Alberta NDP leader Rachel Notley congratulated the winner of a $2,000 Red Deer Polytechnic tuition voucher, but says post-secondary students shouldn’t have to rely on luck to fund their education.
RDP’s 20 Days of Giveaways ended on April 2 and the grand prize winner was chosen randomly on April 3.
“I don’t think that people having access to affordable tuition should be function of whether they do, or do not, win a lottery or some other kind of contest. It should be just a matter of good public policy and strong government leadership and that’s what we’re missing right now,” said Notley about the UCP’s record on post-secondary education after outlining the NDP’s plan during a press conference at the University of Calgary on Thursday.
“We don’t want just that winner to have affordable tuition. We want all Albertans to have affordable tuition.”
NDP advanced education critic David Eggen said over the past four years Alberta students have seen tuition increases of more than 30 per cent, as well as a 20 per cent hike in mandatory fees, while the UPC cut $700 million out of school operating budgets.
“These tuition spikes have made life more expensive to students and their families during the worst cost of living crisis in 40 years,” Eggen said.
The cuts have also resulted in canceled programs, campus closures, and staff layoffs.
In February, the province announced a two per cent tuition cap starting in 2024-25, in addition to a retroactive increase of $225 per month starting in 2022-23 for low-income students who received the Alberta Student Grant, a lower interest rate on student loans and a 12-month, up from a six-month, interest-free grace period.
Notley said an NDP government would cancel tuition hikes for coming year, freeze tuition at 2022-23 level, and cap any future increases to inflation. And when facing steep inflation, students would not necessarily be hit with the full inflationary increase.
“In a year where we’ve got seven per cent inflation, we can’t be dumping that onto students because we know that inflation impacts lower income people far more than it impacts upper and middle income people,” Notley said.
The NDP would also do a comprehensive review of post-secondary funding and the role of tuition, and that review would give students a voice at the table.
She said affordable education is not only critical for students, but for Alberta’s future economy as a whole.
“Students in our universities, colleges, trade schools, and polytechnics are the highly skilled workers of the future. They are the innovators, and entrepreneurs and the leaders of that future. So let’s invest in ourselves, and make sure that all of this talent and inspiration gets a chance to thrive.”