OTTAWA – Bob Zimmer, Member of Parliament for Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies and Deputy Critic for Families, Children and Social Development, issued the following statement as a response to comments by Bilan Arte of the Canadian Federation of Students during a Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA) committee meeting:
“Federally, we spend, taxpayers spend, $12.3 billion on education per year. It looks closer to $35 billion if you include the provincial contributions to education. Our national (combined federal and provincial) debt is almost $1.2 trillion that’s about $36,000 per Canadian in debt. It costs Canadians about 11.1% of every revenue dollar (to service the debt) which adds up to $30 billion per year.
“You had mentioned the government was making profit off of student loans. I don’t see it that way from those numbers. The federal government has to borrow that $12.3 billion, it’s about 6% to 7% interest. It still costs government to borrow money to give to students to go to school, that’s what I’m getting at, so it’s not free.
“I think the perception from your organization is that education should be free, but it’s certainly not free. What I’m concerned about, as taxpayers, we talk about poverty reduction strategies, and that’s the focus of this study, but I’m concerned about Joe and Jane Taxpayer who get asked to contribute more and more every day so somebody else gets something for free.
“What I’m concerned about with Joe and Jane Taxpayer is that we ask them for more and more every day, and pretty soon they’re in poverty. These people who go to work every day, they go do their best for their families and for their kids, we’re asking them to bear more tax burden and debt burden every day.”
Mr. Zimmer is the Vice-Chair of the HUMA Committee, and is currently conducting a study on poverty reduction strategies.
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