The Saskatchewan New Democrats have announced plans to support post-secondary students by converting all provincial student loans to non-repayable grants by 2017.
At St. Andrew's College in Saskatoon on Wednesday, NDP Leader Cam Broten pledged that if elected, the party will initiate a comprehensive plan to support university and college students by lowering tuition fees and cutting student debt.
"Under the Sask. Party, it's gotten harder and harder for students and new graduates to get ahead," Broten said in a news release.
"We must do better. Not only for our children but for Saskatchewan's economy."
In a statement issued via email, the Sask. Party says it's invested $6.5 billion in post-secondary education since forming government in 2007 - a 61 per cent increase - since the 2007-2008 fiscal year.
In addition, the ruling government points to the Saskatchewan Advantage Grant, which has doled out $10.4 million to nearly 35,000 people.
The Sask. Party points to the NDP's past track record, stating that between 1993-94 and 97-98, the NDP cut operating funding to the two universities by nearly $10 million.
Broten's plan for post-secondary students includes:
- Converting all provincial student loans into grants, for a term cost of $71.9 million.
- Immediately eliminating interest charges on all student loans, at a cost of $8.2 million over four years.
- Increasing the Saskatchewan Advantage Scholarship to $1,000 for Saskatchewan post-secondary students, at a cost of $31.5 million over four years.
- A commitment to regulate tuition fees.
"Instead of making the Sask. Party's friends and consultants richer, I want to help Saskatchewan's young people have a better start," Broten said.