Education Minister Rob Fleming, Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark and Premier John Horgan at Camosun College on Tuesday with students who’ve benefited from English language learning in B.C. Travis Paterson/News Staff

NDP eliminate tuition for adult education, will end interest on student loans

Government says this will open door for tens of thousands of people to upgrade their skills and save money.

B.C. Premier John Horgan made one of his first major announcements from Saanich’s Camosun College on Tuesday, stating his government will eliminate tuition fees on adult basic education and English language learning programs.

The announcement reverses action taken by the B.C. Liberals in 2015, which allowed education institutions to charge up to $1,600 per semester for full-time studies for adult learners. In turn, enrolment dropped by almost 35 per cent between the 2013-14 and 2016-17 school years.

Adult students who’ve prepaid for basic education and English language courses for September will be refunded, Horgan said.

“New Canadians who want a head start improving their language skills, students getting ready for university, adult learners going back to school to upgrade their skills to improve their opportunities or just getting a high school diploma, adult basic education should be free for everyone, it should be a right,” Horgan said.

The cost to make basic education free again will be included in September’s budget.

The premier also confirmed NDP’s plan to end interest on student loans in B.C.

“We’re actually going to reduce the [interest on] borrowing for student loans to zero, interest free, as well as a completion grant for those who have finished their education,” said Horgan.

The grant will create an incentive to those who’ve built up a large student debt during studies, to knock off as much as $1,000 from their balance when they finish, he added.

Both announcements are welcome news for the B.C. Federation of Students which has been pressing years for these changes.

“Adults who want to go back to [high school] shouldn’t be charged for that,” said Simka Marshall, chairperson for the B.C. Federation of Students. “This is something we’ve been campaigning for, we’ve had 23 municipalities endorse our campaign calling for free adult education so this is a really welcome change.”

RELATED: University students fed up with rising tuition costs

“Our province can’t afford to lose students who are keen to learn or advance their skills training in the post-secondary sector because of financial barriers,” said Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark. “I’m proud we’re taking this action to expand opportunities for ABE and ELL students to thrive in the workforce and achieve academic success.”

Horgan also spoke to softwood lumber deal with the U.S. and to Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver’s disapproval of Horgan’s upcoming golf tournament in Victoria that costs $500 per entry.

“I have spoken to [Weaver about it],” Horgan said. “It’s not a closed event, and anyway the cost largely goes to paying the green fees. [Fleming] and I have hosted this for a decade, it’s not secret, it’s not cash-for-access, anyone can join.”



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Three percent accommodation tax approved for Bella Coola accommodation providers

Only fixed-room accommodation providers with four rooms or more are required to charge the tax.

U.S. consulate general to visit Northwest

Trip part of the region’s first-ever pop-up consul for American residents

B.C.’s north heats up to record highs

Bella Bella, Masset, Prince Rupert and the Cassiar Area all broke records

Sealed DNA in Phillip Tallio murder case must be released, orders Judge

A unanimous decision by B.C. Court of Appeal judges has ordered the release of a sealed DNA sample

BC Rural Dividend funds wildfire recovery projects in the Bella Coola Valley

Central Coast Regional District and Central Coast Communications Society are both receiving funds

VIDEO: B.C. Mounties reunite veteran with lost military medals

RCMP say Zora Singh Tatla, who served in the army in India for 28 years, is the righful owner

Cirque du Soleil aerialist dies after fall during Florida show

Longtime performer fell while performing in VOLTA

Canada earns second Paralympic Games silver in 20 years

Held 1-0 lead in para hockey game from 12:06 of first to dying seconds of third and lost in overtime

LETTERS: Two views of oil pipeline protests

U.S. and other petroleum-rich countries aren’t cutting production

Canadian Paralympic team picked up record 28 medals

The 55 athletes strong had set a cautious goal of 17 medals for PyeongChang

Canadian comic Mike MacDonald dies at 63

Ottawa-born comedian had performed on David Letterman

B.C. VIEWS: Speculation tax, cabin tax or asset tax?

Targeting empty homes seems confused and ineffective

Inspections, training needed to prevent repeat of Fernie ammonia leak across B.C.

Ammonia is inherently dangerous and should be not used in skating and curling rinks, says one expert

RCMP move to arrest pipeline protesters at entrance to Trans Mountain work site

28 demonstrators began blocking the entrance to Kinder Morgan’s work site at about 10 a.m. Saturday

Most Read