We are now in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact is hitting post-secondary students hard. Some have never stepped foot on a college or university campus. Across the country, students have lost jobs or future opportunities and are experiencing financial uncertainty. The majority are feeling isolated and anxious about their future and their health.
Rising tuition costs, debt, food insecurity, houselessness, and increasing mental health needs have created the current post-secondary landscape. There is a clear need for more government support—now more than ever.
That is why Council of Canadians is supporting the call of a million students, workers, and teachers fighting for high-quality, accessible post-secondary education to support MP Heather McPherson’s Canada Post-Secondary Education Act. The Act would establish a separate Post-Secondary Education transfer and establish criteria for provinces to meet in order to receive the transfer. These conditions would include restrictions on corporate and donor control, as well as public administration and academic independence. These conditions would also include restrictions on the use of short-term contracts and other forms of precarious labour, as well as a gradual phase-out of tuition.
Canada continues to be the only country in the G7 that does not have a national strategy or mandate for post-secondary education. This lack of vision and commitment to education has led to increased privatization, higher tuition, chronic underfunding, and crushing student debt for those entering the economy. As we begin our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic it is time to rethink our relationship with post-secondary education in Canada from simply a pathway to employment to a fundamental part of our national well-being. Our future workers and leaders depend on it.