debt please, mr. dryden?

This week, federal Liberal leadership candidate Ken Dryden unleashed his vision for “A Big Canada.” I didn’t read most of the document, but I skipped forward to the education portion.

I was shocked to see this included:

(a) We will establish a national income-contingent student loan repayment program (ICLR) to help individual youth and mature students finance their post-secondary education.

Income-contingent loan repayment (ICLR) is a bad bad idea, Mr. Dryden. These types of systems serve as methods of shifting the cost of post-secondary education away from the government (who should be properly funding the post-secondary education system in the first place) and on to students.

As well, income-contingent loan repayment schemes result in those with lower incomes paying substantially more for the cost of their education due to lengthy payment periods mixed with increasing interest payments.

Mr. Dryden needs to take a look at jurisdictions such as New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom that have income-contingent loan repayment schemes and have seen a corresponding and dramatic increase in tuition fees and other education costs since the implementation of this regressive system.

Instead of implementing an income-contingent loan repayment scheme, I would suggest that Mr. Dryden look at creating and implementing a dedicated post-secondary transfer payment from the Federal Government to the Provinces that will deal specifically with tuition levels – which leads to high debt and is the most direct cost that governments can affect. Proper investment in PSE will make regressive schemes like ICLR even more useless than they already are.

Time to step up to the plate, Mr. Dryden.

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