Fireworks over the Canadian Parliament, Ottawa on Canada Day

Celebrating 150 Years of Confederation and Affordable Education

When it comes to our students, Canada has a lot to be proud of

The word sesquicentennial doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. Ask me to say it five times fast, and I guarantee you I’ll mess up once or twice. While it’s not an easy word to vocalize, it’s a very special one, and it’s been on my mind and the minds of many Canadians since the ball dropped in January. It marks 150 years of our progress as a growing nation, through good times and not-so-good times. Successes and failures. Triumphs and tragedies. Most importantly (at least for me), it marks a time to reflect on how far we’ve come, where we’re headed, and what makes Canada such a wonderful place to live.

On that last point, what stands out for me—second only to our national health care coverage—is Canada’s  top-tier education system, which in my view, is one of the most robust and formidable on the planet. Since the Common Schools Act of 1871, this system has continued to grow and evolve our nation; Canada now boasts approximately 96 universities and 130 public colleges, each of which must meet rigorous academic standards. For a nation home to only 39 million people, that’s remarkable. What’s even more remarkable is that, no matter who you are or where you’re from, Canada is a country that has the tools to help you afford to attend one. Here are a few:

RESPs: Unique to Canada and the very reason Knowledge First Financial exists. What else can I say about them that I haven’t already? They’re the great equalizer, ensuring if you save and invest some of your money wisely and regularly, you’ll be able to help your children turn their dreams into a reality. With my three children in plans of their own, I’m thankful every day for the growth potential of compounding interest and tax-deferred income RESPs provide.

Government Grants: 1998 was a great year for Canadian students. The Canada Education Savings Grant was introduced, and quickly became a major incentive to save for post-secondary education using an RESP—$7,200 on it’s own can buy an awful lot of textbooks, but when you add it on top of your child’s growing pool of savings, it really becomes something special.  Other federal and provincial grants would follow: The Additional Canada Education Savings Grant, Canada Learning Bond, BC Training and Education Savings Grant, and the Quebec Education Savings Incentive remain a valuable, welcome resource to qualifying families. Since 1998, the government has contributed almost $10 billion to RESPs through the Canada Education Savings Grant alone.*

Canada Child Benefit: I wrote a piece on this last August, and my opinion hasn’t changed; it’s still a great leg-up for families who need a bit more financial support, particularly if they have children who have special needs. While it’s not mandatory to put this benefit towards education, I’ve included it here because I highly recommend you do so. As great as our nation is, we’re not immune to the perennial spectre of inflation, and if you’re serious about sending your child away to school, the CCB will make it that much easier.

No matter how you plan to celebrate our (say it with me) sesquicentennial this year, take some pride in the fact that we consistently put our students first, ensuring the eager young minds of today have a chance to become tomorrow’s great achievers.

Until next time,

Start Early. Save Often. Stay Invested. ™     


* Source:, Figure 8