CASA Advocacy Week: A Round-up with Photos

Last week, your student representatives had the opportunity to advocate to the federal government for financial assistance that will relieve the financial burden faced by Canadian students and make post-secondary education more accessible.

Held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, over 80 delegates representing Students’ Associations across the country attended Advocacy Week, hosted by the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) in partnership with the Quebec Student Union (QSU). 

Among their numbers were SAMRU’s Representation Executive Council (REC) President, Joseph Nguyen, and Vice-President External, Tera Cardinal. 

CASA is a national non-profit organization composed of representatives from 22 different post-secondary institutions – overall, this means that CASA represents over 365,000 students across the country! 

This conference provided your student representatives the opportunity to network with delegates from other students’ associations, as well as the chance to present the voice of Mount Royal University students to the federal government. 

During this time, Joseph and Tera met with the following Senators, Ministers, and Members of Parliament: 

MP Laurel Collins, 

MP Blake Desjarlais,

MP Leah Gazan,

MP Pat Kelly, 

MP Greg McLean,

MP Jasraj Hallan,

MP Churence Rogers,

Marc Miller, Minster of Crown-Indigenous Relations,

Shahad Khalladi, Policy Advisor to Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, 

Terry Beech, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, 

Paul Davidson, the President of Universities Canada,

The Canadian Association of University Teachers,

Senator Elizabeth Marshall,

and Indigenous Services Canada

Working alongside the QSU, CASA members developed a list of recommendations to address the identified needs of Canadian post-secondary students. Their advocacy efforts were focused on the following points:

  1. Relieving Inflationary Pressures on Students
  • Eliminate the interest rates on Canada Student Loans*
  • Maintain current funding levels of Canada Student Grant past the 2022-23 school year, permanently doubling grant maximums for eligible students from $3,000 to $6,000 per academic year.
  • Create an up-front, non-repayable Canada Student Grant for graduate students with high financial need, at an estimated cost of $389.5 million per year.
  1. Retailing Canada’s Research & Development
  • Increase the value of graduate scholarships awarded by the Tri-Agencies by 48% at a cost of $155.4 million ongoing, and double the number of awards given to Master’s, PhD, and postdoctoral students at a cost of $190 million ongoing, to ensure awards are intentionally competitive and address the cost of living.
  1. Supporting On-Campus Student Mental Health
  • Create a new fund of $500 million over 4 years for the hiring of student mental health professionals on post-secondary campuses.
  1. Solving Today’s Labour Market Needs
  • Extend the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant to Students who are entering their first year of their apprenticeship. 
  • Modify the conditions to participate in co-op terms and internships that are integrated into a program of study without the need to obtain a separate work permit.
  • Permanently lift the limit on off-campus working hours for international students while their classes are in session.
  1. Increasing Indigenous Access to Post-Secondary
  • Increase investments to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program (PSSSP), and modify the terms of reference of ISETs agreements to remove ties to funding post-secondary education to labour market outcomes. 

*The federal government has already indicated that interest will be eliminated in the future, a measure that your REC team wholeheartedly supports. 

CASA and its members believe that implementing the above recommendations will serve to alleviate the rising cost of living, support student mental health, increase access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students, and better equip students for the demands of the labour market.

SAMRU is proud of the advocacy work of our student representatives as they advocate for a post-secondary system that is accessible, equitable, and affordable while providing an excellent education experience for Canadians.