February 3, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 68  

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Feds pledge cash for student loans

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

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.



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