Ontario Liberals vow to extend student loan pay period
A re-elected Liberal government would give Ontario college and university graduates a little help with their debt loads if they take their first job in the non-profit sector, Premier Dalton McGuinty promised.
The Liberals will give graduates a one-year grace period for paying back student loans if they go to work for registered charities and non-government aid organizations, double the six-month interest-free period on student loans.
"We believe it's important for young people to have an opportunity to help our broader society," McGuinty told a weekend meeting of the youth wing of the Ontario Liberal Party in Sudbury.
"Extending the payback period for student loans makes it easier for graduates who take that first job in organizations where they can help."
Working for non-profits is a topic close to McGuinty's heart. His daughter Carleen, 30, works for World Vision.
It was the premier's first real campaign promise for the Oct. 6 election, and was proposed by the Ontario Young Liberals, but the New Democrats said students won't be fooled by a government that repeatedly raised tuition fees to the highest average in Canada.
"In the long run it's not going to help them because they're still going to have a huge debt that is going to have to be repaid," said NDP candidate John Vanthof, who added the grace period also "wouldn't hurt."
Vanthof declined to say what the NDP would do differently about tuition rates because the party has yet to release its education platform. The measure will change nothing for most cash-strapped students, said Tory MPP Jim Wilson.
"This is just further proof of how out of touch Dalton McGuinty has become," he said in an emailed statement.
Earlier Saturday in Toronto, McGuinty said he would double the number of foreign trade missions he leads if the Liberals are re-elected, and will start with return trips to India and China next year.
The Liberals accuse Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak of scaring off international investment by threatening to tear up the province's $7 billion green energy deal with Korean giant Samsung, while McGuinty believes Ontario needs to help companies break into the world's emerging markets.