New Democrat advanced education critic David Eby visited Kelowna on Tuesday to speak to UBCO students about the problems they face, but only four students showed up.
Some might take that as a sign of apathy on the student’s part, but Eby refuses to believe that, blaming the turnout on a scheduling conflict.
“There was relatively short notice to the student union from our office,” he argued, adding that the students aren’t the ones he needs to convince.
“I think that the audience I need to be speaking too is not students, students already know what they face, and for them to go to one more presentation about how much student debt students face is a pretty depressing thing to do on your lunch hour or on your break.”
One of the four students who did attend, Student Union Advocacy Rep and UBCO student Kelly Panchyshyn, also claims there is no student apathy on the subject, just incredibly busy and stressed out students.
“I don’t think it is apathy, I think it's just that students are overwhelmed with their work load. Most of my friends have a second job; even a third job to make ends meet,” she shared.
A point Eby tried to drive home with his poorly attended presentation.
He claims the following facts to be true for BC students and something that he says has to be tackled and addressed by the BC government.
- BC pays $5 million per day for an education system British Columbians cannot afford to use.
- BC lends the least in student loans of any province in Canada despite our high cost of living and tuition.
- The minimum cost for a year of study at UBC is $12,447.51 and the most you can borrow in a student loan s $10,880 ...leaving students at least $1,567.51 short
- BC residents can no longer afford to go to school full time, in fact BC residents are the least likely to study full time in the country.
- BC students have set the student debt record for North America despite having access to the least amount of loans
- Food banks are now a common sight at university campuses
- BC has Canada's highest youth unemployment rate
- One in five British Columbians between the age of 25-29 are not working and not in school
- Employers are forced to hire more temporary foreign workers because of the lack of skilled local employees
- There has been a 50 per cent increase in welfare users among the 19-24 year old age group which costs the BC government over $408,000,000 per year
Something he wants the new NDP leadership to focus on, admitting the youth vote was sorely lacking in the last BC election.
“I think one of the big understandings that came out of the election for our party is that we didn't present a platform that was sufficiently engaging of younger British Columbians,” said Eby.
When asked whether he will run for leader of the party on this platform, he was evasive.
“Well,” he said laughing, "Well played . . . if I decide to run, those issues will certainly be a focus.”