HALIFAX— Today’s budget shows little investment in students and youth in Nova Scotia and largely replicates the budget tabled prior to the provincial election. While this budget makes small investments in student financial assistance and job creation programs for youth, it will do little to offset tuition fee hikes over the next two years. Tuition fees are projected to increase by 5.6% in 2017 and 2018, which translates to an additional $400 per year for undergraduate domestic students.
“Students are disappointed to see another budget that fails to address the crisis in post- secondary education in this province,” said Aidan McNally, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “During the election, students made it clear that this government’s tuition fee policy is disastrous, yet today we largely see the status quo for students with already record levels of debt.”
Students welcome the previously promised $3.4 million for student assistance and approximately $7.1 million in new spending for job creation and apprentice support. However, these amounts pale in comparison to the $49.5 million the government cut from student support when it eliminated the Graduate Retention Rebate in 2014. Throughout 2016, there were 2,600 fewer youth employed than the previous year.
Under the current tuition fee policy, by 2019 students will be paying over $1800 more in tuition fees each year to complete their degree. Tuition fees in Nova Scotia are the second highest in Canada, at $7,218 for the 2016-17 academic year, compared to a national average of $6,373.
This new budget also includes specific grant funding for both Acadia and Cape Breton University, at amounts of $3.5 and $1 million respectively, to address funding gaps created with the implementation of the 2008 funding formula.
“The funding for Acadia and CBU included in this budget are merely a stop-gap measure to address gross inadequacies in the funding formula,” said McNally. “While investments in post-secondary institutions are welcomed, this additional funding is clearly insufficient when we consider the overall lack of annual core investment. Today’s budget proves that this government lacks the vision and political will to solve the crisis students and young people in Nova Scotia face today.”
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 650,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.