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Alberta NDP calls for post-secondary student supports

Last Updated Apr 16, 2020 at 5:12 pm MDT

Piggy bank with graduation cap beside a student loan coin jar (ISTOCK:rdmbc)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — As many post-secondary students in Alberta struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Alberta NDP is saying the provincial government can do more to help.

The United Conservative Party has introduced an interest-free six-month moratorium on student loans, but the NDP is suggesting that it can go further.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley, joined by Advanced Education Critic David Eggen and three students attending MacEwan University, said they have four specific demands from the government.

This includes providing direct financial support to students who do not qualify for the federal CERB program and restoring funding for post-secondary institutions and cancel the transition to a performance-based funding model as detailed in the 2020 budget.

“Also, freeze tuition for the 2020-21 academic year, and backfill the cost of doing so to post-secondary institutions. Along with eliminating non-instructional fees — like library fees, service and amenity fees — and interest accumulation on late tuition payments,” said Notley.

Additionally, with many students out of work and facing additional financial pain, Notley said the Summer Temporary Employment Program should be restored so they can find new jobs, especially in sectors like tech.

“That program has served Albertans for generations. This is an opportunity to pull students into work where they can get job training and also support employers that are giving them that opportunity. Yeah, the work will look different, but that’s fine.”

“Almost all of us will have to suffer from the loss of summer jobs, internships, and taking out more student loans to meet our basic needs,” said 22-year-old student Ayesha-Jade Reece.

“This crisis hit before many of us had even secured summer jobs – jobs that no longer exist.”

Finally, the NDP said the UCP should establish a relief fund of between $10-15 million for publicly funded universities and colleges to help offset any other unforeseen costs relating to the pandemic.