVIX, with the support of the Government of Canada, Interac and the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians.

More than 7,000 high school students took part in the 2017 Student Budget Consultation from more than 400 schools throughout the country, representing every province and territory.

Other findings include:

  • Youth unemployment a concern – 68 per cent of students believe that there is a youth unemployment problem in Canada; making student debt more manageable (31 per cent) and improving access to quality jobs (27 per cent) are seen as the top remedies.
  • Students confident in their own prospects – 87 per cent of students are confident in their individual ability to find and maintain a job they are interested in, despite believing that social mobility and raising a family will be more difficult for them than it was for their parents.
  • Make post-secondary education more affordable – Students see increases to the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education as the government’s most important means of helping youth and Canadian families (44 per cent).
  • Environmental protection is a key priority – 61 per cent of students believe that protecting the environment is a critical national priority and that funding should be increased.
  • Increase spending for education, health and innovation – Other top spending priorities include education (58 per cent), health care (47 per cent) and innovation (45 per cent); arts and culture was the lowest-ranked priority (32 per cent of students favoured a decrease in funding).
  • Investments in affordable housing – 36 per cent of students noted affordable housing as the most important investment priority for their local area.
  • Income inequality a growing concern – 61 per cent of students believe that income inequality is a problem in Canada today and a majority support raising taxes on wealthy Canadians (63 per cent) and corporations (53 per cent).

To view an infographic of the results highlights, click here.

To view the full results report, click here.

Student Budget Consultation

About the Student Budget Consultation

The Student Budget Consultation provides youth with an opportunity to learn about the government’s revenues and expenditures, discuss important political issues and suggested policies, and offer their insights on the priorities of the federal budget. The opinions of students are collected through a survey and the results are shared with the Department of Finance.

The 2017 survey was conducted in partnership with Vox Pop Labs between November 2016 and March 2017.

 

About the Organization

CIVIX national registered charity dedicated to building the habits of active and engaged citizenship among young Canadians. CIVIX provides experiential learning opportunities to help young Canadians practice their rights and responsibilities as citizens, and connect with their democratic institutions.

Student Vote, the flagship program of CIVIX, is a parallel election for students under the voting age coinciding with official elections. In the 2015 federal election, 922,000 elementary and secondary students cast a Student Vote ballot from approximately half of all schools in Canada.

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“How to bring discussion about financial issues into the classroom”

January 11th, 2016 by Dan Allan

Last October, the CIVIX team welcomed representatives from the World Bank and the Russian Ministry of Finance.

The 16-member delegation was interested in learning more about financial literacy initiatives for students, as well as our Student Budget Consultation program.

We were also joined by students, and their teachers, from Sandalwood Heights Secondary School in Brampton, Ontario. The students took part in the 2015 Student Budget Consultation (and the 2015 Student Vote), and shared their experiences — including a trip to Ottawa to meet with representatives from the federal Department of Finance.

Ivor Beazley, the Task Team Leader for Budget Literacy Project in Russia, wrote about the presentation on the World Bank’s blog:

The 2008 financial crisis was a “wake up” call to many teachers in the United States and Canada. As families lost their homes and parents lost jobs, they began to appreciate the importance of kids leaving school with some knowledge of the world of finance – especially about how personal decisions are made about finance and how financial decisions taken by government directly affect their lives and future prospects. 

A study group from Moscow and five regions of Russia recently visited Canada and the US to learn more about initiatives in those two countries and to bring discussion about financial issues into the classroom – with the idea of turning today’s students into active and responsible citizens of the future, able to make well-informed personal financial decisions and to engage in discussions about public finances on behalf of themselves and their communities.

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Canada’s “Student Budget Consultation” program is an inspiring example of how to get students engaged and motivated. Each year, students get to debate real budget issues, in real time, and to hear from the real decision makers about the hard choices that have to be made. Students get to look at the facts, hear opinions from politicians, business leaders and other interest groups, debate budget priorities with fellow students, and then express their own views using a survey tool.

The results are then collected from schools across the country and consolidated to express the collective views of students on spending priorities. A small group of students then presents the Student Budget Consultation results on behalf of all the participating schools to the Minister of Finance in Ottawa.

Students told the group that being part of Student Budget Consultation was their first exposure to the topic of budgeting. Having political leaders speak directly to them in their classrooms (via video recordings), and having the opportunity to deal with real life issues, had quite an impact on their thinking, sparking their interest in finance and public affairs and, in some cases, changing the direction of their future studies and career choices.

