August 18, 2017

NDP CANDIDATES ANSWER OUR QUESTIONNAIRE ON STUDENT ISSUES

Canada’s New Democratic Party will elect a new leader on in the Fall. There are four leadership candidates in the race: Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton, Guy Caron and Jagmeet Singh. The Federation asked each candidate to answer questions on issues affecting students in post-secondary education in Canada, such as tuition fees, gender-based violence and student debt. All four candidates answered the questions and you can read their responses below.

Charlie Angus

Funding for Post-Secondary Education

  1. Do you support a dedicated transfer payment to the provinces for post- secondary education? If so, at what level of funding?

I believe that a dedicated transfer will be a necessary component of a comprehensive, long-term, and stable accord with the provinces and territories on post-secondary education to help equalize regional disparities. Without committing to a firm number in advance of negotiations, I would want to ensure that a transfer sufficient to ensure universal access to high-quality post-secondary education.

International Students

  1. How will you address the tuition fee disparities between domestic and international students?

Part of the problem here is that post-secondary education has been underfunded for years across Canada and institutions have used increases to international student tuition to help fill that gap. I would also support a pathway to residency and citizenship for international students that graduate from Canadian universities.

Elimination of Tuition Fees

  1. Do you support the elimination of tuition fees to ensure low up-front cost (and less student debt) for those pursuing post-secondary education?

Yes. I also believe we need to find ways to help students with cost of living support to ensure that money is not a barrier to getting the education they want.

Gender-Based Violence

  1. What measures would you support to address sexual and gender-based violence on college and university campuses?

I would make this a priority in negotiations with the provinces on post-secondary education reform, and work directly with institutions in the interim to ensure that sexual assault policies exist on campus. Would also be open to providing federal financial resources to post-secondary institutions to ensure that programs to address sexual and gender-based violence are funded.

Student debt and student financial assistance

  1. What will you do to address the crisis of student debt ($28 billion as of 2012), and improve federal student financial assistance?

Because reaching a comprehensive education accord with the provinces will take time, any actions that the federal government can take to make education more affordable are my first priority.

I would immediately eliminate interest on federal student loans, increase the weekly aid limit, which has not been increased in 11 years, ensure that midcareer or mature students have aid that is appropriate to their needs, and ensure that students are automatically re- enrolled in the Repayment Assistance Program instead of having to reapply annually.

Once we establish the elimination of tuition fees we would also look to eliminate student debt.

Federal Post-Secondary Act

  1. Do you support the establishment of a Post-Secondary Education Act that would establish federal standards as a prerequisite for federal funding?

Yes.

Funding for Indigenous Post-Secondary Students

  1. What will you do to ensure all Indigenous students can access post- secondary education? In particular, would you support expanded eligibility to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for Métis learners?

(a) Ending systemic and discriminatory underfunding of Indigenous kids to ensure that they get the primary and secondary educations they are entitled to, and ensure that the PSSSP is adequately funded. Ensuring access is an important part of reconciliation.

(b) Yes.

Public Funding for Research and Graduate Students

  1. What role do you think the federal government should play in funding graduate student research in all disciplines? Do you support the eligibility of international graduate students for funding through the tri-council agencies? Do you support graduate students being given access to the Canada Student Grants under the Canada Student Loans Program?

(a) I would ensure that academic basic research is appropriately funded by implementing the recommendations of the Naylor Report, and I would make appropriate funding for arts and humanities research a negotiating position in talks with the provinces for an education accord.

(b) Yes.

(c) Yes.

Youth Employment and Underemployment

  1. What will you do to address high youth unemployment and underemployment among young workers to ensure access to jobs in a variety of fields? What steps will you take to ensure employers do not replace entry-level positions and on-the-job training opportunities with unpaid internships?

(a) I have put forward plans to address precarious work in the public service and to reform federal labour laws to ensure protections for young workers, as well as plans to stimulate economic growth. I also support lowering EI eligibility hours, in part to help young workers access training support more easily and find jobs.

(b) I would forbid unpaid internships wherever possible, except for academic credit, and work with provinces to restrict or forbid them across Canada.

Executive Compensation on Campus

  1. Would you support a senior executive salary pay cap in the post- secondary sector?

I would be open to supporting a ratio-based cap as part of a policy of raising up underpaid and precarious faculty and staff.

Niki Ashton

Funding for Post-Secondary Education

  1. Do you support a dedicated transfer payment to the provinces for post- secondary education? If so, at what level of funding?

