Denise Deveau asked the question in the Vancouver Sun today, “When does a university degree really pay off?”

Another TD study is cited that estimates the average cost of an undergraduate degree in Canada to be $84,000 (including tuition, books and living expenses). These expenses also go up every year. With the exception of engineering and medical degrees, society has done a poor job of linking the job market to the educational system.

To make matters worse, a recent Workopolis survey with senior executives reported that 67% had trouble finding candidates with the basic life skills like teamwork, a positive attitude, work ethic and communications.

This impacts the parents of the underemployed/unemployed youth as many stay at home longer and remain dependent upon their parents financially.

The drop in real estate prices and sales impede the ability for parents and seniors to access their equity while many young first-home purchasers have been squeezed out of the market by stiffer mortgage regulations for insured mortgages.

Mental illness came up this week in the Vancouver Sun, too. According to  Alexandra Lopez-Pacheco, a federal study showed there are as many as 800,000 well-educated workers in Canada who suffer from mental disabilities.

In many cases the illness prevents people from working. A 2011 study conducted by RiskAnalytica for the Mental Health Commission of Canada, reported that just absenteeism and presenteeism (being physically present but otherwise unable to be fully productive) due to mental health problems cost Canadian businesses $6-billion annually.

In addition to this lost productivity, employee assistance programs, Healthcare benefits and disability costs factor into the costs for mental health care as does the medication, psychologists and specialized treatments. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) appears to afflict a wide spectrum of people who are not covered by government-funded health care and approach their employers’ benefits programs for help.

According to many experts, mental health problems affect one in five Canadians every year. Most have led normal working and family lives, but also struggle daily to overcome the symptoms of their mental health problems.

This is a lot of information to digest in one week. However, money issues dominate the social and economic discussion today. We need to realize that more and more people will need relief from impossible debt problems that predictably will result from unemployment, underemployment and mental health issues.

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