Canadians are increasingly concerned about access to affordable post-secondary education, according to a national poll commissioned by CAUT in April.
The poll found that 49 per cent of Canadians believe it’s harder to get an education today, and 86 per cent were in favour of lowering or freezing tuition fees. A solid majority of all Canadians (74 per cent) said students are being forced to take on too much debt.
Fifty-six per cent of Canadians said they would be willing to pay more taxes to support post-secondary education.
“Canadians are worried about the burden of debt looming over the younger generation,” said CAUT president Wayne Peters. “In the face of waning support, politicians need to start responding to growing unease about current austerity policies and worries about intergenerational equality.”
Coupled with growing debt and fewer public services for the younger generation, more than half (52 per cent) of those responding said they’re opposed to pushing back the eligibility age for Old Age Security benefits to 67 from 65.
As part of the same poll, almost two in five Canadians agreed the March federal budget made too many cuts in public spending.
The study found that support for federal conservatives took a hit, with the New Democrats inching to become the preferred governing party. Shortly after he was elected, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair had 32 per cent of popular support, compared to 30 per cent for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, with polls showing a statistical tie between the two parties.
The findings also show Canadians rank strengthening the economy and lowering unemployment as top priorities for the federal government.
Peters said the results show significant support for public services and education.
“Academic staff need to continue to work with students to emphasize the importance of post-secondary education as a public good,” he said.
The telephone survey was conducted by Harris-Decima from a poll of 2,016 adult Canadians between April 4 and April 16, 2012. The margin of error for the Canadians surveyed is ±2.2%, 19 times out of 20.