As recently as January 21, 2009, CTV News reported that “Canadians who have pursued post-secondary studies now owe the federal government $13 billion in outstanding loans, according to new figures from the Canadian Federation of Students.The CFS says Canada Student Loan debt increases by $1.2 million per day and will cross the $13 billion mark on Wednesday.”CFS national chairperson Katherine Giroux-Bougard told CTV that “the government must do more to help stem the growing levels of Canadian student debt.” She added, “What the priority of the government should be is really to make post-secondary education affordable,” she said.Now the scary part is that all we keep focused on is longer finance terms. Here’s my simple thinking: Why doesn’t the government offer companies who hire these debt-laden students, a specific tax break. As part of the hiring process, companies could assume part or all of the student debt. The companies are after all the ones who gain the most in hiring these highly educated people. They should play a role in the debt financing as well. We used to fund apprentice programs remember or am I showing my age? Don’t answer that.It solves many issues. Instead of the government just backing loans and extending payment terms, let’s transfer the debt to the companies who benefit the most, through a specific tax break. It will essentially free up government from backing loans, and free the student from a rather unrealistic debt. Now I realize this just seems too easy, but then again, we really seem to always make it more complicated that it has to be.Some employers still assert that they like their employees to be in debt, that means they need their job more. This of course is old fashioned moronic thinking! More modern companies want to see their employees flourish and enjoy the good things life has to offer versus having to have a night job and work weekends just to barely keep up. A happy employee becomes an inspired worker who gives and achieves more. But this is reserved for the very special few employers who look at their employees through a holistic looking glass and not some tired old sweat shop mentality.Okay have I stepped over the line here? Well at least it got you thinking. Whether you agree or not, I think you will concur that we simply can not lose sight of what these students mean to our future.You know $13 billion in student loans is only the tip of the iceberg. Look at the transfer payments that provincial governments already give to post secondary institutions. The U of T alone gets almost a billion a year, from the province of Ontario to offset their tuition costs. And these huge transfer payments happen every year!
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