B.C. Election: MLA candidates on TRU’s government funding

We put questions to Kamloops' MLA candidates on post-secondary, the economy and health care

British Columbians will go the polls May 9. We put a series of questions to the candidates from both of Kamloops’ electoral districts on everything from post-secondary education to health care and the economy.

Other topics: University funding – Economy – PrioritiesPrivate moneyHealth care

WE ASKED:

Tuition continues to increase and universities like TRU are struggling to meet their mandate with dwindling government funding. Where do you think the solution lies to this problem?

Dan Hines (Kamloops-North) – BC Green Party

Along with an increase in the funding to our universities, we also need to address the neglected issue of rising tuition fees and student debt, Hines said.

If elected, the BC Greens will set up a task force to report on the state of BC’s postsecondary education with a mandate to identify ways to make education more affordable, relevant, and accessible.

More immediately, the Greens will increase in the needs-based grants and offer tax forgiveness of up to $2,000 a year for up to five years to assist qualifying graduates in repaying outstanding debt from tuition fees.

Barb Nederpel (Kamloops-North) – BC NDP

The Liberals have constantly underfunded TRU, believes Nederpel, noting that TRU students pay more for graduate programs than anywhere else in the province.

“We all do better when we reduce economic barriers to education,” she said. “Tuition fees at TRU have skyrocketed over the last decade and concerns about costs of university and college, and the impacts of student debt are shutting people out.”

The BC NDP believe that affordable education is key to a strong economy. As such, they plan to more fully support post-secondary institutions.

Peter Kerek (Kamloops-North) – Communist Party of B.C.

Kerek believes that the best way to ensure more funding is readily available for post-secondary institutions is to elect a party that isn’t beholden to the interests of corporations.

The BC Communist Party support reversing the annual $2.5 billion tax gift given to BC’s wealthiest individuals and corporations since 2001.

“If we scare away some corporations we can simply create Crown corporations to provide the services,” Kerek said. “Instead of keeping just roughly 10% of profits through taxation of private corporations, we would keep 100%, because that’s what it means to put things in the democratic control of the people.”

Peter Milobar (Kamloops-North) and Todd Stone (Kamloops-South) – BC Liberals

“As government, we are proud of the investments we have made in our post-secondary system,” Milobar and Stone said. “Operating grants provided to public post-secondary institutions have increased by 45.5 per cent – from $1.3 billion in 2001-02 to more than $1.8 billion in 2016-17.”

Noting that post-secondary education is one of their government’s top priorities, Milobar and Stone said that a well-educated workforce is key to the future of BC’s economy.

Beat Klossner (Kamloops-South) – Communist Party of B.C.

“Education is a basic right,” Klossner said. “The solution is 100 per cent publicly funded learning institutions.”

Klossner pointed to the money the province had spent financing private and religious schools in 2016, some $358 million according to the B.C. Teachers Federation.

“We will immediately put a stop to this,” he said.

“Our goal is to create a sense of common good and collective again, take our resources, infrastructure and institutions back into public hands. We need a broad movement to achieve this and together we can achieve great things.”

Nancy Bepple (Kamloops-South) – BC NDP

“Access to college or university education can occur only if families in our region can afford tuition costs,” Bepple said.

She believes that restoring grants to assist students with tuition costs may be one solution to the problem, as well as considering forgivable loans and a repayment plan based on income levels after graduation.

“Of course, the basic solution to the problem would be a commitment by provincial government to fund public colleges and universities at a level that would allow institutions to meet their legislated mandates and limit the need for both regular increases in tuition and a reliance on corporate donations,” Bepple said.

Donovan Cavers (Kamloops-South) – BC Green Party

No response was provided.

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