Posted on Mar 2, 2021
NDP CALLS FOR FOUR IMMEDIATE CHANGES TO POST-SECONDARY BUDGET TO BETTER POSITION SCHOOLS FOR ECONOMIC FUTURE
CALGARY – Alberta’s NDP and students are calling for sweeping changes to the 2021 post-secondary budget in order to ensure that both the post-secondary system and the students who learn within it are equipped to drive a diversified economic recovery.
“Post-secondary is the economic engine of our province,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “Jason Kenney cannot claim he supports diversifying our economy and creating jobs in new sectors and then cut funding to the very schools that will give our future leaders the skills and training they need to perform those jobs, to advance those sectors.”
Budget 2021 cuts post-secondary by $135 million this year. Since taking office, when population and inflation are factored in, the UCP has cut $690 million, or nearly 23 per cent.
As well, in the proposed budget alone, the UCP will tack on $106 million in increased tuition fees charged to students for a total tuition increase of $387 million since taking office. They have also cut nearly 1,500 full-time equivalent post-secondary jobs to date.
“The sweeping cuts being imposed are devastating,” said NDP Advanced Education Critic David Eggen. “They will have a generational impact on students, faculty and the schools in general. We need these schools strong and well-positioned to steer our economic recovery but they will be anything but with budgets like these.”
Notley and Eggen joined students at the University of Calgary’s MacEwan Student Centre to call for four immediate changes in the 2021 provincial budget to better position post-secondary schools for Alberta’s economic future. They include:
- Reverse the $690 million in cuts to the post-secondary budget.
- Freeze student tuition rates for at least the duration of the pandemic.
- Stop increases to student loan interest rates.
- End the move to performance-based funding for schools.
Noa Spivak, a third-year student and member of the faculty of Arts Student Association Council, said the budget sends a very clear message to students that the Government wants them to pay more for less.
“These budget cuts will not only negatively impact the future of Alberta,” Spivak said. “It will repel young people who may consider studying and starting their lives here.”
U of C student Chaise Coombs said, “students in Alberta already have among the highest debt levels in the country and this budget will make it worse at the worst possible time.”
According to Statistics Canada, data on the impacts of COVID-19 on youth, 49 per cent of post-secondary students lost job prospects because of the pandemic. It also outlined that students could lose between $23,000 to $44,000 in cumulative earnings over the next five years.