The Issues

There is a crisis in post-secondary education.

While Canada ranks among the top countries in the world for its proportion of citizens with a post-secondary education degree, this comes at a tremendous and increasing personal cost. Since 2001, tuition fees have more than tripled as public funding for post-secondary has dropped below 50%, and the total public student debt in Canada sits at $36 billion. The cost of public underfunding is disproportionately borne by international students who pay over three times more in tuition fees than their domestic counterparts for the same education.

Moreover, First Nations, Métis and Inuit students continue to be denied funding to post-secondary education despite their right to education affirmed in a number of nation-to-nation treaties, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Plus, in a time where we only have 11 years to tackle the climate crisis, as stated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we cannot afford to have an entire generation burdened with billions of dollars in student debt. Financial stability is crucial to allowing people to fully participate in saving the one planet we have. 

This election, students are heading to the polls in big, bold numbers and asking the future government to take bold, progressive stances on these four key issues: Free Education and Student Debt, Fairness for International Students, Honouring Indigenous Learners’ Right to Education, and Climate Justice and a Liveable Planet. Scroll through to learn more!

Free Education and Debt Alleviation

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting access to education for all students by:
1. Investing in a fully public, universal, tuition-free system of post-secondary education governed by a national Post-Secondary Education Act.
2. Introducing debt alleviation programs for current debt-holders, including eliminating interest rates on all student loans.

 

Climate Justice and a Liveable Planet

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting climate justice and a liveable future by:
1. Investing in a fully-funded post-secondary education system that will ensure effective just transition programs and foster mitigation and adaptation research in all fields of study.
2. Bold policies towards decarbonization that limit some of the most lethal and devastating impacts of global climate change for our generation and those to come, while putting justice for Indigenous people, migrants, workers, and the poor at the centre of the transition to a green economy.

 

Indigenous Learners' Right to Education

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting First Nations, Métis and Inuit students by:
1. Fully funding post-secondary education for all First Nations, Métis and Inuit students
2. Investing in Indigenous language programs, including at post-secondary institutions
3. Enacting Calls for Justice from the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S)

 

Fairness for International Students

Students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting fairness for international students by:
1. Providing stable funding transfers to eliminate all differential fees,
2. Streamlining immigration pathways, and
3. Ensuring provincial governments provide unrestricted public healthcare access by including this requirement in the Canada Health Act.

 

Free Education and Debt Alleviation

Post-secondary education is a necessity for over 70% of new jobs in Canada today. Thankfully, Canada has the highest participation rate in its post-secondary education system among OECD countries. Furthermore, Canada currently allocates 2.5 percent of its GDP to post-secondary education, which is higher than the OECD average of 1.6 percent. However, ballooning tuition fees and an ever-increasing student debt crisis has meant that not everyone gets equal access to a postsecondary education.

In 2015, 60% of students came from the upper 40 percent of income earners, and for lower-income students, pursuing post-secondary education today comes at a tremendous cost. In 2017, total interest paid by a borrower to the Canada Student Loans Program in financing $30,000 of student debt over 10 years was over $10,000. Total public student debt in Canada reached $36 billion in 2016, of which $18 billion is owed to the federal government.

To create a system of accessible, high quality post-secondary education, bold national leadership is required to transform the current piecemeal funded system into a high quality, well-resourced system that will benefit not only students, but Canada as a whole. Students are calling on all federal parties to commit to reinvesting in public post-secondary education to end crushing debt associated with pursuing an education.

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting access to education for all students by:
1. Investing in a fully public, universal, tuition-free system of post-secondary education governed by a national Post-Secondary Education Act.
2. Introducing debt alleviation programs for current debt-holders, including eliminating interest rates on all student loans.

Climate Justice and a Liveable Planet

The climate crisis is a serious threat to current and future generations here in Canada and around the world. A 2018 report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change predicts widespread food shortages and wildfires among other lethal global consequences as soon as 2040, and many areas globally are already experiencing devastating weather events and effects of climate change.

To avoid some of this immediate catastrophic damage, humans will need to transform their economy at “at a speed and scale that has no documented historic precedent.” Post-secondary institutions play a key role in envisioning a green economy. They must foster our move to a renewable energy future with research and innovation. For this to happen, post-secondary institutions must remain public and fully divest from fossil fuels. High-quality education in the next decade will be responsible for ensuring effective just transition programs and research in all fields of study in colleges and universities.

Students have been leaders in climate action through global climate strikes and now it is time to make sure our post-secondary institutions are rising up to the challenge to become knowledge and innovation hubs to fight the climate crisis.

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting climate justice and a liveable future by:
1. Investing in a fully-funded post-secondary education system that will ensure effective just transition programs and foster mitigation and adaptation research in all fields of study.
2. Bold policies towards decarbonization that limit some of the most lethal and devastating impacts of global climate change for our generation and those to come, while putting justice for Indigenous people, migrants, workers, and the poor at the centre of the transition to a green economy.

Indigenous Learners' Right to Education

Though access to post-secondary education for First Nations learners is a treaty right, and a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for all Indigenous learners, many are unable to enter or maintain their studies due to the rising cost of education and inadequate federal funding. 

The Post-Secondary Student Support Program was established in the 1990s to alleviate the financial barriers to accessing education for First Nations students such as costs of tuition, textbooks, school supplies, travel and living expenses. However, between 2006 and 2011, over 18,500 people were denied funding through the program. Métis and Inuit students are also not eligible for this program. Increased investments in programs for all Indigenous learners are required on an ongoing, annual basis in order to address the backlog of program applicants and to accommodate the rapid growth of this demographic of learners.

