Budget 2014 leaves British Columbians unprepared for jobs of tomorrow

VICTORIA, Feb. 18, 2014 /CNW/ - Underfunded capital projects, college and university budget cuts and no measures to addressed skyrocketing student debt means that BC Budget 2014 puts post-secondary education further out of reach for BC's young people.

"Budget 2014 proposes new facilities at colleges and universities when we can't even keep the lights on in buildings we already have," said Jenelle Davies, BC Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. "Even if institutions scratch together the matching funds and private donations required to access this funding, where are the operating funds going to come from," asked Davies.

Colleges and universities are facing the first year of a three-year, $50 million funding cut announced in 2013, which is compounded by projected inflation of between 1.5 and 2.0 per cent, and an unfunded 25 per cent increase in hydro rates.

Budget 2014 also re-announced the government's misguided RESP plan as a measure to help families afford BC's high tuition fees.

"RESPs don't help low-income and working class families access colleges and universities; they help those who have the money to save in the first place," said Davies. "At best this scheme will only offset a small fraction of the tuition fee increases put in place by this government, and do not replace the BC grant program cut by the BC Liberals in 2003."

On Monday students launched a provincial campaign to curb skyrocketing student debt. Called Squash the Squeeze, the campaign calls on the BC government to eliminate interest charged on student loans, increase funding for colleges and universities, reintroduce a needs-based grants program, and reduce tuition fees.

"By the government's own calculation, 78 per cent of new jobs created in BC by 2020 will require some post-secondary education. We will never meet this target if students can't get the classes they need."

The Canadian Federation of Students-BC is composed of students from 16 post-secondary institutions across every region of BC. Post-secondary students in Canada have been represented by the Canadian Federation of Students and its predecessor organizations since 1927.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Students- British Columbia

For further information:

Zach Crispin, spokesperson   (604) 733-1880
Steven Beasley,   (250) 713-6131