Students and Graduates Demand Emergency Pandemic Relief to Canada's Post-Secondary Education Sector

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OTTAWA, ON, Nov. 19, 2020 /CNW/ - Post-secondary students and graduates across Canada continue to face the brunt of the pandemic as a result of being forgotten from emergency relief programs. The Canadian Federation of Students and Don't Forget Students have submitted a petition to the House of Commons sponsored by Member of Parliament for Victoria, Laurel Collins, calling for immediate action from the Federal Government to support post-secondary students and graduates left out of relief plans.

"As the country continues to face the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and recent graduates from coast to coast to coast are alarmed by the government's inaction," said Brandon Amyot of Don't Forget Students.

"We're seeing enrollment decline, unprecedented levels of student debt, all-while youth employment rates reached an all-time high. We're concerned about our futures, mental health and wellbeing," said Nicole Brayiannis, National Deputy Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students.

In response to the federal government's inaction, the petition launched proposes a plan for pandemic relief and stimulus for Canada's post-secondary sector that:

  1. Utilizes the funds initially allocated for the Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG) and remaining funds from the $9 billion allocated for post-secondary students in April to extend the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) while also including International students;

  2. Includes newly graduating students and recent graduates (retroactive to Fall 2019) in Employment Insurance and the new CRB program;

  3. Extends the moratorium on student debt loan interest and payments until May 1, 2021, with consideration of further extensions based on the public health and economic situation, and commits to significant student debt relief;

  4. Expands the Canada Student Grant, returns to 50-50 cost-sharing with provinces and territories, and increases funding for post-secondary institutions.

Laurel Collins adds, "I've been hearing from students and recent graduates who are still not getting the help they need. They've fallen through the cracks. While students are struggling to pay rent, the federal government has started collecting on student loans again. And while the Liberal government helped out their friends, students got none of the $900 million set aside to help them. It's time for the government to live up to their promises and start listening to students."

Supporters can sign the Parliamentary e-Petition here: https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-2986

Facts:

  • As of 2016, student debt in Canada exceeds $36 billion with $18 billion owed federally and is the cause of one in six bankruptcies;

  • 39% of students are struggling with food insecurity due to the rising and unaffordable cost of food, tuition fees, and housing;

  • Canada's youth unemployment rate reached an all-time high of 29.4% in May and is still at crisis levels (18.8% as of October) while further deterioration is expected due to the second wave

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students

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