By Reid Offers
Provincial elections are right around the corner, folks! Unfortunately, the polls show that the UCP is going to be taking over in May. This spells bad news for us, Concordia. Looking yonder east to Ontario’s conservative government gives us a good picture of some things to come with a Kenney-led government.
On top of what was already discussed in my last article about the effects of cutting mandatory student union fees, there are a couple of other things happening in Ontario which should worry us all as a student body.
In years past, under a liberal government, Ontario offered tuition-free income to under-privileged students, which is now being cut. Although Alberta has double the median income per household of Ontario, we have no such programs for lower-income students and grants are the only option available to them.
Grants provided to lower-income students whose parents don’t pay for their school is crucial to their success and survival. According to the Alberta Students’ Executive Council, or ASEC, “low and middle-income grants will be replaced by additional loans.” In other words, the party that preaches fiscal conservatism is willing to drown the most educated generation ever in untold amounts of student debt–hypocrisy at its finest.
Never mind the hypocrisy–we are already the most stressed generation to date. How many more issues will arise from the financial stress we are experiencing and will continue to experience in the future? A student in Ontario who used to have tuition-free university is already $18,000 in debt from her first year alone. Many students are required to have at least 2 jobs just to make ends meet. Couple this with stagnant wages and a party ideology that likes to pander to the top 1%, and you have an economic storm a-brewin’.
Another thing to look out for is the six-month grace period, which many students are given until they have to start paying back their loans post-graduation. Although this may seem like a long time, it can be very challenging for college graduates who are coming out of university with over $20,000 in debt and are unable to find full-time employment. Ontario does not intend to stop the grace period; they are instead going to allow interest to accrue, making the loans even more expensive.
Fear not, Concordia students whose futures will be affected by this, for there are things to be done: get out and vote! I cannot tell you where to vote, but I hope I have been able to paint a picture of things to come as we enter a new decade. Yes, the economic status quo remains up in the air because of the oil industry, but this is not the fault of any government. Pipelines are not built in days, and stubborn British Columbian premiers are not voted off the island that quick either. Be patient, my fellow Albertans–if I can wait four years for Trump to get out of office, you guys can be strong enough to endure some economic hardship going forward. We just have to stick together and remember these things.