Arthur: Does your party have any plans to address the issue of student debt? On average, our nation’s youth is $27k in the hole after completing an undergraduate degree. A contributing factor to this may be due to Ontario’s inflated tuition rates when considering provinces such as Newfoundland and Quebec.
Monsef: I know first-hand the challenge of managing student debt and how important it is to provide affordable post-secondary education. A Liberal government will provide a number of new initiatives to make post-secondary education more affordable including, increasing the maximum Canada Student Grant for low-income students to $3,000 per year for full-time students, and to $1,800 per year for part-time students.
Helping more students from middle class families qualify for Canada Student Grants by increasing the income thresholds for eligibility, we will invest $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary education, and will allow the program to grow in line with increasing demand. Making our student loan system more flexible is a big priority.
We will ensure that no graduate with student loans will be required to make any repayment until they are earning an income of at least $25,000 per year. In addition we need to provide graduates better opportunities in finding a job after leaving school. The Liberal party has proposed a number of initiatives. Creating 40,000 good youth jobs – including 5,000 youth green jobs – each year for the next three years, by investing $300 million more in the renewed Youth Employment Strategy. A direct result of this would include, doubling the almost 11,000 Canadians who access Skills Link each year.
This program helps young Canadians – including Indigenous youth and those with disabilities – make a more successful transition to the workplace. Investing $40 million each year to help employers create more co-op placements for students in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and business programs.
Working with provinces, territories, and post-secondary institutions to develop or expand Pre-Apprenticeship Training Programs. This will provide up to $10 million per year to help young Canadians gain the skills they need to enter high-demand trades.
Arthur: There has been a lot of talk in the past few weeks regarding the necessary steps to take when considering the security of our nation. What steps does your party plan to take? How will this translate to the safety of Canada’s First Nation population, specifically women?
Monsef: The Liberal party has presented a comprehensive plan to address the security of Canada.It includes maintaining current national defense spending levels, however it establishes different priorities than those of the Conservative government that are more in line with Canada’s historic international peace and security operations, humanitarian support missions, protection of Canada’s borders, and responding to natural disaster.
Specific initiatives will include, ensuring the Canadian armed forces are appropriately equipped, building new naval vessels including icebreakers, supply ships, arctic and offshore patrol ships, surface combatants and other resources required by the navy.
Ending Canada’s combat mission in Iraq and refocusing Canada’s military contribution in the region on training of local forces and humanitarian aide.
Not buying the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber and instead begin a procurement process to purchase an aircraft whose primary mission will be the defense of North America and not a first strike capacity and continuing Canada’s participation in NATO.
We all deserve to be kept safe. The disappearance and death of nearly 1,200 Indigenous women and girls is an ongoing national tragedy that must come to an end.
Liberals will immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, to seek recommendations on concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and prevent future ones. We will work alongside provinces and territories, and with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit, to enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Arthur: Peterborough has the highest unemployment rate in Canada, an embarrassing statistic that needs to be addressed as soon as possible. What plans do the Liberals have to revive the economy in Peterborough and get people back to work?
Monsef: Nationally, the Liberal Party has committed to an historic new investment in Canada’s infrastructure that will stimulate the economy and create new jobs in the building of new affordable housing, seniors facilities, expanded public transit, cultural and recreational facilities, the protection of local watersheds and investment in green energy. Locally, I am the only candidate that is presenting a comprehensive jobs plan for Peterborough-Kawartha.
In partnership with all levels of government and the private sector secure investment in a convention centre for Peterborough, working with Trent University supports the development of their student incubation/ accelerator centre and working with the Province, Municipality, and Trent University further plans for the Research and Innovation site. I have also committed to hold a local jobs summit in Peterborough Kawartha within 90 days of being elected.