Judy Darcy: NDP is committed to equalizing access to postsecondary education

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      It’s impossible to spend much time on the doorsteps of New Westminster and not feel the incredible hunger for change in our community and in our province—change in the way we do government, the way we plan for our future, the way we treat one another.

      I hear it all the time. People have clear concerns. They want practical, sustainable, affordable solutions—on everything from health care and seniors to education and the environment.

      Postsecondary education is just one critical area where the B.C. NDP plans practical change for the better.

      In New West, when I speak to students at Douglas College, I can feel the excitement when they talk about studying, training, or upgrading old skills for new challenges, and it’s tough not to be excited right along with them. It’s also tough not to sympathize with the stress and fear they face as they slide deeper into debt scrambling to cover the cost of tuition, books, and expenses.

      The stories are all too common. They work hard through high school, get accepted at college, university or trade school, and save what they can from summer jobs. One student talked about scraping together $600 in savings—only to realize it was exactly enough for the fees and books for just one of her courses.

      That means students head into the world of student loans and increasing debt. If they’re lucky, their parents help shoulder the burden of borrowing, sliding deeper into consumer debt themselves.

      In B.C., the average student graduates from a four-year program about $27,000 in debt. After 10 years of making payments, they’ve spent an extra $8,000 on interest.

      That’s the largest debt load in Canada west of the Maritimes. B.C. charges the highest provincial interest rates on student loans in the country, and is one of only two provinces without a non-repayable student grant program.

      NDP Leader Adrian Dix has committed to bringing in a $100-million needs-based, non-repayable student grant program as a way to equalize opportunities to access advanced education. And he has spelled out how it would be paid for: by reinstituting a tax on banks.

      We recognize that up to 80 percent of new jobs created over the next decade will require some form of advanced education or skills training. That’s why voters in New West want to have a government that’s committed to expanding educational opportunities to give our young people the skills needed to fill the jobs of tomorrow.

      We intend to bring the same measured approach to health care, where the stories are heartbreaking: the difficulty in finding a family doctor or good care for a senior family member, or getting the home care that would keep a loved one out of a hospital or care home. I am very excited that the NDP is committed to a local food-procurement policy for hospitals, for example. The Fraser Valley has some of the best agricultural land in B.C. It is also home to the province’s largest health authority serving a patient population of 1.6 million and growing. Fresh local produce, fruit, and meat mean a lower carbon footprint, are more nutritious for patients, would help build a domestic market for our agriculture sector and would generate a significant multiplier effect.

      On another front, New West voters welcome the leadership the NDP has shown in saying no to the Enbridge pipeline and committing to a rigorous made-in-B.C. environmental assessment process.

      Our approach is one that will build our local and provincial economy in a sustainable way. It will work for our environment, for our hardworking families, for our children and our seniors.



      Erich Penhoff

      Apr 12, 2013 at 4:34pm

      It will make our hardworking families pay for someone elses kids. It will create more educated people without a job, it will raise taxes, but what else is new with the NDP?
      Again we see a Party of no sense..Fresh food from the valley, three month a year? But then the whole rhetoric is below the intelligence we expect from a politiian


      Apr 12, 2013 at 6:52pm

      Considering the worth of a post secondary degree these days, why even bother? My 2 degrees cost thousands of dollars and my salary is below the poverty line.

      Michael Castanaveras

      Apr 13, 2013 at 12:59am

      Hey commenters, "postsecondary" doesn't always mean a occasionally useless arts degree. It can mean a trade from BCIT instead.


      Apr 13, 2013 at 2:09am

      Unable to find work in BC to even THINK about post secondary.


      Apr 13, 2013 at 8:09am

      Post-secondary part-time university instructor here. Why is your job badly paid and/or why are you out of work? Because business has too much power, here in BC and throughout the world. Students need less debt, sessional teachers need MORE money, and those of you who think taxes to support education are for other people are helping support a culture that cuts your salary and/or lays you off. The path to broad-based prosperity lies in higher taxes at the top and higher salaries at the bottom.