Ever since the mid-90s, as a result of Liberal austerity, provinces have seen drastic cuts when it comes to transfer payments. This coupled with the removal of restrictions on spending for provinces saw a huge decline in public investment to our universities as well as a substantial increase in tuition fees. The solution to these cuts is restoring these transfer payments by implementing an enhanced, dedicated, post-secondary education transfer, with the goal of eliminating tuition fees. This would ensure that provinces use the funding to eliminate fees rather than waver their level of support. The funding model we would use would be the model proposed recently by the CCPA, where the federal government would foot half the bill for provinces. This amount would obviously grow annually as a result of inflation.

International Students

  1. How will you address the tuition fee disparities between domestic and international students?

It is unfair that we exploit international students by charging them fees that are much higher than other students. Charging these outrageously high differential fees were mostly a reaction to the cuts in the mid-90s earlier alluded to in my first response. The first step is to work with provinces so international student fees are regulated and that international students can access healthcare and the ability to apply for citizenship after graduating. If we wish to improve and increase our workforce, we must attract international students not lead them away. In sum, funding must be restored to what it once was to remedy this problem. We need to robustly invest in our public institutions again.

Elimination of Tuition Fees

  1. Do you support the elimination of tuition fees to ensure low up-front cost (and less student debt) for those pursuing post-secondary education?

Yes. Our campaign has been the only one to not only support the elimination of tuition fees in principle but have an actual plan to do it.

Gender-Based Violence

  1. What measures would you support to address sexual and gender-based violence on college and university campuses?

Again, we are the only campaign to have a policy to specifically address this particular issue.  As the policy says we will: “Work with provincial governments and postsecondary education institutions to implement standards for campus sexual violence policies to ensure a higher standard of policy development, implementation and compliance.” This could be done through legislation. We would also support the CFS’ two other recommendations in your written submission to the Status of Women Committee to: (1) Create and adjudicate a Sexual Violence Support Resource Fund and (2) Develop a national public education campaign on sexual and gender-based violence awareness and prevention. Public education is instrumental in preventing gender-based violence.

Link to policy: http://www.nikiashton2017.ca/ending-gender-violence-and-discrimination-mettre-fin-a-la-discrimination-et-a-la-violence-a-caractere-sexiste/

Student debt and student financial assistance

  1. What will you do to address the crisis of student debt ($28 billion as of 2012), and improve federal student financial assistance?

My campaign has been clear in what our response is to the student debt crisis. As it says on my website, we pledge to  help “Canadians already struggling with high student debt by eliminating interest on student loans and ensuring that students who have taken out Canada Student Loans will not be required to make any repayment until they are earning at least $50,000 a year – up from the current amount of $25,000.”

Federal Post-Secondary Act

  1. Do you support the establishment of a Post-Secondary Education Act that would establish federal standards as a prerequisite for federal funding?

Yes as we alluded to in our earlier response. We should see education as a right and treat funding for it in the same way as we treat funding for healthcare. Provincial jurisdiction should not stop us from giving Canadians everywhere universal access to education. We did it for healthcare and now we should do it for education.

Funding for Indigenous Post-Secondary Students

  1. What will you do to ensure all Indigenous students can access post-secondary education? In particular, would you support expanded eligibility to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for Métis learners?

It is important to recognize that Indigenous student face acute challenges when trying to access to post-secondary education. As a result of a government shortfall in funding, not all Indigenous students can go to school and some communities are tasked with making difficult decisions about who can and cannot access higher education.The first thing I would do to try and increase access would be to lift the 2% cap on annual funding to the PSSSP. This cap ensures that Indigenous people face higher levels of inequality and that funding continues to fall far behind what it needs to be. I would also of course follow the lead of the TRC and explicitly address its eleventh call to action which is to end the backlog of First Nation students seeking a post-secondary education. According to a 2008-09 estimate by the AFN, there are currently over ten thousand students who are ready but not able to enroll in PSE. We must fund existing backlogs to counteract the underfunding Indigenous students have faced for the past 20 years. Access to educational help is a treaty right and we must respect it.To answer the second part of the question, Métis students deserve funding just as much as other Indigenous students. Expanding support to Métis learners through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program would only be consistent with past recommendations such as the one made by the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Public Funding for Research and Graduate Students

  1. What role do you think the federal government should play in funding graduate student research in all disciplines? Do you support the eligibility of international graduate students for funding through the tri-council agencies? Do you support graduate students being given access to the Canada Student Grants under the Canada Student Loans Program?

We need to make sure that graduate students have the resources they need to complete their research. Too often, they are forced to compete with each other for scarce funding. This is why I will boost funding to the Tri-Council agencies, ensure that those agencies are funded equally across disciplines, and remove all commercial earmarks so that funding is awarded based on academic merit rather than potential short-term profit. To answer the next part of the question, international students contribute to important research and teaching in our universities, and deserve access to funding to allow them to succeed. Just as differential fees for international students are unfair the same goes for denying international grad students funding.

