The Student Day of Action took place across 50 Canadian campuses on Nov. 2 as part of the Canadian Federation of Students’ Fight the Fees campaign. The campaign calls on the Canadian government for:
- the progressive reduction and elimination of tuition fees for all;
- the conversion of the provincial portion of student loans into non-repayable grants; and
- the removal of interest on existing student loans.
The event featured a variety of speakers and a Wall of Debt where students and allies were welcomed to share their debt horror stories.
“What I’m hoping to see is that our student leaders do a better job of listening and speaking to students and understanding student struggles,” said Kathleen Quinn, SRA social science representative and speaker at the rally. “We have to realize that our universities have a public service mandate. This is a public institution, this is not a commodity.”
On Nov. 1 the Trudeau government introduced a new set of student loan repayment rules in which new graduates do not have to start repaying their loans until they are earning at least $25,000 a year, essentially working full time at minimum wage.
“We completely reject this as any sort of progress. We don’t want deferred anything; we don’t want any loans, no fees, no debt,” explained Ajit Singh, one of the organizers of the event who is member of the Young Communists League. “The debt is still there. It’s not like students no longer feel the incredible stress, incredible anxiety, and mental health concerns knowing that they have this huge noose around their neck for the rest of their life. “
Tuition fees in Canada have increased by over 137 per cent over the past 25 years. Today, the average undergraduate student will leave university with over $27,000 in debt, while graduate students will be left to pay upwards of $41,000. The event was organized and endorsed by several equity groups on campus. A full list of these groups can be found on their Facebook event page.