September 22, 2015
The Communist Party of Canada, today, reiterated its support for the elimination of tuition fees, and for a plan to build a free, accessible, quality, public post-secondary education system in Canada. “More and more young people are being denied their right to education at the same time as student debt skyrockets and youth unemployment and underemployment rise,” said Drew Garvie, the Communist Party candidate in University-Rosedale.
Garvie, a recent graduate, student activist and leader of the Young Communist League, says young people are faced with a dismal future: “Nine years of Harper Conservative rule has made matters much worse for youth and students. The advice given by the Governor of the Bank of Canada to youth last fall said it all: big business wants youth to work for free, at unpaid internships, while living in their parent’s basement.”
Government funds used to cover up to 80 percent of a post-secondary institution’s operating budget nearly 30 years ago, they now cover around 50 percent.[i] This public funding gap has been filled by increasing tuition fees, drives to restructure education to attract corporate funding, and by attacking the wages, benefits, and working conditions of faculty and other campus workers.
According to the Canadian Federation of Students, in the early 1990s, the average undergraduate tuition fees in Canada were $1,464. Tuition fees have tripled to $5,581 in 2014[ii], more than five times the average rate of inflation.[iii] The average undergraduate student now graduates $27,000 in debt.[iv]
“Education is a right, but today it is a debt sentence for hundreds of thousands of students,” said Drew. “The Communist Party is demanding that tuition fees be eliminated, student debt be forgiven, loans be replaced by grants, and students be compensated during their studies with a living stipend”.
Communist candidates are supporting a federal Post-Secondary Education Act, modeled after the Canada Health Act, accompanied by greatly expanded dedicated cash transfer funding to roll-back privatization and eliminate tuition fees.
Other policy being put forward by the Communist Party of Canada in this area includes lifting the racist cap on Aboriginal post-secondary education funding, supporting public Indigenous-run post-secondary institutions, banning military recruitment on campuses, reversing the corporatization of campus, ending the harassment of Palestinian solidarity activists by campus administrators, and reversing the trend towards more precarious, part-time, low-paid faculty positions.
Miguel Figueroa, the federal leader of the Communist Party, said that his party’s education policy is part of a broader youth and student agenda: “Austerity, war and environmental degradation are all an attack on the present and future of young people. We are fighting for fundamental change based on people’s needs not corporate greed.”