January 17, 2019

BY JASON MOTA

After months of hype, the 2015 federal election is finally just around the corner and, as many have stated, it could be one of the most important elections in Canadian history. With a major worldwide economic collapse just a few years ago, which resulted in a recession, and struggles around the world that threaten the lives of millions, the Canadian government’s involvement – or lack thereof – is being questioned.

It is also the first time that many young Canadians will be legally able to vote in a federal election, and, according to Jeff Scherer, the president of Conestoga Students Inc. as well as the College Student Alliance (CSA), the right to vote is something that should be taken advantage of. CSA is a non-profit organization that, according to its website, works with post-secondary education stakeholders and the government to improve the college experience.

“Everyone should be educated about what’s going on in politics, whether it’s local, provincial or federal government,” said Scherer. “The more information you have, the more educated a vote you can make.”

So it’s fitting that the CSA has an entire website dedicated to educating students about the election, with detailed explanations on what each political party will do for students if they are elected. However, one must not forget about the local aspect of the election, which is where your votes will be directed. This year, a new riding has been formed for Kitchener South – Hespeler, in which the Doon campus resides.

The candidates for the riding are Marian Gagné of the Conservative party, Marwan Tabbara of the Liberal party, Lorne Bruce with the NDP and David Weber with the Green Party. Spoke asked them what they would do for college students if elected. Two of them responded (see below).

For students looking for more information about voting in general, visit www.itsyourvote.ca or www.elections.ca.

The candidates …

mtabbaraheadshot
Marwan Tabbara
Liberal party

Q: What was your occupation before you became a politician?
A: Worked in Operations at Frito Lay, Bishop Street, Cambridge; also, second full-time job – field supervisor, Quality Control, Q2 Management.

Q: Do you have or have you had children who are or have been post-secondary students?
A: I have not yet had any children.

Q: Do you believe tuition is too expensive? Would your party work to lower tuition?
A: We will make post-secondary education more affordable. For too many Canadians, rising costs have made post-secondary education increasingly out of reach.

Q: What, to your knowledge, are other major struggles that local post-secondary students face, and how do you think you can help them?
A: We will provide direct help to students from low- and middle-income families to help them pay for their education and ensure that debt loads are manageable. We will increase the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 per year for full-time students, and to $1,800 per year for part-time students.
In addition, to help more students from middle-class families qualify for Canada Student Grants, we will increase the income thresholds for eligibility, giving more Canadian students access to even larger grants. This investment will be funded by cancelling the poorly targeted education and textbook tax credits. The tuition tax credit will be maintained.
This will increase the level of non-repayable grant assistance to students by $750 million per year, rising to $900 million per year by 2019/20.
We will also ensure that no graduate with student loans will be required to make any repayment until they are earning an income of at least $25,000 per year.
This will be done by changing the income thresholds in the Repayment Assistance Plan for recent graduates. The federal government will continue to pay the interest on student loans until graduates begin to earn sufficient incomes to take over their own payments and repay their own loans.
We will work with provinces and territories to ensure that they do not assume any additional costs, and to make sure these investments go directly to students.
Appropriate compensation will be offered to provinces and territories that do not participate in the Canada Student Loan program.
We will also work collaboratively with provinces and territories to improve promotion of RESPs and Canada Learning Bonds, and to make registration simpler for all families.
We will invest $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary education, and will allow the program to grow in line with increasing demand.

mgagneheadshot

Marian Gagné
Conservative party

Q: What was your occupation before you became a politician?
A: Director of regional affairs for the Minister’s Regional Office for the Minister of Public Works and Government Services.

Q: Do you have or have you had children who are or have been post-secondary students?
A: I have six boys, five of which attended post-secondary studies and one who is a veteran of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, who is now a carpentry apprentice in the Helmets for Hard Hats Program.

Q: Do you believe tuition is too expensive? Would your party work to lower tuition?
A: Tuition is expensive, and is primarily a provincial issue, however, our government promises, if re-elected, to increase federal grants to low- and middle-income families trying to save for their children’s post-secondary studies through Registered Education Savings Plans. This measure doubles the federal grants to future students. Low-income families would benefit by federal grants increasing from 20 cents to 40 cents per dollar on the first $500 contributed to a RESP each year. Middle-income families would see their grant raised from 10 cents on every dollar to 20 cents on every dollar for the first $500. At an expected rate of return of 5 per cent a year, compounded annually, these grants will amount to an additional $2,200 per student.
Q: What, to your knowledge, are other major struggles that local post-secondary students face, and how do you think you can help them?
A: Our government recognizes the importance of education and, even more importantly, the importance of earning an education in fields where job demand is high. This is why we have focused on apprenticeship programs for skilled trades, recognizing that there is much need for those who feed the wires to, run the gas lines to and lay the pipe to the buildings where those who work in an office earn their living. If we can provide more information for students regarding where the jobs are and encourage them to choose a career in one of those fields, we can ensure higher employment.

NDP and Green Party

Spoke invited both the NDP and the Green Party candidates in the Kitchener South – Hespeler riding to participate in this questionnaire, but did not receive a response.

Also, is it important to note the responses from the Liberal and Conservative candidates shown here have been edited due to space limitations.

Leave a Reply