Tuition fees have tripled in the last 20 years (Huffington Post, Sept 9, 2015). If education was a privilege for the few in 1990s Canada, it’s worse today as student fees seem more like a down payment on a first home. Education should be about creating a decent future for young people which must include providing free job training and apprenticeship programs.
“Starting in 1967, funding was provided on a cost-sharing model. The provinces administered the system and made decisions on policy, programs, and spending, while the federal government matched provincial spending dollar for dollar.” Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – February 2016
The move away from 50/50 cost sharing started under the last Trudeau. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, 40% of post secondary graduates are underemployed folks aged 25-34. With inflation taken into consideration, tuition fees are 160% higher than they were in 1990. Student Debt in Canada totals $28 billion. The NDP should forgive the tuition portion of this debt.
If the Pearson Liberals could take their cue from Tommy Douglas and the CCF-NDP, and create the Canada Health Act, surely Canada’s first federal NDP government can create the Canada Education Act. An NDP government could match 50% transfer payments to all provinces and territories, establishing free, universal post-secondary education for all. If 20 OECD countries can offer their young people free or minimal fee university education, then surely Canada can follow suit. The NDP must become the champions of eliminating tuition fees and student debt within its first mandate.