The best way to improve access to postsecondary education isn’t through tax policy

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News Article

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It was only 20 years ago that Canadian policy makers decided the tax system was their best lever to promote access to education. Liberal and Conservative governments pursued this strategy with equal vigour.

The trend began in 1998 with major enhancements to the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), a policy move hailed as a lucrative incentive aimed at making sure more young people had the chance to earn a postsecondary education.

More tax benefits followed. The Education Tax Credit was doubled in 2001, then augmented with a Textbook Tax Credit. In 2004, came the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), an incentive for lower-income families to set up an RESP to send their children to college or university. As Canada's population was flatlining, governments saw an untapped opportunity in the potential of hundreds of thousands of lower-income children who stood to benefit from better access to postsecondary education.

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The Globe and Mail