Author: Vanessa Kearsey 


Memorial Students are sure to be impacted this semester by the provincial book tax which came into effect as of January 1, 2017.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada estimates that “(f)or many undergraduate university programs, $800 to $1,000 per year is a reasonable range for planning for the cost of books and other materials.” But it also cautions students to “keep in mind that costs can vary a lot, depending on the program you choose to study.”

With these low estimates, students would be paying between $40 – $50.00 per year in taxes on their textbooks. With the tax increase, that amount has jumped up a minimum of $120.00, up to $150.00 per year in taxes on their textbooks alone.

No university student, professor or community member in a university town is unaware of the potential struggle and financial burden which comes along with the journey through postsecondary education. Issues of student loans, tuition freezes and increases are frequent topics of consideration and are of great concern for many people. As these issues continue to plague the students of Memorial, they are now being inundated with the 15 per cent tax on books, which had previously been alleviated.

This move by the provincial government comes as another blow to the students of Memorial. In previous terms without the book tax, many students found themselves looking for alternatives to buying the textbook for a given course. Professors went as far as loaning out personal books to students so they could afford their education. Now more than ever, students are attempting to keep their head above the murky financial waters of post-secondary education.

Emma Reid, a current student at Memorial University, says of the tax increase, “It’s ridiculous. I buy all my books second hand. I try to, at least, so I don’t have to spend so much on books in the bookstore, because it’s atrocious.”

Many students we spoke with are availing of Facebook groups, such as ‘MUN USED TEXTBOOK SALE’, which currently has 16, 525 members buying and selling their used textbooks with one another.

Other students have found books on Kijiji or on Amazon for a quarter of the price at which the university bookstore is able to sell them. Some share the cost of textbooks with one another or purchasing e-books directly from publishers in attempts to avoid the increasing costs.

Reid says she purchases her textbooks from “the Facebook page … or I’ll contact people that I knew took the courses and I’ll ask them if they have the books for sale. They’ll usually give me a really good deal on them. Like, a one hundred dollar book, last year, I got for $25-$30.00.”

There are many ways to avoid spending the extra money that the provincial tax has imposed on us, for this year. However, finding alternative places than the bookstore to buy your books skirts the issue at hand; it doesn’t address the matter of the implementation of the taxes in the first place.  

Many students are trying to find balance during their education between work, paying bills, paying tuition and keeping on top of their schoolwork. The balance is not easily achievable and our provincial government has just put another drop in their own bucket, with the implementation of this tax.