By Jesse Stilwell, March 13 2018 —
Every March, governments across Canada must pass budgets through their respective houses. These are some of the most powerful policy packages that governments create. They dictate how every government action will be funded and whether governments will run surpluses or deficits.
Citizens should pay attention to budget policies if they want to be well-informed and hold governments accountable. Economic voting has a major effect on election results in Canada. If citizens aren’t satisfied with the economy at election time, they are likely to vote the government that passed the most recent budget out of office. But knowing what aspects of the economy are controlled by either the federal or provincial governments — and what can’t be helped at all — is a difficult task.
The problem is that the knowledge required for voters to analyze budgets is difficult to attain, even with a lot of effort. At the University of Calgary, it’s difficult to use the sources about these topics available in the library to teach yourself the intricate details within them without the help of a professor, unless the student in question is already studying business or economics.
While there will always be economists and financial professionals who analyze budgets and explain how the budget affects everyday life in the mainstream media, it’s not ideal to rely on the ideas and thoughts of others to understand how a policy will impact your taxes, the company you work for or the future of the economy.
Students are interested in learning about economics and budgets. There are countless financial blogs and websites offering advice on these topics, but they usually don’t go further than, “Don’t buy coffees and save that money instead.”
Most students at the University of Calgary sit through ECON 201 at some point in their degree. It’s safe to say almost everyone can figure out how governments’ actions impact supply and demand and other basics. But this isn’t nearly enough for most people to thoroughly understand how interest rates and gross domestic product affects their personal finances and the budget.
Knowledge of finances and economics should not be exclusive to those who spend their entire lives studying and working in these fields. Faculties at the U of C are creating required classes about wellness and mental health. It would be wise to include mandatory classes about economic issues too, so that graduates are as well-rounded as possible when they leave campus. Being financially literate is an extremely valuable skill that should be offered to as many people as possible.
Knowledge about issues that impact everyone should not be withheld from anyone. Education in general is difficult enough to attain in 2018, so the programs institutions offer should provide a well-rounded, useful set of skills to graduates. Finances and economics should be a mandatory part of that education, even if that’s just done by making a class like ECON 201 mandatory for all students.
Articles published in the Gauntlet‘s opinion section do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gauntlet editorial board.