AUSU Executives Shawna Wasylyshyn and Brandon Simmons (as well as AUGSA President Cynthia Gordon) recently returned from Ottawa where they represented AU students during the CASA Advocacy Week.
CASA (Canadian Alliance of Students’ Associations) brought together close to 60 student leaders (representing over 300,000 post-secondary students from across the country) to Ottawa as a united front, collectively pushing for further investments in higher education and increased support for students.
From February 22 to 29, 2016, the CASA delegates had over 160 meeting with Members of Parliament and Senators (including the Prime Minister) to address advocacy priorities set by the CASA membership, as follows:
- Increasing the weekly student loan limit from $210 to $245
- Increasing grants by 50% and extending grants to graduate students
- Increasing the repayment assistance income threshold to $30,000.00
- Removing the 2% educational funding cap for First Nations and Indigenous Students
- Increasing research funding by 10% and allowing for student representation on research granting boards.
- Investing $80 million per year in co-ops, internships, and apprenticeships
Our executives had the honor of attending a reception in the Senator Speaker’s Hall along with the CASA delegates, as well as personally participated in meetings with the following MP’s and Senators:
- MP Ziad Aboultaif – (Edmonton Manning, AB)
- Dan Albus – (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, BC)
- Senator Salma Ataullahjan – (Toronto, ON)
- MP Richard Cannings – (South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC)
- Senator Jane Cordy – (Nova Scotia)
- Senator Lillian Dyck – (Saskatchewan)
- MP Jim Eglinski – (Yellowhead, AB)
- MP Rachel Harder – (Lethbridge, AB)
- Matt Jeneroux – (Edmonton Riverbend, AB)
- MP Wayne Long – (Saint John-Rothesay, NB)
- MP Bryan May – (Cambridge, ON)
- MP Kelly McCauley – (Edmonton West, AB)
- Senator Jim Munson – (Ottawa – Rideau Channel, ON)
- MP Sven Spengemann – (Mississauga- Lakeshore, ON)
- MP Karen Vacchio – (Elgin-Middlesex-London, ON)
The advocacy points were well received by the government officials that the CASA delegates met with, and they were able to get a number of letters of support to help push these initiatives. They also received a lot of feedback from Parliament that CASA was noted to be the most predominant advocacy group for students in Canada and that they are glad for the work that CASA is doing.
It was a great opportunity to help move the needs of students forward, and our executives are proud to have been a part of this endeavor! They are hopeful that we will be able to see many of these issues looked at by the government over the next couple of years.
We are also proud to announce that our VP Finance, Brandon Simmons, won the award for “Most Memorable Meeting” for his meetings with MP Matt Jeneroux and Jim Eglinksi!
For more information about Advocacy Week and the issues that AUSU executives advocated for alongside CASA, visit the CASA website here, or email the AUSU President at [email protected] or the VP Finance at [email protected].