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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 2006

Poll: Reduce Tuition Fees, Not the GST

Canadians would prefer the federal Conservative government scrap its plans to cut the GST and use the money to lower tuition fees instead, according to a recent public opinion poll commissioned by CAUT and the Canadian Federation of Students.

Overall, 56 per cent of respondents said reducing tuition fees is more important than cutting the GST by another one per cent as promised by the Conservatives.

The fall poll by Decima Research also shows 44 per cent of Canadians would consider changing their vote in a federal election to support a political party that promised to reduce tuition fees. In Atlantic Canada, nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider doing so.

“The affordability of post-secondary education is a potential hot-button issue in the next election,” said CAUT president Greg Allain. “Concerns about the cost of education are widespread and Canadians think the federal government has to invest more in universities and colleges.”

The poll reports that about two-thirds of Canadians surveyed had attended a university or college at some point. Of those who didn’t pursue a post-secondary education, the single most common reason cited was the high cost of tuition. Only 11 per cent cited lack of interest as a reason for not getting a university or college education.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that any qualified person should be turned away from post-secondary education just because they don’t have the money to attend,” Allain said.

The poll also reveals that national support for the governing Conservative Party of Stephen Harper continues to slide. Overall, the Conservatives have the support of 33 per cent of decided and leaning voters, down four percentage points since March 2006. The Liberals are in second place with 30 per cent, an increase of two points. The New Democratic Party is the choice of 17 per cent of voters, followed by the Bloc Québécois and the Green Party with nine per cent each.

In Quebec, support for the Conservatives is at 15 per cent. The Bloc leads with the support of 43 per cent of decided voters, followed by the Liberals at 23 per cent.

Decima Research also asked Canadians to choose the major priorities for the next federal budget. Nearly 50 per cent picked health care and 19 per cent identified the environment. Thirteen per cent said post-secondary education and 13 per cent said taxes.

However, when asked what the single most important thing the federal government could do to improve the standard of living of Canadians, 36 per cent of respondents said investing more in post-secondary education and training, 25 per cent said lowering taxes and 16 per cent said reducing the debt.

“These results point to a growing disconnect between the priorities of the Conservative government and the values of most Canadians,” Allain said.

The poll results are based on a sample of 2,000 adult Canadians interviewed between Oct. 26 and Nov. 5, 2006, and are considered accurate within 2.2 percentage points, 19 times in 20.

A summary of the poll results can be downloaded here (in PowerPoint).