HALIFAX – The province released its 2020/2021 budget today and failed to prioritize youth and students. This government has chosen to prioritize corporate tax cuts and a $55 million surplus over an investment in the future.
After a disappointing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed last year, which left most students with deregulated tuition fees and only committed a 1% increase in university funding, this budget provided little hope. Nothing in the budget will provide relief to students in Nova Scotia, who are now facing the highest tuition fees in the country: even with small increases of the university operating grant and student loan forgiveness program, we still see a net decrease in funding for the post secondary sector which translates to a real cut to the funds universities receive.
“This government has given us years and years of tuition fee increases with no vision for a livable or affordable future for young people.” said Lianne Xiao, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. “We now have the highest tuition fees in Canada and a government that has no plan to address the debt crisis or the climate crisis students are experiencing.”
Students were looking for a bold investment in education and the climate, and saw neither. Tuition has increased more than 20% since this government came to power, making Nova Scotia the least affordable province for pursuing post-secondary education. Instead of making investments in students and investing in a just transition to a green economy, the government continues to give tax cuts for corporations.
“It’s ridiculous that this budget’s only investment in tackling the climate crisis is 1.6 million to start a ‘Green Fund’, while they are implementing corporate tax cuts that will lose the province 70.5 million dollars,” said Xiao. “This is the opposite of investing in our future.”
The only real investment in post secondary we saw in this budget was 2.3 million in deferred maintenance to universities to address the crumbling buildings.
“We need bold solutions from our leaders now more than ever,” said Xiao, “It is the government’s responsibility to address these issues, yet once again students and youth were ignored in this budget. We’re concerned about our future, about how to pay for school and what kind of world we will be graduating into and we are disappointed in this government’s lack of courage and foresight in creating a livable future.”
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 500,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.