Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau announced on Sunday a campaign pledge to allow parents to take an interest-free break from repaying student loans until their youngest child turns five, a central part of his fully released platform.
The prime minister made the announcement from the University of Toronto Mississauga, where he also took questions from students.
The location of the reveal was strategic as the Liberals look to highlight the difference between their party’s pro-education stance and the provincial Progressive Conservatives, who have under Premier Doug Ford made cuts to education programs and finances, causing significant backlash.
The opposition Conservative Party have promised to increase matching grants for registered education savings plans as well as tax cuts for the lowest income bracket and tax credits for maternity benefits.
The New Democrats have pledged to get rid of interest on federal student loans, increase grants for post-secondary studies, and work with the provinces to eliminate tuition on post-secondary education over time.
The Greens have pledged to eliminate post-secondary tuition entirely and to forgive all student-loan debt held by the federal government.
The Liberals’ promised break on student loan payments is meant to target a middle class that they say have already benefitted from programs such as the Canada Child Benefit program, which gets an increase by 15 per cent in the re-election platform.
Typically, education policy is tackled at the provincial level but with Ontario holding 121 out of 338 ridings, and therefore seats in the House of Commons, the Liberals are making an effort to play on the recent discontent surrounding the PC government.
Premier Doug Ford and his provincial government made significant cuts to student grants and loans, public post-secondary funding and the introduction of the Student Choice Initiative, prompting outcry from student organizations. Ford also included a 10 per cent domestic tuition cut.