The Canadian Federation of Students held a National Day of Action Wednesday to call for universal access to public, post-secondary education in Canada.
"This is about envisioning a better world, and building it together. I stand with students to build a Canada that upholds human rights, invests in strong public services and ensures equal opportunity for all people," said Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow.
Students from across the country participated in the day and called on the federal and provincial governments to take immediate action to eliminate tuition fees and address mounting student debt.
"On Nov. 2 we call on our supporters to take a stand and join us in protecting education. All out," said Brigette DePape, Council of Canadians Prairies-NWT organizer, in a Canadian Federation of Students' Manitoba video
The Council of Canadians supports the federation’s call for free tuition for university and college students.
The Canadian Federation is calling on the federal government to fully fund university and college education by creating a $3.3 billion annual transfer fund for post-secondary education.
The federation said the government could do so by reallocating funds currently used for programs like the registered education savings plan. In this way, post-secondary education would be funded in much the same way as federal transfer payments are made for provincial expenditures on health care.
In 2013-14, university graduates finished their studies with an average of about $34,000 in debt. About $12,480 of that is in federal student loans, while about $22,207 of it is in provincial or private loans.
The federal loans alone can take graduates about 10 years to pay off. In 2015, 6,050 students declared bankruptcy, a 10-year high and more than double the number of students who had to declare bankruptcy in 2014.
About 14 per cent of graduates default on their federal student loans within three years of leaving school.
"[My generation is] one of the most indebted generations in Canadian history," said Bilan Arte, chairperson at the Canadian Federation of Students.
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