August 9, 2017
Winnipeg, MB – Today Wab Kinew committed to a series of measures designed to create new opportunities in post-secondary education for young people who were in the child-welfare system, and to help post-secondary graduates find a first job in their career of choice.
Kinew committed to a comprehensive post-secondary tuition fee waiver program for young people from care. It would provide free tuition and books to qualifying students who have aged out of the child-welfare system. Free tuition would be accompanied by a wage subsidy program, which would cover salary costs for new graduates from the program for the initial three months of their first job post-graduation.
These initiatives are part of Kinew’s commitment to eliminating barriers to post-secondary education. They are designed to target help to students who face especially high barriers. Based on average tuition levels in Manitoba, this commitment would invest approximately $4500 per student, per year in tuition costs, and $6300 in wage subsidy costs.
“During this campaign I’ve spoken about my wife, Lisa, and her mom, Debbie. Debbie was a young single mom, living in the inner-city, with all the challenges that come along with that. When a road to post-secondary education was shown to Debbie, it proved to be the transformative tool they needed. Debbie got her undergraduate and then graduate degree, and her daughter, my wife, is now a medical doctor. Their family will never live in poverty again.” said Kinew. “Whether they want to be an electrician, or a surgeon, or an accountant – every young person deserves the chance to build a better future for their family.”
Kinew reinforced that the costs of this program pale in comparison to the costs of doing nothing. “Our goal must be to invest in people while they are making the key decisions that will set them on a path for the rest of their lives. Upstream costs, like post-secondary education, will prevent us from having to spend more down the line in the family services, health, and justice systems,” said Kinew.
Natasha Reimer is a Criminal Justice student at the University of Winnipeg, and has taken advantage of a tuition waiver program for youth from care.
“Because of the tuition waiver program at the University of Winnipeg, I’ve been able to have success in my studies,” said Reimer. “Young people who have been in care face too many barriers and adversities in life, and access to a good education shouldn’t be one of them. By removing the cost of tuition and books, many more youth from care would be able to get a post-secondary education that would empower them to reach their full potential and build the futures they deserve.”
In addition, Kinew committed to establish the First Jobs Task Force, with representatives from academia, labour, employers, and students. First Jobs would draw on expertise from these different sectors to develop new approaches that would help recent graduates across Manitoba transition to the labour force, an issue that has been the increasing focus of calls to action by both graduates and parents.
As an initial measure, Kinew announced that he would establish a pilot program that would create a partial wage subsidy for 1000 recent graduates, drawn from diverse fields of study, every year. Initially set at one-third of salary for the first three months, this $2 million commitment would help these graduates find employment post-graduation, and would be administered with the guidance of First Jobs. The number of students this would be available to would vary over time as the work of the task force developed.