The recently published Canadian Alliance of Student Association pre-budget statement includes five recommendations that the Canadian government can implement in order to support post-secondary students.
CASA is an organization that represents and advocates for post-secondary students to the Canadian government. The organization is made up of 24 university student associations across the country and represents over 300,000 students.
Kalin McCluskey, executive director of CASA, says all the recommendations in the pre-budget submission were created to ensure that postsecondary is more affordable, accessible, innovative or highest quality for students.
“All of our asks are always based on evidence, and evidence-informed policies that are approved by our members year-to-year,” she says.
To ensure that these recommendations or any recommendations for better student life reach the government, the Canadian Alliance of Student Association lobbies and brings student leaders to Ottawa to meet parliamentarians. They also hold meetings with MPs.
The pre-budget statement summary shows how the pandemic has affected students, causing job layoffs, and affecting the cost of school fees and school supplies. The summary indicates that additional support from the federal government would be beneficial for students, and CASA’s recommendations were created for students who don’t meet the requirements to receive the Canada Student Grant.
The first two recommendations are having an “up front, non repayable Canada Student Grant for graduate students with financial need at an estimated cost of $58 million per year,” and “amending the disbursement dates of the Apprenticeship Incentive Grants to provide up-front support to apprentices as they begin their in-study periods.”
These two recommendations are expected to help graduates who don’t meet the requirements to receive Canada Student Grant funding, and the Apprenticeship Incentive Grant can provide better financial support to students than the current grant of around $2,000 offered to them.
For apprentices to receive the grant, they have to complete their first level of school and training.
“Anything making things more affordable for students, anything on Canada student financial assistance, anything that makes it more accessible as well, is going to be of the utmost value to students across Canada,” McCluskey says.
For the remaining recommendations, CASA is asking the government to initiate a pilot program that allocates a yearly amount of $10 million to the Canada Research Granting Agencies to create “innovative and affordable” open educational resources available to students in both English and French.
Students only receive a maximum of $300 every loan year for “computer related costs,” and the association is asking for the amount to be increased to $750, as the current amount does not consider the cost of purchasing a computer and paying for internet.
McCluskey says the association is focusing on what the re-elected government plans to do for students, and that the goal is to continue to advocate for more affordable education.
“We are eager to see things move forward. Eager to see things more affordable for students at all levels, including college polytechnic, undergraduate and graduate students,” McCluskey says.