The September long weekend has often been thought of as the “end of summer” given that students will be returning to classes in the days following the holiday Monday. For students entering post-secondary education it can be a very exciting time but also an expensive one.
Although post-secondary education falls primarily within Provincial jurisdiction, our Government offers some tax relief that parents and students should be aware of. For example students can claim tuition fees that are paid to a College or University and in some cases other Canadian educational institutions that offer post-secondary courses. In addition, tuition fees paid for courses that are certified by Employment and Social Development Canada to develop or improve occupational skills may also be claimed.
In meeting with a very well regarded local manufacturer in West Kelowna last week the challenge of finding skilled workers was identified in spite of offering very well paying local positions. In fact, with close to a dozen different tours of local manufactures over the past few months I have yet to encounter one that has not reported similar challenges in finding skilled workers. I would urge many students entering into post-secondary education to give strong consideration to trades-oriented training opportunities.
Another tax relief program that post-secondary students may take advantage of is the ability to claim an education amount of $400 for each entire or part month in the year that they are enrolled in a full-time qualifying educational program, or $120 per month for part-time enrolment in a specified educational program, at a designated educational institution. One program that may be of benefit to some students is the ability to claim a textbook amount of $65 for each month where they qualify for the full-time education amount or $20 for each part-time month. In all of these programs it’s very important to keep your receipts, as they must be used to apply for the various tax rebates. Last year there was roughly $11 Billion claimed by students and families in tax relief to help absorb the costs of post-secondary education. Although this is a very significant amount of financial assistance, there still yet may be qualifying students and families that are unaware that this and other tax relief is available. The importance of investing in your future with a quality education is one that can never be emphasized enough. I hope all students have a productive and enjoyable school year.
Much as investments in education are important, so too are investments into infrastructure. As part of my summer listening tour I had the opportunity to participate in many ribbon cutting events celebrating the completion of various much needed infrastructure work. Road projects, sewer and water systems and increasingly, public walk-ways, are just some of the many improvements to many communities within Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Recently I was asked by a senior resident to put our Government's commitment to infrastructure funding into perspective. By the numbers since 2006, our Government has contributed towards the creation to over 43,000 projects Canada wide. The new building Canada plan also includes $70 Billion in federal infrastructure funding over the next 10 years. In the next two years alone over $10 Billion will be invested into infrastructure.To put this number into context from a historical perspective this $10 billion over the next two years is more than the previous Liberal Government invested into infrastructure during the entire 13 years they were in power. I mention this last point not to be partisan but to provide a context on the commitment of our Government to invest in community infrastructure compared to what was done previously. I know from my time as a city councillor, the ability to partner with senior levels of governments ensures that community infrastructure is built in a manner that residents can best afford.
By ensuring that our infrastructure commitment is guaranteed over a 10 year cycle local government can better plan priorities and also budget accordingly. However we should also recognize that that virtually every aspect of infrastructure planning, development, engineering, building and often maintenance is performed by individuals with some level of post-secondary training and/or education. As we enter September and our children return to the classrooms let us all recognize the importance of education in the future of our great country.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.