B.C. Liberals must stop clawing back bursaries from youth in care

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VICTORIA— The B.C. Liberals must stop clawing back bursaries provided by colleges and universities to current and former youth in care say New Democrats.

Colleges and universities recently started providing bursaries and other supports to current and former youth in care, unfortunately the B.C. Liberals are deducting that support from the youth, ensuring they don’t see any benefits from these programs.

“The B.C. Liberal government welcomed the support being provided to youth in care by B.C. universities and colleges – now we know it was because they planned to take the money,” said New Democrat children and families spokesperson Doug Donaldson.

“Cash-strapped colleges wanted to help these vulnerable youth, not help the B.C. Liberals shirk their responsibilities to the children in their care.”

Currently, nearly half of former youth in care end up on social assistance after aging out of the system. The independent representative for children and youth has been trying to change that with a campaign asking B.C. universities and colleges to extend a helping hand to former and current youth in care.

When Vancouver Island University became the first post-secondary institution to provide help to former youth in care, Minister of Children and Families Stephanie Cadieux said “the kids who have gone through our foster care system have faced insurmountable challenges already…this opportunity will provide them with a helping hand to get over the next hurdle.”

“Under the B.C. Liberals only one in five youth in care are graduating from high school. The minister said it herself; these youth have already faced insurmountable challenges and now the government is deliberately trying to make their life harder,” said Donaldson.

“It’s wrong to take bursaries away from the few foster kids who overcome nearly impossible odds to not only graduate, but continue their education.”

In one case, an 18-year-old youth in care was awarded a $1,300 bursary and the B.C. Liberal government clawed it back from the support they were providing her, ensuring the A student didn’t see any reward for her efforts.

According to public accounts the Premier’s Office spent more than that on flowers, pizza and an expensive trip to a Victoria oyster bar last year.

“The B.C. Liberals’ heartless crusade against the poorest, most vulnerable children and youth in this province needs to end,” said New Democrat advanced education spokesperson Kathy Corrigan.

“Colleges and universities are trying to to do their part to help improve the lives of youth in the government’s care. It’s unbelievable that the B.C. Liberal government’s response is to undermine their efforts.”