A former medical school student from Dauphin, Man., whose mental illness forced him to drop out of university is rejecting a settlement offer that would have reduced his $170,000 debt to the Royal Bank of Canada by 90 per cent.
Bryan Robson, 26, filed a human rights complaint after RBC sued him for $170,000 for an unpaid student line of credit.
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has been negotiating with RBC and reached a settlement offer of $17,000 in November, which Robson recently refused to accept.
He hopes that by instead sharing the details of the offer, he can help other students who are ill and owe money to the bank.
“To me that information was more valuable. That’s why I wouldn’t accept it. And I don’t have $17,000. Nor do I think they [the bank] deserve it,” he said.
Robson got an RBC line of credit when he started studies at the University of Saskatchewan’s medical school in 2012, knowing he wouldn’t be able to afford the $14,000 per year for tuition, books and living expenses.
But two years into his program, he started experiencing intense anxiety and depression. He was eventually diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder and had to leave the program for good.
When the bank pursued litigation to retrieve the money he’d borrowed on his line of credit, Robson went to the Canadian Human Rights Commission, citing discrimination based on disability. He said an RBC employee told him after he dropped out of the program that the disability insurance he’d signed up for covered physical, but not mental, illness.
He also later learned that insurance for the line of credit also only applied if he was working.
“The disability insurance should’ve protected me,” he said.
Human Rights Commission negotiates settlement
In the spring, the Human Rights Commission negotiated with RBC to get the repayment amount lowered to $50,000. But Robson said that amount, too, was insurmountable for him.
“I felt helpless, I felt trapped, I felt not…