The Federal government’s fiscal update, unveiled on November 30, misses the mark on supporting young Canadians in the midst of the COVID–19 pandemic. Instead of providing financial support to those who need it now, the statement makes promises for a so-called “post-pandemic economy”, thereby pushing much-needed aid into the future.

The least-talked about but most important fallout of the WE Charity scandal was that $900 million in funding to support young Canadians ended up not being distributed. That is nearly one billion in financial supports that young Canadians didn’t receive in the height of unemployment and economic disruption. Yet this week’s economic statement doesn’t commit to reinvesting this money until well into 2021.

“Students and young Canadians need help now. The complete failure of the Canada Student Service Grant program, and the end of the student loan repayment moratorium in September means that many young Canadians are desperate for financial assistance.” - Tanysha Klassen, Chairperson, BC Federation of Students

On November 24 an opposition motion in the House of Commons calling for the reinstatement of a moratorium on student loan payments passed with unanimous consent – this means it received no opposition, not even from Liberal MPs. However, as an opposition motion it is non-binding and the governing Liberals have made it clear that they do not intend to enact the will of the House of Commons. This inaction has serious impacts on the financial stability of those hardest hit by the economic slowdown – namely, young Canadians.

“This economic statement dangles a carrot in front of our noses, forcing us to struggle through the second wave and beyond on our own," said Klassen.

The economic statement included the elimination of interest on student loans for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, but this short-term measure comes with its own caveats. This initiative will only apply to former students who are already in repayment of their loans; this means that if you graduate in the 2021-2022 year you won’t receive the additional relief.

“Economic recovery will take years, and in the meantime recent graduates – and those who will graduate soon – will have their careers and income possibilities stunted,” said Klassen. “The very least the Federal government could do as a long-term solution to help graduates and their families is to permanently eliminate the interest charged on student loans.”

BC Federation of Students

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The BC Federation of Students represents over 170,000 students from 15 institutions across BC. Advocating for affordable + accessible post-secondary education.