Student issues emerge in week one of the provincial election campaign

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<strong>Local PC MPP candidates say the party will make youth unemployment a priority</strong>


In a town hall meeting at Kitchener&rsquo;s Conestoga Place, Tim Hudak and local PC MPP candidates, Tracey Weiler (Kitchener-Waterloo) and Rob Leone (Cambridge), said tackling Ontario&rsquo;s high youth unemployment rate one of their main priorities.


Weiler said, &ldquo;It&rsquo;s the highest and has doubled the national average.&rdquo;


Their plan includes encouraging youth to consider careers in the skilled trades in order to get a &ldquo;good paying job&rdquo; after they graduate, said Weiler.


&ldquo;There&rsquo;s a mismatch that we have today between youth unemployment and the demand for good paying jobs in the skilled trades,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;We as a province need to do a better job of helping people early on as they&rsquo;re in that critical decision making stage to figure out what direction is best for them. For some people it may be a university program, but for others it might be the opportunity to go into the skills trades and get a good-paying job.&rdquo;


Leone also said, &ldquo;In our colleges today, we have about 45 per cent of students in college that have a completed university degree in some university. So what that means is that people are spending five-eight years to get a diploma or degree that they could had in three years. That adds to the cost of going to school for the student and also adds to the costs for families.&rdquo;


In order to deal with this problem, Leone and the PCs proposed a &ldquo;Colleges First Strategy&rdquo;.


&ldquo;Students can have great education at college that leads to a good job, and if you want to go to university afterwards, those pathways should open up, so we want to make that case to voters.&rdquo;


<strong>Catherine Fife criticizes the Liberals&rsquo; 30 per cent rebate</strong>


Catherine Fife and the NDP have and would challenge the Liberals&rsquo; 30 per cent tuition rebate if they were elected government after the June 12 elections, citing accessibility issues.


&ldquo;We were the only party that supported tuition freeze,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;We actually challenged the Liberals on the 30 per cent tuition rebate because we&rsquo;ve heard firsthand from students that that&rsquo;s not working and people have to jump through all these hoops to access it.&rdquo;


She added, &ldquo;We the [NDP] fought the Liberals to implement the youth employment strategy, it&rsquo;s a full time job fighting the Liberals and making sure the Liberals do what they say they&rsquo;re going to do,&rdquo; said Catherine Fife, incumbent NDP candidate for the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo. &ldquo;We are the only party that&rsquo;s holding the line on tuition, and we&rsquo;ve pushed that every single day, and you saw in this budget they just did not listen. It is not a budget that can be supported because it is not in favour or support of future generations, with Ontario having the highest youth unemployment rate in Canada.&rdquo;


Fife emphasized post-secondary tuition and investments, infrastructure, affordability, and transit as part of her party&rsquo;s economic plan.


<strong>The Liberals will continue to expand 30 per cent tuition coverage, particularly the guideline for those students with disabilities</strong>


Students with disabilities can expect the continuation of newly&mdash;implemented expansion on the 30 per cent rebate on tuition, said the Liberals.


The plan, which is primarily for full-time students (60 per cent plus course load), was expanded in late 2012, to include part-time students with disabilities taking a 40 per cent plus course load.


In her pitch on why students should vote for her and the party, Liberal MPP candidate Jamie Burton said, &ldquo;They have continued investment to students &hellip; they have this commitment to continue the 30 per cent off [rebate], they also have made the investment in other grants available, they&rsquo;ve even expanded the 30 per cent off to include part-time students with disabilities &hellip; I think that is a clear indication from a financial perspective that that&rsquo;s going to continue.&rdquo;&nbsp;
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