The Trudeau Liberals have unveiled their first budget, and there are some major changes for Canada’s universities and students.
“Parents understand that their children’s future depends on the education and skills they get and that post-secondary education has become an important factor in our children’s future success,” said Finance Minister Bill Morneau in his budget speech. “But every parent knows that post-secondary education is becoming increasingly expensive. The government must do its part to make post-secondary education more accessible.
The government will increase grant amounts to students by 50 per cent. The current low income family grant will be increased from $2,000 to $3,000. Students from middle income families will see their grants go up from $800 to $1,200. The government estimates that this will affect 366,000 students.
Starting in the 2017-2018 academic year graduating students will not have to start paying back their student loans until they reach a yearly income of $25,000. The current cutoff is $20,210.
The government has also said they will beef up the Canada Summer Jobs program. The program will see up to an additional 35,000 jobs in each of the next three years.
The NDP were critical of the budget in an article posted to their website.
“While wealthy CEOs were told they could keep their $800 million-a-year stock option tax loophole, seniors, youth, First Nations, public transit riders, and so many others in need were all left waiting for help.”
Opposition and Intrim Conservative Party Leader Rona Ambrose was also critical of the budget on her Facebook profile.
“The budget confirms Liberals can’t be trusted to manage the economy. They promised ‘modest’ borrowing, not an out of control spending spree. Canadians didn’t vote for this.”
Stakeholders in the academic community were more accepting of the budget. Annie Sherry, the chair of the New Brunswick Student Association was pleased with the overall feel of the budget.
“We were definitely really excited to see a lot of the programs were moving forward. Especially the expansion of student grants and the increased income threshold for the repayment assistance program,” said Sherry.
The Canadian Association of University Teachers is also happy that the government is increasing funding to research projects.
“The Liberal government’s first budget is a welcome first step,” said David Robinson, the organization’s executive director in a press release. “There is a long way to go to make up for lost ground, but we’re pleased to see that we are moving in the right direction again.”
One area the NBSA feels the government need to put more money towards is the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, a program that provides assistance to First-Nations students.
“The Indigenous population in Canada is one of the fastest growing in our country,” said Sherry. “Unfortunately because of the lack of funds being put into this program there are a lot of academically qualified students who should be able to attend post-secondary but are now in fact waiting in the backlog.”
The budget still has to be passed by the house of commons. However, with the Liberals holding a majority, there is little doubt that it will pass.
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