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Despite a certain fear factor, there was no shortage of teachers willing to get involved and consequently the program has expanded rapidly, with support from governments and non-profit organizations dedicated to civic education and economic education such as CIVIX Canada.

The study group heard some common lessons of experience. First, how helpful it was to involve teachers in the design, testing and evaluation of course materials. Second, how important it is to tie these lessons into the regular student curriculum. Finally, the design of the course needs careful thought about how to engage students’ interest. Introducing the topic of the public budget was easier once students had thought about their personal or family finances.

Real life scenarios, involving real people and events were much more engaging than dreamt-up case studies. And, interactive learning through debate, role plays, and use of technology draws students in. All of this provided much food for thought as Russia pursues its own initiative to promote Budget Literacy in schools.

You can read the original post in its entirety here.

Previously, our team has visited Moscow, Russia and Warsaw, Poland to speak about the Student Budget Consultation.

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Improving Budget Openness and Transparency with the Working Group on Budget Literacy in Warsaw

May 27th, 2015 by CIVIX

How can a country improve its budget openness and transparency? Is it enough to make budget documents publicly available on a website? These questions were at the heart of a budget literacy workshop I attended behalf of CIVIX last week in Warsaw, Poland.

The workshop was organized by and the World Bank’s resource team and PEMPAL’s Working Group on Budget Literacy, with the objective of learning from international experiences and raising budget literacy among citizens in Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The participating countries included Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

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In recent years, enhancing budget openness has been priority for these countries, and they now commonly publish budget information online. But because this information can be tricky to understand, even for those working in the field, simply publishing it online isn’t enough to truly engage citizens.

This is why improving budget literacy among citizens is a key component of an open and transparent budget process. There are several approaches to improving budget literacy, but one of the most effective ways is to teach it in school. This is what CIVIX does with the Student Budget Consultation, and it was out of desire to hear about our efforts at improving budget literacy among Canadian youth that I was invited to speak at the workshop.

My presentation, which was similar to one I gave last month in Moscow, focused on how the Student Budget Consultation complements our Student Vote program by teaching students about government revenues and expenditures, and I highlighted the positive impact on both students and teachers. To give the participants a real taste of the program, I also showed some of the educational videos featuring the Minister of Finance, stakeholder groups, and the leaders of the opposition parties.

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The presentation sparked a good discussion, and there were several questions about the size of the CIVIX team, the impact of our programs on parents, and our ability to get major political players involved. The participants were quite impressed with the involvement of the Minister of Finance and the opposition leaders, and they felt it added credibility to the program.

The workshop also included an interesting presentation on budget literacy in the United Kingdom delivered by Maureen Pamplin, who is head of Sustainability at HM Revenue & Customs. She spoke about the Tax Facts Teaching Resource which will be launched later this year as part of the national curriculum. Like the Student Budget Consultation, this program involves a series of videos targeting youth, and learning about the similarities and differences between it and the Student Budget Consultation was a valuable experience, particularly as the institutions in Britain and Canada are so similar.

While in Warsaw, I also did get to do a bit sightseeing, including the reconstructed Old Town (it had been destroyed during WWII), the Palace of Culture and Science, and the Warsaw Uprising Monument.  

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There are no other performances currently scheduled for the CIVIX Student Budget Consultation European Spring Tour, but I will continue to be working in Geneva, and who knows where I will be next!

Paul Anderson
CIVIX European Bureau Chief

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High school students to Finance Minister Oliver: Balance the budget and increase spending on education, the environment and healthcare

April 20th, 2015 by Dan Allan

Despite the decline in oil prices and government revenues, 49% of high schools students believe that the federal government should do everything it can to make sure the budget is balanced this year.

For the third year in a row, high school students from across Canada participated in the Student Budget Consultation, a national initiative aimed at engaging youth in the federal government budget process.

Student Budget Consultation

Six thousand high school students took part in the 2015 Student Budget Consultation from more than 300 classrooms throughout Canada, representing every province and territory. 

