Students are outraged after the Government of New Brunswick axed a program that provided employment insurance benefits to students while attending classes.
Jean-Sébastien Léger, president of the Federation of Students at the Université de Moncton (FÉÉCUM), said in a news release Friday that federation members were disappointed by the cancellation of the NB-EI Connect program.
Léger said the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labor made the announcement in a Thursday evening memo to certain key groups.
“No reasonable alternative has been given to fill the shortfall left by the cancellation of this program,” said Léger in French.
“Basically, students are told that they will only have to go into more debt, stop their studies, work harder or deprive themselves of possessions essential to their survival. It is deplorable.”
Léger said the news comes as a blow for students as Canada faces soaring prices for food, gas, housing and the highest inflation since the turn of the millennium.
“We are calling on the provincial government to put an end to the cuts affecting the post-secondary education sector and instead invest the necessary funds. It is an investment in the future of our province,” said Léger in French.
Chuck Chiasson, New Brunswick’s official opposition critic for Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, said in a statement that the decision will make post-secondary education less accessible to students from low-income homes.
“Premier [Blaine] Higgs stated that this program never should have been created. He believes this is a positive thing,” said Chiasson in a news release.
“His comments demonstrate clearly just how out of touch he is with the struggles that average families are having to pay for post-secondary education.”
Chiasson said New Brunswick’s Liberal Party is calling on the Higgs’ government to remove the financial barriers that discourage high school graduates from attending higher education.
The NB-EI Connect program was created in 2016, and nearly 7,000 students registered over the past year.