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Council of Canadians joins with students to say “free education now”

Council of Canadians organizer Robin Tress at a Canadian Federation of Students rally today in Halifax.

The Canadian Federation of Students is holding a national day of action today to call for universal access to public, post-secondary education in Canada.

Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “This is about envisioning a better world, and building it together. I stand with students to build a Canada that upholds human rights, invests in strong public services and ensures equal opportunity for all people.” And Council of Canadians Prairies-NWT organizer Brigette DePape highlighted in a CFS-Manitoba video, “On November 2nd, we call on our supporters to take a stand and join us in protecting education. All out!”

The Council of Canadians supports the CFS call for free tuition for university and college students.

The Canadian Federation is calling on the federal government to fully fund university and college education by creating a $3.3 billion annual transfer fund for post-secondary education. It says the government could do so by reallocating funds currently used for programs like the registered education savings plan. In this way, post-secondary education would be funded in much the same way as federal transfer payments are made for provincial expenditures on health care.

In 2013-14, university graduates finished their studies with an average of about $34,000 in debt. About $12,480 of that is in federal student loans, while about $22,207 of it is in provincial or private loans. The federal loans alone can take graduates about 10 years to pay off. In 2015, 6,050 students declared bankruptcy, a 10-year high and more than double the number of students who had to declare bankruptcy in 2014. About 14 per cent of graduates default on their federal student loans within three years of leaving school.

CFS national chairperson Bilan Arte says her generation is “one of the most indebted generations in Canadian history.”