Other findings include:

  • A balanced budget remains important – When asked how they would spend a budget surplus, students allocated a larger percentage of the surplus towards paying down the federal debt (12.9%) than any other option; purchasing new equipment for the Canadian forces (8.6%) and increasing health care transfers to the provinces (7.8%) were also top selections.
  • Increase spending for education, the environment and healthcare – A majority of high school students think the government should spend more on education-related social transfers, protecting the environment and transfers to the provinces for health care. With respect to spending reductions, prisons/increased sentences (29%) and arts and culture (28%) were selected most.
  • Lowering personal taxes and education funding most effective approaches to helping families – When asked what would be most helpful for families, students prioritized lowering personal income taxes (28%) and subsidizing post-secondary education (26%). Implementing a national daycare program (9%) and income splitting (7%) received significantly less support.
  • Reducing tuition seen as the most important strategy to increase youth employment – Approximately 20% of those surveyed said the cost of education was the biggest hurdle facing them in starting their careers, closely followed by career uncertainty (19%).
  • National to scholarship program chosen as best way to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary – A plurality of young Canadians want the Government to mark its 150th anniversary by establishing a new national scholarship program.

To view an infographic of the results highlights, click here.

To view the full results summary, click here.

The results of a corresponding survey of 1,000 Canadians aged 18 and over conducted by polling firm Abacus Data finds that high school students and Canadians 18+ share many of the same priorities and attitudes when it comes to the budget. However, there are also some notable differences between the two groups.

High school students are more likely to prioritize education spending, tuition fee reductions and public debt reduction, while Canadians 18+ are more likely to prioritize healthcare spending, tax reductions, and economic growth. 

  • While a majority of high school students and Canadians 18+ want the federal government to spend more on healthcare transfers, students were more likely to want to see increased federal spending on education related social transfers, reducing crime through crime prevention programs and protecting the environment. Canadians 18+ wanted to see increased spending on tax credits and/or benefits.
  • When asked what was most important to them in thinking about the kind of Canada they want to see 15 years from now, high school students were more likely to rank investments in education and research, and debt reduction as the most important outcomes – while Canadians 18+ were more likely to rank improving health care and strong growth in the Canadian economy as most important.
  • When asked to identify what the most important step the government could take to help families, about three in ten students and Canadians 18+ prioritized personal income tax reductions. Students were more likely to select subsidizing tuition while Canadians 18+ were more likely to prioritize family income splitting and a national childcare program.

To view the full results comparison summary (high school students vs Canadians 18+), click here.

About the Student Budget Consultation

The Student Budget Consultation is a civic education and financial literacy program that gives young Canadians an opportunity to learn about government and public policy, debate varying viewpoints and offer their opinion on the priorities of the upcoming federal budget.

The program culminated with a consultation survey, held online and through paper-based questionnaires.

The 2015 survey was conducted in partnership with Abacus Data between December 2014 and April 2015. The results were shared with the Department of Finance earlier this month.

About the Organization

CIVIX is Canada’s leading civic education organization working to build the capacity and commitment of young Canadians to participate in our democracy. CIVIX offers resources and innovative approaches to make it easy and effective for educators to teach democracy and citizen engagement.

Student Vote, the flagship program of CIVIX, is a parallel election for students under the voting age coinciding with official elections. In the 2011 federal election, more than 563,000 students cast a Student Vote ballot from nearly 3,800 schools throughout Canada.

The 2015 Student Budget Consultation was coordinated with the support of the Government of Canada, Interac and the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians.

 

For further information:

For comment or to be directed to students who participated in the survey, contact Taylor Gunn, President of CIVIX at hello@civix.ca or 1 866 488 8775.

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International Experiences in Strengthening Budget Literacy: Bringing the Student Budget Consultation to Moscow

April 14th, 2015 by CIVIX

“Hey Paul,” was how the email from my colleague Dan started. “We’re giving a presentation on the Student Budget Consultation to the Russian Ministry of Finance on April 2 via Skype. In the rare chance we needed to get you to Moscow to give the presentation in person, could that be possible?”

Since the beginning of March, I have been working remotely for CIVIX from Geneva, Switzerland. Since CIVIX programs are run exclusively in Canada (for now, at least), I didn’t expect to by flying around Europe to talk about our work. I was completely wrong.

Within a few days of Dan’s initial email, my flights and hotel were booked, and I started working on a presentation and made sure that I knew every little detail about the Student Budget Consultation.

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My presentation was part of a workshop organized by the World Bank and the Russian Ministry of Finance, who are currently working together on a pilot project to start teaching budget literacy to high school students in several regions across Russia. The project is still in the early stages, and this workshop was designed to establish goals, priorities and to learn from budget literacy initiatives in other countries. There were about 50 participants in total, which included the Russian Deputy Minister of Finance, World Bank staff, bureaucrats from the ministries of Finance and Education, international experts, representatives from the pilot regions and other education stakeholders.

