The major political parties have all unveiled detailed policies
regarding post-secondary education in the run-up to the
Oct. 21 provincial election.
Premier Roger Grimes announced the election Sept. 29, and
in his speech he described the Liberal Party’s education
policy. Mr. Grimes said his party would make a “major
investment” to help students with debt. He said any
graduate of a recognized post-secondary institution who
chooses to live and work in Newfoundland and Labrador will
not pay any provincial income tax for the first $100,000
“This will provide a great head start for our young
graduates right here in our own province,” he said.
Mr. Grimes said his party will also ensure greater access
to the student loan program by middle-income families and
increase the amount of family income that qualifies young
people for a student loan.
The Liberal Party’s platform is also highlighting
its record of governing the province. Premier Grimes said
that as a result of his government’s agenda, “the
cost of university education is the lowest in the country.”
The Liberal government has provided funding to enable Memorial
to reduce tuition costs by 25 per cent over the past three
Progressive Conservative Leader Danny Williams unveiled
his party’s education policy shortly after the election
was called. The PC policy manual states that a Progressive
Conservative government would cover increased operating
costs of Memorial University and the College of the North
Atlantic, so they can freeze tuition fees and maintain the
current level and quality of programs; introduce a loan
remission program and needs-based grants that will make
post-secondary education accessible and affordable for all
qualified students; create an incentive program through
a business income tax credit for employers to recruit new
graduates, and encourage government, government agencies
and Crown corporations to hire students.
A PC government would also review the province's post-secondary
education system to “ensure that it provides the best
possible instructional, research and community-oriented
services for Newfoundland and Labrador in the twenty-first
century and update the Memorial University Act to make sure
the province's only university serves the interests of communities
and people in all regions of the province.”
It would also establish an effective mechanism for regularly
evaluating the financial and program decisions of Memorial
University and public and private colleges, and double student
representation on the university’s Board of Regents.
The NDP has not released its policy manual. However, Raj
Sharan, the president of the provincial NDP, said his party’s
policy on post-secondary education focuses on ensuring students
have access to affordable postsecondary education, with
the long-term goal of eliminating tuition fees.
He said an NDP government would reduce tuition fees gradually
and institute a grants system to ensure students attending
any of the province’s postsecondary institutions could
do so without incurring huge debts.
“The cost of post-secondary education is more than
just the actual tuition,” said Mr. Sharan. “It’s
the cost of living. A lot of students have to move to attend
a post-secondary institution … and we want to get
a proper grant program to cover those kinds of costs.”
He said a NDP government would also increase funding to
“The eventual goal is to eliminate tuition fees and
(ensure) that the university doesn’t suffer in terms
of operating costs.”
The NDP is also exploring ways to help students who accumulated
debt while attending university in the 1990s.
The Green Party will field a candidate in St. John’s
East, the district that encompasses part of Memorial University’s
St. John’s campus. Steve Durant, a fourth-year political
science student at Memorial and former muse editor,
will run in the district for the Terra Nova Greens. St.
John's East includes the Paton College Residences and Burton's
Pond Apartments. The Green Party candidate had not released
his policy for post-secondary education by the Gazette