According to the Canadian Federation of Students, federal funding for post-secondary education has decreased over the past 25 years, forcing provinces and institutions to increase tuition fees. After the Second World War, the federal government began funding post-secondary education because they recognized the social and economic benefits of an educated society. By the end of the 1960s, post-secondary education was almost entirely funded by the federal and provincial governments.
Canadian students owe just over $14.5 billion in loans. In 2009, students graduated with an average debt load of $26 680 for university and $ 13 600 for college education, not including other sources like credit cards and lines of credit. This crushing debt load and increasing interest rates are forcing many young people to put off many life milestones like starting a family or buying a house.
3. Youth unemployment doubles the national average
Statistics Canada’s March 2012 Labour Force Survey reveals youth unemployment has reached 13.9%, doubling the national average of 7.2%. Graduates entering the workforce also face a shifting job market. In recent years over a third of Canadians have found themselves working in non-standard work arrangements which includes part time, casual, and contract work as well as working multiple jobs. While there has been growth in ‘good’ jobs in business and technology, there has been a decline in traditionally middle class jobs. There has also been growth in unskilled trade and customer service positions that offer little advancement and few benefits.
An educated, literate population is essential in promoting a stable and democratic society. An educated society is also correlated with reduced crime rates, decreased health care costs, and fosters greater civic engagement and community involvement.
5. Education is a right
In 1976 the Canadian government signed on to the United Nations’ Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights which includes the right to education. At the time, the federal government promised to gradually introduce free education at all levels. By signing onto the agreement the government endorsed section 13c) which states, “Higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.”