A lofty promise for post-secondary education came from the Liberal Party last week, when Prime Minister Paul Martin announced a series of measures to combat the increasing cost of tuition. The '50/50 Plan' proposed by the party would have the federal government pay half tuition costs for all Canadian undergraduates in their first and final years. The plan would take effect in fall 2007.
Student leaders admitted the proposal may not amount to more than an election promise, but are glad PSE is on the agenda.
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations National Director, Phillippe Ouellette expressed support for the proposal.
"It is apparent that any reduction in the cost of education and increases in assistance for students from a low income background is a positive step," said Ouellette. "There are a significant number of potential students in Canada; these programs will help them achieve their potential."
University of Calgary Students' Union President Bryan West agreed the new plan could be an important step in the right direction for PSE, noting PSE is finally gaining greater recognition in the federal arena.
"In the past it really hasn't factored as a big issue on the national level, it's always been in the shadow of its big brother, health care," said West.
"The Liberal plan is a step up from the other parties. It's probably the most substantial political announcement concerning PSE so far."
West cautioned against over- optimism.
"I'm not too concerned that it would be unattainable." he said. "We know that the federal government is swimming in surpluses but you have to have a certain degree of caution until it actually happens."