Platform: Conservative Party of Canada

OTTAWA (CUP) — Post-secondary announcements from the Conservative Party of Canada will be tracked here throughout the campaign.

From the proposed 2011 budget

Loan forgiveness, expanded Canada Student Loans Program, investments in innovation

While the Conservatives have not yet released a comprehensive platform, it is expected they will campaign on several elements of their proposed 2011 federal budget. Here’s a rundown of some proposals laid out in the document — it should be noted that budget 2011 was never passed in the House of Commons, as the government fell before a vote could be reached:

  • The Conservatives pledged to forgive student loans of up to $40,000 for new doctors and $20,000 for new nurses and nurse practitioners who plan to work in rural and aboriginal communities. Specifics would be hammered out as time goes on and the initiative would launch in 2012–13.

  • The Conservatives would also invest some new money in up-front grants for students. An ongoing $2.2-million yearly investment will allow more part-time students to be eligible for Canada Student Grants, thanks to changes made to income thresholds. Currently, about 4,000 part-time students benefit from this grant of up to $1,200 — those changes would benefit roughly 1,600 more part-time students once the changes are fully implemented.

  • The Conservatives also proposed changes to the Canada Student Loans program in their budget, including allowing part-time students to have higher family incomes without seeing their loan eligibility change, increasing full-time students’ in-study income exemption from $50 to $100 a week, and cutting in-study interest on part-time student loans.

  • For research, the Conservatives earmarked an additional $37 million in annual funding for the three federal granting councils in their proposed 2011 budget. The Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada in particular would benefit from added investments to support climate change and atmospheric research, its Ideas to Innovation program, and 30 new industrial research chairs at colleges across the country.

  • In their budget they also pledged $53.5 million over five years to create 10 new Canada Excellence Research Chairs on campuses from coast to coast — some specifically involving digital innovation. They also proposed having Human Resources and Skills Development Canada reallocate $60 million in its existing budget to promote enrolment in studies related to the field, such as science, engineering and mathematics.

  • The Conservatives set aside $80 million in new funding to be distributed over three years to a pilot program that supports collaboration between colleges and small businesses on projects relating to information and communications technologies.

  • The Conservatives also proposed expanding some existing tax breaks, such as allowing students studying abroad in programs under 13 weeks to be eligible for more tax breaks and also allowing certain final exams for skilled trades and other subject areas such as medicine and accounting to be eligible for the tuition tax credit.

A compilation of the Liberals‘ post-secondary promises

A compilation of the Greens‘ post-secondary promises

A compilation of the NDPs‘ post-secondary promises

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