Advocates criticize insufficient support for students in 2022 federal budget
Student advocates at various Canadian universities have criticized the 2022 federal budget, saying it contains insufficient support for students and minimal progress on promises such as student debt relief.
The Undergraduate Students of Canada’s Research-Intensive Universities (UCRU) – a student advocacy group of which AMS is a part – have published a federal budget statement in which he celebrated some victories for the students but noted the lack of overall progress.
UCRU said it was pleased to see some short-term commitments reaffirmed, such as waiving student loan interest until March 2023, increasing the repayment assistance plan threshold to 40,000 and doubling temporary Canadian scholarships.
However, the budget fails to provide long-term insurance for students struggling to recover financially from the pandemic, the statement said.
The last budget did not deliver on the Liberal Party’s election promises to permanently eliminate interest on student loans, increase the repayment assistance threshold to $50,000or hire 1,200 new advisors provide mental health support on college campuses.
“While the elimination of interest rates on Canada Student Loans and the extension of the doubling of Canada Student Grants have given students some breathing room, the end of these initiatives will cause serious financial hardship for students and recent graduates,” Eunice Oladejo, UCRU secretary-treasurer, said in the statement.
Saad Shoaib, outgoing external vice-president of AMS and vice-president of UCRU, noted that students are among the groups most affected by the pandemic and play a key role in economic recovery.
“Students need enough time after graduation to look for work before they have to repay their loans,” Shoaib said. “Studies show us that students are really afraid to eat their savings, and it will have long-term financial impacts, such as delaying house purchases or car purchases.”
Tuition fees, student debt and inflation have all increased in Canada, significant financial pressure on students.
Nathalie Cappe, vice-president of external relations for the UBC Graduate Student Society, pointed out that graduate students are a unique demographic group, generally older, with more accumulated debt and made up of more international students, who pay fees. higher education.
Cappe said the lack of permanent provincial funding sources or need-based grants, coupled with federal funding that no longer reflects the rising cost of living, increased financial barriers to higher education.
While she’s glad to see the federal budget recognize the importance of supporting groundbreaking research, Cappe felt it fails to recognize graduate students as the “backbone” of institutions at the forefront of this. innovation.
“When you throw in the word researcher, often without realizing it, you are referring to the work of graduate students…what concerns me is the emphasis on research, but not a lot of support available for these researchers.”
Graduate students are not eligible Canada Student Grants Programwhich is one of the few extensions of financial assistance promised in the federal budget.
“At the end of the day, this budget doesn’t really explicitly identify the needs of graduate students at the federal level,” Cappe said.
MP Joyce Murray, who represents UBC’s riding of Vancouver Quadra, said the Liberal Party still hopes to make progress on key student priorities over the remainder of its four-year term.
“Some things will continue to unfold in the next three budgets,” Murray said. “We can methodically deliver our campaign promises year after year, but never expect a campaign promise to be kept in the first budget.”
Murray also pointed to progress made by the current federal administration on other issues important to students, such as climate change and dental care.
“I think it’s important for the federal government to communicate with students to ensure [they] understand that this is not something that will be completed in a year, this is something that the federal government is working on,” Shoaib said.
“We must not only explore ways to improve the financial lives of students today, but also to improve the financial lives of students tomorrow.