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How are the federal parties promising to improve the lives of young people?

Last Updated Oct 15, 2019 at 7:54 pm EDT

Rabbia Ashraf, vice-president internal at the Continuing Education Students' Association of Ryerson (CESAR) talks to 2nd year student Katey Agnitsch about voting on Oct, 7, 2015. Caro Loutfi is busy at her Montreal office putting together sources and organizing events to mobilize young Canadians to cast a ballot on Oct. 21. "If people aren't voting, democracy doesn't work" said Loutfi, the executive director of Apathy is Boring - a non-partisan organization that educate Canadian youth about democracy. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marta Iwanek

The youth vote has become more and more important in recent elections as the younger generation becomes more involved in politics. How are the federal parties courting their vote this year?

A growing concern with youth is how they will be able to afford an education so here is a look at what the NDP, the Liberals, the Conservatives and the Green Party have pledged to help current and future students.

Liberals

The Liberals have focused on affordability when it comes to their education promises including extending grace periods for student loans and increasing grants. They have also pledged to “equip young people and people in their careers with the skills they’re going to need,” as workplaces continue to incorporate automation.

“People wonder what’s going to happen to their jobs, what’s going to happen to their kids’ jobs … Societies face a bit of a choice, and politicians face a bit of a choice,” said Trudeau. “They say: are we going to keep things the way that they are, or even go backwards and make things ‘great again.’ Or, do we choose to move forward. Do we choose to say, you know what, do we equip ourselves to create this future and lead into this future.”

Here are the specific promises the Liberals have made for education:

  • Increase Canada Student Grants by up to $1,200 a year per student.
  • Give students a two-year interest-free grace period before beginning federal loan repayment.
  • Allow students to defer paying loans until they make $35,000 a year.
  • Pause student loan repayments for new parents.

Conservatives

The Conservatives have offered few promises directly related to making education more affordable, but have spoken at length about restricting grants to universities that don’t support free speech policies.

Leader Andrew Scheer has said they will be putting a regime in place that prioritizes federal spending and federal grant contributions to universities that have taken measures to protect free speech on campus because “there are threats to free speech all over the world.” He adds the goal of the program is to ensure that legitimate debate can be held.

“We’ve seen phenomena all over the world where people have not been allowed to speak, events have been cancelled, not because they violate any particular code of conduct or university policy, but just simply because people protested and there were concerns raised about security,” said Scheer. “The goal here is to protect robust discussion, robust debate.”

Here are the promises the Conservatives have made in terms of education:

  • Boost government contribution to RESPs from 20 to 30 per cent, up to $2,500. Low-income parents will go from 40 percent matched to 50 per cent matched.

NDP

The NDP has made the ambitious promise of working to make post-secondary education free and in the meantime working to make education more affordable for students. The proposal was received well by students — at least by those at Ryerson University —, after Leader Jagmeet Singh was mobbed by young supporters just outside the school at Yonge and Gould Streets.

The promises they have made are:

  • Work with provinces to cap and reduce fees.
  • Work towards making post-secondary institutions part of the public education system.
  • Eliminate interest on federal student loans.
  • Reduce federal student loans and increase Canada Student Grants.

Green Party

The Green Party has also promised to eliminate tuition for post-secondary education while also forgiving all federal student debts.

Leader Elizabeth May has said, “education is what keeps a country and a democracy safe from bullies and demagogues. Education is key to a healthy society and we should not put barriers in the way of people getting the education they seek.”

She adds “emerging from that enriched experience without a crushing level of debt is something essential for any Canadian student, whether a mature student going back for their PhD in their 80s, or a young person branching out for the first time.”

Here are the Green Party promises on education:

  • Pledge $10 billion to support post-secondary and trade schools.
  • Eliminate tuition for post-secondary education.
  • Forgive federal student debts.
  • Remove the two per cent cap on increases to education funding for indigenous students.
  • Ensure all indigenous youth have access to post-secondary education.