My presentation was part of a panel on “International Experiences in Strengthening Budget Literacy.” The other presenters were from South Africa and Brazil, as well as from the US and the Netherlands via Skype. In my 30 minute presentation, I talked about the goals of the Student Budget Consultation, shared some of the program videos, looked at parts of the survey and the results of past years, and answered questions from the audience. My presentation was well received, and I think it combined with the other international presentations to give the project leaders a good idea of what is possible and what works in budget literacy initiatives.

One of the common themes of the workshop was the need to create citizen demand for budget information. Even if governments are completely transparent about their budgeting processes, it is meaningless if citizens do not care or cannot understand the information. This is why it is so important for financial literacy programs to be in schools, because they help create informed and engaged citizens who will demand transparency and hold governments to account.

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The international component of the workshop also opened my eyes to the interesting work being done in the areas of civic education and budget literacy in other countries. As our work is focused in Canada, it was useful to hear from experiences from countries as diverse as Brazil and South Africa. It was also very interesting to hear about the vast differences between Russian regions, as well as a strong rural-urban divide in the quality of education. Being massive countries with pronounced geographical differences is something that Russia and Canada certainly have in common, and we share the challenge of trying to establish budget literacy curriculum that works for everyone.  

The two day workshop ended on a Friday afternoon, and then I spent the weekend doing some sightseeing in Moscow. It was great to see some of the historical sites while spending time just wandering around the city.

Now I am back in Geneva, but the CIVIX Student Budget Consultation European Spring Tour will continue next month in Warsaw, Poland. Stay tuned!

Paul Anderson
CIVIX European Bureau Chief

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The Student Budget Consultation at TD Christian High School

December 16th, 2014 by Dan Allan

Kamrin Ward is a Grade 10 student at TD Christian High School in Vaughan, Ontario. Kamrin is participating in this year’s Student Budget Consultation program. She wrote a blog for us about her experience.

Hi, I am Kamrin; a Grade 10 student that is part of an environmental program at my school. I have always been interested in politics and the social aspects and issues in Vaughan and throughout the world.

Kamrin leads a class discussion as part of the Student Budget Consultation

In civics class, I have learned so much about voting, political positions, looking at the different levels of government, what’s going on in our country, and so much more. Now, we are starting to learn more about the federal budget by participating in the Student Budget Consultation.

My part of the project is to answer everyone’s questions about the whole program and supervise the survey that will take place during class. I will also review the questions with my class in advance to make sure everyone understands the questions and we’ll discuss their different views. As part of leading my class in the consultation, myself and other classmates are using the videos, PowerPoints and handouts to teach the class and lead small group activities.

Kamrin leads a class discussion as part of the Student Budget Consultation

Another project that I was responsible for was the Student Vote. I was the deputy returning office and supervised a poll clerk and the scrutineer. The Ontario Municipal Student Vote was a great experience for me because I got to test and work on my organizational skills. I have always wanted to know about how people accomplished the voting process. I thought that being in charge of this project would be the perfect way to gain my knowledge in this topic, so, I took on the challenge.

I have learned so much about civics over these past couple months and I can’t wait to see how I am going to be able to apply it to my everyday life; whether it be during class or after I graduate high school. Having a civics program in school makes me, and other students, feel involved in what is going on in our city, province, or even around the world.

We visited Kamrin’s class at TD Christian last week and you can watch our recap video here:

You can also view photos of the Student Budget Consultation at TD Christian High School taken by student Evan Kim here.

You can learn more about the Student Budget Consultation on the project website. Educators can still register their class(es) to take part in the new year.

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A Student Perspective on the 2014 SBC

March 4th, 2014 by CIVIX

My name is Laurier Boucher and I am a grade 10 student at Sacred Heart High School in Stittsville, Ontario. I am also a Royal Canadian Air Cadet and what is known informally as a ‘base brat,’ which means I come from a military family that moves a lot. I am not much more than your average teen.

Unlike most teens, however, I received the magnificent opportunity to take part in the Student Budget Consultation (SBC). The SBC is a program created by CIVIX to stimulate the involvement of Canadian youth from all ends of this amazing country. It deals with Canada’s revenue, spending, and saving; in other words Canada’s ‘piggy bank.’

Students discuss the SBC results with Andrew Saxton

I have to admit, I was not particularly thrilled with the idea of taking, what seemed to be at the time, a random survey that would end up in an annual write-up. In reality, the SBC gives students a chance to have their voice heard. In the end, I truly did enjoy the program in every aspect possible, and it helps that I had the astounding opportunity to fully appreciate what it had to offer first hand by meeting with the CIVIX team. I believe it to be a great learning objective, allowing one to be grateful for what we have as a country, and to be given the chance to share our opinions.

