November 23rd, 2020
Letter to Ministers Freeland and Qualtrough
Students need support during COVID-19
Dear Honourable Ministers Freeland and Qualtrough,
I am writing today to urge you to extend the emergency interest-free moratorium on student loan repayments until our economy recovers and re-allocate the $912 million, initially earmarked for the Canada Student Service Grant program, directly to support students and recent graduates through a renewed Canada Emergency Student Benefit.
The six-month interest-free emergency moratorium was vitally important to recent graduates and others who experienced job and placement disruptions due to COVID-19, especially in Alberta. Prior to COVID-19, Alberta was heading into a recession and our unemployment rates were among the highest in the country, particularly for young people. With the pandemic, the situation has gotten worse.
The CESB helped assure the survival of students and recent graduates through the summer, but the expiration of the program means students are facing dire choices. Students rely on occasional and summer employment not just for those months, but to provide the funds they need to live on while they go to school. Now, many students are having to choose between continuing their studies and trying to find work in a devastated economy.
The stress of being a student or recent graduate right now is incredible. They lost their summer employment. They have few job options and those available are often low paying and put them at risk for COVID-19. They’re facing tuition increases. They don’t know how they’re going to pay their student debt. And here in Edmonton, the University of Alberta food bank has been inundated with new requests.
This is a tragedy in the making, but it can be averted through these two immediate actions - renewing the CESB and extending the student loan moratorium.
Member of Parliament for Edmonton Strathcona