TORONTO, Feb. 2014 / CNW / - The results of the 2014 Student Budget Consultations will be announced today, ahead of the federal budget scheduled for tomorrow.
Almost 5,000 high school students, from hundreds of classes across Canada, took part in this year's consultations. Students gained new insight into federal government revenues and spending, explored major national issues, and compared the perspectives of representatives from different federal parties before formulating their own opinions in a survey.
The survey was conducted in partnership with Harris-Decima between December 2013 and January 2014. The results were sent to the Ministry of Finance last month.
Debt reduction must be the priority of the Minister of Finance
A strong majority (81 %) of students believe that the federal government should prioritize debt reduction, to the greatest extent possible. Almost half (46 %) of the students believe that the surpluses generated over the coming years should, as a priority, be used to reduce the debt. The other priorities are post-secondary education, investment in the economy to stimulate employment, and personal income tax reduction (each option getting 9 %).
Funding education and reducing taxes to help families
A significant proportion (29 %) of Canadian students believe that their parents have had difficulty raising their families financially. When asked what would be most helpful to their families, students chose personal income tax reduction (27 %) and post-secondary education grants (26 %) first. Almost three-quarters support the children's fitness tax credit and agree to extend it to adults as well.
Increase spending on education and the environment
On the subject of increasing or decreasing spending, half of the students would like the government to increase spending on transfers to post-secondary education (51 %) and the environment (49 %). In terms of spending to be cut, spending on prisons and sentencing (31 %) and arts and culture (32 %) received the most support.
Youth unemployment is problematic
A majority of students (59 %) believe that there is a real problem of unemployment among young people in the country. In terms of solutions, a third of students (33 %) believe that it is enough to increase awareness of employment opportunities and a quarter (23 %) support investments in education and training.
The cost of studies is seen as a major career barrier
Despite the negative outlook for youth employment, students are very or somewhat confident (79 %) that they will be able to find meaningful employment after completing their studies. About 30 % of respondents say that the cost of education is the biggest barrier to their careers.
Tougher penalties are the best way to fight cyberbullying
Three-quarters of students (76 %) believe that cyberbullying is, at the very least, a fairly significant problem, but this percentage is halved (45 %) when students assess this problem in their own school. More severe penalties for offenders are the best way to deal with the problem.
Environmental protection linked to resource extraction is important
A majority of students (61 %) believe that environmental protection linked to resource extraction should be a high priority, but a lower proportion (14 %) believe that it should be the top priority of the government . More students see environmental issues as outweighing economic benefits, rather than the other way around, but many (37 %) believe government can balance the two. When asked how best to support Canada's natural resource industry, more than a third of students (35 %) choose investments in training and education.
To see a graph of the results, Click here.
To see the summary of results, Click here.
The Student Budget Consultations were coordinated with the support of Interac and the Department of Canadian Heritage's Young People Get Involved program.
About the organization
CIVIX is Canada's premier civic education organization with a mandate to educate the citizens of tomorrow. We offer hands-on learning programs for Canadian schools focused on elections, representation and government budgets. In order to improve the delivery of our programs, we also offer professional development activities for teachers.
Student Vote, CIVIX's flagship program, is a parallel election for students who are not yet of voting age and coincides with the official elections. In the 2011 federal election, more than 563,000 students took part in Student Vote, in nearly 3,800 schools across Canada.