By Amy Badry
Bruce Payne, a construction worker by trade, has not had much experience in provincial politics. He was nominated as the Liberal candidate in Calgary-Varsity. Payne is also a pastor. His website boasts he was “key in founding and building a number of churches in southern Alberta.”
“I think that one of the big issues is access to post-secondary education,” said Payne. “There are a number of people who are eligible through their marks and their hard work in kindergarten to grade 12 that should qualify to go to post-secondary if they wish to. But they are being excluded because of funding problems and their ability to access student loans.”
Payne said the second part of the problem is the huge amount of debt students accrue after finishing their post-secondary education.
He believes the solution to the cost of education is an endowment fund.
“What I would really like to see is the endowment fund, so people who live in Alberta could attend university completely funded,” he said.
“We are going to need to have the knowledge base,” said Payne about how to solve the current problems facing Alberta.
Health problems, environment problems, energy sector problems and economic problems are issues Albertans are going to have to face in the future, he said. “It is young people that are pursuing post-secondary today that are going to solve the problems of tomorrow and we need to make sure that Albertans have the best opportunities to be fully educated.”
He said that Alberta is a different place than it was 20 years ago and the importance of completing post-secondary has increased.
“The requirements for jobs and the education level has increased over the past decade,” he said. “I believe a degree program should be something that every Albertan can access if they have the grades and are working hard enough. Economics shouldn’t be a barrier.”