Post-secondary students are one of the largest demographic groups in Canada, and there are over two million people enrolled in universities and colleges across the country. With this in mind, political parties often choose to make promises that specifically benefit students and offer financial benefits and increased services as part of their platforms.
Here’s what some of the parties are promising to do for students to secure their votes.
They promise to get rid of federal interest on student loans and apprentice loans, which they estimate will save approximately one million student borrowers about $3,000 each in total. For new parents, the party promises to pause federal student loan repayments until their first child turns five years old. They also promise to raise the repayment assistance threshold to $50,000 for single graduates, meaning that they wouldn’t have to pay their loans off until they make that amount with their annual salary.
The party plans to establish a fund to increase the number of mental health care counsellors at post-secondary schools across the country, as students “face a lot of stress and report higher rates of mental health challenges than the rest of the Canadian population,” which COVID-19 has made worse. In order to increase health care support in rural areas, the Liberals promise to expand student debt relief for family doctors, residents in family medicine, nurses, and nurse practitioners from $40,000 up to $60,000. They also plan to create a “Safe Return to Class Fund” of $100 million to improve school ventilation, and a $10 million fund for Indigenous on-reserve schools.
The party is promising to support educational initiatives that help veterans further their careers, and fund initiatives “that teach Canadians about veterans’ service and Canada’s place in the world.” The party also plans to develop a collection of educational resources that can help “to educate Canadians of all ages on the tragic history of residential schools in Canada.” Their platform lists promoting free speech on university campuses as one of their goals, as well as creating “pathways to permanence” for international students, “so long as they work hard, contribute to the growth and productivity of Canada and strengthen our democracy.”
Additionally, they promise to invest $30 million per year in francophone post-secondary institutions.
Their platform states that the party wants to start “building towards making post-secondary education part of our public education system,” by removing federal interest from student loans and creating a “targeted debt forgiveness program” that will forgive up to $20,000 in student debt per student. According to the party, this will erase 20 per cent of all student debt and benefit approximately 350,000 student borrowers.
They also promise to double non-repayable Canada Student Grants in order to “move away from loans” that put students in debt.
The party is promising to abolish post-secondary education, and says that free post-secondary education is “not a far financial reach from the existing student aid,” and that getting rid of the loan administration costs and tax credits can help cut the cost. They also plan to cancel all federally held student loan debt, and reinstate a retroactive Canada Emergency Student Benefit for $2,000 a month “until the pandemic is over.”
In addition, the party promises to remove the cap on increases to education funding for Indigenous students, improve federal provincial transfers to post-secondary schools, and invest $10 billion in “post-secondary and trade school supports.” They also promise to increase the Canada Training Benefit, and triple the number of Canada Graduate Scholarships for masters’ students and double them for PhD students.