Interview: Vincent Samuel - Conservative Party
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As a McMaster alumnus, Vincent Samuel is proud of the close ties he has with both the school and the community.
As the Conservative candidate for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas riding, Samuel is counting on both his personal connection with the community and the experience of the Conservative party as support for his election this Oct. 19.
"I think that hard work, education and the focused approach always helps. It's our job to make sure we create the opportunities and that is what we are doing ever since the Conservative Party came into power nine years ago," he said.
With regards to students, Samuel focused on the experience of the Conservative Party, along with citing examples of measures the party has previously taken to support students.
"Since 2012, we eliminated the interest on new and existing loans for part-time students, so that education can become more affordable," Samuel explained.
Samuel also described how the Conservatives have expanded the eligibility of the Canada Student Loans and Grants program for part-time and full-time students in time for 2016. This includes lifting a penalty on the amount of financial assistance students receive who are both working and receiving a student loan. The number of weeks a student must be enrolled to be eligible for a grant is also being reduced from 60 to 34 weeks to help students in practical skills programs and improving the transition from education to employment.
The Conservative government's main pull for students has been to promise $65 million to businesses and industries that will work with post-secondary institutions to better align school curriculum with the needs of employers. They've also committed to doubling the federal contribution to supplementary grants for low- and middle-income students who have a Registered Education Savings Plan.
Samuel explained that the Conservatives are aiming to help students beyond the issues of student debt, looking to expand the job market available to students when they enter the workforce.
"There must be an alignment to the job market. I know every year there are so many graduates, but they're not ready. Whatever they learn at school is not applicable in every market . . . so that's something that should be a key focus."
While other parties have put in more substantial plans to directly support students, Samuel argued that they are simply throwing numbers to create the impression they are addressing the problem.
"Some of the complex problems may have a very simple but wrong answer. One of the easiest ways — and what I think the other parties are doing — is they're throwing money around. That if the Conservatives have put in $5 million, let's put $10 million. If they're putting $10 million, let's put in $20 million. Just throwing away the money is not the answer, because the answer is to make sure that students have the right education, which can be used in real life."
Samuel explained, "If the focus is only to reduce the student debt, but not giving you a better or high-paying job, then it's not something that will go a long way in your life."