August 27, 2014

World-class post-secondary, trades and skills training: Tuition increase caps and loan forgiveness

EDMONTON, AB (August 27, 2014): A Wildrose government would cap post-secondary tuition and fee increases,  implement a ‘Student Loan Forgiveness’ program, and work to dramatically improve the availability and number of skilled trade workers, the Wildrose Official Opposition announced today.

The tuition cap would limit increases to the inflation rate and the loan forgiveness program would see up to 50 per cent of a graduate’s loans forgiven for those who train and work in areas of labour shortage. The commitments are part of Moving Alberta Forward: World-Class Post-Secondary, Trades and Skills Training – the sixth of nine policy initiatives Wildrose will unveil this summer and fall. It was announced this morning in Edmonton.

“Alberta’s future success hinges on how well we prepare the next generation of leaders and professionals,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said.  “We are committed to making post-secondary education more accessible while strengthening research and addressing labour shortages in key industries.  With the right leadership, we can create a post-secondary system that is the envy of the world.”

Smith released the policy at the University of Alberta campus – an institution that was hard hit by the funding cuts leveled on post-secondary institutions by the PC government in 2013.

“Our post-secondary institutions are crucial to the economy and identity of our cities and our province,” Smith said.  “It’s time to move away from the PC government’s short-sighted approach and start treating post-secondary institutions as essential partners in moving Alberta forward.”

With a commitment to reducing the impact of tuition and fee increases, Wildrose Innovation and Advanced Education Critic Blake Pedersen said Wildrose policy is centered on increasing affordability and accessibility while attracting Alberta talent to stay in Alberta.

“A big part of creating a world-class post-secondary system is making sure we do our job to remove obstacles for Albertans to access the system,” Pedersen said. 

As a part of addressing Alberta’s skilled labour shortage, Wildrose will work with trade schools to co-locate additional campus sites and high schools on the same site, allowing students to receive joint credit toward both a high school diploma and a certificate in the trades simultaneously.

“We must make the trades a more attractive and attainable option in our high school and post-secondary education systems,” Wildrose Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour Critic Gary Bikman said. “Not only will it fill our skilled labour shortage, but it is an important part of keeping our province prosperous for the years to come.”

To read the entire policy document, click here.

Other highlights of World-Class Post-Secondary, Trades and Skills Training include:


          Review the Alberta student loan application process to ensure loan amounts meet the basic living needs of students



          Invest in Internet-based learning and other technologies for the purpose of opening up additional post-secondary spaces in a cost effective manner



          In consultation with Alberta’s post-secondary institutions, industry, students and professional associations, expand spaces for high demand degrees, diplomas, and trade certificates



          Provide high schools with more flexibility and resources to provide specialized courses, curriculum and dual credit programs in the trades



          In cooperation with post-secondary institutions and industry, permit trades students to select a written or verbal examination to complete their trade certification



          Ensure that Alberta taxpayers receive optimal value in the form of royalties and other compensation for commercialized patents and other intellectual property stemming from government-funded research grants to Alberta’s post-secondary institutions. 



          Work with the federal government to expand federal and provincial tuition and related tax credits, and implement tax incentives that promote the creation and growth of post-secondary endowment funds for scholarships, research and infrastructure projects from individual and corporate donors.



          Provide increased training and information to career counsellors at high school and post-secondary institutions to better instruct and counsel students on career and educational opportunities in the trades and other vocations with high levels of provincial skilled labour shortage  



          Collaborate with other provinces to create standardized trades training and recognition across jurisdictional boundaries



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