Reservists deployed overseas with the Canadian Forces will not have to worry about paying off their student loans. They will now be treated as full-time students, according to new regulations passed through Parliament earlier this spring.
The legislation was announced in January and tabled in February.
Labour minister Jean-Pierre Blackburn re-announced the new rules, which received all-party support in the House of Commons and entered into force last month, last week in Regina. Reservists will retain full-time student status, will not be charged interest on loans, and will not have to make payments on their loans while they are deployed overseas.
The Regina Leader-Post quoted Blackburn’s speech to reservists assembled at the Regina Armoury.
“Reservists who are students face challenges in balancing their education with their military responsibilities,” he said. “We believe that student reservists deserve our unconditional support while serving our country. That’s why this change to student loans is so important.”
Lt-Col. Malcolm Young, the commander of the Saskatchewan Infantry Tactical Group, told The Leader Post that the regulations would allow those stationed overseas to “focus on the mission” and not be distracted by student loans.
Both of Canada’s largest student lobby groups appreciated the relief the new regulations will provide to reservists.
Canadian Federation of Students deputy chairperson Brent Farrington said that other students who face similar issues should also be recognized by the federal government.
“We welcome any move that makes post-secondary education more accessible for Canadians,” he said. “I think it would be great if the government would recognize that part-time students, as an example, have various factors that prevent them from being able to study full time.”
Canadian Alliance of Student Associations national director Zach Churchill added his support.
“Whenever there is a government initiative to help students in need, we think it is a good thing,”he said.
Neither Farrington nor Churchill thought the regulations would have a significant effect on recruitment.