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More advice the NDP is ignoring

Investment, not cutbacks, is what youth and students need

by Nick Stark


Cutting funding to the services that matter most for youth disenfranchises young people in the province, and presents a threat to our economy and the lives of our citizens.

Youth in Nova Scotia suffer from persistent underfunding and misallocation of resources.  As well, youth face persistent unemployment. If you include discouraged job searchers and part-time workers looking for more employment, the youth (aged 15-24) unemployment rate is above 25%.

The same complex array of social factors are determinants of the most pressing problems for youth on Nova Scotia – homelessness, crime, and high-school absenteeism. While there is no easy fix for any of these problems, it is clear that mopping afterward by increasing rates of incarceration and policing or raising the legal high-school dropout age don’t work. Better to address the root causes of the issues by funding homeless shelters, community-based support programs, and special needs resources.

Increasing the funding to post-secondary education in Nova Scotia will strengthen our economy and community. Community college (NSCC) is the most accessible venue for the province’s youth to pursue higher education and skills training. We need the skills, and so we need to invest in the NSCC.  Instead of freezing funding, we must decrease tuition fees for NSCC students and invest in apprenticeship programs that benefit the broader community.

Our university system in particular is suffering. The provincial government has announced cuts in university funding and an increase in tuition fees all in the name of austerity. This damages our economy and discourages young people from coming to Nova Scotia.

Students currently live in a world of debt. The high cost of post-secondary education means graduates are more likely to leave to seek employment, and decreases their contribution to the economy. The alternative budget recommends shifting the $25 million currently going each year to the ineffective Graduate Retention Rebate to making student loans 100% upfront grants. This will increase accessibility and has the effect of capping student debt at $20,000. The $8.1 million going towards the current debt could go towards debt repayment assistance.

The alternative budget allocate an additional $30 million to bring the province’s post-secondary education funding back up to 1990 levels


Nick Stark, an executive member of the Canadian Federation of Students-NS, is one of the many contributors to the N.S. Alternative Budget (http://www.policyalternatives.ca/nsab2012) released on March 22 by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-NS. 


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