In a budget that took 367 pages to describe, the Trudeau Liberal government outlines its plan for a number of social and economic issues. From increased parental leave, to gender equality in corporate board rooms, to off-shore tax sheltering, Finance Minister Bill Morneau addresses a broad range of topics. For students, one topic appears conspicuously absent.
“Students are struggling with housing and education costs every day, and this budget does nothing to address affordability challenges for the vast majority of students in this country.” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson for the British Columbia Federation of Students.
Though Budget 2018 makes some small improvements for students such as funding to support women in trades programs, Indigenous education, and increased funding for youth employment, it remains mostly silent on education affordability and student debt. Students have called on the federal government to eliminate interest on student loans to make education more affordable, and to help those middle-class families struggling to make student loan payments along with ballooning housing costs.
“The biggest issue with Budget 2018 is what’s missing: meaningful action to reduce student debt and make our colleges and universities more affordable for all,” said Marshall. “The government of Canada charges the highest rates of interest on student loans of any jurisdiction in the country, which is simply unacceptable for a jobs-focused government claiming to put people first.”
Increases to Research Welcomed by Students
The Budget did receive high marks in one area as students were very pleased with the increases in research funding. Students and faculty have long-sought increased funding to inquiry-based research through the public granting councils, and the planned 25% increase to tri-council funding over the coming three years was met with a positive response.
“Budget 2018’s investment in research and research facilities is substantial, and is welcome news for the thousands of undergraduate, post-graduate, and post-doctoral students whose studies will be supported with public funding,” said Marshall.