Singh pledges to waive tuition up to $ 20,000 in campaign-style pledge

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OTTAWA – Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh repeated his address to young voters on Saturday, promising that an NDP government would waive tuition fees of up to $ 20,000.

Singh announced that he would also freeze federal student loan payments until the COVID-19 pandemic is over and eliminate interest on student debt if elected.

The announcement, billed as a campaign-style pledge ahead of a possible election this year, comes as federal parties prepare to fight for the hearts and ballots of young voters.

Statistics Canada found last fall that more than 60% of post-secondary students feared running out of their savings and taking on more debt.

The Liberals imposed a moratorium on Canada student loan payments between April and September last year, but the freeze has long been lifted and student groups have urged Ottawa to suspend payment obligations again.

Singh said the government had “taken advantage of the backs of young people” by receiving more than $ 4 billion in interest payments since 2015.

“Young people are making student loan payments the size of mortgage payments – spending years in crushing debt, unable to move forward. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only made things worse, ”he said at the party’s virtual youth convention.

“Education should help young people move forward, not leave them further behind.

Singh also reiterated his commitment to work with provinces and territories towards tuition-free post-secondary education.

Under the NDP plan, student debt cancellation would be capped at $ 20,000, with the amount determined based on the average household income for five years after graduation.

Borrowers with annual income greater than $ 60,000 would see the amount of debt reduction available linearly decrease to $ 100,000 in income, in which case no part of the debt would be forgiven. (To achieve an income dollar above $ 60,000, the amount of debt forgiveness would decrease by 50 cents from the starting point of $ 20,000.)

The announcement goes beyond Singh’s 2019 election campaign promise to remove all current and future interest on federal student loans.

More than 868,000 borrowers hold Canada student loans totaling $ 9.77 billion, according to an Auditor General’s report released last July.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on March 20, 2021.

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