BY SCOTT BLINKHORN
A recent poll conducted by the Manning Centre suggests that 83 per cent of young Canadians think that the federal debt is too high.
The poll, which is part of a larger survey, was released on Feb. 25, and surveyed 2,000 Canadians aged 15-25.
The results of the poll may be surprising to many as young Canadians are usually thought to be in favour or unconcerned with the debt level and deficit spending.
According to a report published by Abacus Data called The Next Canada, young voters aged 18-25 heavily favoured the Liberal party in the 2015 federal election. During the campaign, the Liberals advocated for what they called “moderate deficits” of less than $10 billion for each of their first three years in power.
So much for that promise.
In March 2016, the Liberals projected that the total deficit spending for the next three years would be $113 billion.
“I feel like they should stop major projects because those are what are costing so much,” said Matthew van Vuurean, a first-year advertising student at Conestoga College.
The participants of the poll were asked, “Which of these statements do you think best describes the federal budget deficit and the national debt?”
The options respondents were given were “major problem – address now,” “major problem – address when economy improves,” “minor problem” and “not a problem.”
Forty per cent of those surveyed said they would like to see the problem addressed now. Forty-two per cent said that they would like the debt to be addressed when the economy improves. Thirteen per cent felt they debt was only a minor problem and only five per cent felt the debt was not a problem.
A provincial breakdown of the respondents found similar numbers across the country. Alberta had the highest number of those answering that the debt was a “major problem” at 88 per cent, while B.C. had the highest percentage of respondents who felt that the debt was a “minor problem” at 21 per cent.
“It’s encouraging to see that millennials seem to understand they’re going to be left with the bill for the federal government’s rising debt levels,” said Preston Manning, founder of the Manning Centre and former leader of the Reform Party of Canada.
According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, the country’s federal debt currently stands at $639 billion. The average Canadian’s share of the debt is $17,609.
It is unclear whether the results of the poll will reflect changes in voting patterns in the next election. However, several candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada think it will be a major election issue and made balanced budgets part of their campaign platform.