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"We've always been really solid on student issues"

Megan Leslie hopes NDP Post-Secondary Education Act will bring youth back to the ballots

by Katie Toth

Megan Leslie is hitting the campaign trail again, with a freshly released NDP platform that she says makes accessible post-secondary education a priority.

The platform proposes to raise the education tax credit from $4,800 per year to $5,760 per year, increase the funding in the Canada Student Grants Program by $200 million a year, and specifically earmark transfer money for post-secondary education through a Post-Secondary Education Act. 

"My favourite part is the post-secondary education act," Leslie said. The proposed Act would split the Health and Social Transfer from the federal government to the provinces, so that funding could not be siphoned off to other provincial projects. $800 million dollars would be transferred to provinces for the purpose of reducing tuition fees. "You wouldn't be able to pave the roads with that money. You wouldn't be able to throw a party with that money."

"The other parties have been tinkering here and there with maybe more access to grants or forgiving portions of student loans, or doing these little bits and bobs, but the fact remains that tuition is making post-secondary education inaccessible," she said. "I know students who graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in debt, myself included."

When asked if she felt the provincial NDP's management of student issues—increasing tuition, implementing complicated debt relief contingent on graduation, and decreasing funding to universities—would affect youth confidence in the party, Leslie said, "any party would have a little bit of blowback if it was a provincial government of a party and then they were running federally."

Leslie said, "[provinces] aren't getting the federal support that they need." She would like to see provincial governments push harder on the federal government for more funding transfers.

"With anything you really only can accomplish things when you work together, and come together to be something bigger than the sum of its parts...and I think that the premiers really need to band together on this."

"It's so important to have an educatied population, especially with Halifax, because we are a knowledge-based economy here," she said. "There's innovative things happening here and we need to keep that going."

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Topics: Education
349 words

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