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B.C. students want immediate forgiveness program over NDP loan debt cancellation

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Mar 20, 2021 at 7:19 pm PDT

FILE - Young people walk to class at UBC's Point Grey campus in the fall of 2019. (Source: Kurtis Doering/NEWS 1130)

NDP announces plans to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt per person

Organizer at the BC Federation of Students says this is a good start

Jenelle Davies suggests the government should burden people with less debt at the start of their degrees

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Leader Jagmeet Singh says the NDP is committed to cancelling up to $20,000 per person for those with federal student loans.

Jenelle Davies, an organizer at the BC Federation of Students, says while she recognizes young people are disproportionately affected economically by the COVID 19 pandemic, a better investment is putting this money upfront in a needs-based grant system. She says that way, people are taking on less debt at the beginning of their degree.

“It opens a lot more doors for folks,” she says.

Davies explains through the federal Canadian student grant program, students can get assessed based on their needs. And if the federal government invests more money in upfront needs base grant, “people are taking on less debt when they’re going to school.”

The NDP says its commitment is part of its plan to help young people buried in debt – especially as COVID-19 made matters worse.

The party says the plan includes putting a moratorium on loan payments until the end of the pandemic, cancelling interest on student debt, and working towards tuition-free post-secondary.

While Davies says she appreciates federal parties attempting to tackle the issue of student debt, she says, “It’s really important that we don’t lose sight of that immediate forgiveness program would certainly help a lot of people.”

“We need a nuanced approach, and it’s going to need to be something that is holistic and wide-reaching to help young people broadly across the board because it’s a real struggle and it’s going to affect all of our futures,” Davies says.