Youth Employment and Underemployment

  1. What will you do to address high youth unemployment and underemployment among young workers to ensure access to jobs in a variety of fields? What steps will you take to ensure employers do not replace entry-level positions and on-the-job training opportunities with unpaid internships?

Previously, as critic for Jobs, Employment and Workforce Development, the precarious nature of work was a large part of what I focused on as part of my file. On October 26th, 2016, my office hosted a National Forum on this very issue that brought activists and researchers from across the country. Additionally we also held town halls across the country, speaking to millennials about the struggles they faced in terms of unemployment and underemployment.

There are many possible solutions to tackling precarious work that can be found on my website throughout all the regional consultation meetings:  http://www.millennialsfightback.com/consultations. Tackling precarious work requires a multi-faceted approach and my website reflects that fact. The main highlights however that came out of these regional consultations was the lack of benefits due to precarious employment and changes to the labour code to fight temp agencies. On the former, my campaign has been adamant in extending universal benefits to everyone through Pharma, dental and mental health care that is funded by a fully-costed, robust tax plan.

Another policy in our platform that directly addresses this issue is the Youth Green Job Guarantee. The Youth Green Job Guarantee would be coordinated by Green Canada (a new crown corporation that would be created to help with the green transition) and would help young people transition into the labour market, cutting down on precarious work. For those youth who cannot find employment, this program would provide a safety net, while also helping our country transition to a renewable energy economy.

On the subject of unpaid internships, I support the decision taken last April by members at the NDP federal convention who voted in favour of a resolution to ban all forms of unpaid internships. Working without pay is wrong even if it is for academic credit. As NDP leader, I would take steps to respect the resolution at the federal convention and call for a ban on unpaid internships.

Executive Compensation on Campus

  1. Would you support a senior executive salary pay cap in the post- secondary sector?

Yes. More money should be spent on student supports rather than executive pay bonuses. We would work with the provinces to ensure that federal transfers for education would be used for the goal of eventually eliminating tuition fees.

Guy Caron

Funding for Post-Secondary Education

  1. Do you support a dedicated transfer payment to the provinces for post- secondary education? If so, at what level of funding?

Yes. The federal government must invest in postsecondary education, which has long been underfunded. I support a dedicated transfer that would return funding to at least 1996 levels (pre-Chretien government cuts).

International Students

  1. How will you address the tuition fee disparities between domestic and international students?

The unfair disparity in tuition fees between domestic and international students is once again a result of perennial shortfalls in funding for post-secondary education. It is a symptom of years of successive Liberal and Conservative governments depriving the provinces and territories of the funding they need to provide high quality post-secondary education, forcing them in turn to rely heavily on the revenue generated by tuition fees for international students. My solution would be to make significant investments in post-secondary education, thereby allowing educational institutions to rely on predictable, long-term funding, and allowing international students to enjoy a high quality education without incurring a massive financial burden.

Elimination of Tuition Fees

  1. Do you support the elimination of tuition fees to ensure low up-front cost (and less student debt) for those pursuing post-secondary education?

Yes. I also support the creation of a Basic Income supplement for students and all those living below the low-income cutoff in their region. A Basic Income would allow students to incur less debt and represents an investment in their future. It would give students the chance to dedicate their attention to their studies, access better opportunities and achieve financial independence.

Gender-Based Violence

  1. What measures would you support to address sexual and gender-based violence on college and university campuses?

I support the nationwide effort to enact provincial and territorial legislation to prevent sexual and gender-based violence on campuses. I also believe the NDP and the federal government have an important role to play in developing a national strategy to eliminate gender-based violence in our country, and I strongly support the efforts of students to push both the government and educational institutions to take action to end sexual and gender-based violence on Canadian campuses.

Student debt and student financial assistance

  1. What will you do to address the crisis of student debt ($28 billion as of 2012), and improve federal student financial assistance?

There’s no doubt that student debt impedes full participation in our economy, and as such, it’s an issue that should be taken seriously by any government. Canada’s postsecondary financial aid system is fundamentally flawed and unnecessarily complicated, and it must be overhauled. A patchwork of assistance and incentive programs are inadequate to help Canadian graduates weather the financial strain they face once they leave school. Streamlining the current system would be a significant step in stemming the rise of student debt levels.Rather than focus on tax credits and other measures that do little to relieve student debt burdens and can actually reinforce inequality, I would invest heavily and directly in students through needs-based grants.Clearing the way for graduates to integrate successfully into the labour market should be a priority for provincial and territorial governments, as well as the federal government.

