BC Election 2017: Which party is the best for students?

May 1 2017, 11:12 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students, and George Davison, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC.

Elections are about choices. They matter because democracy entails the right to vote, as a way you can support ideas and visions that you believe will make our province a better place to live.

On the May 9 provincial election, students and the under-30 voters have the potential to play a big role in bumping voter turnout numbers, influencing the results of the election, and shaping post-secondary skills and training over the next four years.

As a student and an educator, who each represent organizations that advocate for a stronger, more accessible post-secondary system in BC, we want you to know where post-secondary education is today, how it’s changed over the past 16 years, and what types of commitments the major political parties are offering students in their platforms.

First up is the state of post-secondary education in BC today:

  • In BC, tuition has increased more than in any other province since 2001, and BC’s average student debt is among the highest in Canada at $35,000.
  • Despite capping tuition fee increases at 2%, tuition fee revenue has continued to climb between 3.5% and 10% per year.
  • The province collects $1.8 billion in tuition revenue, compared to $452 million in 2002, and it’s set to collect 8.9% more this year.
  • A majority (80%) of jobs openings in 2024 will require some form of post-secondary qualifications.

Next is an overview of the tangible measures for students that are offered in the platforms of BC’s political parties.

BC Liberals

  • Maintain the 2% cap on tuition fee increases.
  • Lower the interest rate on student loans to prime (from prime plus 2.5%).
  • Create a centralized point for student applications.
  • Change the student eligibility for loans to increase the limit for certain borrowers.
  • Commit an additional $10 million to the open textbook program over the term.
  • Create 1,000 new seats in science, technology, engineering and math.
  • Create a new Truck Logger Training Credit.
  • Make the BC Training Tax Credit (an employer incentive to hire/train) permanent.
  • Work with post-secondary institutions to develop new housing financing rules that allow student housing to be built without impacting the provincial debt load or credit rating.


  • Eliminate interest on student loans.
  • Eliminate tuition fees on Adult Basic Education (high school upgrading).
  • Eliminate tuition fees on ESL training.
  • Provide a $1,000 completion grant to people who graduate college/university/trades programs.
  • Invest $50 million over two years to create a new graduate scholarship fund.
  • Invest $100 million to create more spaces in technology, information and communications, digital media and entertainment, life sciences and health, clean-tech, IT and engineering.
  • Maintain the 2% cap on tuition free increases, but close the loopholes that have allowed institutions to dramatically increase tuition and other fees.
  • Continue to support the BC UPass Program.
  • Change regulations to allow colleges/universities to build rental housing on/near campuses.
  • Provide renters with a $400 rebate per year.
  • Create a merit-based graduate-level scholarship program.
  • Mandate apprenticeship ratios for government-funded projects, provide employer incentives to increase the number of women in apprenticeships, and increase the number of skilled First Nations and mandate local hiring on government projects.

BC Greens

  • Implement needs-based grants for post-secondary students.
  • Offer tax forgiveness up to $2,000 per year for up to five years to assist in paying off student loans.
  • Present a task force report by July 2018 on funding that identifies ways to make PSE more relevant, accessible and affordable.
  • Invest $65 million over four years to support co-op and work experience programs.
  • Allocate up to $10 million per year for skills re-training.

Those are the platform commitments directed at students, now it’s up to you to make your choice and cast a ballot.

We urge you to vote in support of post-secondary education to ensure we have a government that invests in the people who are the province’s future.

Are you a young British Columbian and eligible to vote in the BC election? We would love to profile you. Email [email protected], subject line: My Future, to find out more.

Daily Hive is your home for BC Election coverage throughout the campaign period. To access our full BC Election coverage click here: Battleground BC.

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