Young Canadians to Jim Flaherty: Pay down the debt

TORONTO, Feb. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - The results of the 2014 Student Budget Consultation are released today in advance of tomorrow's federal budget.

Nearly 5,000 high school students took part in this year's consultation from hundreds of classrooms throughout Canada.  The students were tasked with learning about the federal government's revenues and expenditures, exploring major national issues and comparing the views of federal party representatives before offering their own opinions through a survey.

The survey was conducted in partnership with Harris-Decima between December 2013 and January 2014. The results were shared with the Department of Finance last month.


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.

To view an info graphic of the results, click here.

To view the full results summary, click here.

The Student Budget Consultation was coordinated with the support of Interac and the Youth Take Charge program of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

About the Organization

CIVIX is Canada's premier civic education organization building students into citizens.  We offer experiential learning programs to Canadian schools focused on elections, representation and government budgets.  To improve the delivery of our programming we offer professional development to teachers.

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.

Image with caption: "Young Canadians to Jim Flaherty: Pay down the debt (CNW Group/CIVIX)". Image available at:


For further information:

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

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