By Sophia Lopez, September 18 2021—
This year’s federal election will take place on Sept. 20. As the election is fast approaching, the Gauntlet interviewed one of the willing candidates from Calgary Centre on issues facing students and why your vote matters this fall.
Juan Estevez Moreno is representing the New Democratic Party (NDP) in this election for Calgary Centre, and he and the NDP plan on making living more affordable for everyone. From standing up for LGBTQ+ and minority rights in the country, to providing more financial support to students, Estevez Moreno says he is is ready to be there for students.
“We want to eliminate all interest rates on federal student loans, extend the grace period from six months to five years to really allow students to establish themselves after graduating,” said Estevez Moreno. “There is wide support within the party to take steps towards making university tuition free within Canada and I personally strongly support that.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Canadians very hard, and it has made it difficult for students to find jobs in order to fund their post-secondary education. Estevez Moreno discussed how the NDP has worked to get students financial support during the pandemic through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) — a student version of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
“We’re also the reason that a special CERB for students specifically was introduced. Ideally, we wanted students to just be included but the Liberals didn’t budge on that issue,” he said. “We want to continue these financial supports until the pandemic is truly over.”
Estevez Moreno also explained how the NDP is focused on making university life for students easier, such as creating a rent subsidy rebate designed to help students save some money on their whole experience.
“The NDP is the only party that has put forward a rent subsidy rebate that would help renters across the board across the country,” said Estevez Moreno. “Similar programs have been very successful in British Columbia and Québec — we want to make that nationwide to make sure no one is left behind in that regard.”
The Calgary Centre candidate highlighted the importance of mental health and how resources and support surrounding it needs to be improved nationwide.
“Mental health care is really important. While you’re in university, you’re under a lot of pressure from classes,” said Estevez Moreno. “Expanding mental health care to be truly universal across the country will allow students to be able to access resources off campus within their communities.”
Estevez Moreno mentioned how crucial it is for students to voice their opinions and concerns for the country, and do their part in voting for the change they want to see. He said that it’s the candidates’ jobs to inform the youth on what improvements they could potentially see with each party.
“It’s important that [students] have their voices heard, it’s important that parties cater to them, really reach out to them and explain why their platform benefits them the most,” he said. “Voting is how we, as a democracy, exercise our power to change the world.”
Overall, the NDP is aiming to support Canadians by improving the health care system and providing assistance for everyone recovering from the pandemic.
“We want universal pharmacare, dental care, vision care and mental health care across the whole country — for students to see this can be a pretty big deal,” he concluded. “Our goal is to really help working-class Canadians, young people and students all across the country.”