While education has generated minimal attention from the federal party leaders on the election campaign trail, some education groups say the next federal government needs to take a bigger role in ensuring students are fit for learning across the country and should be providing useful data to help the provinces properly fund the different needs of schools. Outside of some comments the party leaders have made about First Nations’ education, the leaders have not said much on this specific topic. Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have promised to raise the government contribution to low- and middle-income families invest in education savings plans. Specifically, a family earning up to $44,000 would receive $200 for the first $500 while a family earning up to $88,000 would receive $100 on the first $500 each year. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair’s party is promising to immediately start to phase out interest on federal student loans over the next seven years and would add $250-million to the federal student grant program over four years. Mr. Mulcair has also promised a million affordable child-care spaces, which is an issue of priority for some education groups. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau promised more financial help to low- and middle-income families to help pay for post secondary education by helping more students quality for Canada Student Grants, by increasing the level of non-repayable grant assistance to students by $750-millioin per year, by increasing the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 per year for full-time students, and up to $1,800 per year for part-time students, and making the student loan system more flexible. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May is promising to slash Canada’s student debt and to abolish tuition fees for college and university education students without adequate financial means, including the two per cent annual cap on increased funding for post secondary education for all First Nations and Inuit students by 2020. The Green Party would abolish tuition fees for post-secondary education and skills training for Canadians and promises to create a national Community and Environment Service Corps to provide $1-billion per year to municipalities to hire Canadian youth to do work that needs to be done. But the Canadians Teachers Federation, a group of teachers’ organizations that represent about 200,000 elementary and secondary school teachers across Canada, is pushing the federal parties to have strategies on how to deal with young people’s mental health and child poverty. The group surveyed its members and came to those two issues as the top priorities for teachers in this election. “I just don’t see that been a priority in this election,” said Heather Smith, president of the Canadian Teachers Federation, which has its own website dedicated to the federal election and which urges its members to “think federally—act locally.” Ms. Smith said although education is a provincial responsibility, the federal government has a strong role to play. “We’re looking at it more globally—that it’s an issue of services to our youth,” she said. “Schools are expected to be everything and teachers are experts at teaching, but we’re not experts in mental health and we’re not experts in many other areas that we need the expertise, and we need to work as a team to collaborate for what’s best for these kids,” said Ms. Smith. The Canadian Teachers Federation sent a survey to the four federal parties on the topics of schools, child poverty, and youth mental health. Ms. Smith said that she received responses from all of the parties except for the Conservatives. She said that her group also met with all the party leaders, except for the leader of the Conservative party, Prime Minister Stephen Harper. “When one is missing that’s concerning. Others took the time to actually think about the reply and to what we’re asking,” said Ms. Smith. For Annie Kidder, executive director of People for Education, an independent organization that conducts research and advocates for universal public education, one of the top issues is the now gaping hole in information available for the provinces and educators because of the absence of the mandatory long-form census. “I would like to see this as an election issue,” said Ms. Kidder. Ms. Kidder said the she received a consultation document from the Ontario Ministry of Education that says it assigns a significant amount of funding to different schools according to demographics, such as high immigration, First Nations’ populations and other data. She said the data from the revised census is not reliable and therefore leaves the province and educators in a lurch. “It’s an incredibly important part of how public dollars are spent,” said Ms. Kidder. Meanwhile, Universities Canada, an organization that represents 97 post-secondary institutions has recommendations for the next federal government that it released in July. Among many recommendations, it suggests that the government commit to long-term research funding linked to the growth rate of the economy. It also said that the government should “commit to sustained growth in student financial assistance for indigenous students and new investments to scale up institutional programming to ensure student success.” Universities Canada also chimed in on Ms. Kidder’s point about having proper information for use by schools. In one of its recommendations it said that the government should “dedicate additional funding to improve the collection, analysis and dissemination of labour market information to inform students’ education and career choices, as well as ensuring informed decision-making by governments and employers.” “I don’t think the election runs on these things ,” said Nelson Wiseman, the director of the Canadian studies program and a professor in the department of political science at the University of Toronto.