Canadian youth share their priorities for Budget 2023
Between January and March 2023, Canadian students participated in the Student Budget Consultation, an annual initiative coordinated by CIVIX to engage youth in the federal government’s pre-budget consultation process.
More than 450 intermediate and secondary schools from throughout Canada registered to participate in the 2023 consultation, representing all provinces.
Participating youth learned about the Canadian government and public finance, discussed important issues facing the economy and their communities, and offered their input for Budget 2023 through an online survey.
To provide a preliminary snapshot of the perceptions and priorities of the next generation, Vox Pop Labs analyzed the results from the first 1,500 student submissions.
The top priorities among youth for Budget 2023 include addressing the high cost of living, building more affordable housing, addressing climate change, and support for people living in poverty.
Concerning the most important steps the federal government could take to support young Canadians, students ranked housing affordability, affordable education and mental health support as most important.
CIVIX and youth journalist Wyatt Sharpe met directly with 15 MPs, representing all parties in the House of Commons, to share some of the key survey findings in advance of Budget Day. Video highlights from those MP interviews are available below:
Affordable Housing & Cost of Living
Mental Health & Indigenous Relations
Climate Change & Health Care
Income Inequality & Fiscal Policy
Other points of interest in the preliminary survey results include:
- Cost of Living – High cost of living is the most important budget priority for the students, and they believe that higher grocery bills and rising gas costs have had the largest negative impact on their household finances.
- Housing Affordability – A plurality of respondents (36%) believe that making housing more affordable is the most important step that the government could take to support youth, and half of students thought that housing costs had negatively affected their household financial situation somewhat or a great deal.
- Future Outlook – While more than two-thirds of students are optimistic about their own future, fewer than half are optimistic about the future of Canada, and less than a third are optimistic about the future of the world.
- Wealth Inequality – More than half of students believe that the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large, and more than half of students believe that wealthy people have a greater financial obligation than others to help those who are in need.
- Climate Change – 7 out of 10 students believe Canada has a responsibility to take action on climate change, even if the worst-emitting countries don’t follow suit. However, less than half of students support stricter environmental protections even if this increases prices for consumers.
- Health Care – Two-thirds of students believe that all Canadians should have access to government-funded prescription drugs. When faced with the trade-off of increasing the federal deficit, only 46% of students support the federal government increasing the amount of money it gives to provinces to pay for health care (this increased to 66% without the trade-off).
- Mental Health – Nearly three-quarters of students believe the government should invest more in mental health services.
- Indigenous Relations – Most (93%) believe that Indigenous and non-Indigenous children should receive the same quality of education, 86% of students support increasing government funding for health care in Indigenous communities and 79% support increasing government funding to protect Indigenous languages. They are also supportive of reducing the number of Indigenous children in foster care (77%) and facilitating independent investigations into former residential schools (76%). 73% of students support giving Indigenous peoples more say over how Canada’s natural resources are used.
- Fiscal Policy – Students are divided over government spending: 53% prefer lower taxes and fewer government services, versus 47% who prefer higher taxes and more government spending.
- School Meal Program – More than two-thirds of Canadian youth believe that all students should be given a free meal at school, even those who can afford to pay for their own.
- Institutional Trust – Young Canadians have a high degree of trust in government workers, particularly doctors and nurses (90%), public health officials (70%), military personnel (71%) and law enforcement (63%). In contrast, their trust in elected officials (23%) and news media (31%) is noticeably low.
A preliminary report on the survey results was shared with the Department of Finance for consideration during the pre‑budget consultation period, and the final results will be shared with all of the political parties represented in the House of Commons.
To view an infographic of the results highlights, click here.
To view the results report, click here.
About the Student Budget Consultation
The Student Budget Consultation provides youth with an opportunity to learn about budgeting and public finance, and share their priorities for the upcoming budget. The opinions of students are collected through a survey and the results are shared with the Department of Finance and with all federal political parties so that they can see what matters to young Canadians.
The 2021 Canadian census was used to weight the data collected in order to reflect the distribution of males and females, aged 12 to 18, in Canada.
The 2023 Student Budget Consultation was organized by CIVIX, with the support of the Government of Canada and several private foundations.
The 2023 Student Budget Consultation survey was conducted in partnership with Vox Pop Labs.
CIVIX is a registered charity dedicated to strengthening democracy through civic education. CIVIX provides experiential learning opportunities to help young Canadians practice the habits of active and informed citizenship, and connect with their democratic institutions.
Student Vote, the flagship program of CIVIX, is a parallel election for students under the voting age, which coincides with official elections.