NDP calling for more financial support for post-secondary students
REGINA -- The provincial opposition is calling for more financial help for post-secondary students whose studies and employment opportunities were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In April, the Saskatchewan Government announced $1.5 million in emergency financial aid for post-secondary students impacted by the pandemic.
Ryan Meili, the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP, said more needs to be done for these students.
"It was too small of a number, it ran out right away," NDP leader Ryan Meili said. "$1.5 million went out the door very quickly, so you’ve got lots of students right now, who are wondering how they’re going to make it through the summer, let alone how they’re going to pay for school in the fall."
The Government said about 2,400 students received $2.2 million through the Saskatchewan Emergency Financial Aid program and private donations raised by post-secondary institutions.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Saskatchewan, post-secondary students were forced to adapt, finishing their studies online.
Kiefer Roberts with the University of Saskatchewan Student Union says it wasn’t perfect, but the students and professors made it work.
"I felt the University did the right thing in moving to online to keep the students safe," he said.
With classes scheduled to remain online this fall, the University of Regina’s tuition will remain the same and student fees will decrease by $188 for the 2020-21 school year.
Roberts says the U of S’s decision to freeze tuition for the upcoming school year will help out students, who have been hit financially during the pandemic.
"A lot of students are having difficulty finding good jobs for the summer to just help alleviate some of the bills and stress that they have with this COVID-19 pandemic," Roberts said.
He added that the USSU has waived its student fees for the next school year and also setup a free mental health program for students that may be struggling to deal with the pandemic.
"The Ministry of Advanced Education also worked with publicly-funded institutions that did not have existing emergency financial aid programs for students to put emergency bursaries in place," Minister of Advanced Education Tina Beaudry-Mellor said in a statement.
The provincial government also pointed to nearly $9 billion in federal funding available for post-secondary students through the CERB and Canadian Emergency Student benefit programs as a way for students to receive financial help heading into next school year.