Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Parliamentary Budget Officer Yves Giroux on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, on March 10, 2020.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Parliament’s budget watchdog says the NDP plan to cut student debt would cost about $4-billion.

The New Democrats’ campaign-style pledge this spring promised to cancel up to $20,000 in tuition, freeze loan payments through July 2022 and scrap interest payments, among other measures.

In a report released Wednesday, parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux said the proposal would amount to $3.95-billion over five years, with the reduction of as much as $20,000 per student borrower by far the priciest plank.

Story continues below advertisement

Giroux also calculates that the plan’s extension of the non-repayment period from six months after graduation to five years would actually cut more than $400-million in upfront government costs.

The NDP’s announcement of the plan in March came ahead of a possible election this year as federal parties prepare to battle it out for the hearts and ballots of young voters.

Statistics Canada found last fall that more than 60 per cent of postsecondary students were concerned about using up their savings and taking on more debt.

The Liberals imposed a moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments between April and September 2020, but the freeze has long since thawed and student groups have urged Ottawa to suspend payment obligations again.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said Wednesday forgiving student debt would be an economic driver to jump-start opportunities amid the COVID-19 pandemic and provide recent graduates with relief from “crushing debt.”

“Those who’ve been hit among the hardest have been young people. New graduates, students – the jobs they normally were able to find are no longer there,” he said.

The unemployment situation was particularly bad last year. It improved between May and August but still ran two to three times the rate in the pre-pandemic summer of 2019, according to Statistics Canada.

Story continues below advertisement

By April of 2021, the unemployment rate for younger Canadians was 16 per cent, about double the level for the country as a whole.

Lindsay Mathyssen, the NDP critic for youth, said student debt payments “the size of mortgage payments” and postsecondary costs have forced some students to delay their education, even as the job market shrinks in some sectors.

Ottawa has taken in more than $4-billion in student-interest revenues since 2015, according to previous budget office reports.

More than 868,000 borrowers hold Canada Student Loans amounting to $9.77-billion, states an auditor general’s report released last July.

Singh’s proposal goes beyond his 2019 election campaign promise to nix all current and future interest on federal student loans.

Know what is happening in the halls of power with the day’s top political headlines and commentary as selected by Globe editors (subscribers only). Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies