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e-2296 (Education and training)

E-petition
Initiated by Haley Odegaard from London, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Prime Minister

Whereas:
  • Over half of Canadian post-secondary students graduate with student loan debt, and the average debt for those leaving an undergraduate program is over $30,000, and the costs are only increasing;
  • By the end of the repayment term, an individual may end up paying close to $19,000 in interest on a $30,000 loan if they are not able to make larger monthly payments. With the ongoing housing/rental crisis and the rising costs of living, many individuals find it difficult to make the minimum payment;
  • Millennials now account for 20% of Canada's population and many are unable to purchase homes, get married or have children due to this burden. The Millennial generation has hit the record for the lowest levels of reproduction than any generation prior;
  • An educated workforce is an advantage and that should be viewed as profit in and of itself. Higher education should be encouraged and not penalized;
  • Revenue generated by the federal government’s student loan interest rates was $662 million during the 2016-2017 year and $635 million the year prior. The revenues have continued to increase each year and this year the federal government will take in about $862.2 million from the Canada Student Loans Program; and
  • We are in the midst of a debt crisis. With graduates owing $28 billion to all levels of government, we need bold and expeditious action to avoid long term economic and demographic consequences.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Prime Minister to eliminate interest on all outstanding and future federal student loans.

Response by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Irek Kusmierczyk

The Government of Canada recognizes the challenges students face in accessing post-secondary education and managing their debt as they transition into the labour force, and remains committed to ensuring that post-secondary education is affordable and student debt manageable, even as the cost of education continues to rise. The Government of Canada, through the Canada Student Loans Program, provides targeted grants and needs-based loans to help students access post-secondary education and offers the Repayment Assistance Plan to borrowers experiencing financial difficulty.

A series of enhancements have been introduced to Canada Student Grants and Loans since 2015 to improve the availability of supports to students.  

Canada Student Grantsprovides non-repayable financial assistance to students from low- and middle-income families. In recent years, the Government has increased Canada Student Grants by 50% and expanded eligibility to more students, especially benefiting students from low-income families. As a result, over 478,000 students from low- and middle-income families are receiving up to $3,000 per year in support they do not need to repay, and students with children and students with disabilities receive even more through targeted grants. Thanks to these enhancements, almost one-third of a student’s total federal financial assistance comes from grants that do not need to be repaid, and this contributes to lowering their overall debt load in the long- run.

 

The Government of Canada also expanded eligibility for the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) that provides support to borrowers who have difficulty repaying their Canada Student Loans. Canada Student Loan borrowers using RAP do not have to make a payment until they earn at least $25,000. RAP also makes it easier for student loan borrowers to manage their debt by paying back what they can reasonably afford, and ensures that borrowers who qualify will have an affordable monthly payment for a maximum of ten years after they leave school. In 2018-19, more than 330,000 borrowers benefited from the Repayment Assistance Plan, of which 85% were not required to make any payments on their loans. 

 

Furthermore, beginning November 1, 2019, the Government lowered the interest rate on Canada Student Loans and made the six-month non-repayment period interest-free. The floating interest rate, the rate chosen by approximately 99% of Canada Student Loan borrowers, was lowered to prime, from its previous rate of prime plus 2.5%. The fixed rate was also reduced from prime plus 5% to prime plus 2%. Together, these measures will help over 1.1 million borrowers and provide the average borrower with savings of approximately $2,000 over the life of their loan.

 

Recognizing that post-secondary students and their families may be facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have also announced a $1.9 billion investment in enhancements to the Canada Student Loans Program:

 

  • Beginning March 30, 2020, interest accrual will be paused on all Canada Student Loans and no payments will be required for a duration of six months. This relief is automatically applied and is expected to benefit approximately 1.1 million students in repayment. 
  • The value of Canada Student Grants and Loans will be doubled and the eligibility criteria will be relaxed in order to support new and returning students for the 2020-2021 academic year. Taken together, it is expected that these measures will benefit approximately 765,000 returning and prospective students. In addition to these investments, we remain committed to strengthening Canada Student Grants and Loans, and to making post-secondary education more affordable.
Open for signature
December 30, 2019, at 8:57 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 29, 2020, at 8:57 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Lindsay Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe)
May 6, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00174)
Government response tabled
July 20, 2020
Photo - Lindsay Mathyssen
London—Fanshawe
New Democratic Party Caucus
Ontario
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