Minister responds to editorial

Keeping tuition costs a priority is a great idea, but bigger picture needs to be kept in mind

I’d like to respond to your Dec. 4 editorial, Tuition costs must be a priority. Your editorial makes a good point; the future of our youth and our economy is far more important than party loyalties or who gets credit for an idea.

However, we need to ensure those ideas are balanced and part of a bigger context.

Students in British Columbia do have access to about $146 million a year in up-front grants, loan reduction and forgiveness programs.

For example, recent graduates in specific health-related professions who choose to work in underserved communities can apply for student loan forgiveness.

In fact, the former B.C. Grant Program was replaced with our current B.C. Loan Reduction Program, which recognizes that success is the completion of studies.

Last year alone, we reduced loans for more than 21,000 students that successfully completed their studies—an investment of $37 million.

I would also like to note that the cost of Mr. Dix’s plan for student grants was reported at $100 million, which he proposes paying for by raising taxes. We believe this is not appropriate.

B.C. students are paying about one-third of the actual cost of their education and taxpayers are paying the rest, which amounted to $1.9 billion this year.

This is an approach that recognizes an investment in post-secondary education that will benefit both students and B.C. communities as a whole.

We are always looking for creative ideas to improve the system, but the solutions must support a good balance between affordability for both students and taxpayers.

Naomi Yamamoto,

Minister of Advanced Education