Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh pledged financial breaks for Canadian students on Saturday, vowing to do away with interest on federal student loans “immediately and permanently” as well as forgive student debt.
Singh unveiled his latest campaign promise outside of the University of Sudbury ahead of the Sept. 20 federal election.
Singh said students have been among the Canadians hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, adding forgiving their debt would give youth a necessary leg up.
“Students are struggling when they graduate, so we want to go beyond just eliminating entirely interest,” Singh said.
“We want to also forgive student debt to make sure that they’re not being crushed under the weight of that debt.”
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Sudbury’s troubled Laurentian University recently saw nearly 60 undergraduate programs and 11 graduate programs axed amid an insolvency restructuring plan, an action Singh said “could have been avoided” with help from the federal government under Liberal leader Justin Trudeau.
The University of Sudbury was affiliated with Laurentian until May, when Laurentian terminated its relationship with its three federated universities. Laurentian declared insolvency in February.
Singh called Laurentian vital to the North, labelling the recent cuts “a devastating blow” to Indigenous and Francophone communities in the area.
Singh’s media appearance Saturday began with an introduction from Sudbury NDP candidate Nadia Verrelli, who said she was “full of emotions” by the cuts at Laurentian.
The NDP lost the Sudbury riding in the 2019 election, falling to the Liberals’ Paul Lefebvre by 5,718 votes.
The NDP won 24 seats in 2019, earning 15.9 per cent of the overall vote. The Liberals are in search of a majority government in this election, and would need 170 seats to reach that threshold. They won 157 seats in 2019.
The major political parties’ campaigns this year are focused on Canada’s post-pandemic recovery plan.