Federal Post-Secondary Act

  1. Do you support the establishment of a Post-Secondary Education Act that would establish federal standards as a prerequisite for federal funding?

Yes. A Post-Secondary Education Act developed in cooperation with the provinces and territories would address the long-term funding needs of Canada’s higher learning institutions and help to enshrine important principles of accessibility and universality.

Funding for Indigenous Post-Secondary Students

  1. What will you do to ensure all Indigenous students can access post- secondary education?

In particular, would you support expanded eligibility to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for Métis learners?While the Trudeau government’s $90 million commitment to the PSSSP in the 2017 federal budget is a step in the right direction, it falls woefully short of the Liberals’ own earlier commitment to invest $50 million in the program annually. The PSSSP requires stable funding to provide Indigenous students with greater opportunities to pursue postsecondary education and a Guy Caron-led NDP government would ensure a yearly investment in this important program. I also fully support expanding eligibility criteria to allow Métis learners to access high quality postsecondary education.

Public Funding for Research and Graduate Students

  1. What role do you think the federal government should play in funding graduate student research in all disciplines? Do you support the eligibility of international graduate students for funding through the tri-council agencies? Do you support graduate students being given access to the Canada Student Grants under the Canada Student Loans Program?

The federal government has an essential role in providing dedicated funding for post-secondary education that would allow institutions to fund graduate student research in all disciplines. Increased funding through the tri-council agencies would help to support that goal.I support both giving graduate students access to the Canada Student Grants, and granting eligibility to international graduate students to funding through the tri-council agencies.

Youth Employment and Underemployment

  1. What will you do to address high youth unemployment and underemployment among young workers to ensure access to jobs in a variety of fields? What steps will you take to ensure employers do not replace entry-level positions and on-the-job training opportunities with unpaid internships?

A concerted package of reforms is necessary to ensure greater access to jobs for young workers, including: ensuring that the federal government takes concrete steps to reduce the debt burden on graduates who are entering the job market, making significant investments in green infrastructure and technology to create sustainable jobs of tomorrow for future generations of Canadians, ending discriminatory practices in federally-regulated workplaces, an end to unpaid internships, a recognition of and measures to counter the systemic barriers faced by youth from racialized and marginalized communities; and significant reforms to the Canada Labour Code such as, a $15/hr minimum wage, facilitating union membership, allowing for more predictable scheduling of work hours, more sick days and emergency leave, and a ban on the use of replacement workers during strikes, and calling for an end to unpaid internships and other unfair practices.

Executive Compensation on Campus

  1. Would you support a senior executive salary pay cap in the post- secondary sector?

Yes.

Jagmeet Singh

Funding for Post-Secondary Education

  1. Do you support a dedicated transfer payment to the provinces for post-secondary education? If so, at what level of funding?

Yes. As Prime Minister, I will create a new, dedicated funding mechanism called the Post-Secondary Transfer. The new transfer will be separated out of the Canada Social Transfer and will be set at $15 billion. The dedicated transfer will increase every year on the basis of enrolment growth and inflation.

International Students

  1. How will you address the tuition fee disparities between domestic and international students?

The dedicated Post-Secondary Transfer will ensure all tuition fees are eliminated in Canada for both domestic and international students. Each province and territory will be approached to sign cost-sharing agreements to this end.

Elimination of Tuition Fees

  1. Do you support the elimination of tuition fees to ensure low up-front cost (and less student debt) for those pursuing post-secondary education?

I fully support eliminating tuition fees. I will create a new Post-Secondary Education Act based on the principles of universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, public administration and freedom of expression. By creating a dedicated post-secondary education transfer and ensuring funding keeps pace with enrolment growth and inflation, I will help build a post-secondary education system that is both accessible and of high quality.

In addition, I will increase and maintain needs-based, non-repayable grants to support students who may not be able to cover the cost of living while attending post-secondary education. Marginalized students should not be discouraged from attending post- secondary education because they are unable to pay for rent, food, and books.

Gender-Based Violence

  1. What measures would you support to address sexual and gender-based violence on college and university campuses?

I will work with survivors’ organizations that have made urgent recommendations for improving existing support systems, and for creating new ones that can respond to survivors when they report incidents of gender-based violence. This will include looking at systemic causes of gender-based violence. This includes special regard for how individuals from marginalized groups experience gender-based violence at higher rates with less support from the justice system.

