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:


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%).


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.


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.


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.


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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