Courting the youth vote: Greens promise to scrap tuition fees
As political parties jockey for students’ votes, the Green Party fired a shot across the bows of their rivals Wednesday.
Speaking at the University of Guelph, Green leader Elizabeth May pledged to eliminate tuition fees for post-secondary students.
“Canada’s economy depends on investing in our brains (and) investing in our youths, and ensuring that no Canadian gives up on their educational dreams because they can’t afford it,” she said.
May said that her plan was in response to a situation of rising tuition costs and declining quality of education, due in part to budgetary cutbacks dating back as long as 20 years.
Asked how scrapping tuition fees could be paid for, May said restoring the corporate tax rate to its 2009 level and eliminating subsidies to fossil fuel producers would cover the cost.
Guelph is considered one of the more competitive ridings in Ontario, with Liberal incumbent Frank Valeriote retiring from politics.
In the riding, the Greens are running former Ontario environmental commissioner Gord Miller.
May leader spent part of her speech accusing other parties of ignoring youth issues, and calling the country’s 14 per cent youth employment rate “unacceptable.”
“If we ignore our youth, society will begin to fall apart,” she said.
“When young people start voting … you will change politics, you will change democracy, you will change Parliament, and you will change Canada for good.”
Her words resonated with many of the student-heavy audience, including Nicole Purcell.
“I would like to be able to graduate and go off to a job where I don’t have to worry about debt payments,” she said.
Fellow student Lisa Tubb said she too liked what May had to say, but would likely vote for the Liberals or NDP as she considers them more likely to form a government.
“I see the Green Party as a party for the future,” she said.
Other parties have also made student-friendly promises during the campaign, including the following:
- Increase the apprenticeship job creation tax credit, first introduced in 2006 to create incentives to foster skilled trades, to a maximum of $2,500, up from $2,000, and extend it to include the third and fourth years of eligible training.
- Provide up to $100 million a year to create more than 40,000 jobs, paid internships and co-op placements for youth over four years.
- Give $500 million to the provinces for skilled trades training, and devote $200 million for federal training programs.
- Spend about $1.5 billion over four years on a youth job strategy to help 125,000 young people find a job.