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Minister Naomi Yamamoto and the Liberal government are making incorrect claims about the New Democrats proposal for a renewed student grant program.

Close to 80 per cent of expected employment openings – new jobs and replacement positions – will require some post-secondary education or a university degree (B.C. Labour Market Outlook to 2020). The New Democrats want to ensure that we properly equip young people to fill positions and ensure stability for a growing economy.

The Claim: “I'm not sure how he plans to pay for that.” (Minister Naomi Yamamoto, CBC, Sept. 12, 2011)

The Facts:Minister Yamamoto must have missed the fact that the New Democrat leader proposes to reinstate the minimum tax on banks in order to generate the revenue for the renewed grant program.

“Dix explained that the non-repayable grant program- eliminated by the Liberals in the 2004-05 fiscal year – should be financed through reinstating a minimum tax on financial institutions.” (New Democrat press release, Sept 12, 2011)

The Claim: “70 per cent of our students actually graduate without a student debt.” (Minister Naomi Yamamoto, CBC, Sept., 12, 2011)

The Facts: Between 2000 and 2009, undergraduate student debt grew by 14-per-cent, more than anywhere else in Canada. In 2009, 54 per cent of students graduated with debt. (Millennium Scholarship Foundation, 2009)

The Claim:B.C. has the third lowest student debt. (Minister Naomi Yamamoto, CTV, Sept. 12, 2011)

The Facts:B.C. students have the highest average debt outside of the Maritimes, at $27,000. (Pre-Budget Consultation, Canadian Federation Students, 2011)

B.C. financial aid recipients have the country’s biggest student loans, almost $1,200 more per year than in the runner-up province, New Brunswick. (Millennium Scholarship Foundation, 2009)

Tuition has doubled since the B.C. Liberals came into power, more than any other province. (Canadian Federation Students, 2011)

The Claim:“Naomi Yamamoto says BC has one of the best student aid packages in the country.” (CTV, Sept. 12, 2011)

The Facts:Advocates from student groups, including the Canadian Federation of Students, the leadership of B.C.'s academic research universitiesand reportershave notedthat B.C. needs to improve its student aid programs.

“As a result of her government's policies, student debt in BC has never been higher. We don't need more spin-doctors in government, we need leadership that will make college and university more affordable.” (Zach Crispin, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-BC, July 8, 2011)

“We have communicated our position (to the Ministry of AdvancedEducation) that it is now time to improve B.C.'s student aid program so the province is in line with other key jurisdictions across the country.” (Research Universities' Council of British Columbia, June 2, 2011)

“If we're going to be serious -as the province says we should [be] -about reaching out to under-represented groups like indigenous people, the disabled community, socioeconomic challenged areas and ethnic populations, the current resources we have, and the government has, on the table are just not going to be adequate to do that.” (Andrew Petter, President of Simon Fraser University, Vancouver Sun, June 2, 2011)

“The high cost of financing a postsecondary education is scaring away students from underrepresented groups such as aboriginals and others from impoverished backgrounds. But costs are scaring away kids from middle-class homes as well. And the loans needed to finance those costs are making life miserable for kids trying to get a toehold in a job market that’s as unfriendly as they come.” (Gary Mason, “The crushing weight of student debt, Globe and Mail, July 07, 2011)