Assiniboine Community College president Mark Frison hopes local students will benefit from the new Canada Apprentice Loan, which was announced in the federal budget this week.
The Conservative government says it will expand the Canada Student Loans Program to provide apprentices registered in Red Seal trades access to more than $100 million in interest-free loans each year.
"It is good to see the government recognizing apprenticeship students as part of the Canada Student Loans Program," Frison said.
Red Seal trades available through ACC include electrician, welder, heavy-duty mechanic, agricultural equipment technician, plumber and carpentry.
Apprentices registered in their first Red Seal trade apprenticeship will be able to apply for interest-free loans of up to $4,000 per period of technical training. At least 26,000 apprentices per year are expected to apply for the loan.
"I think that in principle it’s a good idea that the government is recognizing that important segment of the post- secondary marketplace, but I’m really not certain what the take up on it will be," Frison said.
As explained in the budget report, apprentices can face significant costs to complete their short periods (six to eight weeks) of training required by their program, including educational fees, tools, equipment and living expenses.
"These costs can be particularly acute for apprentices who intend to complete their training after a number of years on the job, while supporting their families," states the budget plan.
Meanwhile, Frison said ACC is particularly interested in the new Building Canada Plan, a 10-year, $14-billion fund for major infrastructure projects.
"Last year they signalled in the 2013 budget that post-secondary institutions would be an eligible applicant for the Building Canada (Plan)," he said.
Frison said they are hoping ACC will be able to cash in on the fund, as the college looks to complete the move from the Victoria Avenue East campus to the North Hill.
"We see that this is a way that the province may be able to partner with the government of Canada, to help bring the next piece to our development," Frison said.
Frison, along with other local officials, will be watching in the coming days and weeks for more details regarding the Building Canada Plan.
"For us … the key thing is eligibility," he said. "It was identified we were an eligible applicant in 2013 … so some greater clarity around that would certainly be helpful that that still holds true. But I think that’s the key thing for us, is to make sure that our oar is in the water."