March 26, 2019

K’jipuktuk (HALIFAX) — Today’s budget shows little investment in students and youth in Nova Scotia and fails to create a vision for a livable future for all Nova Scotians.  While this budget makes some small investments in targeted funding for universities, the government continues to underfund universities and administer one of the least effective student assistance programs in the country.

“This government is playing a shell game with student assistance.  While the changes to the loan forgiveness program eliminate more debt for eligible students, the decision to cut grants for students studying out of province is a desperate effort to get Nova Scotians to stay in the province rather than a good faith attempt to address the crisis of affordability” said Aidan McNally, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “Rising fees are creating a debt crisis and destroying the futures of so many students.  It’s also telling that this budget fails to mention climate change, let alone take the bold action required to address it.  This budget demonstrates that this government is much more interested in generating surpluses now rather than creating a livable future.”

Additionally, the government’s projected increase in operating grants of only 1% per year fails to match the projected increases in university operating expenses.  The current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the universities and the province is currently being renegotiated.  The next MOU will last for 5 years, meaning these inadequate operating grant increases and skyrocketing tuition fees will be locked in until 2024. Tuition fees in Nova Scotia are the fastest rising, and second highest in Canada; $8,153 for the 2018-19 academic year, compared to a national average of $6,838.

“Today’s budget proves that this government lacks the vision and political will to adequately address the crisis facing the Nova Scotian post-secondary sector,” said McNally, “We need a budget that works for all Nova Scotians, and prioritises a sustainable future for all over surpluses.”