November 26, 2015

Moving Forward Together: Final Day Recap

On the closing day of the National General Meeting, students had the opportunity to hear from the Honourable MaryAnn Mihychuk, the new Federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour. Mihychuk reiterated her government’s commitments to youth employment, including the creation of 40,000 new good youth jobs (5,000 youth green jobs) each year for the next three years by investing $300 million more in the renewed Youth Employment Strategy. After the initial three-year boost in funding, they have also promised to set the renewed Youth Employment Strategy’s funding level at $385 million per year. The government has committed to double the number of Canadians who access Skills Link each year and grow the Canada Summer Jobs program, by an undisclosed amount. In addition, they have promised $25 million to the Youth Services Program, $10 million to continue to develop pre-apprenticeship training programs in areas of high-demand and $40 million each year to help employers create more co-op placements.

Delegates were eager to hear not only recognition from the Federal government of their responsibility in ensuring everyone has the opportunity to pursue an education, but also concrete plans for action. The Federal government is committed to increasing the maximum Canada Student Grants for low-income students to $3,000 for full-time students and $1,800 for part-time students. The have committed to changing repayment on Canada Student Loans so borrowers aren’t asked to start repaying until they are earning $25,000 per year. Lastly, the government will invest an addition $50 million in annual support for Indigenous education through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.

Following her presentation, dozens of student representatives lined up to ask questions to the Minister. Students raised the issue of quality and accessible trades education, stressed the need for a federal Post-Secondary Education Act to regulate access from coast to coast, and presented concerns with the inadequate investment in the PSSSP which is still not enough to address the backlog of Indigenous students who cannot access post-secondary education. Mihychuk took very few questions from student representatives, provided even fewer answers and promised to be back for more discussion with Canada’s student movement.

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Every six months, the closing plenary of National General Meetings adopts a variety of resolutions regarding the aims and goals of the student movement. The 34th Annual National General Meeting adopted numerous resolutions for moving forward, including: developing a campaign addressing youth unemployment and underemployment; revitalizing and expanding the corporatization campaign of the National Graduate Caucus; creating a campaign around the need for fair, transparent, and equitable policies and practices concerning accommodation for students; lobbying Elections Canada to make on campus voting a permanent part of its advance voting program at all post-secondary institutions in the country; hosting a national student summit to combat racism and colonialism; creating a working group to examine the state of post-secondary education in French in Canada; adding mittens, scarves, tuques and hoodies/sweatshirts to the Federation’s Ethical Purchasing Network; establishing a stronger relationship with UK’s National Union of Students and ISIC UK; launching an online members information portal for material sharing; pressuring the provincial government in Newfoundland and Labrador to keep the longstanding tuition fee freeze for all students in the province; writing to the Nova Scotia government to immediately cancel the tuition reset process, reduce tuition fees, and restore public funding to universities; writing to the administration of Algoma University condemning their unfair smudging policy and calling for a new policy to be developed through meaningful consultation with Indigenous students; developing a campaign for the 2016 Saskatchewan provincial election; writing to the parties involved in labour negotiations at Nippissing University to encourage fair bargaining in good faith; and acting in solidarity with Black student organizers by condemning recent racist actions at Guelph University, supporting targeted organizers at Guelph, developing Black on Campus campaign materials and donating financial resources and in-kind support for Black students organizing at Missouri University and Yale University.

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The following people were elected to the National Executive Committee:

  • Bilan Arte, National Chairperson for the 2016-2017 term
  • Anne-Marie Roy, Deputy Chairperson for the 2016-2017 term
  • Peyton Veitch, Treasurer for the 2016-2017 term
  • Vanessa Dorimain, Women’s Representative for the 2015-2016 term
  • Simka Marshall, College and Institute Students’ Representative for the 2015-2016 term
  • Brittany Dixon, New Brunswick representative for the 2015-2016 term