By Doug Draper
Posted September 26th, 2016 on Niagara At Large
Niagara, Ontario – Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath made a stop at Brock University in St. Catharines this September 26th to meet with students about the burdening tuition fees and debt loads they are carrying these days.
While on the campus, Horwath, who was accompanied by Niagara NDP representatives Cindy Forster and Wayne Gates, pledged that if her party forms the next Ontario government, it will erase the interest students are forced to pay back on student loans they receive from the province.
“The government should not be making a profit off of the fact that students in Ontario need to take out laonds to afford post-secondary education,” said Horwath. “It’s just not right.”
Horwath said college and university students in Ontario are already burdened with some of the highest tuition fees in Canada – a cost that is placing them under “a great deal of stress” as they work to earn a degree.
A statement Horwath circulated to members of the media during her Brock visit noted that; “Ontario is one of the most expensive provinces to access a college or university education. Since 2009, Ontario has had the highest average undergraduate and graduate tuition fees in the country. The average debt load for a young person with a four year undergraduate degree is $28,000, for a post-graduate degree, its $35,000.”
On top of all this, the provincial government is now collecting about $28 million annually in interest fees charged to debt-ridden students on the loans the received from the government to cover tuition and other costs.
Asked by Niagara At Large about “unpaid internships” many college and university students are made to do – many of them requiring students to do hundreds of hours of free work for businesses in order to receive their degree – Horwath said her party has tabled a private member’s bill in the provincial legislature called for an end to that practice.
Students should at least be paid minimum wage, if not more, for their work, Horwath said.
Horwath called this September 26th’s pleged to eliminate interest from student loans “a first step” and far from the only one her party is reviewing as a way to make post-secondary education more affordable in Ontario. The party is also open to a plan, similar to one U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is now proposing to provide tuition free access to public post-secondary schools in her country.
“Insurmountable student debt delays important life milestones for young people such as buying a car, owning a home, starting a family or starting a business,” said Horwath. “This makes student debt not only a burden for the people who carry it, but on the provincial economy as a whole.”
Caitlin Hipkiss, a Brock student and co-chair of the university’s NDP student association, said she believes Horwath’s pledge to wipe out interest on loans “is going in the right direction. … The Ontario government should not be profiting off of students,” she said.
For more information on what the Ontario NDP has to say about unpaid internships and how you can help support a campaign to get rid of them and make sure students are fairly paid for the work they do, click on – http://www.ontariondp.ca/unpaid_internships .
Find out what the Canadian Federation of Students is saying about the need to fight high tuition fees by clicking on – http://main.cfs-fcee.ca/issues/international-students/
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