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e-2928 (Education and training)

Initiated by Patty Facy from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • The Canadian Government introduced a freeze on federal student loan payments and interest from March 30 toSeptember 30 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • This payment freeze overlapped with the pre-existing six-month non-repayment period ofApril 30 to October 30 for Spring 2020 graduates, offering no additional benefit to postsecondary students graduating during the pandemic;
  • More than one in three postsecondary students had a work placement cancelled or delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic (Reynolds, 2020);
  • The unemployment rate for youth in Canada rose from 10.3% in February 2020 to a historical high of 29.4% in May 2020 (Frenette et al., 2020);
  • This year’s class of high school and post-secondary degree graduates are projected to lose $25,000 or more over the next five years as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on the Canadian economy (Frenette et al., 2020);
  • More than half of postsecondary students graduated this year with an average of $28,000 in student loan debt (McKenzie-Sutter, 2020);
We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to extend the federal student loan non-repayment period for students graduating in 2020 by an additional six months, so that students graduating during the COVID-19 pandemic may benefit from the same six-month freeze on federal student loans and interest offered to other Canadian student loan borrowers earlier this year.

Response by the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Irek Kusmierczyk

The Government of Canada recognizes the challenges students face in accessing post-secondary education and is committed to ensuring that post-secondary education remains affordable and student debt manageable. The Government also recognizes that challenges have been compounded and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada Student Loans Program (CSLP) provides needs-based and targeted Canada Student Grants (CSG) and Canada Student Loans (CSL) to help students’ access post-secondary education, and offers the Repayment Assistance Plan (RAP) to borrowers experiencing financial difficulty.

Over the last year, in recognition that post-secondary students and their families may be facing financial hardship during the pandemic, the Government of Canada brought forward a number of enhancements to the CSLP. First, from March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020, no interest was charged on CSLs and Canada Apprentice Loans (CAL), and no payments were required. This relief measure was automatically applied and benefited approximately 1.1 million students in repayment. The Government has also taken steps to ensure that borrowers who continue to face financial challenges following the end of the repayment freeze are aware that if they apply for RAP, no payments would be required if they are making less than $25,000 per year.

Furthermore, the Government introduced:

  • The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB), which provided financial support from May to August 2020 to students and recent graduates who were unable to work or could not find work due to COVID-19, or were working but did not expect to make more than $1,000 (before taxes) over the four-week period for which they were applying. Eligible students received $1,250 per month, and students with dependants or a disability received an additional $750 per month, for a total of $2,000 per month. More than 700,000 students received close to $3 billion in financial support through the CESB.
  • Increased grants and loans supports for the 2020-2021 school year, so that students facing financial difficulties could access and afford post-secondary education. The value of CSGs was doubled for all eligible full-time students (up to $6,000 per year), and part-time students (up to $3,600 per year). CSGs for students with permanent disabilities and dependants were also doubled. The weekly cap on CSLs was increased from $210 to $350. The expected contribution from students and their spouses in determining the amount of financial aid a student can receive was removed. Taken together, it is expected that these measures will benefit approximately 765,000 returning and prospective students.

Finally, in the November 2020 Fall Economic Statement, the Government announced the temporary elimination of interest on CSLs and CALs, in order to ease the financial burden of student loan repayment during the economic recovery. Pending parliamentary approvals and at a cost of$329.4 million, this measure would take effect on April 1, 2021, and be in place for one year, bringing much needed relief to 1.4 million Canadians who are in repayment of their federal student loans.

These historic investments, combined with other investments made in recent years, signify the Government of Canada’s ongoing commitment to ensure that post-secondary education is affordable and that student debt is manageable during these challenging times.

Open for signature
November 3, 2020, at 2:27 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 1, 2021, at 2:27 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Daniel Blaikie (Elmwood—Transcona)
March 12, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00670)
Government response tabled
April 26, 2021
Photo - Daniel Blaikie
New Democratic Party Caucus