Late last month, 28-year-old office administrator Ashley Lees was left with $ 2 left over after paying her rent and other bills, including $ 362 on her student loan.
Lees and thousands of other recent students and graduates in Canada face renewed financial uncertainty after the federal Liberal government failed to extend the six-month repayment freeze, forcing them to repay more than they can afford. enable in a ravaged economy where young people have found it particularly difficult to find and keep work.
Lees, who graduated in 2016 with $ 31,000 in student loan debt, attempted in early October to extend the repayment assistance program she had participated in before the COVID-19[female[feminine pandemic, but was dismissed for earning more than a threshold amount which, at $ 25,000 per year before taxes, is below the poverty line.
“If our MPs were living on some of the salaries we get it wouldn’t be a thing,” she said, speaking days after the government released a tax update this provided little comfort to the students.
“I’m paying student loans in the middle of a pandemic as they hand out money to everyone, I feel like you just need me so you can distribute money to everyone “she said.
Lees says she only learned of the rejection after a pre-authorized payment was rejected and had waited on hold with the National Student Loans Service Center (NSLSC) for two hours earlier this week.
Patty Facy, who graduated from a Masters in Technology Design at the University of Toronto this spring and has since managed only to get contract work, echoes the frustration of Lees and thousands of other students. unable to reach the bureaucracy supposed to help them.
She says her request for relief, also filed in early October, is still pending at the NSLSC (meaning payments should be put on hold pending a decision), but her account notifies her the payment is overdue.
“People have given up on expecting consistent or consistent information,” she said, noting that students are expressing their frustrations on Twitter in stories collected under the #nslsc hashtag.
“There isn’t a policy that really helps young Canadians who feel very vulnerable financially, but a lot of that is also about infrastructure – where the digital infrastructure is to actually support people in this process. moment ? ” she said.
Students and recent graduates face renewed financial uncertainty after the federal government failed to extend the six-month loan repayment freeze, forcing them to repay more than they can afford in a ravaged economy in the midst of COVID-19.
Ottawa announced a freeze on student loan payments in March, but let it expire in late September and did not allocate funding for the task in its budget update released on Monday.
The government has said it will extend the stop on accrued interest on the federal portion of student and apprentice loans for 2020-2021, which they say will cost them $ 321 million.
The lack of an extension of student loan relief is particularly puzzling given that it seems unaware that the House unanimously passed a private motion brought forward by NDP MP Heather McPherson last week to extend the eight-month moratorium, from October 1 to May 31. 2021.
McPherson said she heard from many of her constituents – the Edmonton Strathcona constituency includes the University of Alberta campus – facing dire circumstances and government officials “don’t seem to care. “.
“It’s crazy how the students have been left behind here,” she said, adding that the NDP planned to keep fighting. “It’s a pretty gigantic injustice happening.”
Morgan Sharp / Local Journalism Initiative / National Observer of Canada