Canadian high school students share their priorities for Budget 2021 and the post-pandemic recovery
Between February and April 2021, Canadian high school 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.
Participating youth learned about Canadian government and public finance, discussed important public policy issues and priorities related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and offered their feedback on Budget 2021 through an online survey.
More than 6,000 high school students from over 450 schools throughout the country took part in the 2021 Student Budget Consultation.
Canadian youth, a group impacted substantially by the lockdowns, closures and restrictions seen over the past year, believe the federal government should prioritize education, health care coverage, ending systemic racism and affordable housing in their post-pandemic recovery plan. Notably, students believe that increasing employment opportunities is one of the most important steps the government can take to support young Canadians in the current economic climate.
Other points of interest include:
- Current and Future Outlooks – 88% of students are somewhat or very confident that they will be able to find a job that interests them, despite 60% being concerned about the economy.
- Wealth Inequality and Taxation – The majority of students’ support increasing the amount of tax large corporations pay, and believe that wealthy people have a greater financial obligation to help those who are in need. Universal basic income is supported by more than half of students.
- COVID-19 Response – Most students believe that the government should provide more support for businesses that have lost income due to the pandemic; however, only 40% believe that the government should incur more debt to address the pandemic overall.
- Feminist-focused recovery – A strong majority of students (63%) believe support for women should be prioritized in the federal governments’ post-pandemic recovery plan.
- Education – The majority of students support free post-secondary education even if it means higher taxes. In fact, 45% believe the best way the federal government can support young Canadians is by increasing access to affordable post-secondary education.
- Health Care – Students overwhelmingly support expanding access to dental care, pharma-care and paid sick leave. They also believe the federal government should increase health care transfers to provinces and territories as a whole.
- Climate Change – There is strong support among students for stricter environmental protections and increased government investments in green technology. In addition, 52% of students do not believe government action on climate change should wait until the COVID-19 crisis is over.
- Mental Health – More than half of students surveyed indicated that their mental health has worsened over the past year.
- Child Care – Students are generally divided on whether parents who can afford child care should pay for it themselves or receive help from the government.
A preliminary report on the survey results was also shared with the Department of Finance during the official pre‑budget consultation period.
To view an infographic of the results highlights, click here.
To view the complete results report, click here.
- In February 2021, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland met virtually with twelve Student Budget Consultation participants to discuss their priorities for the post-pandemic recovery.
About the Student Budget Consultation
The Student Budget Consultation provides youth with an opportunity to learn about budgeting and pubic finance, analyze different public policies, and share their priorities for 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 2016 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 2021 Student Budget Consultation was organized by CIVIX, with the support of the Government of Canada.
The 2021 Student Budget Consultation survey was conducted in partnership with Vox Pop Labs.
About the Organization
CIVIX is a charitable organization 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. In the 2019 federal election, 1.2 million students cast ballots from over 8,000 schools.