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NDP praises Quebec, slams Ottawa

by Archives November 27, 2007

The New Democratic Party (NDP) member for Victoria, Denise Savoie, praised Quebec as the province where education is best protected, and called on Ottawa to inject cash into post-secondary institutions around the country.
“Trying to [take] $100 more from students every semester is not the way to tackle the chronic under funding prevalent in post-secondary education,” she told The Concordian prior to her speech this Thursday at Concordia.
As the NDP Education Critic, Savoie thinks that Ottawa is where the solution to the financing of education can be found. She has paid particularly close attention to the lifting of the tuition freeze in Quebec.
Savoie is not impressed with the Tories’ budget, and is preparing to table new legislation in the House of Commons demanding a reinvestment in Canadian universities.
“The Conservative government is swimming in surpluses, it just gave away a $1.4 billion tax break to corporations last month, but keeps education chronically underfunded,” she said.
“Quebec got it right, and didn’t make their students guinea-pigs. Education is an essential piece of social harmony and solidarity,” she said.
Savoie also pointed out that investing in education is not at odds with economic performance. “We need education to remain competitive on the world stage, cutting funding there is a short-term strategy that threatens our leadership in research, and economic performance in the longer run.”
“The financing of education in proportion to the size of the economy, is now less than half of what it was before the Liberals started cutting budgets in the 90s,” she said. She has proposed a private member’s bill in its second reading at Parliament that aims to limit the overwhelming debt that students incur during their studies.
The average debt accumulated for a bachelor’s degree is about $20,000, according to a 2004 report by Statistics Canada. A quarter of students will default on their repayments.
The study also states that the total federal student loan debt currently stands at $8.2 billion. Over 173,000 post-secondary students have not kept up with their debt payments and defaulted payments now amount to $800 million. In response, the federal government has hired 12 collection agencies to recover about $400 million in outstanding student loan debt.
NDP Concordia, the on-campus affiliate of the federal party, is responsible for bringing Savoie to speak at Concordia.
“We felt there was no better time to introduce Concordia Students to NDP policies,” said spokesperson Andrew Fernandes.
Savoie will be speaking at the H-110 auditorium at noon this Thursday.

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