A re-elected Liberal Government will continue to invest in post-secondary education with the goal of educating, training and retaining more young New Brunswickers.
Gallant highlighted two additional commitments related to post-secondary education that had been previously unannounced in this campaign. A re-elected Liberal Government will provide for automatic registration at birth for the Registered Education Savings Plan, and will enhance supports for students experiencing mental health and addictions challenges by partnering with universities, colleges, and student associations to make an online mental health tool available to all New Brunswick post-secondary students.
Gallant provided an overview of his party’s platform related to post-secondary education, and reiterated that a re-elected Liberal Government will:
- Enhance its signature Free Tuition program for those who need it most, as well as its Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program by ensuring more New Brunswickers qualify for financial assistance. Gallant explained that the government will raise the threshold for the free tuition benefit to $70,000 from $60,000 and thereafter index it to inflation. It will also adjust the sliding scale of the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program accordingly;
- Eliminate interest on all current and future provincial student loans, providing financial relief to tens of thousands of New Brunswickers;
- Permanently double its investment in the Youth Employment Fund, a program that has already provided over 6,000 youth with valuable experiential learning opportunities in New Brunswick;
- Ensure students completing internships with government agencies in the education, healthcare, social work, and sports and culture fields are paid for their work;
- Appoint more youth on provincial agencies, boards and commissions;
- Expand the current free second-language training program for the unemployed to all adults in New Brunswick; and
- Take steps to boost enrollment in trades programs by working with our community colleges to promote trades and encouraging high school students to pursue a career in the trades.
“The four years of cutting that we experienced when Blaine Higgs was the minister of finance left our province with a sluggish economy that actually shrank, causing us to lose jobs and people,” added Gallant. “It’s taken a while to dig out of that hole, but our plan to create more opportunities and a fairer economy is working, as over the last four years we have seen the economy and wages grow every year, unemployment rates go down, and the population of New Brunswick grow to its highest level in history.”
The Liberal Government recognizes the critical value of a free or affordable public education, both to individuals and to the province as a whole. This is why the Gallant Liberals have invested more in early childhood development and education than ever before in the history of the province, having cancelled the planned cuts by the previous Conservative Government and increasing the overall Department of Education and Early Childhood Development budget by 15.9 percent since taking office in 2014, which represents over $172 million in new investments. Along with the new 10-year education plans, the Liberal Government has implemented the following transformational changes in education:
- More affordable and higher quality early childcare, including free childcare for lower-income parents and financial support for middle-income earners;
- An additional 100 teachers within the K-12 system;
- Introduced coding, began to restore trades to New Brunswick schools, and committed to modernizing all trades infrastructure in New Brunswick high schools;
- Listened to experts and restored French immersion to grade one;
- Launched a comprehensive literacy strategy along with new dedicated investments of $7 million per year, investments that would be increased by 25 percent under a re-elected Liberal Government;
- Provided free eye exams for all four-year-olds before they enter the school system;
- Made improvements to autism services, including a new online training program for educators; and
- Expanded the Integrated Service Delivery model to ensure that every public school student in New Brunswick has access to integrated mental health services in a timely fashion.