Budget priorities among youth: climate change action, health care expansion and education
Between December 2019 and March 2020, 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 studied the federal government’s revenues and expenditures, analyzed different policies shared by political parties during the 2019 general election, and offered their insights on federal budget priorities through a consultation survey.
More than 6,000 high school students from more than 500 schools throughout the country took part in the 2020 Student Budget Consultation.
Notably, the main areas in which students would like to see increased government funding are climate change action, health care, and post-secondary education.
Despite calling for the government to invest more resources in these areas, a majority of students want the federal government to commit to debt and deficit reduction. Another paradox that emerges in the survey results is that students are overwhelmingly confident about their future employment prospects, despite holding the belief that the Canadian economy will be worse off in the future.
Major points of interest include:
- Climate action – More than half of students believe that climate change is occurring and that immediate action is necessary. Additionally, four in ten students believe that lifestyle changes that reduce energy consumption are key in the response to climate change.
- Pharmacare and dental care – Three-quarters of students support universal access to both dental care and prescription medication.
- Opioid addictions – Eight in ten students would like to see more government action taken to combat the opioid crisis.
- Affordable education – Four in ten students believe that making university and college education free is the most important step towards increasing educational affordability.
- Support for oil and gas – Half of young Canadians support increasing government subsidies to the oil and gas industry.
- Income gap – Two-thirds of students believe that the gap between those with high incomes and those with low incomes is too large.
- Corporate taxes – Two-thirds of young Canadians support an increase in the tax rate for large corporations, including for web giants.
- Debt reduction – Three-quarters of students believe the government should prioritize lowering the national debt as much as possible.
- Balancing the budget – Nearly six in ten students today believe that the budget should be balanced at all costs.
- Taxes vs. Services – More than half of students today prefer less taxes, even if this leads to a reduction in government services.
To view an infographic of the results highlights, click here.
To view the complete results report, click here.
In February 2020, a group of participating students met with the Minister of Middle Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance, Mona Fortier, for a pre-budget consultation regarding their interests and concerns.
About the Student Budget Consultation
The Student Budget Consultation provides youth with an opportunity to learn about budgeting, explore the federal government’s revenues and expenditures, 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 2020 Student Budget Consultation was organized by CIVIX with the support of the Government of Canada.
The 2020 Student Budget Consultation survey was conducted in partnership with Vox Pop Labs beginning in December 2019.
About the Organization
CIVIX is a national registered charity dedicated to building the skills and habits of active and informed citizenship among young Canadians. CIVIX provides experiential learning opportunities to help young Canadians practice their rights and responsibilities as citizens 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.