Town hall also covers immigration, environment, Indigenous issues
Written by Will Reimer and photographed by Cody Zaporzan
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted steps his administration has taken to make post-secondary education more affordable for low and middle-income students during a town hall meeting Wednesday evening, but wouldn’t commit to full federal funding.
Trudeau called finances a “key barrier” for many people seeking a post-secondary education while speaking to a full crowd at the University of Manitoba’s Max Bell Centre.
“We are very pleased that one of the priorities we’re putting forward as a government is to invest in post-secondary education,” Trudeau said. “Making sure it is accessible and available, while also removing barriers.”
Trudeau said that’s why one of the first moves his government made was to not require students repay their loans until they’re making at least $25,000 a year.
“We also realized the system of tax credits for textbooks wasn’t helping people up front,” Trudeau said. “So we increased the amount of grants for low and middle-income families by 50%.”
Trudeau’s first budget, introduced in 2016, raised the amount of grant money students from low-income families could receive from $2,000 to
$3,000, and $800 to $1,200 for middle-income students.
Trudeau explained that a straight-level tuition reduction meant those who could afford to pay more would be paying less.
“We’d much rather focus on giving the people who need the best help, the help they need to get an education,” Trudeau said. “Because that stretches our money even further.”
Trudeau post-secondary education questions transcript
Below is a transcript of Trudeau’s answer to a question posed about finding federal funds for post-secondary education:
“We are very pleased that one of the priorities we had putting forward as a government is to invest in post-secondary education, making sure it is accessible and available and reducing barriers.
There are many barriers and one of the key barriers of course is financial. That’s why one of the first things we did was bring in a system whereby you do not have to start paying back your student loans until you are making at least $25K a year, so that removes some of the pressure for students going into debt to get an education.
More than that, we realized the system of tax credits on textbooks was something that wasn’t helping people up front when they were spending on their education and went through parents because of the tax credit? So we increased the amount of up-front student grants for low (and middle?) -income families by 50% and that makes significant differences in being able to afford one’s education.
The challenge we have in education is always, and if we want to make sure we reduce barriers on people who need it the way they need it, and reducing tuition at a straight level means a lot of those who can afford to pay more would be paying less. We’d much rather focus on giving the people who need the best help, the help to get education because that stretches our money further than we actually need. So thank you.”
Our full coverage of the town hall can be found here:
‘Dialogue works best when we actually chat’: Trudeau takes tough questions, hecklers