KENORA – As summer winds down, children and students across Northwestern Ontario will return to school throughout the next few weeks. Education is one of the keys to making sure every student has a fair shot at success. Whether starting a new grade or returning to post-secondary, this can be a stressful time, so our government has worked hard over the past four years to make being a student easier and more accessible for Northerners and Canadians.
To help students who haven’t yet graduated, we’ve introduced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), and have increased it – not once – but twice. The CCB is helping 9 out of 10 families with more money to get the school supplies they need, while also stopping the Conservative government’s practice of sending cheques to millionaires. In fact, the CCB helped in lifting almost 300,000 children out of poverty between 2016 and 2017.
In our riding alone, from 2016 to 2018, families in the Kenora riding raising children have received $147,533,000 from the Canada Child Benefit – that’s more than $70 million per year. To put this into perspective, we expect that once we receive total payment information for this benefit year, over $200 million will have been paid directly to families in the Kenora riding. Thanks to the CCB, in 2017-18, 7,970 families in our communities will have received an average yearly payment of $9,270, helping a total of 16,270 children.
Some students entering or returning to post-secondary this year may be feeling an additional financial hardship due to cuts and changes made by Doug Ford’s provincial Conservatives. These changes to the Ontario Student Assistant Program (OSAP), means some students will not be eligible for grants and will have to rely only on loans putting them further into debt.
Meanwhile, for comparison sake, our government has increased Canada Student Grants by 50%, putting up to $3,000 more in the pockets of students who need it most over the course of their education. We also lowered the interest rates on Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans. This is saving the average borrower about $2,000. And to help make education more financially accessible to those who need it most, we introduced the Fixed Student Contribution, which means students will only be expected to provide a fixed contribution of between $1,500 and $3,000 per academic year.
Gaining valuable, on-the-job work experience is also an important part of career-building, so our government is aiming to create 84,000 new work student placements by 2023-24. This includes more co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, and business programs with a focus on opportunities for women and Indigenous students.
Of course, the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program also offers experience to young people while helping local businesses with much-needed support during the busy summer months. Over the last four years, the Kenora riding has seen a total CSJ investment of $2,636,920, which translates into 951 jobs. From Red Lake to Dryden, Ignace to Kenora, this summer young people were working in every corner of the riding, thanks to Canada Summer Jobs investments.
Regardless of whether you are new or a returning student, there will be some amazing times ahead. Education is so much more than just learning; it provides different perspectives so that we can better understand other people and the world at large, while also developing one’s own opinions and views on life.
To students of all levels, I would like to personally wish you the best of luck in the upcoming school year, and I look forward to your very bright futures.
Bob Nault MP