Posted on Apr 16, 2020
NDP UNVEILS PLAN TO SUPPORT POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS STRUGGLING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Alberta’s NDP Opposition is calling for substantial action to support students and post-secondary institutions and immediately scrap the implementation of the ill-advised performance-based funding model.
New challenges resulting from the pandemic follow two consecutive budgets from Jason Kenney and the UCP that have forced increased tuition fees and caused mass layoffs. The proposed solutions address insufficient provincial support for Alberta’s post-secondary students and institutions affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The government made a clear commitment that Albertans wouldn’t fall through the cracks of insufficient programs, yet they have done nothing to support post-secondary students who were already struggling after two straight budgets full of cuts and cost hikes,” said Rachel Notley, NDP Opposition Leader. “Students need help now to ensure that they have the support and tools they need to continue their education in the short-term so they can be part of recovering and diversifying our economy in the long-term.
“Furthermore, this Government has attacked our post-secondary institutions rather than recognizing that they are needed more than ever and that they can serve as a critical player in our economic recovery in the months and years ahead.”
Currently, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit does not cover students who weren't working as of March 15, or students that have made less than $5,000 in the last 12 months.
Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition is calling on the UCP government to:
- Provide direct — and equivalent — financial support to students who do not qualify for the federal CERB program by adapting and reopening the provincial Emergency Isolation Support payment.
- Restore funding to post-secondary institutions and cancel the transition to a so-called Performance-Based Funding (PBF) model
- Restore the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) to support employers and students. Incent jobs for students in sectors like tech to support a more diversified economy.
- Freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year and waive mandatory non-instructional fees, including student service and amenities fees, library late fees, and interest accumulation on late tuition fees.
- Create a relief fund of between $10-15 million for publicly funded universities and colleges to help offset unforseen costs related to the pandemic.
MacEwan University student Ayesha-Jade Reece, 22, said navigating financial support during the pandemic has been challenging since she is ineligible for the federal program and is concerned about her academic and financial future.
“Almost all of us will have to suffer from the loss of summer jobs, internships, and taking out more student loans to meet our basic needs,” Reece said. “This crisis hit before many of us had even secured summer jobs - jobs that no longer exist. After not working all school year, we have nothing left — and we still don’t qualify for the federal CERB. I truly believe that there should be benefits for every person that has been affected by the outbreak.”