Feds pledge cash for student loans
By Laura Katsirdakis
The federal Liberal government promised to improve access
to post secondary education during yesterday’s speech
from the throne.
“We will modernize the Canada Student Loan Program,” said
Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s Governor General, adding
a lack of financial resources should not be a barrier to attending
post-secondary education. “[The CSLP will be updated]
to reflect the rising cost of education.”
Loan limits will be raised, eligibility for expenses will
be broadened to include such things as computers, and parental
contribution tables will be changed to account for middle-income
families, she said.
In addition, the government will introduce a program to give
grants to students from low income families and support them
in their first year of post-secondary education, Clarkson said.
The Registered Education Savings Plan, which has been in place
for several years, will also change. “There will be new
incentives to encourage low income families to begin investing
right from birth.”
Other initiatives Clarkson announced included the government’s
intention to maintain fiscal prudence, rebating the GST for
cities as part of a “new deal for municipalities” and
introducing a new public health agency and chief of public
health. In addition, she outlined a plan for democratic renewal
involving more free votes in the House of Commons and the establishment
of an independent ethics commissioner.
“There was just about something for everyone [in the
speech],” said Robert Young, a Western political science
professor. “There was a very strong social orientation
despite Mr. Martin’s previous economic and financial
orientations,” he said, noting the government addressed
issues concerning the disabled, skills upgrading, the environment
and immigrant integration.
“The devil is going to be in the details, but my initial
reaction is that the reforms that the Governor General spoke
of will make a big difference for a lot of students,” said
Dave Ford, VP-education for the University Students’ Council.
“[The Canadian Alliance of Student Associations] is
quite excited that the government is listening to our concerns,” said
James Kusie, national director of CASA, adding his only concern
was with the government’s promise to raise loan limits. “This
doesn’t address the problem of student debt,” he
said, noting CASA would prefer to see more grants and bursaries.