Free post-secondary tuition would be a reality for students across Canada if the Canadian Federation of Students had its way.
After a week of lobbying on Parliament Hill and some 200 meetings, the federation released a list of recommendations on tuition fees for the federal government to review.
Bilan Arte, national chairperson of CFS, spoke about the logistics of passing a federal post-secondary education act.
“We have a really good basis to be able to (pass) a national act from modeling it after the universal health care act that we already have,” Arte said.
“Free education is not a new concept in Canada, it’s very much already been successful in at least one of our provinces,” she said.
“I think modeling legislation at the national level after the universal health care act would be (the) best way moving forward,” she told Humber News in an interview on Tuesday.
Ahmed Tahir, president of the Humber Students’ Federation, believes that free tuition is the next logical step for the Canadian government, which has European examples such as Germany and France of free university tuition.
“I’m a huge advocate for it, and I think it’s something that makes a tonne of sense,” he said.
“The more educated people are, the better work they do. The more productive they are, the better your economy is going to go and the more jobs you create because you have more people starting businesses.”
“Getting a university or college education is no longer (optional),” said Arte.
“More than 70 per cent of new jobs require some form of post-secondary education.”
“Education as an industry needs to come up to the 21st century,” Tahir said.
The debt load carried by current students is higher than ever before, said Arte.
For the first time in Canadian history post-secondary educated people face nearly $19 billion in federal debt alone she said. That doesn’t include provincial or private loans.
This leaves students unable to make investments in the economy in terms of buying a home or starting a family or business, Arte said.
“Were facing insurmountable – crushing – levels of student debt and that is having an enormously negative impact on our ability to be able to invest back into the economy and to be successful once we graduate,” Arte said.