In addition, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission emphasized that post-secondary institutions have an important role to play in honouring and preserving Indigenous languages and cultures. To that end, funds should be allocated to support the development of culturally appropriate curricula at the post-secondary level, including courses and programs in Indigenous languages, cultures, and history.

This election, students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting First Nations, Métis and Inuit students by:
1. Fully funding post-secondary education for all First Nations, Métis and Inuit students
2. Investing in Indigenous language programs, including at post-secondary institutions
3. Enacting Calls for Justice from the report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG2S)

Many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people choose not to participate in Canadian elections, but there are a number of ways to engage in this campaign and encourage those voting to vote for bold, progressive policies. Learn more by clicking here. Many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people choose not to participate in Canadian elections, but there are a number of ways to engage in this campaign and encourage those voting to vote for bold, progressive policies. Learn more by clicking here.

Fairness for International Students

International students provide a richer campus and educational experience,  contribute to the local economy, and should be treated with fairness. But the erosion of public funding to post-secondary institutions has resulted in aggressive recruitment strategies of international students to balance off budgets. More than ever before, colleges and universities are relying on international students as a source of revenue.

International students make up one of the largest demographics of students in Canada, making up a fifth of all post-secondary students in Canada. This means there are nearly 400,000 students paying upwards of 3 times the cost as domestic students for the same education.

Despite the fact that international students contribute exponentially to the economy, they continue to experience inflated tuition, restrictions on work permits, and lack of access to public health care. The Canada Health Act should mandate the federal government to ensure that provinces and territories are providing the same public health care to international students.

Students need federal leaders who will take a bold stance in supporting fairness for international students by:
1. Providing stable funding transfers to eliminate all differential fees,
2. Streamlining immigration pathways, and
3. Ensuring provincial governments provide unrestricted public healthcare access by including this requirement in the Canada Health Act.

Free Education and Debt Alleviation

Post-secondary education is a necessity for over 70% of new jobs in Canada today. Thankfully, Canada has the highest participation rate in its post-secondary education system among OECD countries. Furthermore, Canada currently allocates 2.5 percent of its GDP to post-secondary education, which is higher than the OECD average of 1.6 percent. However, ballooning tuition fees and an ever-increasing student debt crisis has meant that not everyone gets equal access to a postsecondary education.

In 2015, 60% of students came from the upper 40 percent of income earners, and for lower-income students, pursuing post-secondary education today comes at a tremendous cost. In 2017, total interest paid by a borrower to the Canada Student Loans Program in financing $30,000 of student debt over 10 years was over $10,000. Total public student debt in Canada reached $36 billion in 2016, of which $18 billion is owed to the federal government.

To create a system of accessible, high quality post-secondary education, bold national leadership is required to transform the current piecemeal funded system into a high quality, well-resourced system that will benefit not only students, but Canada as a whole. Students are calling on all federal parties to commit to reinvesting in public post-secondary education to end crushing debt associated with pursuing an education.

Climate Justice and a Liveable Planet

The climate crisis is a serious threat to current and future generations here in Canada and around the world. A 2018 report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change predicts widespread food shortages and wildfires among other lethal global consequences as soon as 2040, and many areas globally are already experiencing devastating weather events and effects of climate change.

To avoid some of this immediate catastrophic damage, humans will need to transform their economy at “at a speed and scale that has no documented historic precedent.” Post-secondary institutions play a key role in envisioning a green economy. They must foster our move to a renewable energy future with research and innovation. For this to happen, post-secondary institutions must remain public and fully divest from fossil fuels. High-quality education in the next decade will be responsible for ensuring effective just transition programs and research in all fields of study in colleges and universities.

Students have been leaders in climate action through global climate strikes and now it is time to make sure our post-secondary institutions are rising up to the challenge to become knowledge and innovation hubs to fight the climate crisis.

Indigenous Learners' Right to Education

Though access to post-secondary education for First Nations learners is a treaty right, and a right enshrined in the Universal Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for all Indigenous learners, many are unable to enter or maintain their studies due to the rising cost of education and inadequate federal funding. 

The Post-Secondary Student Support Program was established in the 1990s to alleviate the financial barriers to accessing education for First Nations students such as costs of tuition, textbooks, school supplies, travel and living expenses. However, between 2006 and 2011, over 18,500 people were denied funding through the program. Métis and Inuit students are also not eligible for this program. Increased investments in programs for all Indigenous learners are required on an ongoing, annual basis in order to address the backlog of program applicants and to accommodate the rapid growth of this demographic of learners.

In addition, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission emphasized that post-secondary institutions have an important role to play in honouring and preserving Indigenous languages and cultures. To that end, funds should be allocated to support the development of culturally appropriate curricula at the post-secondary level, including courses and programs in Indigenous languages, cultures, and history.

Many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people choose not to participate in Canadian elections, but there are a number of ways to engage in this campaign and encourage those voting to vote for bold, progressive policies. Learn more by clicking here. Many First Nations, Métis and Inuit people choose not to participate in Canadian elections, but there are a number of ways to engage in this campaign and encourage those voting to vote for bold, progressive policies. Learn more by clicking here.

Fairness for International Students

International students provide a richer campus and educational experience,  contribute to the local economy, and should be treated with fairness. But the erosion of public funding to post-secondary institutions has resulted in aggressive recruitment strategies of international students to balance off budgets. More than ever before, colleges and universities are relying on international students as a source of revenue.

International students make up one of the largest demographics of students in Canada, making up a fifth of all post-secondary students in Canada. This means there are nearly 400,000 students paying upwards of 3 times the cost as domestic students for the same education.

Despite the fact that international students contribute exponentially to the economy, they continue to experience inflated tuition, restrictions on work permits, and lack of access to public health care. The Canada Health Act should mandate the federal government to ensure that provinces and territories are providing the same public health care to international students.

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