Vote Compass users back lower tuition, more full-day kindergarten

Each of Ontario's political leaders has their own idea on what to do about the cost and effectivensess of the education system. The latest data from Vote Compass respondents shows broad support for tuition breaks and full-day kindergarten - as well as tying teachers' pay to performance.

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Vote Compass respondents were asked to rate the trustworthiness of Ontario's three main parties and their leaders. (Canadian Press)

Each of Ontario's political leaders has their own idea on what to do about the cost of post-secondary education.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has promised a tuition freeze. Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne has vowed to keep the 30 per cent tuition grant for post-secondary students. Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak said he would end that grant in an effort to balance Ontario's books.

The latest results from CBC's Vote Compass indicate the vast number of respondents — 60 per cent — want students to pay less for tuition than they do now.  Thirty-two per cent of respondents believe they should pay about the same, and just 3 per cent believe they should pay more.

Chart: How much should college and university students pay for their education? (Mobile users, view the chart here)

Early in the provincial campaign, Vote Compass users identified education as one of the issues most important to them. They ranked education behind the economy (including jobs and taxes), health care and government accountability.

When it comes to early education, most Vote Compass respondents support full-day kindergarten. Sixty-one per cent of respondents believe the program "should be available in all schools."

The Liberals began rolling out the program in 2009. It's not yet available in all elementary schools.

Hudak's platform puts forward specific measures to save money in education, including moves to increase classroom sizes by 2-3 students and increase the ratio for full-day kindergarten to one teacher for every 20 students. That's up from the current ratio of two teachers per 26 students.

Chart: Full-day kindergarten should be available in all schools (Mobile users, view the charts here)

But 42 per cent of Vote Compass respondents who identify themselves as PC supporters disagree with full-day kindergarten being available in all schools.

Wednesday, the Liberals promised to have full-day kindergarten available to all 265,000 four- and five-year-old students by September of this year, should they form the next provincial government. The Liberals claim the program saves a family up to $6,500 in child care costs per child, per year.

While campaigning in Sudbury on Tuesday, Liberal Leader Kathleen Wynne also said she would not merge the public and Catholic school boards, an idea proposed in the Green Party platform and one that drew interest from a Liberal candidate in Sudbury this week.

While Vote Compass users were not asked about a merger of the boards, they were asked about funding of Catholic schools. Forty-nine per cent of all Vote Compass respondents say the province should no longer fund them.

Chart: Catholic schools should no longer receive funding from the government (Mobile users, view the charts here)

While 74 per cent of respondents who identified themselves as Catholic and 30 per cent of Protestants support Catholic school funding, nearly three quarters of those who identified themselves as Muslim or having other or no religious beliefs at all do not.

One area in which Hudak seems to be in alignment with Vote Compass users is on the issue of teacher compensation. He has said he would tie teachers' salaries more closely to performance, although he hasn't provided details. According to the Vote Compass results, 73 per cent of respondents agree with the idea of pegging salaries to performance rather than seniority.

Chart: Teachers' salaries should be tied to their performance, rather than seniority (Mobile users, view the charts here)

The findings are based on 42,251 respondents to Vote Compass between May 7 and May 25, 2014. Though Vote Compass is not a poll, respondent data are weighted using the latest population estimates from Statistics Canada to approximate a representative sample of the Ontario population.

Developed by a team of political scientists from Vox Pop Labs, Vote Compass is an educational tool offered exclusively in Canada for CBC News.


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