WUSA joins the Knock-Out campaign

Graphic by Jia Chen

On Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, WUSA released a statement announcing that they are endorsing the Knock-Out Campaign in support of the British Columbia Federation Of Students’ campaign to eliminate interest on federal student loans. 

“The Knock-Out Interest campaign was started by the British Columbia Federation of Students. They successfully eliminated interest on the provincial component of student loans in British Columbia. WUSA signed on to the campaign to let the federal government know that students across Canada, in particular our students, share the concerns raised by the British Columbia Federation of Students and would like to see interest eliminated,” Megan Town, Vice President Education (VPEd) of WUSA, said.

WUSA, in collaboration with the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo, sent a letter to Minister Bardish Chagger in support of the campaign, to address concerns about the student loan crisis.

“The letter to Minister Chagger highlighted the key concerns that we have. We said: ‘Every year nearly 500,000 Canadian students turn to student loans to help cover the cost of their education. Borrowing money, and incurring interest, increases the cost of post-secondary education for students and families from low- and middle-income backgrounds. As a barrier to accessing education, this directly contributes to inequities in our communities. We also highlighted key benefits of Knock-Out that align with the government’s priorities- eliminating interest charged on Canada student loans will help young Canadians afford to reach key financial milestones like buying a house or starting a family. Finally, we called upon Minister Chagger to urge the government to eliminate the interest charged on Canada Student Loans,”’ Town said. 

Furthermore, WUSA commented on their next steps as well as what services and resources they are offering to support students who are struggling financially, such as the COVID-19 bursary. Moreover, they will continue to endorse and support the BC Federation of Students as well as advocate for the federal and provincial student financial aid.

“WUSA is continuing to advocate for student financial aid with the provincial and federal government. With both governments, we are advocating for increases in non-repayable financial aid such as grants. Our advocacy has also resulted in the creation of COVID-19-specific bursaries through Student Awards & Financial Aid (SAFA). Students who are struggling financially are encouraged to apply for the appropriate bursary (full-time, part-time, or international). If you are ineligible for a bursary through SAFA, please reach out to exec@wusa.ca, we may have additional options to support you,” Town said. 

When asked who will be the most impacted by this campaign, WUSA viewed that some of these individuals include international students and those who did not take loans from the federal government.

“The elimination of interest on loans targets some of the more vulnerable students, who have attended university. However, it fails to address those who couldn’t attend university in the first place or may have dropped out due to financial constraints…WUSA is also advocating for non-repayable student financial aid, such as grants, which would support those groups of students. Eliminating interest in Canada Student Loans also does not support those who did not take out loans from the federal government. This group includes students who received support from their family, or another source, to fund their education as well as international students. To support these students, we are calling on the provincial government to continue to freeze tuition while increasing funding for the university. Finally, international students face some of the most significant financial barriers to studying in Canada,” Town said. 

The Knock-Out campaign began with the British Columbia Federation of Students’ campaign, calling on Prime Minister Trudeau to eliminate interest charges on federal student loans. As a result the campaign successfully saw the elimination of interest on the provincial portion of student loans in BC. However, these concerns are still present for students across Canada, especially in Ontario where students pay the highest tuition costs in the country. More information can be found on the Knock-Out campaign website. 


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