Why are Canadians so in debt

Canadian Will Fundal has been a journalist for five years, but he's still stuttering off his student loan. "I still owe the government $ 6,000," he says, "but as a newbie, I make little money." Fundal would like to buy a house. But the bank told him that in order to get a mortgage he had to pay back the loan first. The 25-year-old from Prince George has to postpone that because he also has credit card debts. "If I had a family to support now, I wouldn't know what to do," he says.

Will Fundal is one of throngs of young Canadians who are still in debt years after graduation. Approximately two million Canadian students receive a loan from the state. The total debt is the equivalent of 14 billion euros, which includes credit card debts, loans from relatives and bank loans that are needed for training.

The amount that students owe the Canadian federal government alone is increasing by 0.8 million euros every day. The number of young people whose debt burden is 18,000 euros or more when they leave university is also increasing: in 1995, 17 percent had such high debts. Today it is 27 percent.

One of the main reasons is the dramatic increase in tuition fees. They rose from an average of 1850 euros in 1999 to 3370 euros in 2009. Depending on the province, the fees can range from 1700 to 5700 euros per year. There is also room and board. "Many start their working lives with huge debts," said Roxanne Dubois, chairwoman of the Ottawa Student Union. "If we continue at this rate, we will bankrupt an entire generation." More and more students are dependent on loans: in 1995 it was 49 percent, ten years later 57 percent.

"The Canadian government does not have a nationwide vision of how students can get an education they can afford," says Dubois.