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PEI chapter at ‘fight the fees’ rally

The Council of Canadians Prince Edward Island chapter participated in the ‘Fight the Fees’ rally at the University of PEI yesterday.

Chapter activists Nouhad Mourad, Leo Broderick and Leo Cheverie all spoke at the rally, while other chapter members were also in attendance at the rally.

The Guardian reports, “The rally was part of the national Day of Action calling for immediate commitments from provincial governments and Ottawa to reduce and eliminate tuition fees, eliminate international student differential fees, and increase funding for graduate student research. University students in P.E.I. pay the fifth highest tuition fees in Canada, averaging $6,288 a year. According to Statistics Canada, students complete their post-secondary education here with an average debt of $36,500.” The article adds that seventeen countries already provide free post-secondary education.

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

In a Canadian Federation of Students video, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow says, “On behalf of the Council of Canadians, I want to say that we totally support the campaign by the Canadian Federation of Students for education justice, education for all, equality for all. Come out and join us on the day of action on November 2nd. It’s really important.”

CFS says a $3.3 billion annual transfer fund could be created to provide free post-secondary education in Canada. It says the government could reallocate 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.”