Another amazing opportunity offered by the SBC was the rendezvous with Andrew Saxton, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance. Meeting Mr. Saxton was a privilege of which I am enormously grateful for. Even if I may have felt incongruous at first, the atmosphere in the room soon filled with constructive and coalescing conversation. The whole process was much less nerve racking than anticipated! It is definitely something the SBC should continue to do for the benefit of all our advancing adolescent population.

The SBC also taught me a great deal of what the majority of teens from around the country thought about our budget. Many results are similar to what is included in this year’s budget, but there were some differences. Some exceptions, however, were related to things such as the environment, where teenagers took a more precarious approach. A large portion of the poll believed in equal opportunities, no matter the age, on government programs (such as recreational activity support). Furthermore, students are strongly convinced that any surplus made by 2015 should be primarily saved for the benefit of paying off Canada’s debt that will one day become our burden.

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I do hope that the opinion of the students whom took part of the survey is taken into substantial consideration. Although we do count for a small segment, we are Canada’s youth. As youth we are Canada’s future and that should be the reason they take our votes seriously. Yet, it is understandable that the economy will take time to be as renowned as it once was.

The SBC has enormously changed my viewpoint of Canada and its people, and it would be my pleasure to aid it with its endeavours in positively changing our country for the greater good of our world. If the SBC would have a motto, it would have to be “Kaizen”, which when translated from Japanese means “continuous improvement.”

What I have learned from this program reminds me of Dr. Seuss’s famous quote, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” The SBC is indeed a valuable program that should be available, and grow in importance to all Canadian youth.

Thank you for the amazing experience!

Visit the Student Budget Consultation website for more information, teacher resources and complete survey results.

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Student Budget Consultation: Post-Budget Comparison

February 13th, 2014 by Dan Allan

The 2014 federal budget was delivered in the House of Commons on Tuesday by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty. The budget received an array of reactions from political parties, stakeholders and the media, but what would high school students think?

On Monday, we publicly released the results of the 2014 Student Budget Consultation. Nearly 5,000 high school students from across Canada learned about the budget and major national issues, and took part in an online survey between November 2013 and January 2014. A group of students met with Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance Andrew Saxton to brief him on the results in advance of the budget.

Student Budget Consultation

We compared some of the survey results with provisions from the budget:

DEBT, DEFICIT AND SURPLUS

There will be a $2.9 billion deficit this year, and next year’s surplus is projected to be $6.4 billion. Speaking to journalists, Flaherty noted that the government “will make sure Canada’s fiscal position remains strong enough to weather any future global economic storms. That starts with paying down the debt.” Some Conservative MPs mentioned implementing income splitting to lower personal taxes as a possible use for the surplus; income splitting was a Conservative campaign promise in 2015.

Students were asked what the government should do with the anticipated surplus, and a strong majority of students (81%) believe that reducing the debt as much as possible should be a high priority. Nearly half (46%) of students believe debt reduction should be the first priority with any future surplus. The next choices were post-secondary education, investments in the economy to boost jobs and lower personal income taxes (each receiving 9%).

SPENDING

Flaherty said that there will be few increases to expenditures. The government will delay $3.1 billion in spending on new military equipment. However, the government will spend $1.5 billion over 10 years to support research at post-secondary institutions.

Student Budget Consultation

Across a wide range of issues, students expressed that they wanted spending to remain the same. Most popular areas for spending increases were post-secondary education (51%), the environment (49%) and Innovation and R&D (37%). In terms of spending reductions, arts and culture (32%), prisons/increased sentences (31%) and National Defence (18%) received the most support.

ENERGY AND THE ENVIRONMENT

The budget allocates $28 million over the next two years to the National Energy Board regulatory body that reviews energy projects, like pipelines. The budget also removes tariffs from mobile offshore drilling units, reducing their business costs.

A majority of students (61%) believe environmental protection related to resource extraction should be a high priority. More students feel that environmental issues outweigh potential economic benefits than vice versa, but a plurality (37%) feel like the government can effectively balance the two.

JOBS AND THE ECONOMY

The budget makes a number of investments in job creation. The Canada Job Grant will be launched to ensure job training reflects skills shortages, the Canada Apprenticeship Loan will provide interest-free loans for Canadians undertaking apprenticeships and $40 million is being dedicated to full-time internships for post-secondary graduates.

