April 18, 2018 8:21 pm

NDP Leader Horwath pledges debt-free future for Ontario students during London stop

Victoria Hayward/ 980 CFPL
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Provincial NDP Leader Andrea Horwath made a stop in London on Wednesday to address one of her party’s main platform points — creating hope for students, past and present.

At Innovation Works on King Street, Horwath sat down and spoke with two students facing troubling amounts of student loan debt.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP unveils party platform, promises free child-care program, health-care spending

One of the students, Stuart, described his debt as “scary to look at.”

One of the many sizable changes the NDP is calling for in its recently unveiled election platform includes changing future student loans into non-repayable government grants.

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“Not only in terms of turning, or converting future loans to grants, so that there will be no need for those who are eligible for OSAP to accumulate further debt, but we will also be getting rid of the provincial portion of the interest on [former] student loans, as well as retroactively paying back the interest they’ve paid already,” said Horwath.

Horwath is also pledging 27,000 paid work-integrated learning jobs for students, including placements like co-ops, where students are able to work in their field of study and receive job experience firsthand.

When asked about funding, Horwath said she will increase taxes for the wealthiest Ontarians, and high-earning corporations.

“In the short term, we will continue to run deficits, much, much lower than what the Liberals are suggesting in their budget.

“Frankly, because the Liberals and the Conservatives for that matter have no desire or intention to ask their wealthy friends to help pay for these kinds of things.”

In its recently announced election platform, the Ontario New Democrats have pledged to increase taxes on those earning more than $220,000 by one percentage point, and those earning more than $300,000 by two percentage points.

READ MORE: Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath rallies with patients to save London’s Cardiac Fitness Institute

The platform, unveiled Monday, also included promises for free child care for families earning less than $40,000, and a boost in hospital funding of about five per cent.

The Ontario NDP has also promised to establish universal dental and Pharmacare programs, to return Hydro One to public ownership, and to slash hydro rates by 30 per cent.

Horwath is running for premier in the upcoming election, against Conservative Leader Doug Ford, Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner.

Party leaders are making stops across the province ahead of the looming provincial election. Voters head to the polls on June 7.

— With files from The Canadian Press

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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