Yesterday, students heard from Governor General Mary Simon as she delivered the Speech from the Throne in English, French, and for the very first time, Inuktitut. The throne speech opens every new Parliamentary session and provides an overview of the government’s goals and plans to achieve them.
The 44th Throne Speech contained welcome announcements for students around investments in mental health supports and increasing housing supply—addressing two of the most pertinent issues currently affecting students. There were also mentions of continued action on issues that student activists have long called for, such as the banning of conversion therapy, gun violence prevention, implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, implementing $10-a-day child care in all provinces, and climate action.
While there is cause to celebrate progress, it is important to note that there was not a single mention of ‘students’ or ‘post-secondary education’ included in the speech, and students were, yet again, left out of any meaningful plan to restart the economy.
Students are ready for a change and we know that it is not possible to go back to business-as-usual without concrete action to address systemic barriers to accessing affordable post-secondary education. Students know we are more than just a demographic to be pandered to every election. Students are more than just voters. We’re also parents, workers, and made up of many complex, intersecting identities that require support beyond what is the current status quo. Black, Indigenous, and students of colour face a myriad of challenges outside the walls of the classroom that also require support, and students with disabilities face challenges accessing the education inside those walls.
The government’s approach to addressing all of these issues is centred around addressing reconciliation, collective health and wellbeing, and climate change. In order to address the most significant economic and health crisis in a generation, the government cannot afford to forget about post-secondary students any longer. “Not providing opportunities, not making investments in young people and in our communities will impact people’s livelihood, health, well-being and have generational effects that will create additional barriers to obtaining post-secondary education and additional barriers to entering a job market,” said Marie Dolcetti-Koros, National Treasurer of the Canadian Federation of Students.
Students continue to demand concrete changes needed to ensure that a just recovery includes education for all, action on systemic racism, and accounts for the looming challenges of the climate crisis.
The Federation remains committed to pushing the government to implement long-term investment in post-secondary education in a way that is equitable, accountable, and accessible to all.
Canadian Federation of Students