Student Budget Consultation

A majority of students (59%) believe there is a youth unemployment problem in Canada. Regarding ways to address the issue, one third of students (33%) think the answer lies in simply increasing awareness about where the jobs are, one quarter (23%) support investments in education and training and more than one fifth (21%) endorse job grants or tax credits for businesses.

FAMILIES

The budget will provide a larger tax credit for families who adopt children. The government will also put a cap on wireless roaming rates.

When asked what would be most helpful for their family, students prioritized lowering personal income taxes (27%) and subsidizing post-secondary education (26%). Only a small number of students selected income splitting for parents (7%) and capping telecom fees (6%).

Click here to view the complete Student Budget Consultation results.
Click here to learn more about the 2014 federal budget.

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Student Budget Consultation 2014 – Young Canadians to Jim Flaherty: Pay down the debt

February 10th, 2014 by CIVIX

For the second year, CIVIX Canada consulted high school students in relation to the federal budget, and again, they point to Canada’s debt as their most important fiscal issue.

The Student Budget Consultation is a civic education and financial literacy project that engages high school students in a study and dialogue around Canada’s budget and asks for their input on major national issues.

Student Budget Consultation

What’s important to understand is that before taking the consultation survey – administered by our partner Harris-Decima – students were asked to inform themselves about the federal government’s revenues and expenditures and the major issues covered in the survey. 

To do this we engaged Minister Flaherty to speak to students as an ‘educator’ through a series of web videos, produced and filmed a political panel hosted by The Huffington Post Canada’s Ottawa Bureau Chief Althia Raj to cover the major budget issues, and engaged opposition party leaders to participate in a video Q&A.  The project followed a curriculum built for use by classroom teachers and the project website remains open at www.civix.ca/sbc

Student Budget Consultation

The goal was that participating students established a level of knowledge about the budget process and major issues, before submitting their opinions through the survey.  Nearly 5,000 students took part in this year’s consultation from hundreds of classrooms across the country.  Here is a summary of this year’s Student Budget Consultation results:

Debt reduction should be the Finance Minister’s number one priority

A strong majority (81%) of students believe that the federal government should place a high priority on reducing the debt as much as possible. Nearly half (46%) of students believe debt reduction should be the first priority with any future surplus. The next choices were post-secondary education, investments in the economy to boost jobs and lower personal income taxes (each receiving 9%). 

Education funding and lower taxes key to helping families

A substantial proportion (29%) of the Canadian student population believes their parents had a tough time financially raising children. When asked what would be most helpful for their family, students prioritized lowering personal income taxes (27%) and subsidizing post-secondary education (26%). Nearly three quarters support the children’s fitness tax credit and support the idea of expanding it to adults as well.

Increase spending for education and the environment

When asked about spending increases or decreases, half of students want to see budget increases for post-secondary education transfers (51%) and the environment (49%). With respect to spending reductions, prisons/increased sentences (31%) and arts and culture (32%) receive most support.

Youth unemployment is a problem

A majority of students (59%) believe there is a youth unemployment problem in Canada. Regarding ways to address the issue, one third of students (33%) think the answer lies in simply increasing awareness about where the jobs are and one quarter (23%) support investments in education and training.

Cost of education seen as biggest hurdle to careers

Despite negative youth employment perceptions, students are very or somewhat confident (79%) that they will find a job that interests them once they graduate. Approximately 30% of those surveyed said the cost of education was the biggest hurdle facing them in starting their careers.

 Stiffer penalties the best way to address cyberbullying

Three quarters of students (76%) feel that cyberbullying is at least a somewhat significant problem, though this decreases to less than half (45%) when talking about the students’ own school. Stiffer penalties for offenders is seen as the best solution to address the problem.

Environmental protection related to resource extraction is important

A majority of students (61%) believe environmental protection related to resource extraction should be a high priority, although a smaller number (14%) think it should be the government’s top priority. More students feel that environmental issues outweigh potential economic benefits than vice versa, but a plurality (37%) feel like the government can effectively balance the two. When asked for the best way to support Canada’s natural resource industry, more than one third of students (35%) chose investments to training and education.

As an organization, we believe that the understanding of budgets and their contents by citizens will improve overall civic engagement, and hopefully, lead to electoral participation. 

The Student Budget Consultation is part of an array of civic education programs we are launching between elections to carry on the momentum established with our flagship program, Student Vote, a parallel election program for students under the voting age.  In the 2011 federal election, 563,000 students cast Student Vote ballots from approximately 3,800 schools across Canada.

Click here for the consultation info graphics, and here for the complete consultation results.

This post also appears as a Huffington Post Canada blog.

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