As Canada enters into a third wave, students and recent graduates continue to wait for billions of dollars of unfulfilled financial support that has been promised throughout the pandemic. Amidst everchanging familial and personal situations, relief for every person living in this country needs to be readily available – without the stipulation and added barrier of productivity demanded only of young people in this challenging time. With more than a year of exacerbated financial struggles, students need immediate government investment into their well-being.
Some of the announcements students and graduates are hoping to see from Federal Budget 2021 include:
- Reintroduction of moratoriums on student debt repayment immediately for all current students and recent graduates retroactive to September 2019, until at least December 2021, while working on forgiving all student debt
- Invest in making post-secondary education publicly-funded and universally accessible to all through non-repayable grants instead of loans.
- Expand existing programs like Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) and Youth Employment and Skills Strategy (YESS) to include all students unconditionally, including international and mature students.
- Increase student support grants and relief programs for international students, mature students, individuals living with a disability, as well as Black, Indigenous, and other marginalized individuals.
- Significantly increase relief and supports for student parents
- Immediate allocation of billions of unspent federal student relief promised throughout 2020-2021, through consultation with students, graduates, and faculty
Action needs to be taken to protect and support every person living in this country. The government is long overdue in working with students to determine where students require immediate support. Ongoing consultations across sectors will be critical in preventing what is proving to be the most significant mental health crisis in this country, alongside the worst pandemic in recent history. In striving for a Just Recovery for Students, the Canadian Federation of Students continues to advocate for immediate student relief and a long-term strategy for the post-secondary education sector.