March 9, 2017

Our alternative budget for post-secondary education

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) released the annual Alternative Federal Budget this morning. This year’s project is titled “High Stakes, Clear Choices”. The AFB is a ‘what if’ exercise – what a government could do if it were truly committed to an economic, social and environmental justice that reflects the values of the largest majority of Canadians – as opposed to the interests of a privileged few. The Canadian Federation of Students is proud to have crafted the Post-Secondary Education chapter.

The stakes are high:

  • Post-secondary education of some kind is a requirement in 70% of job openings. For the precariously employed, vying for the remaining 30% of jobs, PSE offers a pathway to a better future
  • Tuition fee revenue going to colleges and universities has tripled since 1996
  • Canada Student Loans Program earned over $580 million in interest on student loans in a single year
  • 10,000 Indigenous students are waiting for PSSSP funding that is their treaty right
  • Canada spends less on skills training and active labour market measures than most of the industrialized world
  • One third of undergraduate teaching is done by contract instructors, many of them surviving on subsistence wages
  • Only 13% of doctoral SSHRC applicants received funding

But the choices are clear:

  • Eliminate the federal tuition tax credit, Canada Job Grant, RESP tax credit, and student loan interest tax credit, and reduce the scientific research and experimental development tax credit to help fund a new PSE Renewal Transfer

The PSE Renewal Transfer will allow the government to make the following improvements to the affordability and accessibility of post-secondary education:

  • Fully fund all public colleges and universities
  • Eliminate tuition fees for all students in all programs
  • Invest in apprenticeships and skilled trades to improve labour market information, create a federal Labour Market Partners Forum, help unemployed Canadians who do not qualify for EI access training, strengthen union-based apprenticeship training, and harmonize provincial-territorial apprenticeship training and certification requirements
  • Establish a mandatory apprenticeship ratio for all federal infrastructure projects and maintenance contracts
  • Eliminate interest on student loans
  • Extend the Repayment Assistance Program to pay the principal of a student loan five years after graduation
  • Restore funding for tri-council granting agencies to 2007-2008 levels
  • Fund an additional 1,250 Canada Graduate Scholarships

Budgets are about choices. This much is clear in the Alternative Federal Budget, which is reflective of the society we want to create. Our hope is that the 2017 Federal Budget will also reflect those choices and, if not, we’ll be ready to fight for access to education for all.

Read the Alternative Federal Budget in its entirety here: www.policyalternatives.ca/AFB2017