Over the last two weeks, myself, Katie Beers (VP External), and Travis Daley (President), took to the New Brunswick Legislature and Parliament Hill in Ottawa to meet with politicians, senators, and other stakeholders about student issues. As members of the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), we participate annually in these advocacy weeks. In order to achieve meaningful change on student issues, we join these collective organizations to have strength in numbers and diversity as well as to benefit from the research the full-time staff of these student organizations are able to do.
Through our provincial advocacy week with the NBSA, we were able to complete our biggest and most successful week to date. We met with nearly 20 MLAs, university administrators and other stakeholders such as the Federation of New Brunswick Faculty Associations. We were able to meet with the Liberal Caucus, Progressive Conservative Caucus and the Green Party Leader. During these meetings we took the time to go over our eight lobby asks of the provincial government and received good reception and feedback from government. These asks included the expansion of the Tuition Access Bursary to include a sliding scale, extending Medicare coverage to international students so they don’t have to pay for it and increasing funding for Mental Health spending in the province and dedicating a porting of that funding to Student Health Centres on campuses. Each of these requests focused on increasing funding supports to Post Secondary Education to improve access and quality of life during study.
At the federal advocacy week with CASA we also experienced the organizations most successful lobby week yet, meeting with over 160 MPs, Ministers and Senators. During these meetings we focused on nine issues surrounding Post Secondary Education funding support issues that the federal government could help alleviate. We talked about the grace period that students are eligible for upon graduation, during which students are able to take 6 months to get on their feet before having to start repaying their student loans. We asked the federal government to invest 26 million dollars to cover the cost of interest during this grace period to make it a more affective interest-free grace period. We asked the government to invest more money into the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSP) which allows access for Indigenous, Metis and Inuit students to access PSE. This would alleviate the 100,000 Indigenous, Metis and Inuit students who want to attend University or College but lack the funding.
In past years, through these advocacy weeks we were able to accomplish funding increases such as the Tuition Access Bursary, a 50% increase in Canada Student Grants and the Repayment Assistance Program so that students don’t have to start paying off their loans until they make $25,000 a year. Advocacy weeks are an important strategy focus our efforts to both help students and encourage the government to invest in our future employees, business owners and politicians. We’re happy to advocate for students and would love to hear any feedback you may have! Feel free to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.