BC Liberal platform offers too little, too late

VANCOUVER–The BC Liberal election platform makes a few half-hearted overtures to students and their families, but makes no serious attempt to undo the damage to BC’s university and college system, says the Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia.

“Students and our families are paying thousands of dollars more in tuition fees thanks to Gordon Campbell. Some pocket change for the bus will do little to offset the current tuition fee burden,” said CFS-BC Chairperson Shamus Reid referring to vague and uncosted transit commitments.

Since Gordon Campbell took over as Premier in 2001, average university tuition fees have skyrocketed from $2,500 to more than $5,000. The BC grants program was eliminated in 2004, and today BC ranks dead last in the provision of non-repayable student financial aid.

The BC Liberal government has reduced per-student funding in six of its eight budgets. As a result, per-student funding in BC is now 14% below 2001 levels (adjusting for inflation), leading to fewer programs, long wait lists for programs, fewer full-time faculty, and deteriorating labs.

All of these policies contribute to average student debt in BC growing to more than $27,000. Rather than address these problems, the BC Liberal platform would continue to increase tuition fees each year and would not increase core financial aid.

“The BC Liberal platform makes one thing clear: BC families would keep paying more each year for education under Premier Campbell’s leadership,” said Reid. “If BC is going to thrive in the future, either Campbell has to change, or the government does.”

The Canadian Federation of Students-BC will be mobilizing students during the provincial election to make their voices heard. On March 31, CFS-BC launched, an online resource for students and their families.

The Canadian Federation of Students–British Columbia is BC’s provincial students’ organization, representing 150,000 university and college students at all levels of post-secondary education in BC. It is a non-partisan organization affiliated with Canada’s largest national student organization, the Canadian Federation of Students.

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