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NDP COVID recovery: liberate youth from burden of post-secondary debt

Cancelling up to $20,000 per person in federal student loan debt

Saturday March 20, 2021 | VICTORIA, BC

by Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor | Island Social Trends

Earning a post-secondary education in Canada could be eased of financial constraint if the federal NDP can manage through Parliament to bring a few of their COVID-recovery ideas for youth to bear.

Today NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh addressed the Young New Democrats Convention in cyberspace (during a Zoom call in which about 100 members took part), and took media questions.

The NDP Leader’s plan is to put a moratorium on student loan payments until the end of the pandemic, to permanently cancel interest on student debt, and to work towards tuition-free post secondary participation. He said that the federal government has received $4 billion in revenues generated by interest paid by youth on student loans.

Jagmeet Singh, NDP, youth
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh participated in the Young New Democrats online convention on Saturday March 20, 2021.

Specifically, Singh committed to cancelling up to $20,000 per person in federal student loan debt. A detailed mechanism has been proposed. Within that, as an example, if someone makes under $60,000 and they have $7,000 in student loan debt, they will have that covered by Singh’s envisioned plan. If someone makes under $60,000 and has $23,000 in debt, they will have $3,000 of debt to pay.

The NDP pushed within the House of Commons last year, and succeeded, to get the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) on par with the CERB and other federal programs so that post-secondary students with disabilities or dependent children would not be singularly disadvantaged compared to the other Canadians receiving economic support during the pandemic.

He wants to see students graduated without the burden of debt due only to their desire to follow their passion, build successful lives, and contribute to their communities and society.

Economic stimulus:

“Helping students is an economic stimulus,” he says to the would-be detractors that say Canada can’t afford to offer tuition-free education.

Singh says a motion that would see people earning over $20 million ultimately paying more tax (“their fair share”) would be the way to afford this sociocultural shift to extending publicly-paid education beyond the K-12 grade level to include post-secondary.

COVID impacts:

“It’s been a particularly difficult challenge,” said Singh today about youth during the pandemic. “COVID has hit young people in a powerful and horrible way,” he said during today’s Zoom call.

Students in post-secondary have had to essentially learn from home via online technologies, and jobs are not there.

He also pointed out what is obvious to Canadians now, that women have been underserved in the economy for a long time and notably that quality affordable child care was not in place before the pandemic hit. He says that the COVID recovery in place to date has not yet focussed on restoring women to the gains presumably made in the last 30 years in Canada. “We have lost decades of advancements of women,” Singh stated today.

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