OPINION: Expanding opportunities for former youth in care 


NDP MLA for Richmond-Queensborough


HIGHER education is a powerful tool that allows people to pursue their dreams and create the life they want for themselves. But for many people, especially those who grew up or spent time

in government care, the cost of tuition, books, computers and supplies can be a barrier to reaching these life goals.

In 2017, our New Democrat government made tuition at public post-secondary institutions free for youth between the ages of 19-26 who had been in care. Since then, almost 2,000 young people have used the program to pursue education or training programs.

However, we know that learning opportunities shouldn’t become less available once someone turns 27. Life does not follow one path, and there are often multiple barriers that may prevent someone from pursuing higher education shortly after high school.

That’s why our government is expanding this tuition waiver program to include all former youth in care – no matter what age they start or finish their post-secondary education or training. This expansion will take effect this August, right in time for the start of the new academic year.

This announcement recognizes that it is never too late to pursue more education or training, upgrade your skills, transition to a new career, or simply learn more about a topic that interests

you. In addition to covering tuition, the program also provides grants of up to $3,500 for textbooks, supplies, computers, and internet costs.

Last year, the Minister of Children and Family Development also introduced comprehensive additional supports for youth from care, including a $600 a month rent supplement, a no-limit earnings exemption so youth can seek employment experience without it affecting their benefits, as well as increasing the number of youth transition workers. This year we are introducing even more supports like enhanced medical and dental benefits, income supplements and access to life skills training to help youth and young adults reach their goals and fulfill their potential.

As our economy continues to evolve and change, people in B.C. will always be our greatest asset. Ensuring that more people have access to high-quality education and the services that will support them will ensure that people can thrive within their communities and the workforce.