“I was dropping out because I couldn’t afford to continue. Tuition for the year was $15,000 and the government’s cap on student loans for me was $12,000. I was denied a line of credit by five commercial banks because I had a low credit score and no one to co-sign. I had no one to co-sign because my mother made $19,000 last year,” wrote Eric C. Girard, in a daily personal piece for The Globe and Mail, on Nov. 17.
This may sound familiar for many students, especially here in Quebec where students fought so hard for a tuition-freeze last year. However, while some groups fought for a tuition-freeze, others fought for free-education. No loans, no bursaries, free education for all. And yet, the money to fund free education has to come from somewhere.
As a socialist society, Canadian taxes go towards many social programs such as health care, old-age security, daycare and so on. If we want free education, it will need to become a social service to which Canadians contribute through their taxes. Which ultimately means higher taxes.
If Canadians start paying higher taxes in order to accommodate free education, it will mean less money for other things. For example, one of the things Canadians might have to give up or spend less on is luxury merchandise.
The holiday season is the time of year that sees the highest consumer spending. Last year, according to the The Wall Street Journal, individual Canadians spent an average of $1,181.80. According to Concordia’s Tuition Fee Calculator, Quebec residents in an undergraduate program in Arts and Science, can get four classes in the fall semester for approximately $1,437.93. What the average individual Canadian paid in holiday gifts last year would be able to pay for a large portion of a student’s tuition for one semester.
Therefore, the question is, are we willing to give up luxuries such as the newest gaming system or tablet to fund education for all Canadians? Can we give up getting and receiving gifts at holiday time?
Nothing in this world is free, but as any student on a budget knows you can get what you need by prioritizing your spending. This is not to say that Canadians have to give up holiday gift giving to fund free education, but if free education is a priority for Canadians than in order to be able to afford it, something has to give.
It might mean keeping that iPad for another year or simply spending less in general. What it comes down to is Canadians who can afford to spend money on holiday gifts can afford to fund free education if they are willing to prioritize their spending.