February 28, 2018

Budget 2018: Students win several budget recommendations, but see no bold vision for post-secondary education

Canadian Federation of Students welcomes investments for fundamental research and addressing gender-based violence, but sees no progress for increased accessibility to post-secondary education

OTTAWA, Feb. 28, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — New investments for fundamental research and strategies to address gender-based violence are among the measures with which students are pleased in the 2018 federal budget, but concerns remain over the continued lack of a bold vision for post-secondary financing to address record-level tuition fees and student debt.

Budget 2018 promises $1.7 billion over five years for fundamental research, an investment for which graduate students have been advocating through their involvement with scientific and research communities.

This budget also commits to the implementation of a National Framework to Address Gender-Based Violence at Post-Secondary Institutions, funded at $5.5 million over five years.

“Through our pre-budget submission and our National Lobby Week, we called on this government to invest in our graduate students and in investigator-led, fundamental research, and our work has paid off,” said Deputy Chairperson Charlotte Kiddell. “We were also happy to see new support for students and workers experiencing sexual harassment and assault at alarming rates.”

Despite these investments, students are disappointed that for yet another budget year, this government has failed to invest significantly in core funding for post-secondary education, despite a clear need for increased, dedicated transfer payments to the sector.

“Despite a national student debt crisis and skyrocketing tuition fees, this government continues to deliver piecemeal programs rather than meaningful investment,” says National Chairperson Coty Zachariah. “When we consider that 60% of Canada Student Loans borrowers are women and are charged exorbitant interest rates to access an education, it’s concerning that in a ‘gender-focused’ budget, student debt isn’t mentioned once.”

Additional budget commitments of interest to students include additional funding for the Youth Employment Strategy, a new Pre-Apprenticeship Program and Apprenticeship Incentive Grant for Women, as well as $10 million to support Métis post-secondary education. No additional funding was announced for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program supporting Indigenous learners, despite its continued underfunding and backlog of eligible recipients.

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Juhi Sohani