OTTAWA – Students welcome the continuation of pandemic relief in Budget 2021, such as the doubling of Canada Student Grants, the moratorium on interest rates for student loans, as well as an increase in funding for First Nations, Métis and Inuit learners, and a reduction of child care support costs. Concerns remain over the lack of direct investment and a long-term vision for post-secondary education amidst record-level tuition fees, student debt, and youth unemployment rates.
“Students are tired of unfulfilled promises,” said Brayiannis, “Budget 2021 revealed that over $2 billion has yet to be spent from student relief allocated over one year ago. We need the government to follow through on commitments to support students by listening to calls to expand relief funding, reintroduce moratoriums and relieve student debt, and invest in us as the future of this country.”
The budget includes:
- Waving interest on student loan payments until March 2023 for a total cost of $392.7 million
- Increasing the repayment assistance of $25,000 to 40,000
- Providing repayment payment assistance to 350,000 borrowers
- Doubling of Canada Student Grants until 2023
- Investment of $371.8 million in new funding for the Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ) to support 75,000 new jobs in 2022-23
- Investment of $239.8 million in Student Work Placement Program (SWPP)
- Provide 50,000 young people with opportunities in 2021-2022
Despite many welcome investments, as Canada enters into a third wave, summer work opportunities are a serious concern for students and recent graduates. With more than a year of exacerbated financial struggles, students need immediate government investment into their well-being.
“Among other recommendations, students have called on this government to invest in student loan interest rate elimination, Indigenous learners, and accessible childcare,” said Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “While much of what is proposed in Budget 2021 does not go far enough, there is no doubt that the hard work of students has paid off.”
In February 2021, the Federation held a federal lobby week advocating for additional supports for students which included developing a national vision for Canada’s post-secondary education system and relieving the burden of student debt.
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 500,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.