When it comes to the subjects of debt and tuition fees, the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) is the least trustworthy source on earth. They lie. Constantly.
To see the latest collection, just look at this press release, which averages roughly one lie per paragraph. For instance:
“Since 2006, tuition fees have increased as much as 71 per cent in Ontario”. The words “as much as” are doing a lot of work here. For the vast majority of programs, the 5% annual increase has meant an increase of about 47%. And for full-time students benefitting from the 30% rebate, it’s only 17% – which is less than inflation.
“Average student debt after a four-year degree is $37,000 for debt from public and private sources”. No, that’s the average for the small proportion (12% or so) of students who have debt from both public and private sources. Across all students with debt, it’s in the $26,000 range. Across all students, it’s about $16,000.
“The Ontario Liberals committed to reducing tuition fees by 30 per cent in the last election…”. No, they committed, quite specifically, to a rebate of 30% for full-time undergraduate students from families earning under $160,000.
“… their Ontario Tuition Grant has reached fewer than one-quarter of students in the province”. As I pointed out, here, this is only true if you include 300,000 college part-timers taking less than one course per year, 60% of whom are having their education paid for by their employers. Which, since no one thinks they need a tuition break, is pretty dubious.
“… untold number of youth being shut out of accessing a college or university education every year”. Ontario has the highest rate of combined access to university and college of any province. If tuition has an effect, the one place it isn’t showing up is in access rates.
These aren’t honest mistakes made by idealistic youth who aren’t good with statistics. The CFS has many professional staff who are paid to know this stuff, some of whom have been around for decades. They know perfectly well what the real data says; they just think that that lies are acceptable so long as they’re deployed in service of their cause.
And really, why wouldn’t they think that? Ministers still meet with them. Journalists and opposition parties, thinking them a reliable source, regurgitate their lies uncritically all the time. Usually, when interest groups take this kind of liberty with the truth, they lose credibility and, hence, access to power. For some reason, CFS never face any consequences for telling lies.
But maybe, for the sake of restoring honesty to debate, it should.