Canadian Fedwatch! News Across the Nation

Bankrupting the Student Loan

There has been a change (http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inbsf-osb.nsf/en/br01439e.html) to what happens when you declare bankruptcy while on student loans. Currently, your student loan will not be written off if you declare bankruptcy within ten years of receiving financing. For those who took student loans and then found they were unable to graduate this can be a severe hardship and for some it makes the difference between taking the risk of going to post-secondary or not.

Worse though is that it used to be that if you had to declare bankruptcy while receiving student funding, not only were you unable to write off the student loan debt, but student loans would no longer provide you with any additional funding.

This meant that once you started a course of study, you no longer had the option to declare bankruptcy unless you wanted to lose your studies as well. So if you were close to the financial edge and decided to go to school to help pull yourself out of it, you could wind up in even worse trouble if you had to declare bankruptcy on your other creditors, as you’d be left with a partial degree, a pile of student loan debt on top of everything else, and no way to finish your studies.

The new amendments have changed this last condition. Now, if you’re on student finance and still can’t manage to make ends meet, you can declare bankruptcy on your other debts, and can still apply for student loans to complete your current course of studies. This might come as a welcome relief to those barely keeping their financial head above water.

It’s not much, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

The New Cabinet

Prime Minister Paul Mulroo.. sorry, Martin, has announced his new cabinet (http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/new_team.asp). In addition to all the old positions, he’s chosen to add a few new ones, to be specific, two new Ministers of State, one for Infrastructure and Communities and one for Families and Caregivers, and a new Minister of Labour and Housing.

Meanwhile, the closest we get to any consideration of education is the Honourable Guiseppe Volte, who is now Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development.

At the same time, we have a Minister specifically for “International Cooperation”, the Honourable M. Aileen Carroll, which is somehow different from the Minister of Foreign Affairs (the Honourable Pierre Pettigrew, out from industry and back in the international scene) and different also from the Minister for International Trade (the Honourable James Scott Peterson).

Is it so much to ask that we actually have a ministry responsible for looking at the overall education and research goals of our country, especially when, once again, promises have been made about making Canada one of the most innovative and inventive countries in the world?

Another notable seat change is the Honourable Ann McLellan from Edmonton, Alberta, who is now not only the Deputy Prime Minister (in a move designed to reassure Westerners that we will be heard), but is also the Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, or in other words, our anti-terrorism minister. I’m not sure if there’s any significance to the anti-terrorism minister being the Deputy Prime Minister, but it’s an interesting development.

We can only hope it doesn’t turn into something like the U.S. style Department of Homeland Security.

More Money means More Teachers

Readers of last week’s article will remember I pointed out how Alberta setting aside three billion dollars to finally pay off the debt will result in an additional $150 million dollars savings per year from debt servicing costs. Last week, the government announced (http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=853) how it will be, coincidentally, putting $150 million dollars over the next three years into the grade school system to pay for new teachers.

I expect this announcement to be only the first of a number of announcements of more money being available for things Albertan’s have been requesting for a long time. After all, we’re coming up on another provincial election, with some people thinking Klein may call it as early as September.

Naturally if you’re calling an election in September, the last thing you want is for it to happen during a teacher’s strike. No doubt this recent announcement will be milked for all its worth when negotiating with the unions.

Still, I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and perhaps a renewed focus on grade school education will lead into an increased focus on our post-secondary system as well. After all, all those graduating high-school kids have to go somewhere.

A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.

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