This collaborative approach will also help develop responses and supports for survivors that put their needs first. It is imperative that campuses and community members collaborate as much as possible. We all benefit from working together, learning from each other, building trust, developing community, and transforming ourselves in the process. By working together, we can challenge the conditions in which gender-based violence exists by:

  • Developing and publishing clear protocols to respond to incidents of gender-based violence or other forms of violence and oppression on campuses. These protocols must include concrete steps that campuses and staff members must follow in order to meet the immediate needs of survivors as soon as an incident is reported;
  • Developing competency training and workshops for all incoming students and staff. This will be focused on combating gender-based violence, and include training on rape culture, myths and stereotypes;
  • Supporting existing initiatives that combat gender-based violence on a campus-wide basis. This includes co-ordinating with trade unions and the student movement through the Cross-Campus Alliance to expand anti-sexual violence work that is already underway;
  • Working with provinces and territories to provide meaningful financial resources and supports to those volunteers, workers, survivors and organizations that are in the forefront of combating gender-based violence on campus.These proposals are meant to contribute to the discussion about gender-based violence on campuses. Moments like these have tremendous potential to build strong, united political movements that can improve policy and begin to challenge and transform the environments in which gender-based violence happens.

Student debt and student financial assistance

  1. What will you do to address the crisis of student debt ($28 billion as of 2012), and improve federal student financial assistance?

As Prime Minister, I will eliminate interest charged on all federal loans. I will negotiate in our cost-sharing agreements with the provinces and territories to eliminate the interest charges on the provincial portion of student loans. This will be applied to all outstanding student loans.I will also allow outstanding student loan holders to apply for payment relief without accruing any additional charges or interest for events such as unemployment or personal emergencies. This will be in addition to my plan to increase and maintain needs-based, non-repayable grants to support students who may not be able to cover the cost of living while attending post-secondary education.

Federal Post-Secondary Act

  1. Do you support the establishment of a Post-Secondary Education Act that would establish federal standards as a prerequisite for federal funding?

Yes. As Prime Minister, I will create a Post-Secondary Education Act with new dedicated funding called the Post-Secondary Transfer in the amount of $15 billion that will increase with enrolment growth and inflation. The new act will be similar in model to the Canada Health Act and be based on the principles of universality, accessibility, comprehensiveness, public administration and freedom of expression.

Funding for Indigenous Post-Secondary Students

  1. What will you do to ensure all Indigenous students can access post- secondary education? In particular, would you support expanded eligibility to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program for Métis learners?

Despite our treaty obligations, an estimated 10,000 Indigenous students are on a waiting list for post-secondary training. This is why I will increase funding and remove the cap on Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP) for all Indigenous students. I will go further and honour the Daniels decision to ensure Metis and Non-Status Indians also have access to PSSSP. This will include eliminating the wait lists for Indigenous students to receive funding to attend post-secondary institutions, and ensuring that Indigenous students can attend the institutions of their choice.

Public Funding for Research and Graduate Students

  1. What role do you think the federal government should play in funding graduate student research in all disciplines? Do you support the eligibility of international graduate students for funding through the tri-council agencies? Do you support graduate students being given access to the Canada Student Grants under the Canada Student Loans Program?

The government must play an active role in funding graduate student research in all disciplines. Previous governments have put an emphasis on the commercialization of research and graduate student research funding. As Prime Minister, our government will ensure there is autonomy in the granting councils and that all research has equal opportunity to be funded, not just research with the potential to be commercialized. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) must be autonomous and open to all post-secondary students including domestic and international students.

I will increase funding to the Tri-Agency council scholarships and grants so that more students can access funding for their research. My plan also includes eligibility for graduate students to access needs-based, non-repayable grants for living expenses.

Youth Employment and Underemployment

  1. What will you do to address high youth unemployment and underemployment among young workers to ensure access to jobs in a variety of fields? What steps will you take to ensure employers do not replace entry-level positions and on-the-job training opportunities with unpaid internships?

In my Better Work Agenda, I’ve made several commitments to address the high youth unemployment rate. It’s unacceptable that students graduate with world-class educations only to be told that they don’t have the skills required for an entry-level position. That’s why I will eliminate unpaid internships in federally regulated sectors, such as telecommunications. I will also bring in equal rights for temp agency workers to ensure they have access to the same wages, benefits, and working conditions as their permanent counterparts. Finally, I will launch a national review of the federal labour standards to address the increase in contract work and accompanying benefit inequality.

Executive Compensation on Campus

  1. Would you support a senior executive salary pay cap in the post- secondary sector?

Universities and colleges have a certain level of autonomy and are governed by post- secondary education acts of their respective provincial and territorial legislatures. Post- secondary education executive compensation can be addressed during cost-sharing negotiations with the provinces and territories.