OTTAWA—Yesterday, students tuned in to watch Minister of Finance, Chrystia Freeland, deliver Budget 2023 in hopes that they would not have to continue to face these unprecedented challenges alone. Although there were welcomed announcements, students and education were not made a priority as the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing cost of living crisis continues.
Students are pleased to see action from the federal government that targets the unaffordability of education and aids the transition of students into the workforce. The federal government announced an investment of $198 million to the Student Work Placement Program to create quality work-integrated learning opportunities that will help students and recent graduates gain meaningful job experiences and attain quality work. With the doubling of the Canada Student Grants set to expire on July 31, 2023, the federal government has announced that it will increase the Canada Student Grants by 40% starting on August 1, 2023, making full-time students eligible up to $4,200 in grants annually.
"While the Federation is pleased to see investments in Canada Student Grants in Budget 2023, students need stronger supports to tackle the ongoing student affordability and cost-of-living crises,” said Marie Dolcetti-Koros, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “It has never been more expensive to be a post-secondary student. While this budget left a lot to be desired, the Federation is hopeful that with the announcement of funding for Canada Student Grants increasing by 40%, students will continue to see action in the future to make education free and accessible for all."
Graduate students, many of whom are at the forefront of innovative and world-leading research, addressed the lack of tri-council funding and were also left out of this budget. Similarly, international students, who pay over five times the tuition as domestic students without any provincial funding, and do not have access to public health insurance, were not provided any supports in budget 2023. “Students are currently on the front lines driving a recovery out of the pandemic and are facing unique and unprecedented issues not seen by previous generations, and need a budget that will accurately reflect and address these challenges,” said Chairperson Marie Dolcetti-Koros.
Students require immediate action from the federal government.
According to reports published by the Education for All Coalition, federal support for post-secondary education over the last 20 years has declined by almost 40% and as a result, student debt has risen by 40%, along with the increase of privatization on campuses and performance based funding models. With two-thirds of jobs requiring some form of post-secondary education, accessible and affordable education has never been more in demand or necessary. Unfortunately, the rising cost of undergraduate and graduate tuition fees have more than doubled respectively over the last 20 years, with undergraduate international student tuition over five times the cost of domestic student tuition.
With many announcements that will directly address the mental health crisis, transportation accessibility, and college research opportunities, Budget 2023 saw many items that the Federation pushed for in our pre-budget submission, but the radical investments that students have long-called still have yet to be addressed.
Students will continue to demand for the concrete changes needed to ensure that a just recovery includes education for all, climate action, and uplifting student workers. The Federation remains committed to pushing the government to implement long-term investment in post-secondary education in a way that is equitable, accountable, and accessible to all.
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.