      Green Billy

      Apr 13, 2013 at 6:27pm

      Hazlit is totally right, higher taxes always creates more jobs, but these evil busineses have changed all the history books to hide that fact. Truth is, the bigger the government gets, the more jobs are created. Busineses only destroy jobs!!


      Apr 13, 2013 at 7:17pm

      -You want money for school? There's lots of work up North in the oil/gas industry. You could try braving the cold weather to earn a decent paycheck for a couple of years. Minimal qualifications for an entry-level job. Maybe earn firing time for a 4th class power engineering certificate,for example, to supplement your post-secondary qualifications. Then you'd have a qualification that is sought after, throughout Canada, and have a great fall- back plan for when you realize that a degree doesn't pay very well.
      -Oh...right. Once you tree huggers vote the NDP in, they'll cancel proposals for the multiple LNG plants that have great promise of boosting employment in BC, which will discourage oil/gas producers from opening anymore wells, and force exploration companies to hault operations in BC and apply their resources to a more deserving economy, outside of BC. There won't be any work up north for you. Nor for those that live up north.
      -If businesses can't make money here, they'll do it elsewhere. The NDP and their lemmings will be left in the dust from which they emerged, and then just as well as they obliterated the BC economy the last time they were voted in, they'll do it again; and you'll remember why they were never voted back in, since then. Why do you think they're so tight-lipped about their plans this time around? Could it be sourced to the probability that they're retarded, and if they open their mouths with any details they'll make it too obvious to win the next election? Adrian Dix's swift rejection of Christy Clark's invitation to a debate seems to suggest that. Can't forge a live debate, can you?

      James Blatchford

      Apr 14, 2013 at 12:18am

      Hey Kevin, what a mouthful! Bin savin' it up have you? I guess you'd really love to see that DE-bate on TV; eh? Too bad it won't happen....I guess you'll have to go back to the Dukes of Hazzard. Tell me, does Daisy Duke remind you of anyone in this election?


      Apr 14, 2013 at 10:32am

      I'll save you the rant, this time, and throw a bit of logic your way.

      -This year, more than 440,000 students are expected to enrol in at least one course at British Columbia’s 25
      public post-secondary institutions – taking classes at one of 130 campuses, satellite or learning centres across the province.

      -Now I'm going to offer "Honest Adrian" the benefit of the doubt, and assume that this disappointing $100 million is at least going to be an annual investment, which doesn't appear to be indicated in the article.

      -I will also assume that only 30% of those people will require the assistance because they are attending school full time, which is the recorded ratio of students that required government assistance last year (as reported by the BC website). That's 132,000 students.

      - So if $100 million is distributed equally among 132,000 students, neglecting the minor borrowing of the rest of the student body, (100 X 10^6)/132,000= 757.58
      Each student going to school full time would recieve $757.58 that they wouldn't have to pay back to the government. $757.58. That wouldn't even cover the cost of an online correspondence course for an entry level power engineering certificate, let alone material/tuition/board fees of a full-time student. Not much to wet yourself over.

      -However, my employer which is a fairly large business (Spectra Energy) has paid for my education, the cost of travelling for that education, and paid me for my time as I sat in a class room. They took me in after I completed my entry-level certification on my own, and improved my career more than I could ever have done on my own in such a small amount of time, and I sacrificed nothing but the time it took me to prepare for exams. And if I quit, they'll just move on to the next hopeful technician and educate them. They won't ever hold it against me. And you people want to drive big business out? You'll get exactly what you deserve.


      Apr 14, 2013 at 3:22pm

      What's the matter James, Mr. $40,000 severance pay while resigning in disgrace won't agree to a public debate. I'm not surprised. He's afraid to say anything in public because people will find out his true nature ($70,000 severance pay while resigning in disgrace).. Nuff said!!!!!!!