Alberta's government has announced an additional $8.5 million in funding for up to 1,700 low-income nursing students as part of The New Beginnings Bursary.
"Nursing students will be eligible for a one-time, non-repayable $5,000 bursary. Recipients in nursing programs will be automatically selected from student loan applicants who meet program and financial eligibility criteria," the province stated.
The additional funding is meant to build of off Alberta’s Healthcare Action Plan, which was enacted to help address the high demand for nurses and healthcare professionals in Alberta.
Nancy Tran, a nursing student, at Mount Royal University who was present at a press conference during the announcement said that being able to access high-quality and affordable education was very important to her.
"This new funding through the New Beginnings Bursary will help so many more nurses access the training they need to go on to have successful careers in the healthcare sector and ensure Albertans have access to the care they need.”
Alberta's Minister of Health, Jason Copping, added that healthcare needs continue to grow in Alberta and that the province and we need more local professionals familiar with the challenges in their area.
"By increasing education opportunities for Albertans, we improve the chances of retaining home-grown talent.”
The New Beginnings Bursary was created in 2022 to increase access to post-secondary education for those who might otherwise not be able to attend, due to financial constraints.
The NDP issued a statement shortly after the announcement.
“Today’s announcement is pennies on the dollar compared to the cuts and increased costs students have faced under the UCP," said NDP Advanced Education critic, David Eggen.
The NDP cited that tuition at the University of Calgary has increased 33 per cent since 2019, with international students facing a 40 per cent increase in costs.
“At the same time, the UCP has cut almost $700 million from post-secondary institutions, and most students don’t qualify for affordability payments as the cost of groceries, utilities, and auto insurance continues to increase under the UCP."
It is estimated that by the end of the 2023-24 academic year, 3,400 low-income students will have benefited from the bursary, at a total investment of $17 million. Alberta Student Aid will deliver funding to recipients who meet the eligibility criteria and have approved student loan and grant funding applications during the 2022-23 loan year.