Most give Ontario's financial literacy pilot passing grade: Poll

Most give Ontario’s financial literacy pilot passing grade: Poll

The government’s financial literacy experiment is getting the thumbs-up from most Ontarians, who also think the education system overall is at least “average,” according to a Forum Research survey published Wednesday.

The poll, provided exclusively to QP Briefing, suggests 86 per cent of voters support the province’s move to teach financial literacy to high school students, with an eye to making them savvy on money skills, such as budgeting and filing taxes. A scant 5 per cent said they disapproved of the plan, and nine per cent said they didn’t know what to make of it.

Those most likely to approve of the Liberal government’s financial literacy course said they would also vote for the Green Party or New Democrats.

“One thing that’s quite clear is that the introduction of financial literacy into the high school curriculum is a winner, with almost nine-in-ten responding they approve,” said Lorne Bozinoff, president of Forum Research, in a release.

Late last month, Education Minister Mitzie Hunter launched a pilot project at 28 high schools that would help to overhaul the Grade 10 curriculum to include a mandatory financial literacy course by the fall of 2018. Around 700 students are participating in the pilot and will, along with their teachers, give input on how the new careers course should be designed.

The pilot came amid calls last year from the Toronto Youth Cabinet that financial literacy be mandatory. Since 2011, money skills have been weaved into subjects such as math and social studies for students in Grades 4 to 12. Last summer, 50 per cent of Ontario’s Grade 6 students failed to meet the provincial math standard.

Forum also asked voters what they thought about the state of the education system overall.

About 44 per cent of respondents, most likely to support the NDP, don’t think the government pumps enough money into the education system, while 36 per cent, more likely to favour the Progressive Conservatives, said the province invests enough cash in education.

As for the quality of the system, 72 per cent said they thought it was average or above average, and 22 per cent said the quality of education is sub-par, and 5 per cent said they didn't know.

Nearly half – 48 per cent – think teachers get paid fairly, 19 per cent thought they should be paid more and 21 per cent think their salaries are too high. Liberal and NDP supporters tended to think teachers should be paid more, while Tory voters think teachers are paid too much.

On school closures, the majority, 69 per cent, thought they should be frozen until the government can review current guidelines, with just 18 per cent saying there should be no freeze and 22 per cent saying they didn’t know. The Tories have called for a moratorium on rural school closures, but the government has said those decisions should be made at the local level, between the boards and community.

“Overall, public opinion on Ontario’s Education System is positive. Most people think the system is average or better and think teachers are paid fairly,” Bozinoff said.

Forum Research surveyed 884 people over the phone between March 28 and March 30. The results are considered accurate within 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Correction: Forum Research's poll erroneously said it surveyed voters in Toronto. The poll was actually conducted provincewide. This story has been updated to reflect the correct parameters.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Twitter: @sabrinananji

Sabrina Nanji

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