Andrew Wilkinson is even out of touch with his own MLAs on interest-free student loans

Posted in:

As BC students describe Andrew Wilkinson’s belief that “students will get carried away” with interest-free student loans as “insulting,” it appears that Andrew Wilkinson is out of touch with more than just renters and students. Even his own MLAs disagree with him.

In November, the all-party Legislature Finance and Audit committee unanimously recommended that BC “eliminate the interest on provincial student loans”. (Budget 2019 consultation report, page 13)

Membership of that committee includes BC Liberal Finance Critic Tracy Redies as well as BC Liberal MLAs Peter Milobar, Stephanie Cadieux, and Dan Ashton.

Here’s some of what that committee heard from students:

“a student who can afford to pay the upfront costs pays only the costs of that education, but a low-income student who needs access to student loans will pay thousands of dollars more in interest.”

“many students graduate with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and as a result, delay life milestones, such as buying a house or car, or starting a family.”

“A number of student associations recommended eliminating the interest on student loans.”

And during budget debate in the legislature, numerous BC Liberal MLAs singled out interest-free loans as one of the measures they support:

“Well, first, I want to acknowledge that there are some aspects of this budget that I can support. I do support eliminating interest on B.C. student loans.” -Todd Stone, Feb 20

“First of all, I’d like to take up the challenge of the previous speaker and say that, yeah, there are some things in this budget that I do support. I do support the elimination of the student loan interest.” -Jane Thornthwaite, Feb 21

“Now, there are things in the budget that I like. I want to mention them quickly, because there are not many. I like the interest relief on student loans, as long as it doesn’t give students an incentive to get higher student loans. I know what it’s like to pay interest on student loans.” –Laurie Throness, Feb 21

“Increased child care spaces and eliminating interest on B.C. student loans are worthy investments. They’re good ideas.” –Michelle Stillwell, Feb 25

“The elimination of the provincial component of the student loan interest, on accruing interest and new student loans, is again a positive step. I have a son who’s in second-year engineering at UBC Okanagan. He’s managed so far, through both technical college and heading into engineering at UBCO, to avoid having to take out a student loan. All the credit to him for being able to do that. It’s not quite the same situation for his partner, who is in nursing at UBC Okanagan. I know this step will significantly help her and many other students who find themselves in that situation, where they do need to take the loans out in order to get their education.” -Steve Thomson, Feb 26

“On a different note, I do welcome the $50-a-month increase to disability and welfare rates, the immediate elimination of interest charges on student loans and the government’s investment in child and youth mental support.” –Teresa Wat, Feb 27